Saturday, March 29, a commissioner with the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC), Mr. Ben Ikwue, gave out his daughter to the son of the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Samuel Ortom, in marriage at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Gboko road, Makurdi.
Apart from being more colourful, the reception that was organised at the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Square after Christen Onyechi Ikwue and David Terdoo Ortom had been joined at the altar was of political advantage to Dr. Ortom who is aspiring to become governor of Benue State in 2015.
Dr. Ortom, a Tiv from the Fulani devastated local government of Guma, went to far away Otukpo in Idomaland to pick a wife for his son. No one knew the implication of the project Dr. Ortom was embarking on until the day of wedding when the entire Idoma nation moved to Makurdi to tactically endorse Ortom’s ambition.
The political leader of Idomaland who is the Senate President, David Mark, was represented by no less a personality than Mr. Hassan Salleh who is representing Ado/Ogbadibo/Okpokwu federal constituency in the House of Representatives. Even as President Goodluck Jonathan could not personally grace the occasion, he sent the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, to represent him.
Both Salleh and Moro spoke glowingly about Dr. Ortom’s humane character and disposition and condemned the invasion of his place by Fulani herdsmen. They assured him of Federal Government’s readiness towards addressing the problem, and true to their words, few weeks after the wedding, soldiers were deployed to Benue State. They did not mince words when they described Dr. Ortom and Mr. Ikwue as a bridge of understanding across the state and the entire nation.
Governor Gabriel Suswam who was represented by his wife, Dooshima, was full of praises for Ortom and Ikwue who demonstrated the spirit of one Nigeria by allowing their children to go into inter-ethnic marriage which would further promote unity.
Jonathan, Mark and Suswam were particularly pleased that at a time many were fanning the embers of disunity in Nigeria, the Tiv and Idoma have through Ortom and Ikwue showed that since God had put the two ethnic groups together in Benue, no one should put them asunder.
The people of Nzorov where Ortom hails from and the people of Otukpo where Ikwue hails from could not hide their feelings as they rolled out drums to celebrate their own. Ikwue had in his wisdom, got married to a Tiv woman; so, giving out his daughter to a Tiv was like cementing the relationship between the two ethnic groups.
At the IBB square, venue of the occasion, people from all walks of life graced the occasion. Officials of the Ministry of Aviation showed love towards Ortom as if he had been their minister for a long time. Staff of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, took on themselves the responsibility of ensuring that the wedding was a success.
Traditional rulers from both divides also graced the occasion. To add more colour to the occasion, members of the opposition occupied prominent seats at the reception to show that the minister was a man of the people.
For those that had not known how close Dr. Ortom was to the media, it was confirmed at the reception that the minister who publishes the Oracle magazine has had a longstanding relationship with journalists. Indeed, Dr. Ortom was President of the Independent Print-Media Publishers Association of Nigeria.
Ortom relates one-on-one with every correspondent of national dailies in Benue State. In fact, he sent invitation letters to the correspondents and delivered such letters to them personally to show that he had a lot of respect for them.
Christian associations from different churches sent representatives to the wedding. Both in the church and at the reception, the uniform of the various church organizations added beauty to the sitting arrangement.
The reception was arranged in such a way that the Tiv and Idoma mixed together with traditional music renting the air. As if Ortom had arranged for a special Idoma music, his in-laws composed a music series on his achievements and his ambition to rule Benue State in 2015.
When some day in April this year, Dr. Ortom gives out a daughter of his in marriage would anyone say the invasion of Guma Local Government and the entire Tivland as well as Agatu in Idomaland would not be a blessing to the people of Benue State in due course if at the peak of the crisis the minister’s blessings increase like those of the biblical Abraham?
Ortom has followed the biblical injunction that says one should not marry from among his relations – Genesis Chapter 28. The wedding between Ortom’s son and Ikwue’s daughter may not have so much significance for now but as the 2015 draws nearer, some people would certainly see that there was the hand of God in that unification.
It was on March 29 that one came to know that several groups had already been formed in support of Dr. Ortom’s governorship ambition. It was on that day that those who had bought vehicles for the Ortom’s ambition displayed them for people to see.
No one can make any definite statement about how far Ortom has gone in his quest for the number one position in Benue State just as no one can also say that any other aspirant is more acceptable than Dr. Ortom.
In fact, any governorship aspirant who has done so much for the people of Benue State is only trying to emulate Ortom who began his good works when he was the chairman of Guma Local Government. When he was later the state secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, he became the symbol of the party everywhere he went.
Akor, Benue State correspondent of Daily Newswatch wrote this piece which was published on Saturday, 19th April, 2014.