Benue people and the peace initiative
Written by Anwo Iordepuun Godfrey
Among the northern states of Nigeria, Benue State can be described as the most peaceful. The reason for this assertion is just too obvious. In the first place, many even find it difficult to believe that Benue State is a northern state because of the terrain of the state, while most northern states have Muslim dominance; Benue State is dominated by Christians. A reason I count as second to none for the peaceful co-existence between the different ethnic groups in the state because since they see themselves as being of the same faith, it is easier to let peace reign.
Secondly, inter-marriage between the different ethnic groups has led to most persons having blood relations that cut across ethnic divides. Thus it becomes very difficult to tell where one is really from in terms of origin. Take for instance, a past minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, though an Idoma, was born and bred up in Tivland and as a result was given ministerial ticket as a Tiv candidate against the wish of his Idoma brothers because he had spent all his life with the mother who is a Tiv by origin.
Another thing that has fostered peaceful co-existence is the political structure of the state. Party affiliation is completely independent of ethnic or religious background. Political ties among individuals in the state seem to be stronger than ethnic or religious ties. Unlike the situation with most states where politics and religion are combined, in Benue State, the story is different. No one cares to know about your religion, what is important is your ability to deliver. I remember in 2007 when a Muslim contested for the senatorial seat of one of the constituencies. He was heavily supported by Christians except that he was unable to get the position. No one used the issue of religion against him.
I must commend the efforts of those promoting the peace initiative in Benue State to keep the flag flying. Politicians must desist from playing politics of bitterness. I was very sad when a running mate to one of our governorship contestants in 2011 was being campaigned against on grounds of religion, such practices must be shunned in totality. Let all hands be on deck to promote the peace initiative being enjoyed in Benue State.