Let me on behalf of the government and people of Benue State formally welcome all, who have come from far and near, to pay last respects to Tor Tiv the IV, His Royal majesty, the late Orchivirigh Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula – Chairman, Tiv Area Traditional Council and Benue State Council of Chiefs.
- Today is a moment of grief in the land. It is the climax of week-long activities outlined for the funeral of our deceased paramount ruler, the late Dr. Torkula who was selected and presented with the staff of the exalted office in 1991.
- His demise comes seventy years after the Tor Tiv stool was instituted in 1946. The office arose out of the desire of the Tiv people to have a symbolic unifying father figure who they could rally round and together tackle contemporary challenges. With time we can attest to the fact of the importance that the office has come to assume. This ranges from the search for peace, unity, progress and development, to the assertion of the traditional and cultural uniqueness of the Tiv as a people, among others.
- So much has already been said about our deceased paramount ruler and great Nigerian. But may I add that the late Dr. Torkula mobilized the traditional institution against all ills and negative trends such as the consumption of illicit gin (Ogogoro); crime and the ills that plaque our society today. As the father of the Tiv world-wide, His Royal Majesty found himself fighting hard in the twenty first century to keep his office useful and relevant to his people.
- Your Excellencies, my Lords, spiritual and temporal, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the late Dr. Torkula recorded positive contributions to the development of the Tor Tiv institution in particular and left legacies for the development of his people and Nigeria in general.
- He introduced a dress code for traditional rulers and chieftaincy title holders which gave them a unique identity, contributed immensely to the resolution of crises and disputes between warring communities within the State and with its neighbors.
- He supported the Mdzough U Tiv to provide a common platform to foster unity, progress and development for the Tiv within the country and in the Diaspora. The late Dr Torkula popularized Tiv culture and traditional fabrics, established second class and other category of Chiefs, gave support of the payment of moderate bride price and reduction of expensive burials.
- As Chancellor of the Universities of Ibadan and Umudike, he made enormous contributions to the education sector in the country. Indeed it is in acknowledgement of this fact and the foregoing that the state government has immortalized him by renaming the College of Advanced and Professional Studies, CAPS as Akawe Torkula College of Advanced and Professional Studies, Makurdi.
- His reign also witnessed the introduction of chieftaincy titles and its conferment on deserving subjects and distinguished friends of the Tiv within and outside the country. Our deceased monarch also contributed to the intellectual commonwealth of the Tiv people through books and articles.
- We remain grateful to the late Tor Tiv for his support with the entire Traditional Council for their roles in the amnesty we granted to Benue youths and people who surrendered illegal arms in their possession. No wonder that the program which recorded huge successes with the surrender of over 700 youths and close to 600 assorted weapons as well as thousands of ammunition has become a model. The challenge before the entire Tiv people is to sustain and deepen these legacies.
- However, the late Dr Torkula had several concerns which included the diminishing involvement of the Tiv people in the national scheme of things at the National level and their marginalization in appointments at that level as well as recruitment into the military and paramilitary agencies over the years. His spirit can only rest in peace if the relevant authorities address these concerns.
- May I use this forum to appeal to all the stakeholders involved in the selection of the next Tor Tiv to ensure a smooth and rancour-free process and to abide by the Ya Na Angbian principle that is well established among the people.
- As the father of the Tiv nation, the departure of the Begha U Tiv at this point has left a vacuum difficult to fill. To me as an individual the loss is also personal as the deceased is a son- in-law, his son having married my daughter.
- But we give God the glory as He is both the giver and taker of life. Let me express appreciation to the Tiv Area Traditional Council and other traditional councils with whom His Royal Majesty worked very closely for bearing his loss with equanimity and their presence here in their numbers. We equally appreciate the contribution of elders, eminent sons and daughters of Benue State and the Tiv community in the Diaspora and their attendance at this occasion.
- To the immediate family, I urge you to take solace in the fact that Dr. Torkula lived a worthy life, worked faithfully and died in the service to his people. We therefore wish to condole with you for this irreparable loss. We also assure you that the Benue State Government will continue to offer assistance to you so as to mitigate some of the consequences of the loss.
- We express our appreciation to the Central Planning Committee of the burial, the Mdzough U Tiv, the entire Tiv people at home and in the Diaspora, Ministries, Departments and Agencies; the organized private sector, Christians and Muslim Communities, other ethnic nationalities and the entire people of Benue State for their condolences, sacrifices, support and contributions for the successful burial of our Royal Father.
- We thank His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, members of the Federal Executive Council, State Governors and members of their executive councils, Distinguished Senate President and Senators, Honourable Speaker and Members of the National Assembly, Speaker and Members of the Benue State House of Assembly, Royal Majesties, members of the armed forces, academics, the police and other security agencies, the organized private sector and captains of industry, the political class and members of the diplomatic Corps as well as people from all works of life for their roles in according the deceased a befitting farewell.
- Your presence here personally and in representative capacity to pay last respects as well as various contributions to the funeral of our late Tor Tiv IV, Dr. Torkula is consoling. As we commit our royal father to mother earth, our prayers are that may the Almighty God grant his soul eternal rest, and all of us journey mercies to our respective destinations.
- Thank you all and God bless.
- In God we trust.
FUNERAL ORATION BY THE GOVERNOR OF BENUE STATE, SAMUEL ORTOM, IN RESPECT OF HIS ROYAL MAJESTY, ORCHIVIRIGH THE LATE DR. ALFRED AKAWE TORKULA, TOR TIV IV, IN GBOKO, BENUE STATE ON THURSDAY 4TH FEBRUARY, 2016.