Meet Benue clerics who became traditional leaders, politicians

The quest to sanitize perceived ills in traditional governance and institutions in Benue State has seen the emergence of clerics in certain positions of authority, widely considered in the past to be reserved exclusively for politicians and traditionalists, Daily Trust reported on Saturday.

PPositions such as the traditional stools or political offices were generally left to people other than religious-to-man clerics.

But in Benue State, clergy leave the pulpit to ascend the royal thrones, while assuming elective political office.

For example, the supreme traditional rulers of the state’s two main tribes – the Tiv and the Idoma – are clergy, just as the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate is a reverend father.

Although they could not speak to our correspondent in Makurdi about how they combine their religious duties with their current duties without conflict, as their media assistants said they needed more time, there is mixed feelings among members of the public about the growing involvement of clergy. in politics and tradition.

State resident Pius Adah thinks clergy should focus on the pulpit rather than gamble their reputations on the altar of politics or traditional practices, which he says often conflict with each other. others.

But Pastor Favor Elijah of a new generation church, who quoted John 1:1 and Romans 13:1, said all power comes from God.

“The Bible is the word of God, which is the same as God. Leadership was first demonstrated and instituted by God, so clergies only take their place as needed to correct anomalies,” he said.

Tor Tiv V, Professor James Ayatse

The supreme leader of the Tiv people, worldwide, the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, until his ascension to the throne in 2017, was both an academician and pastor of the Deeper Life Bible Church.

The Vice-Chancellor of Federal University, Dutsinma in Kastina State and Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi in Benue State, competed at different times for the throne of Tor Tiv when he is became vacant in 2016. When he won, he was sworn in with the Bible. instead of the usual practice of Swem, the traditional god of the Tiv nation.

Ayatse, who is now the national chairman of the country’s Christian traditional rulers, is also the chairman of the Benue State Traditional Council, as well as the head of the Tiv Area Traditional Council (TATC).

As Tor Tiv, he is said to have practiced his faith and performed his duties as a monarch without conflict.

Since he ascended the throne on March 4, 2017, the professor of biochemistry has not ceased to call on Christians, whatever their faiths, to pray for the State and its domain in particular, within the framework of the efforts to secure peace.

Daily Trust Saturday learned that fasting and prayers rotate between Jembga, Jechira. Minda, Sankera and Kwande, the five clans that make up the two main ancestors of the Tiv land – the Ipusu and Ichongo – their two sons.

One such prayer session was held on January 13, 2018 at IBB Square in Makurdi during his first months on the throne, where the royal father knelt before God and led the people in offering prayers to God for divine intervention to end the killings in the field.

The monarch’s chief press secretary, Godwin Ber, told our correspondent that prayers have been intensified in the face of the current security challenges in Tiv and the state in general.

Ayatse also brought the plight of the citizens of Benue to the attention of the federal government.

It is also said that the royal father talks with all sections of the population of his domain, especially the young people, to ensure that there are no retaliatory attacks, as well as to ease tensions.

“It is common sense that if they stay together they would be better prepared to defend themselves. But in my field, farmers want to settle as close to their farmland as possible. That was the practice, but with this is happening now, we will advise them to change their settlement pattern so that we live in clusters. This will create a double benefit of better security and make the land available for mechanization,” he said there. some time answering questions from journalists.

Daily Trust Saturday also learned that the monarch usually raises the issue of the pastoralist/farmer crisis in Benue before the General Assembly of the Council of Traditional Leaders in the North.

The king had individually argued that the traditional institution under his leadership would represent truth and justice, saying his desire was to reconcile and unite the Tiv sons to speak with one voice. He also called on the political elite to play the politics of development rather than that of rancor and acrimony.

Och’idoma V, Dr. John Elaigwu Odogbo

The recent coronation of Pastor John Elaigwu Odogbo as the Supreme Traditional Ruler of the Idoma people, Och’idoma V, highlights the gradual conversion of traditional institutions to Christianity in Benue State.

Odogbo, also a pastor of Deeper Life Bible Church, became Och’Idoma on December 30, 2021 after a hotly contested election in Otukpo following the hunting expedition undertaken by former throne occupant Dr. Elias Ikoyi Obekpa in October 2021. this year.

The new monarch, born on March 27, 1969 to the family of Elaigwu Ekoja in Obagaji, the seat of the state’s Agatu local government area, was installed on June 30, 2022 in a colorful ceremony at Otukpo , the traditional seat. of the kingdom of Idoma.

On this occasion, he promised that his reign would mark the beginning of a new era in the land of Idoma, as he would ensure, among other things, justice, equity, justice and peace. He added that the whole country of Idoma had been handed over to God.

Although Odogbo, a financial expert, was barely three weeks on the throne, he sought to unite the peoples of his kingdom.

The pastor, now also a royal father, made a public appearance at church last Sunday with his family, during which he gave testimony and thanked God for his coronation.

The Reverend Father Hyacinthe Iormem Alia

Father Alia, a Catholic priest, recently left the pulpit to become the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the 2023 gubernatorial election in Benue.

The priest became popular through the healing masses he led once a week at St. Thomas of Anum Catholic Church, located just opposite Benue State University (BSU), Makurdi, for several years before his eventual transfer to another parish in Vandekiya local government. .

Alia was born on May 14, 1966 in Mbangur, Mbadede in Vandeikya Local Government Area in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Katsina Alia.

Until his recent entry into politics, the cleric was the project manager of the Catholic university project, Ankaa-Vandeikya, of the Diocese of Gboko.

He was a well-known crowd puller during his healing Masses in the various parishes he oversaw before his sudden venture into politics a few months ago.

Among several factors that have contributed to the priest’s emergence as the APC’s standard-bearer in the state are his huge following, the quest for a change in the leadership of the state, rising from known politicians to new breeds, and the legacy left by the late Reverend Father Moses Adasu, who also ruled the state.

When he met with APC leaders in the state, the priest said, “After preaching the gospel from the pulpit for 32 years, I have decided to extend it to governance.”

Governor Alia 2023 organization media and publicity chief Kula Tersoo said its director will forever remain a priest of the Catholic Church, adding that he will resume his healing masses after his tenure at the Benue government house.

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