The Chairman of Benue State Traditional Council and Paramount Ruler of the Tiv Kingdom, Professor James Ayatse, has called on Benue leaders, especially the political class, to engage in activities that would preach peace to their followers.
This was even as the Tor Tiv has beckoned on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgent public importance, assent to the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill.
It could be recalled that the National Assembly had recently passed a bill for an act to establish the Nigerian Peace Corps and also adopted the conference committee report which seeks to give legal backing to the existing Peace Corps of Nigeria.
Addressing the Officers and men of the Corps in his palace, Gboko, on Friday, Professor Ayatse said what the Peace Corps seeks to address in Nigeria was the challenge of engaging the youths in the society.
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The Paramount Ruler charged the National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Amb (Dr.) Dickson Akoh not to relent in his crusade to get the youths off the street with gainful employments.
“What you are doing, you are serving the country and helping the country address a very major challenge we are having about engagement of our young people.
“Two days ago, this whole place was filled by young people here in Gboko. Some of them were outside drumming, and the common challenge all of them have, is that they don’t have something to do.
“This is what you are addressing.
“As parents and leaders, we know what it means when you leave youths idle. With all the energy and intelligence embedded in them, if you don’t engage them, the devil will engage them. That’s what you are doing”, the Tor Tiv said.
Speaking further, Professor Ayatse said, “I want to assure you that we will not withdraw that support until the bill is signed into law. We will continue to be there for you.
“I believe that, the President will have the reason to sign the bill because it addresses a very big challenge. As Politicians, they try to do it, whether they call it N-This, N-That. But you have provided a platform for them which they can easily use to solve the problems.
“I want to salute the gallantry of the leadership in the struggle, a long struggle for this noble work”.
Speaking on the recent persecution of Akoh and other officers of the Peace Corps by security agencies, the King of the 4th largest ethnic group in Nigeria said, the harassment was uncalled for.
His words, “I visited Facebook when you were being harassed and the opinions of the young people was overwhelming about you. I think those people made a mistake.
“Like I always say, any good thing you want to do, there will be people who will fight it. That’s just the proof that what you are doing is wonderful”.
On the unity of Benue leaders, Professor Ayatse said it was one of his cardinal plans to ensure unity and tranquillity was restored to the food basket state, adding that efforts were in place to also ensure peaceful co-existence of dwellers.
He links the division and some of the problems in the state to Politicians, whom he said, sometimes unite at their levels and would come out with different things thereafter.
The Tor Tiv said he had paid visit to the Och’Idoma’s palace with all the 1st class Chiefs in Tiv land with the message of peace amongst the subjects.
Earlier in his address, the National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Dickson Akoh, said they were at the Tor Tiv palace to celebrate and congratulate him on his ascension to the traditional dynasty.
Akoh acknowledged the role the Tiv Area Traditional Council played while the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill was before the both chambers of the National Assembly.
He said, “immediately the public hearing on the Bill was advertised, the Tiv Area Traditional Council was the first institution that wrote a strong memorandum in support of Peace Corps, even though many other traditional councils supported it from other states”.
He explained that, out of 570 memoranda received at the National Assembly, it was only 4 memoranda that kicked against the establishment of the Peace Corps.
“This was even predicted before the public hearing that those 4 institutions would definitely kick against the bill”, Akoh added.
While enumerating the core mandate of the Peace Corps, the Commandant said the Bill establishing the institution was explicit, as it did not place the roles of any existing security agencies on the Corps.
He said, when established, the Nigerian Peace Corps would only help to compliment the efforts of other agencies in contributing its quota in neighbourhood watch and nation building.
He assured the Tiv traditional institution that, having supported the passage of the Bill, the Peace Corps would not deviate from its core mandate as stipulated in the bill, when established.
Akoh, who is also an Ambasador of Peace, also used the occasion to canvassed for the unity of Benue leaders, urging the Paramount Ruler to champion the cause of peace not only among the Tiv tribes but the whole state .
He said, “it is our desire that you make use of your professional background and your position as the Chairman of Council of Chiefs to bring Benue people together. It’s not all about the Tiv nation alone.
“I’m sure with exchange of visits, you can build confidence among the notable tribes in Benue State. We will continue to support you in all efforts to enthrone peace in the State”.