Monday Column by Emmanuel Yawe
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In 1953, there was commotion in the Middle Zone League – a political organization put together by the legion of minority groups in Northern Nigeria. The Middle Zone League leadership decided to go into alliance with the Northern Peoples Congress, thus triggering a revolt by those who did not want that alliance. Led by Moses Nyam Rwang, a Birom member of the Northern House of Assembly and Bello Ijumu a Yoruba radical from Kabba Province and first Secretary General of Aminu Kano’s NEPU, the duo decided to form a Middle Belt Peoples Party and elect a Tiv man, Hon E G Gundu as
their President. It was a strategic political master stroke.
Hon E G Gundu was the founder of Tiv Progressive Union (TPU). Given the numerical strength of his tribesmen, his TPU, had numerical superiority in all political movements by minority groups in the north. Gundu had also been elected as a member of the Northern House of Assembly. His emergence as the new leader of the splinter group –
Middle Belt Peoples Party sent shock waves all over political circles of the north.
Hon E G Gundu did not waste time. He took advantage of the circumstances and moved – fast. He went into alliance with the founding fathers of Nigerian nationalism, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), thus becoming the first northern
group to link up with the restive southerners who had become a thorn in the flesh of the colonial government. If before now the colonial masters wrote off the agitators in Lagos as a group of malcontents, agitators and libelous journalists, limited and or restricted to only one section of the country, Gundu opened a new front. Gundu did not
only believe in the fundamental human rights of minorities in Nigeria, he believed in the rights of all Nigerians to be free of colonial domination. By linking northern nationalists with those in the south, Gundu made sure that Nationalism was no longer a Lagos or even
southern affair in Nigeria. The north was also caught by the wildfire.
With the numerical strength of his ethnic men, he was able to fuse the fissiparous ethnic groups of northern Nigeria into one formidable group, the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC). His fellow ethnic man Joseph Sarwuan Tarkaa was the lucky inheritor of this novel pollical initiative. Today, Tarka is recognized nationwide as the champion of minorities. If you mention the name Gundu now, nobody remembers or seems to care. But he was the original Marshall of that epic historical struggle for the freedom of Nigeria and Nigerian ethnic minorities.
Hon E G Gundu was the father of Mathias Gbileh Gundu who made his mark in the New Nigerian as the advertisement Manager of the once powerful newspaper in the 60’s. It was to Mathias Gbileh Gundu that Marshal
Hemen Gundu was born in Zaria in 1958.
Marshall Gundu started his education at the St Bartholomew, Sultan Bello and St Peter’s Demonstration Primary Schools all in Kaduna State. He did his secondary school in St Johns and attended School of Arts and Science Zaria. By 1981, he had obtained a Bachelors degree in English Language at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. Beginning from 1983, Marshall Gundu followed the footsteps of his father and grandfather by offering thirty-five years untinted service to his motherland, Nigeria. His starting point was the Executive office of the President as an Information Officer 11. His skills as an information manager were soon noticed and he was posted to the
Nigerian Embassy in Bonn Germany as an Information attache from 1986 to 1991.
On his return to Nigeria, he served as the head Press and Public Relations Unit in the following federal ministries: Commerce and Industry, Industry, Health, Mines and Steel Development, Finance and Niger Delta Affairs.
He traversed the world in the course of his services to Nigeria visiting such countries as Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Chad,China, England, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Niger, Sri Lanka, South Africa, South Korea, USA, Argentina and the
United Arab Emirates among others. It was in recognition of his global.travels in the service of Nigeria that his friends and colleagues nicknamed him the “Ambassador”.
Marshal Gundu was indeed an Ambassador extraordinary. Always bustling with energy, his ability to mix with all Nigerians and people of all nationalities amazed all of us who knew him closely. He was a thoroughbred ‘Kaduna boy’ who grew up in Kaduna when the town was very
cosmopolitan. He spoke flawless Hausa and a smattering of the other major Nigerian languages.
Everybody who met Marshall Gundu testifies to the fact that he was generous and kind, even to a fault. If you had a financial problem and contacted him for assistance, he went all out of his way to help. If he did not have money to assist you, he could easily go and borrow to help you out.
His sudden death on Christmas eve last year shocked members of his family, friends and all those who knew him. He was buried at his home village of Uchi Mbakor in Tarka Local Government of Benue State on 26th January, 2019, leaving behind an aged mother, a wife, two sons,
two sisters and many other relations. His school mates at Rimi (St John’s College) were led to the burial ceremony by Mike Reis, the National Secretary of St John’s Old Boys
Association. The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Information – his mother ministry – also sent a delegation as well as the Ministry of Niger Delta where he served last.