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Ukwe Takum Stool: Open Letter To Kutebs

AN OPEN LETTER TO MY KUTEB BRETHREN ON THE UKWE TAKUM STOOL
Since the issue of the Ukwe Takum chieftaincy began to gain traction in various forms, I have watched with great keenness and many times this has filled me with a lot of concern. 
As a Kuteb man who has put some age in my life and has travelled far and wide in the course of my life endeavour I think I am eminently qualified to put in my modest contribution so that we Kutebs can make sense out of issue. 
What are the issues?
The issues are that since the demise of Ukwe Ali Ibrahim of blessed memory Takum has been without a paramount ruler due to succession issues which have unfortunately become politicised and ethnicised. What ought to become a simple clear cut issue to be resolved by the Government of Taraba state asking the kingmakers to select one out of the many eligible princes from the two ruling Kuteb houses in Takum, the Likam and Akante clans has now turned into rocket science. The delay in filling the vacuum was not from the Kuteb ruling houses as there are always traditional ways of resolving these issues amicably without prolonged rancour. 
What many people believe, Kutebs and others alike is that the delay in installing a new paramount ruler of Takum is due to the determination of a very powerful and influential individual who is from Takum but not of Kuteb extraction that is determined to install someone from his ethnic group as paramount ruler of the town. He has allegedly thus held successive governments in Taraba state to ransom demanding that they do his bidding or Takum will remain without a paramount ruler. 
During the past administration of Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, himself a Takum indigene and a close person to the powerful personality, there were great rumours that at last the bidding of the powerful personality will be done. 
As expected Kuteb people were naturally alarmed. Some sought refuge in the Lord praying for his intervention seeking him not to allow what belonged to Kutebs to be taken away from them. Others however went underground preparing for the worst by seeking to embark on campaign of civil disobedience. 
As a Kuteb man I was well aware of these activities and even participated in several strategy meetings to this effect in Takum and in Jalingo. At other times I was in the delegation sent to meet our top people based in Abuja and Lagos to apprise them of developments and to raise resources for propaganda and other actions in pursuit of the Kuteb cause.
Although the Darius administration came and went and nothing of the rumours we heard came to happen, Kuteb people have not let their guard down. Indeed with the action of the Governor Kefas administration so far which is likely to result in the Kuteb not being favoured for the Takum paramount stool, there is a noticeable air of warfare and violence about Kutebs indicating that we will resist Government's move to install a person other than a Kuteb man. 
My main concern here is that we Kutebs seem to have put ourselves into a corner from which we may lose all. We seem to have taken a position of no compromise leaving us with a possible no win situation. We are not at peace with government. We are at loggerheads with other ethnic groups in Takum. And we are not even together among ourselves. The vocal ones amongst us have taken the centre stage drowning out voices of moderation and reason. The war they are looking for is with government of Taraba state and anybody in southern Taraba who does not support the war cry of the Kutebs. 
The question to ask is if government does not do what we want are we going to take up arms? Are we also going to wage war on the other ethnic groups in Takum? Where are the resources that we can use to fight the government and others? In our embattled state now with our settlements having been destroyed by bandits and deserted do we have the strength to sustain a war with combined forces of government and the other ethnic groups? Is that not madness?
Already because of our uncompromising attitude we are beginning to lose ground. The government has appointed and recognised two out of the three ethnic stools in Takum leaving out the Kuteb ethnic stool. It is instructive too that while we have been openly fighting and abusing government and even the governor instead of varying our options, the government which has the power to subdue us has been going about the case in the legal way which will give them the power and legitimacy to do what they can in Takum. And the irony is the same government we are fighting is the one we are calling on to legitimise the appointment and installation of our Ukwe. If we have the powers and if it were possible for us to do the needful in recognising and installing our Ukwe why have not done it since?
Let us face reality my brothers. As a full blooded Kuteb man I am fully ready to stand up for Kuteb rights and even give my life for the cause. But I will not be blinded by sentiments knowing that I have limitations. Let us see what happened in Ogoni land in Rivers state. Like us they had a moral case against the government of Rivers and Nigeria. Like us too they narrowed their struggle to just one way which is in fighting the sitting government at the time. In the end they ended up losing their leaders and even the oil company in question vacated the land. In effect the Ogonis lost all. 
Those who are now shouting amongst us and bent on taking us on war footing should first of all show us how we can win our struggle? Is it by fighting alone or can we not also dialogue with government and other ethnic groups to get what should be ours without fighting? In the present circumstances that we have now shown our hand do we think the other ethnic groups will support us to become Ukwe Takum? Wont they feel that now that we have not even gotten the stool we have resorted to threats what more can we do when we have the stool?
I think it is time that the reasonable and rational ones amongst the Kutebs should not continue to keep quiet while the stage is taken over by those who do not and have not witnessed the reality of war situation. Like me they should speak out and even move to take control and let the government know that we favour constructive dialogue in resolving the issues. It is when there is peace that we can achieve what we want. Let us engage the government meaningfully and realistically. Takum is for all of us under the constitution of Nigeria which we all are. 
Accordingly I make it bold to tell my Kuteb brethren that what we seek can be better achieved if we approach the issue through dialogue and constructive engagements with government and other ethnic groups in Takum. We are after all subjects of the government. We are not above government which has a bounden constitutional responsibility to grant us our rights and what we legitimately seek. We cannot get that when we not only distance ourselves from government but are seen to be mobilising against it as rebels. We should learn from the experience of what is happening in neighbouring Cameroon where persons from the English speaking part have been fighting to breakaway for years now. What have they achieved with their arms struggle? If they with all their strength in numbers and resources have not been able to achieve much what can we in relative small numbers and very limited resources and in a small area be able to achieve?
In closing, I have taken the time and pain to write this open letter to my Kuteb brothers so as to let us know that we should not put all our eggs in one basket. The Kuteb struggle is not a one day or indeed one generation struggle. It has been happening since I was in tender age. It is still here with us today as I reach advanced age and will be with our generations to come if the justice we seek is not done. But the thing that we should not do is to see it as a hundred meters race which burns out fast. It is more of a marathon race which our fathers and their fathers before them handed over to generations. We have survived along the way all attempts to put us out. The issue of who owns Takum is not in doubt even in the hearts of those who are challenging the place with us. But in the situation we are in it will amount to throwing the bath with the baby if we embark on war instead of constructive dialogue. We may end up losing it all if we are not careful. 
I have spoken my own. Let others who think like me come out and do same so that together we will promote the narrative of dialogue on the Ukwe Takum stool that belong to us. 
Peace to all men of goodwill.
Long live Kuteb people 
Long live the people of Takum
Long Live Taraba state and Government
Long live Nigeria.  

Elder Yakubu Nyikwen,
Abuja

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