A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, on Sunday congratulated the new Tor Tiv, the monarch of the Tiv people of Benue State, James Ayatse.
Read Mr. Abubakar’s message below:
Your Royal Majesty, Orchivirigh Professor James Ayatse,
Congratulations on your coronation as the new Tor Tiv of the Tiv Kingdom of Nigeria. This great day will no doubt be inscribed in your memory and in that of your generations to come, and also in the annals of Tiv history forever. As a firm believer in our country’s unity in diversity, all the way from my home in Adamawa State, I celebrate with you as a fellow citizen of Nigeria. As the holder of the Zege Mule U Tiv title, the highest traditional title for a non-indigene of the Tiv kingdom, I also celebrate with you as a stakeholder in the affairs of Tivland.
Agreed that our various communities have been jolted by needless crisis in recent times, but suffice it to note, however, the bonds of friendship and camaraderie that has long existed between my people and the Tiv. I recall with nostalgia that in late 1945 (at a time of great strife), a year before the coronation of the first ever Tor Tiv, the illustrious late Makir Dzakpe in 1946, a Fulani prince from the Sokoto Caliphate, who incidentally was also known as Atiku Abu’bakr, made entreaties to the Tiv monarch during his coronation. His message of peace, which was read in Tiv, were also accompanied by gifts of two Zebras (an animal striped with the symbolic colours of the Tiv people of black and white), went a long way to end the bloodletting at that time.
Your Royal Majesty, you are stepping into this great role at a very trying time in the affairs of our great country. The Tiv like so many other groups in Nigeria are most likely facing monumental challenges and finding life tougher than we all have in a long time. I, hereby, call on you to bear this keenly in mind as you begin your journey on the throne of your forefathers. Your leadership must be felt from Day 1. All of us stakeholders in the Tiv kingdom are putting our trust in you to lead your people to progress in every facet of human development. Let your people know and see that they can look up to you for a breath of fresh air and for ideas. Let your leadership shine a light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Your Royal Majesty, the process by which you emerged as leader may have left a number of bruised egos and bruised relationships. There may be those with whom you have never seen eye to eye on issues. But, today, please, bear in mind that your coronation as the Tor Tiv makes you the traditional leader of the entire Tiv kingdom, of everyone including of friend and foe. Let peace be your most potent weapon. I urge you to immediately set about mending fences and building bridges. Without peace, progress and development become even more difficult if not almost impossible. As someone from the northeast of Nigeria, a region that is still recovering from the devastating effects of the Boko Haram insurgency, I am speaking from sad and bitter experience.
I do not think it is by chance that a man of your advanced educational qualifications has been chosen by God at this time in the history of the Tiv kingdom. Your Royal Majesty, you are an academic: a professor and a former Vice Chancellor of a university. My passion for education is behind many of my investments in Nigeria. Without education, I would not have become who I am today and I suspect that the same is true for you. I call on you to pass on that same passion for education to every citizen of your Tiv kingdom. Let every parent and child understand its vital importance. Let every Tiv child be given the same opportunities that you and I had to expand our minds through formal education. Let them aspire to be literate, and to improve their world through knowledge of both the arts and science and technology.
Once again, I congratulate you on this great day. Remember that, even though this coronation is being executed by human beings, you were actually chosen by God, and it is to Him that you owe your primary allegiance. It is to Him that you will justify whatever you make of the special position in which He has placed you.
May God guide you as you function in this new seat as the Tor Tiv. May he be your wisdom and strength through what I pray will be a long and fruitful journey undertaken in good health.