New dawn, as Tiv land crowns Professor James Ortese Iorzua Ayatse King
Yesterday, the entire land of Tiv tribe was agog with celebrations, as a new Tor Tiv, Orchivirigh Professor James Ortese Ayatse, was installed. His ascendance to the throne marked the beginning of a new dawn, as his election was celebrated from far and near by notable personalities, including President Muhammadu Buhari.
The President described his emergence as an affirmation of his strength of character, integrity and moral authority garnered over the years as a lecturer, erudite scholar and administrator.
The new Tor Tiv succeeds Late Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, who ruled between 1991 and 2015.
Ayatse, an accomplished academic, was elected on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 by the kingmakers after a meeting of the Tiv Supreme Council, also known as Ijirtamen.
He had last week stunned his people when he elected to swear by the Holy bible rather than the local god of his people, “Swem”, affirming his believe in Christianity.
His Royal Highness, Orchivirigh Professor James Ortese Ayatse hails from Mbakan kindred of Ishangev-ya in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State. He was born on May 12, 1956 to the humble family of late Iorzua Ayatse and Mrs. Adeior Iorzua.
He attended Local Government Education Authority School, Orbiam, Ikov, Ushongo Local Government Area, Local Government Education Authority School, Mbagbegba, Shangev-ya and later completed his primary education at St. Anne’s Primary School, Adikpo, where he obtained the First School leaving certificate.
He attended Government Secondary School Gboko, for his secondary school and passed with Grade One division. Armed with the excellent West African School Certificate result, Prof. Ayatse proceeded to the prestigious University of Ibadan and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biochemistry. He was the best graduating student in the department.
Thereafter, he obtained his Master of Science degree in Biochemistry from the University of Calabar, where again, he was the best graduating student. He moved to the University of Surrey, England, as a Commonwealth student for his Doctorate Degree in Biochemistry. He returned to University of Calabar, for his Master in Business Administration (MBA).
Prof. Ayatse had a sterling career in academics and educational management. He started his career in 1980 as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Calabar and rose steadily and rapidly to attain the highest rank of a Professor of biochemistry in 1993, becoming the first ever, and perhaps, still the only Professor of Biochemistry of Tiv extraction. He has held several important positions in the university.
His Royal Majesty, Tor Tiv is the only Tiv man who has served as a Vice Chancellor of two federal universities in Nigeria namely: Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, 2001 – 2006 and Federal University, Dutsin-Ma.
At the University of Agriculture Makurdi, a once restive university, Prof. Ayatse used his sagacity and astuteness to restore peace and stability to the unending students’ violent unrests and strikes.
As vice Chancellor of the Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Prof. Ayatse brought his experience to bear on the newly established university. He was the first Vice Chancellor out of the nine federal universities established at the time, to graduate students and mobilise them for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps. He also conducted the first ever convocation of the university before completing his tenure. He laid a solid foundation for an Information Communication Technology (ICT) driven system, with computerised and online services. In January 2015 and 2016, the institution was rated as the 14th best university in Nigeria ahead of many older institutions.
He served as a member of the Governing Councils of the National Youth Service Corp and Michael Okpara University, Umudike.
In all the positions he has held, he used them for the good of humanity. He facilitated the employment of not only several Tiv sons and daughters in universities and other establishments. Prof. Ayatse is intelligent, hardworking, self-motivated and result oriented, who steers his affairs with the fear of God Almighty.
Prof. Ayatse, a celebrated academic and university administrator emerged as Tor Tiv on Tuesday, December 20, 2016 when the Electoral College overwhelmingly voted him in a process that lasted three days. He scored the highest votes of 39 out of 46 votes to floor three other contenders.
His emergence after the death of the Fourth Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, who slept in the Lord last year is coming at a time the Tiv nation is faced with multifarious problems.
It is the expectation of the people that under Prof. Ayatse kingship, he will chart an agenda for the Tiv nation, which now appears to have no agenda. That Tiv nation must develop an inclusive agenda that would give them focus in their collective resolve to strengthen their cultural practices and language to make them stronger and more progressive, and to discard retrogressive customs that enslave or slow down development.
He is also expected to develop a smooth and cordial working relationship between the political class and traditional leadership by mediating in moments of crisis.
As a God-fearing leader, hardworking, self motivated and result orientated, the new Tor Tiv is also expected to use his vast connection to lobby the Federal Government for developmental patronage and placement of Tiv sons and daughters in the federal service, which is presently nothing to write home about.
As he settles down for the daunting challenge of offering traditional rulership, it is the hope of the Tiv man and woman that he will strive to find solution to the incessant farmers/herdersmen crisis that yearly bring displacement with its attendant difficulties.
Good enough, the new Tor Tiv, once remarked that under his reign, he will employd all avenue to boost farming in Tiv land.
In a nutshell, the general expectations of the people from the new Tor Tiv is for him to seek ways to return Tiv nation to God and seek His mercies to help heal their land and the mutual distrust that has divided the people. This he can do by reconciling his sons and daughters and build bonds of unity, peace and common destiny. It is their conviction that with his education, pedigree and antecedents, it is possible that he will repeat at home the feat he has achieved elsewhere.
Just a week ago, women drawn from the fourteen Tiv speaking council areas of the state, led by the Wife of the Governor, Dr. Mrs. Eunice Ortom on a solidarity visit on the Tor Tiv V, at his private residence in Makurdi, called on him to to review high bride price and other negative cultural practices detrimental to the development of the Tiv nation.
Mrs. Ortom had stated that if the high bride price is reviewed in the Tiv nation, it would enable many to get married without hindrance, and stop the tide of many of their daughters remaining spinsters in their parents’ homes.