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Abu King Shuluwa: From the soapbox to Tiv royalty

Having failed four times to get nominated to contest for Benue State governorship elections, Abu King Shuluwa, is now the Ter Sankera.   The First…

Having failed four times to get nominated to contest for Benue State governorship elections, Abu King Shuluwa, is now the Ter Sankera.

 

The First Class traditional ruler of Sankera in Benue State, Tor Sankera, Abu King Shuluwa, never nursed the idea of becoming a monarch until opportunity thrust the royal stool on him two years ago.

Sequel to his installation among nine other selected first class chiefs who on Monday, May 14, 2018, received their staff of office from Governor Samuel Ortom, His Royal Highness Shuluwa had made an impressive mark in the political circle of the state and beyond.

Abu King Shuluwa

The royal father sojourned in politics for at least 17 years after he retired from the civil service and was a force to reckon with as he was able to help many politicians achieved their desired dreams even though he never won any of the governorship elections he contested four times. He went into partisan politics in 1991 because he wanted a good life for our Benue people.

“I was never successfully in these four times. The generality of the people were behind me but there were few individuals who didn’t support me. I was also able to put people into power in various ways. But I never won any election in my life and the only one I contested for was governorship,” he told Daily Trust on Sunday.

Shuluwa, born on December 31, 1946, at Usambe, lkyrav-Tiev ll, Katsina Ala Local Government Area of the state, where he hailed from graduated from Atlanta University and bagged Msc in Social Planning and Administration. The monarch started his working career in 1966 and rose steadily to the peak of his career in civil service before retirement in 1991.

He held various positions which included Benue State Commissioner for Social Development, Youth and Sports between 1988 and 1989. He was Chairman of Benue State Tractor Hiring Agency, (BENTHA) and Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as Commissioner of the Ministry of information and Culture.

At the national level, he was Federal Commissioner, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) and Chairman, Governing Council of Federal College of Education, Yola in Adamawa State just as he played the role of an elder in his political parties before destiny beckoned on him for royalty.

However, the journey to the royal throne had unknowingly began for him, precisely on April 7, 2015, when the then Benue House of Assembly during the exiting period of ex-governor, Gabriel Suswam passed a chieftaincy bill into law which allowed the state government to create 10 intermediate area traditional councils to include Jechira, Jemgbagh, Kwande, Sankera, Gwer and Lobi for the Tiv people and Igede, Idoma Enone, Agatu/Apa and Otukpo/Ohimini, Idoma land area.

And so, by October 16, 2016, the administration of Ortom, now in power, after an amendment of the law, led a-three-day fasting and prayers which ended on October 18, 2016, an exercise, the governor said was meant to erase the era of using witchcraft to install traditional rulers.

Interestingly, by December, 2016, the appointments of the first class chiefs were already completed in the Tiv speaking area. Shuluwa recalled “I never thought I would be a traditional ruler. But when the law stipulated that the new stool would be interchanged between the Ipusu and Ichongo -the two ruling houses in Tiv land, and in Sankera where I come from, there are Ichongo and Ipusu, the law said they should go by that, so I went in.

“We started by consensus as stipulated in the law. Ipusu was out of the contest because they had held kingship in the past and so Ichongo where I belong was favoured. On the day of selection, on November 29, 2016, Ikyrav and Ugondo under Ichongo in Kastina Ala were presented and Ikyrav was picked because Ugondo had benefitted. And I was selected against any other nomination. I was unopposed.

“The whole of the people would have wanted someone else because of the gang up but there was no other nomination. I was the only one presented to government committee. Initially, I wasn’t interested, to be honest. But after a careful thought of how politics had treated me despite my popularity and hard work, I gave into the traditional stool,” Shuluwa explained.

He further pointed out that all positions he held at national level were based on recommendations from outsiders who thought he was too good to be left out but back at home there was always a gang up against him, wondering why a clique of individuals never liked him.

Citing examples of such experience in politics, the traditional ruler added, “I was always knocked off at the primary level, yet I was so popular among the people such that there is no single village that they don’t know King Shukuwa in Benue State. But, a small clique gets themselves together to deny me opportunities. A minority of the elite ganged up against me. Those denials were act of God. I hold no grudges against any one.”

Shuluwa, nevertheless, rejoices that all of those setbacks as it appeared then were only stepping stone for him to ascend the throne to do justice and serve his people like he would have wanted with the opportunities he sought for to become governor earlier in life.

He said, “I was even denied national award. They used me like a broom and threw it away. I’m happy I have left them. I know the tradition. I have been with the people and even in the rural areas. I know what my people feel. My experience so far is bitter and sweet. Sweet that Sankera had been a peaceful area. The people love strangers.

“Unfortunately, the insecurity which had befallen the land in the past ten years or more is the most unfortunate thing that I have encountered; killings, kidnapping and robbery. Such things as we had never experience before. It started before my time but became worse now. The present government inherited the challenges. At the moment, the security has been improved and things are going back to normal.”

 

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