A critical letter to Benue Rebirth Movement (BRM)

From Olohy Ejembi

Dear BRM,
Since I was removed from your WhatsApp group on February 18th, I’ve not commented on your activities. And I had never wanted to comment on political issues for now, especially Benue politics. Since politics have been dominated by people of overt fatuousness, I thought bothering myself to contribute guiding ideas would be a waist of time. After all, no politician cares for what is right for this country right now. It’s pathetic anyway. But as a democrat, sometimes I feel compelled to comment whenever democracy is avalanchely abused.

As an indigene of Benue Zone C, I therefore feel obligated to comment on the way your agitation is going. I would be happy to see a candidate emerge as Governor from Zone C, but it should be through democratic means. Even if we think that democracy is not practiced in this country, we still can’t deny the fact that our political philosophy is hinged on it. Therefore, hinging your agitation more on threats and abusive strategies may end it in a quagmire. Like I wrote sometime ago, it seems many of your spokespeople for the powershift are not democrats, but tyrants (forgive me). If democratic principles and ideas are not terra incognita to them, they should know that agitation of this nature is purely based on negotiation and lobbying, not threats.

In democracy, people only lobby and negotiate to get whatever they want. If it’s your interest as it’s mine as well to have a governor emerged from Zone C in 2023, we must also bear at the back of our minds that there are uncountable Idoma and Igede people in the Zone who do not share the same idea with us, or better still, have there own different interests. And it’s their democratic right to have their own interests differently from ours. Therefore, why are your members threatening fellow Zone C people that are pursuing their own interests? No one has the power to stop any Igede or Idoma person lobbying for party chairmanship or deputy governorship, democratically. I stand to be corrected.

The issue is simply a matter of negotiating with them, not threatening them. If we think that their interests will jeopardize our own interests, all we have got to do is meet them and negotiate. If they agree to leave their own interests for ours, fine. But if they do not agree to leave theirs for ours, we don’t have any authority to force them. It’s done in these modern times. I told you earlier that I’m a democrat, and that is how things are done democratically. We don’t have to fight people, but beg and bait them.

In fact, our concern right now should be on scouting out a candidate who has an impeccable reputation and sellable credentials for the task at hand. If we don’t project a good and capable person likable by the people, a Tiv candidate contesting in another party will still win, even if both major parties’ candidates are from Zone C.

Like I wrote to us many months ago, if we can idealize a political eugenics that will produce a candidate with novel leadership qualities and oratory ability of a demagogue, who can also sell himself/herself, there are millions of Tivs that are out there ready to vote such a person. Therefore, whether or not there are people in the zone pursuing their own interests, if we get a good candidate s/he will still win.

Please, caution your members to go easy on the people and in the agitation. We have not set a different precedence over this matter from the Tivs. I think we have been selfish too much, too. The Igede people have been with us in the zone and we have been treating them the way Tivs have been treating us. We never acted differently to stand as an example to buttress a solid point for our agitation today. And imagine the condition we laid that we will only cede senate to the Igede people if we get the gubernatorial ticket. Haba! He that goes to equity should go with clear hands. When we have not acted kindly to the people under us, we should not expect less from the people above us. Threats can’t help it, because we have not shown good example in our side of the game. We do not have any precedence to justify our course, therefore we must act wisely.

In fact, I think the first thing we should have agitated for before governor powershift should have been senate powershift to Igede. We are supposed to have ceded senate to Igede people long ago in preparation for this agitation before flapping our wings. And it should be our ultimate focus in 2023 to make sure senate goes to the Igedes, so that Tivs will see and be touched to truly activate their philosophy of “you eat and give your brother to eat”. Let us focus on making sure an Igede becomes our senator in 2023 to set a precedence.

You may be cursing me right now for saying this, but we must look at our own side of the game too. Look, even if we boycott 2023 elections for not being given the gubernatorial ticket, these are the likely issues National Assembly will present to us. The other side has their own case to present too. And moreover, the Igede people are not an extension of the Tiv tribe, therefore ceding senate to them should not be on the condition that until we get the gubernatorial ticket. The Tivs may as well say that until they get the presidential ticket they won’t cede governor to us. Therefore, emphatically, whether or not we get the ticket for 2023, we must give senate to the Igedes to set a precedence for future agitation.

I had said before that skipping the palm fronds to cut the fruits makes the tree unhealthy and to yield poorly. My dear BRM, the only algorithm in this case is flexible cooperation but not imposition, because everyone in the zone is independent – they are not under any dictatorial authority to impose its interest on them. And the fact that we have not acted differently towards the minorities among us is a strong case against us; the condition that we’ll only cede senate to them if we get the guber ticket tells the world how selfish we are.

Although I don’t participate in political activities right now, but I love to follow politics. I’m not a type that pretends about issues, neither do I hide gossips. I believe your leadership is aware that there are people who believe that you are only trying to make yourself a kingmaker and become the Tinubu of Zone C. Therefore, act strategically, not tyrannically. Lobby people, don’t cow them. Learn to bring people to the negotiation table, but not with threats. It’s dangerous to force your ideas or interests on others.

Yours faithfully,
Olohy Ejembi

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