The new Tor Tiv acknowledging greetings from the crowd


It was indeed another historic moment for the people of Benue State, particularly the Tiv speaking nation as they trooped out in pomp and pageantry to celebrate their own newly installed king, Tor Tiv, the 5th, His Royal Majesty, Orchivirigh Professor James IorzuaAyatse.

The official coronation yesterday of Prof. Ayatse to the highest throne of his forebears followed his emergence occasioned by a keenly contested election in December last year after the demise of his predecessor over a year ago.

His predecessor, the late Tor Tiv 4th,Orchivirigh, Dr. Alfred AkaweTorkula, died on Sunday, November 22, 2015 and was interred at the palace coliseum in Gboko on Thursday, February 4, 2016.

Hence, the contest to fill in the vacant position, mainly rotated between the two major clusters in Tiv land, the Ipusu and Ichongo – the two sons of their progenitor even as the kingmakers followed strict adherence to the culture and tradition of the land in the quest for a new traditional head which produced the ex-vice chancellor of two federal universities in Nigeria.

Ayatse, a former Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi and the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Federal University, Dutsinma in Kastina State, however, did not achieve the feat on a platter of gold but he is now expected to fly the banner of his ancestors without fear or favour and doing justice to all in the land.

The Professor of Biochemistry, now traditional ruler, hails from the Kwande bloc of the Ipusu generation in Mbakan, Shangev-Ya in Kwande Local Government Area of the state. After the establishment of the stool the late Orchvirigh Makar Dzakpe became the first Tor-Tivand ruled from 1946 to 1956.

He was succeeded by the late Orchivirigh Gondo Aluor who reigned between 1956 and 1978 while the late Orchivirigh James Akperan Orshi took over as Tor-Tiv, III between 1979 and 1990. It was after Orshi’s reign that Dr. Torkula ascended the seat in 1991.

And so, it was such a beauty to behold as people of all shades and social classes in the society from far and near in their elegant dresses came to witness the historic installation of a new monarch in Tiv land.

The town of Gboko, the traditional seat of the nation, was agog with diverse traditional dances reminiscent of the days of their forefathers when culture played a prominent role among the people.

Needless to say, age long differences among the Tiv were set aside to honour one of their own in the most outstanding manner despite religious, political, social and educational differences.

The cultural dance groups such as the Shangev Dancers, A’nger Dancers, Ibaar, Swange dance, Kwaghir puppet theatre and the prestigious cat dance, known as NyamTsawm among others added excitement to the occasion, as cheering crowd applauded their various dance steps.

All the 14 Tiv-speaking local government areas in the state participated in the activities to mark the coronation which began with a three-day event that depicted the rich cultural heritage of the people.

However, people from all walks of life graced the occasion, including Fulanis who displayed their rich culture to the admiration of all.

The Benue State coordinator of Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN), Garus Gololo, who led the Fulanis delegation to the occasion pledged his members’ loyalty to the new monarch. Similarly, other ethnic groups residing in the state made special appearances.

The state government on its part declared Friday work free to enable workers be part of the event just as major roads as well as roundabouts within Makurdi and Gboko were repainted while security personnel were stationed at various locations to maintain law and order.

Finally, at exactly 11:25am, the new royal father was administered the oath with the Bible followed by the presentation of staff of office by the state governor, Chief Samuel Ortom.

The highlight of the ceremony was the dressing and presentation of traditional tools to the Tor Tiv by the six First Class Chiefs in Tiv land after he was earlier officially presented to the cheering crowd by the Special Adviser, Bureau of Chieftaincy Affairs, TitusZam.

In his acceptance speech, Prof. Ayatse thanked God, the Tiv people and all present for the opportunity given to him to serve in that capacity as he promised to continue to justify the confidence reposed in him.

The royal father said that he would not be involved in partisan politics but will be Tor Tiv and father over all Tiv people, irrespective of political and religious persuasion, adding that his reign would reconstruct the Tiv nation.

He added that his reign would be holistic as a paramount ruler of the Tiv nation worldwide, who recognises that Tiv people are found in over seven states in Nigeria with majority single ethnic population in three states with substantial population in Republic of Cameroon and the Diaspora.

Prof Ayatse also, among other things, promised to re-emphasise the Tiv identity and development, re-establish Tiv security in terms of food, political, economic and physical warfare while the traditional area council in his domain would be reformed and refocused.

Speaking after the traditional handing over rites, Governor Ortom admonished the paramount ruler to uphold the values of the revered stool and carry his subjects along as he prayed God to grant the monarch a fruitful reign.

There were goodwill messages from a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who enjoined the Tiv nation to work together in order to promote peace and harmony just as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governor’s Forum and Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, wished the Tor Tiv a peaceful reign.

Others at the occasion included: Senate President, BukolaSaraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives; Yakubu Dogara, Governors Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Tanko Almakura of Nassarawa State as well as many prominent traditional rulers from across the country and the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III.

But the occasion was not without incidences. However, the critical one was when one Stephen Nyitse walked to the stage and sat on the seat prepared for the Tor Tiv before the start of the event.

After his arrest by security operatives, he told newsmen that he was sent by God to sit on the throne.


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