The Committee on Political, Governance & Community Development of the Berom Educational and Cultural Organisation (BECO) was mandated on the 12 September 2020, to review political trajectory of Berom land and suggest strategic agenda for our political future as a people amongst other terms of references. The committee swung immediately in to action under the able Chairmanship of Professor Thomas Shut. The Committee designed the template for the project.
Committee members considered the work a privilege and an honour to serve Berom land. With the mindset to deliver, the Committee members left no stone unturned in undertaking the assignment. There were break-out sessions, debates, literature and document reviews, oral interviews of some stake holders etc.
The committee sat four times and agreed to interview old and respectable leaders of the land who were to guide us with oral history of the past and how it can be related to the future. The Committee agreed to meet about five older generation stakeholders in Berom land, the committee could only meet four. These four individuals were very impactful on the work. Nonetheless, critical and vital information was given from these personalities which impacted on committee’s work positively.
Committee worked as a team by pooling resources to mitigate issues of transportation, stationeries, miscellaneous expenses, etc.
2.0 TERM OF REFERENCE
- Review and analyse the process and direction of politics and politicking of the Berom nation.
- Analyse Nigeria’s political culture with a view to determine the position of Berom nation.
- In view of 1 and 2 above, develop a roadmap for effective political engagement, as well as deepening the process of political participation for the Berom nation.
- Suggest appropriate ways and means of deriving benefits and dividends from our vantage position of being the largest ethnic group in the state, in terms of political participation.
- Any other issues that may be deemed necessary and relevant to the afore-mentioned.
The committee reviewed journals, books and past BECO reports. Conducted oral interviews, held meetings to discuss each terms of reference.
- FINDINGS /OBSERVATIONS
The Committee after exhaustive deliberations on the various terms of reference, analyses of the interview reports related documents came out with the following findings that:
- Tin mining had a negative impact on the socio-political economic and cultural life of the berom people.
- The people were forcefully dispossed of their lands.
- TheBeom lost fertile farm land to mining related activities.
- The Berom natives were forced into mine fields as labourers, while foreigners served as Clerks and Head Men.
- Taxation forced the Berom people to work in the mines-fields at the expense of their subsistence farming.
- Bad elements such as vagabons and prisoners were brought in from the north and polluted our society with negative vices and diseases that were hitherto alien to the natives.
- The headmen at the camps began to contest ownership of the land and even the Traditional institutions.
- The missionaries brought western education and Christian religion; the product of such schools formed the second generation of the elites in Berom land.
- The first generation Berom elites were illiterates and semi-illiterates. Most of whom were miners, native authority police and traders/businessmen (Da D.B Zang P.D.Pwajok, Adudu Dung, Dung Balang, James Gyang, Chuwang Shen, all of blessed memory).
- The 1st and 2nd generation Berom politicians participated actively in politics such as the formation of the United Middle belt Congress (UMBC) with late Da Patrick Dokotri as its pioneer Secretary General.
- The Berom Progressive Union (BPU), a pressure group which later joined (UMBC) with Da Moses Nyam Kanang and D Patrick Davou Fomas pioneers.
- They resisted their relocation from their ancestral settlements to a strange land (Sabon-Zawan) through a legal process and won the case.
- In the first second and third republics, the Berom had a lot of consensus on party and political representation at all levels. Local, state and federal.
- There was a close touch between the politicians, elected representatives and the people. That created a platform for consensus politics.
- The story changed in the 4th republic till date. Where there is a disconnect between the political elites and the people.
- Today, the Berom politicians have distanced themselves from the electorates. They only deal with a few party officials and loyalists.
- The Berom have no well-thought-out plan for mentorship, political recruitment and succession. Even the 1st and 2nd generation politicians had no succession plan. That is why there are often succession problems, leadership vacuum and constant conflict by the elite whom are out for their personal interest.
- RECOMMENDATION FOR ACTION
After findings and observation. The Committee came up with the following recommendations:
- There is need for unity among Berom Organizations, Berom Elites and the Traditional Institutions.
- There is need for synergy in the activation of the Berom Organizations at the national and district levels
- There is a need for the establishment of a Berom political forum for political activities in Berom land, to enable them understand the core values of the Berom nation and protect them where ever they are (The Berom Interest).
- There is need for media presence within the Berom people at the state, national and global level through web presence, radio, tv and other channels to project our interest and reach out to the people at the grass root.
- The Berom need to build a formidable economic/business plan to reach out to the local communities through information linkage and all forms of communication to boost our economy.
- The Berom need to build political bridges across ethnic nationalities and regions so that we don’t remain an island.
- The Berom people need to return to their old values of sincerity and truth. Most of our leaders are deceptive in all ramifications that is why everybody wants to be a leader to protect his/her interest.
- The Berom nation should have a participatory approach to issues and decision making. The issue of imposition by one man, a cabal or a few elites should be discouraged.
- Our core interest which is non-negotiable is to fight to protect our land and traditional institution, particularly the stool of the Gbong-Gwom Jos.
- There is a need to create a think-tank for the Berom nation to be coordinated by BECO.
- The Berom man needs to learn how to lobby and not remain aloof and proud. We are a highly impatient people and we need a lot of social capital (friends) across the nation and even globally.
- There is no superior or inferior Berom. Let us be one united people irrespective of our districts. The quest for political dominance of one district over the other should be discouraged.
- To boost our economy and promote grass root development, BECO should encourage the formation of wards, villages and district cooperative societies to enable us tap from state and federal grants particularly for farming and animal breeding (cows, goats, sheep, rabbits, poultry, dogs) etc.
- The Berom could use their numerical strength for political advantage if properly managed.
- The Berom to use their number to request for more wards, state and federal constituencies.
- There is need for a liaison officer for all Berom politicians to interface with the electorates at their district levels.
- The Berom politicians to get actively involved in partisan politics especially at the state and national levels to head the political parties, even small ones as a deliberate strategy to know what is going on politically.
Professor Thomas Shut Kim Kaze