Sunday, 5 February 2017

A Benue Without Suswam By Comrade Honesty

It is a known fact that Benue State is one of the most outstanding states in North-central Nigeria and has tremendously contributed towards the peace, progress, development and the unity of our beloved country Nigeria and is still contributing till date. The state which was carved out of the old Benue and Plateau states on the 3rd of February 1976 under the then military government of General Murtala Muhammed has since its creation quite a number of leaders who have presided over it. Prominent among them were Jonah Jang who later served as the immediate past civilian governor of Plateau state. Others include late Apir Aku, Adasu, George Akume, Gabbriel  Suswam and the incumbent governor Samuel Ortom.

All these past leaders no doubt in their own capacity, did their best in bringing development to the state.For instance, it is a known fact that the late Apir Aku laid the foundation for the rapid transformation of the state through industrialization, massive construction of roads network across the state during his stint as the first democratically elected governor of the state. Adasu on his part established the state owned university which is today ranked among the first best state owned universities in the country especially in the area of academic standards, infrastructures, character molding and learning. Though many analyst believed that senator George Akume who served as the third democratically elected governor of the state performed below average, a number of Benue people also believe he can be excused especially given the fact that his tenure came immediately after a long spell of military autocratic rule which no doubt brought a lot of hunger, under development and massive torture to people of this country in general. So, Akume’s government was to some extent seen as a regime that brought hope to the hopeless and restore sanity to the system and therefore much was not expected of him and his administration.

But, what can we say about Gabriel Suswam administration? Suswam government was seen by many as the second part of late Apir Aku’s administration in terms of infrastructural development in Benue state. In fact, many see Suswam as the best thing that ever happened to the people of Benue state in the area of good leadership. This is very true because it was under Suswam’s  administration that the state recorded the highest number of both rural and urban roads construction. He constructed Makurdi international Market which is today rated as one of the best in Northern Nigeria. Others include; massive construction of school structures and higher institutions, secondary and primary schools across every local government of the state. He constructed many hospitals across the state and in particular, the Benue state university teaching hospital.  Greater Makurdi water works sighted in all the three senatorial district in Benue state is also his brain child. Upgrade of the Apir Aku stadium to international level which many athletes believed can be compared to some classical stadium in Europe. Suswam also gave all the towns within the state a good face lift through first-rate urban planning which ensured the installation of street lights, the beautifications of the streets and the establishment of gardens. Medical and law students in the state were also given special scholarship to enable them to successfully finish their programmes at various higher institutions at both local and international levels.

It is therefore surprising to still see people, in spite of Suswam’s immeasurable achievements, embark on campaign of calumny and blackmail against Suswam’s government accusing it of embezzling monies he would have used to development the state. This campaign is championed by some disgruntled elements, charlatans and lazy sycophants who instead of crosschecking fact are busy supporting lies put up by these disgruntled elements.

Truth be told, Governor Suswan’s achievements are indelible and cannot be wished away by any form of campaign no matter how hard. My advice to those detractors is for them to be bold enough and constructively engage the current administration so as to track the way it has been using the funds allocated to our dear state especially the bailout funds, infrastructural loans, internally revenue generation funds and the Paris club funds recently released to the state by the federal government to offset the salary arrears of Benue workers .It is  important at this time because many of the workers and  pensioners in the state are yet to receive what is due to them after such funds has been remitted to the state.

At this juncture, it is important to ask the big question- Is Benue without Suswam doing better or going from better to worst?  No doubt, Benue without Suswam is not better today. There is hunger and pain in the land. This is true because, people are dying every minute as a result of frustration, disappointment, hunger and starvation. Truth be told, Benue without Suswam have been a Benue of kidnapping, assassination, armed robbery and all kinds of evils. In fact, no reasonable Benue citizen’s needs to be told before he or she could attest to the fact that; Benue without Suswam is one of the most expensive mistake the state citizens has ever made. We still need Suswam’s leadership prowess, his leadership experience, his highly qualitative style of governance and his compassionate styles of management so that together we can join hands with whoever that is governing the state to develop the state above the height that he left it instead of destroying the good legacies that he left behind.

Benue without Suswam is not healthy at all. I see the committee set up by the present government in the state to probe Suswam administration as the best comic relief of the millennium. This is true because, every penny  that accrued to the state was judiciously managed to the benefit of every indigenes of the state. Therefore, the current campaign of frauds leveled against the immediate past governor should be totally condemned by every citizens of the state. It is unwarranted. The current government should rather tap from his wealth of experience and knowledge to help move the state forward. The current approach is cheap and diversionary and will not in any way help their electoral fortune in the near future. Suswam should be allowed to rest after putting in sixteen good years in service to his people.

No doubt the current fight against corruption which the current central government is waging is a welcome development and should be supported by every patriotic Nigerian but the war should not be lopsided. It should be balanced and seen to go after any individual found to be guilty irrespective of ethnicity, religion, political affiliations, race or tribe. It is also very important to note that corruption comes in diverse forms. It is not only restricted to the misuse of public funds. When a Man snatches another’s Man`s wife, it is corruption. Favoritism, tribalism, racism, putting another religion ahead of the other are all forms of corruption. There is need to confront all forms of corruption. I am not saying that folks who are been speculated to have stolen the material goods of the country should be allow to go free. But, if real they stole the wealth and proven guilty by the court of law, then they should as well face the wrath of the law. But, in view of the fact that most of the cases are still in court, there is need for us to be careful how they ridicule their past leaders who tremendously deployed their wealth of knowledge to improve their lives during their tenure in office. The fight against public looting of the country’s treasury should be holistic and not selective. It should start with people in the current government. Let us call a spade a spade. Let the main corruption war of pecuniary crime begin from PMB’s cabinet members. This will make us believe the validity of the fight.

Gabriel Suswam should not be facing unnecessary harassment from the anti-graft agencies The landmark achievement of Suswam eight years tenure as Benue State Governor is so glaring for everyone to see. This is why one third of Benue populace that see suswam as hero, were in doubt and shock over the authenticity of the recent prosecution of Suswam at federal high court Abuja. Many see it as selective justice.

I am calling on all to come together to lay solid foundation for this generation and generation yet unborn otherwise a time will come when we may not be able to walk the streets of Benue state because of the rage of the approaching generation on us. Governor Ortorm should close ranks with his predecessor to move the state forward to its past glory.

Meanwhile, as I said previously, nobody was ever born without sin. I know Suswam might have taken some erroneous steps during his tenure as governor. But we should not because of that mistake not recall his landmark achievements.Suswan’s foot print will continue to remain visible in Benue state. Let us not allow people to divide us. Brooms brush off better when they are deposit collectively in cluster. Consequently, I wish to advocate that; every Benue inhabitant should rise up in total condemnation of the prosecution of Suswam.

Comrade Honesty

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