By Bernard Kifasi
The death of Terwase Akwaza popularly known as Gana, has generated some discourses in the country with the narrative of some politicians in Benue State. There seem to be an attempt to glorify his grave misdeeds that have seen to the death of thousands in parts of Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa states. This, in my opinion, should give Nigerians a cause to express worry.
The Benue politicians who have been his benefactors have consequently launched a despicable campaign to blackmail the Nigerian Army for bringing an end to the inglorious era perpetuated by Gana. This fact they can’t come to terms with hence the despicable narrative been pushed in the public space.
As a first, Gana wasn’t deserving of an Amnesty. That greatly shows how morally bankrupt some politicians are. His reign of terror in states in North Central was deadly and with the active support from some politicians that found his nefarious activities suitable for political purposes. I recalled sometime in 2019, Governor Samuel Ortom had accused a former governor of the state and serving senator, George Akume of employing the services of Gana, to rig the presidential and governorship elections. What does this tell us?
At this point, I think it is imperative to put issues in proper perspectives as regards who Gana was in his lifetime. Gana was a tool that was available for use by politicians in Benue State in the perpetuation of crimes against the people. He was the head of a dreaded militia group that wreaked havoc in the state as well as neighbouring states for political expediency to suit the purpose.
He consequently reigned with the support of these same politicians that now want to turn the truth on its head and castigate the military for coming to the rescue of the people in bringing to an end the life of the harbinger of death who in his elements confronted soldiers conducting stop and search operations along the Makurdi-Gboko road.
Upon his death, the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom and a former governor of the state, Gabriel Suswan have come out to accuse the Nigerian Army of extra-judicial killing and as well making a comparison with the death of the founder of the Boko Haram terrorist group, Mohammed Yusuf.
This comparison got me thinking about the integrity of some political leaders in Benue State. They have in a most despicable manner attempted to vilify the efforts of the Nigerian Army in addressing the security challenges in the state.
In this case, the facts are different. This is a clear case of gun engagements with the military on the road as various independent investigations have confirmed. Multiple sources have corroborated these facts, and it tends to look like only Governor Samuel Ortom, and Gabriel Suswam are desperate to manufacture their version of the story at the expense of the truth.
It is indeed a statement of the fact that Gana killed innocent Nigerians at will. Some he buried alive for ritual purpose. He was a Chief above the Chiefs. He was a political lord who was willing to kill for the right price. This much he confessed in an interview with Channels Television where is stated that he was approached to cause mayhem in Taraba state and he gave them a bill of one billion naira. Hear his words: “I told them to give me one billion naira, but they refused and offered me 50 million naira. I rejected it because there is a strong presence of security people in the state. They later offered me 350 million naira, and I rejected it because it was too small.”
This is the same militia leader that these politicians are trying to glorify. If this is not an irony and wickedness, I don’t know what else to call it. Again, what the general public might not know is the fact that Gana was one person who could disguise and kill people in the name of herdsmen to put the entire state on fire. Gana was everything wrong with the Nigerian society and the political class. He represented everything unacceptable with the system where politicians in high places patronize people of questionable character to torment their enemies and keep their people in penury. He was responsible for the escalation of crisis between the Tivs and the Jukuns as he would always mastermind attacks and make it look like someone was trying to hit at his people.
I make bold to state that the so-called Amnesty Programme initiated by the governor of Benue state and his co-travellers was ostensibly to secure his loyalty. So in a way, the confrontation that Gana had with the soldiers at the checkpoint that ultimately led to his death didn’t go down well with them because it indeed altered their political game plan to continue to fan the embers of disunity in the country.
I recall that at numerous forums, it has been stated that the issue of the herders-farmers crisis in parts of North Central is a political arrangement put in place as a means of achieving political goals. And Gana was the chief implementer of that political arrangement. And now that he is dead, his political patrons are finding it difficult to come to terms with the reality.
The political leaders in Benue state indeed have many explanations to make to Nigerians with regards the funding of the nefarious activities of Gana and his militia members in perpetuating conflict in Benue and neighbouring states in North Central Nigeria.
These politicians, by all intent and purposes, are worse than the devil because it is inexcusable for them to attempt to vilify the Nigerian Army in this regard. It is ordinarily expected that the rational thing that ought to have been done is to commend the Nigerian Army for this feat, rather than paint a different picture in the ignoble attempt to deceive members of the unsuspecting general public.
At this point, I am glad that the life and times of Gana is coming to the public space. It is becoming clear that Gana was a political stooge whose stock in trade was to kill and maim for political reasons and of course for the right fee.
It is thus my considered opinion that in a typical Africa set-up, people like Gana should be buried in the forest, so no child is ever allowed his memories. I do hope that the appropriate authorities will do the needful to reveal further those politicians that sponsored the nefarious activities of Gana while he reigned supreme in the perpetuation of evil against the people and at the detriment of peace and security.
The likes of the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom and his buddy, Gabriel Suswan should desist from insulting the sensibilities of Nigerians with their rhetoric aimed at deceiving Nigerians on the true identity of Terwase Akwaza. A word should be enough for the wise!
Kifasi is a retired civil servant and wrote from Jalingo.