Many people from Tivland thronged the Sultan of Sokoto’s palace on November 1, 2016 for the 10th anniversary of the sultan, exuding liveliness. One of their leaders, Wantaregh Paul Unongo, had led 150 Tiv sons and daughters to rejoice with Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.
It was attention-grabbing as the group entertained the crowd with their indigenous dances outside the palace.
Unlike many other groups which arrived after the activities began and had to struggle to meet with the sultan, the Tivs were in town well before the commencement of activities and had good time with the sultan, and even planned a 10-day stay in Sokoto to mark the anniversary. Their gleeful visit, spiced with jocular conversations and reminiscences, was seen by many as heartening and very significant, considering the recurrent TIV/Fulani clashes in the country.
Wantaregh Unongo asserted that they went to Sokoto with peace and amity. “I give you goodwill, and I stretch forth hands of fellowship and love to the two groups to which I belong, by blood, my maternal grandfather being a Fulani from Kano and my paternity being Tiv from Benue,” he declared before the sultan.
Unongo noted that the Tiv and Fulani shared a common historical relationship in a fraternity of brotherhood. He revealed that as a Tiv grandson of a Fulani, “I feel in humility, eminently qualified to stand before the whole world to speak at this great occasion to honour a notable Fulani leader, and indeed, a Nigerian leader.”
“The Tiv and Fulani came to meet and establish a symbolic relationship nearly 400 years ago. This relationship was based on mutual respect and trust. While appreciating each other’s different attributes and world view, they yet recognized in their people, similarities in ways of life like integrity, valour and honour, values by which a man’s character is measured. It is therefore not a surprise why these two groups that are by physical attributes and occupation so different, would come to be such great friends since values and ethics as the basis of all sensible human relationships has continued to be so until quite recently,” he said.
Unongo, who is the Deputy Leader, Northern Elders’ Forum, harped on the need for the Tiv and Fulani to examine the descent from their fraternal relations and juxtapose same against their seeming incapability and inability to amicably iron out their differences.
“As we join your royal majesty, your eminence, in celebrating the 10th anniversary of your ascension to this revered throne, we must also make out time to think about issues that trouble our nation not just in lamentation or repressed nostalgia but as elders and leaders, we owe the nation not just a responsibility to rescue it from falling into the abyss, but to also create a conducive environment for peaceful co-existence and cementing the bonds of friendship that have held us together over the centuries,” he said.
“We are proud to recall through history that our two peoples over the years, perfected their conflict resolution mechanism which ensured peaceful co-existence that was unparalleled. We have fought long enough. We must return to our brotherhood fraternity which has been the envy of all,” he added.
Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar was appreciative of the visit, pointing out that that it showed oneness of the Tiv and Fulani. He urged them to embrace dialogue towards peaceful resolution of crises, just as he urged Nassarawa, Benue and Taraba states governors to re-open fresh pages of discourse which he promised to champion for the amicable resolution of the Tiv/Fulani clashes.