A look at the self-styled people’s governor of Benue state with a face always beaming with smiles will never reveal to anyone that behind that soft mien lies a determined Spartan who never gives up in pursuing a just struggle for his people. The business of governance either in a democracy or in a military rule is arguably a battlefield where forces rise up either within the system or outside to confront ideas that are meant to impact positively on the lives of the citizenry. Experiences from the past have shown that no government comes into power without a clear bailout approach to tackle the surmountable challenges militating against the good of the nation but the very enemies of the people who masquerade themselves as lovers of the people have always gone to town to blackmail the very people who chose the rough path to leave indelible footprints behind.
Learning from the Benue state example in this era where many of us have been privileged to watch activities from the sideline since 2007, it has become clear that a silent war has been brewing between those who believe in the future of the state and those who think their words should be a command even in a democracy. The people’s Governor, Rt. Hon Gabriel Suswam by virtue of his determination to rescue his people from the shackles of squalor, hunger, poverty, ignorance and sickness doubles as the people’s general without a khaki. However, some past leaders who misused very rare privileges teamed up on the other side. In their wildest imaginations the 2011 gubernatorial elections in the state was the presumed battle ground to finally test their strengths with a young man who has carved a niche of excellence for himself.
This was the same platform where they held sway for years and could not provide any visible leadership until the coming of Governor Gabriel Suswam as leader of the People’s Democratic Party in Benue State who brought the elders together at various caucuses and fully institutionalized the principle of internal democracy in order to enforce discipline and promote peace and unity within the party. In the absence of any responsible aspirant within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to challenge Suswam at the primaries, a mediocre who ordinarily lacks both the intellectual capacity and financial muscle to prosecute a councillorship election in the remotest village in any part of Nigeria appeared from the blues after being sponsored to purchase the nomination form as Suswam’s contender for their party’s ticket. Those within the party saw it as a comic demonstration of the party’s respect for all shades of character especially in the new spirit of internal democracy under the Agbo Emmanuel-led administration to open their doors to all who have something to offer but analysts outside were fast to see their plot as weak, deceptive and a mere attempt to discredit the achievements of the active administration.
The fear of a reprisal attack from the Suswam’s army forced our brothers from the other side to enlist the support of Benue people in the Diasporas including this columnist and some outsiders who were desperate about extending their political fortunes to north central Nigeria to join forces with them. All to achieve nothing but according to them to throw the little boy (Suswam) away. In trying to achieve this selfishly conceived agenda some governors of the southwest who were eager for Nigerians to know them visited Benue State and promised to use their state resources to also throw the little boy away.
During their visit they forgot that only bona fide voters in Benue will be allowed to cast their ballot during the elections. I am surprised that they could not see the transformational indices of Governor Gabriel Suswam to be stronger than their serially masterminded campaign of calumny in the media that the man was performing less than what he was getting from Abuja. In short, Benue people refused to be deceived by their sudden Lagos friends who promised to link Benue up with the 4th Main Land Bridge from Makurdi to Lagos knowing well that this same people got more than necessary to transform the state to an Eldorado if truly they love Benue like they prophesied. On daily basis young men and women were slain like Christmas goats by these forces just to give the colouration that Suswam’s government was anti-people and should be discarded.
In any contest a lose for one is always a gain for another, as this continuous guerrilla tactics to get the people’s sympathy became a bonus mark for the little boy that was to be thrown away and he dearly used it to his advantage. Gov. Suswam was on daily basis seen during his campaigns soliciting for peace insisting that an election is not all about a conquest but a contest where the people must decide the winner. By my assumption the strategies of converting the enemies’ bullets to your bombs is no rare feat but an automatic promotion to the people’s general.
My good friend, Senator Daniel Saror’s only weapon was a huge joke in a certificate scandal which his spin doctors sold to him that Suswam was not qualified to contest any governorship election in Nigeria. Just as the people were not bothered Governor Gabriel Suswam too did not care to spend his useful energies defending a fabrication that only exist in the imaginations of his traducers. I must give some kudos to his spokesman, Dr. Cletus Akwaya who never thought it wise to deceive his patron by attempting to coronate blackmail and unnecessary wasting scarce resources.
Our brother, Professor Steve Ugbah who proud himself as a democrat from the most civilised clime in the world failed to justify his trainings abroad unlike Mc Cain who immediately congratulated President Barack Obama. Ugbah went to court on the instruction of his paymasters and the experience of some south west governors in the hands of the suspended President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami to throw away chief executive officers. Instead of approaching the court with substances, my dear compatriot Ugbah was demanding the impossible that people in 20 local government areas where he lost woefully were not Nigerian enough to determine his fate of becoming the Governor of Benue State and hence should be disqualified. Senator Saror also joined in the shedding of crocodile tears that his allegation that Suswam forged a certificate should be considered for him to be crowned by the judiciary as a Governor in a contest he only participated through the newspapers.
At various levels my dear friends were disappointed by the learned jurists who ignored their wicked campaigns and threats to people’s lives and decided to do justice to the crux of the case. While their lawyers were always in court attempting to give credence to the academic exercises going on in the court, my friends were outside pouring champagnes and instigating their followers to destroy lives and properties of those that refuse to join in the madness. In fact the courts from the tribunal to the supreme court were mindful of the numerous names of Governor Gabriel Suswam in the minds of the true patriots of Benue State who are aware that it is an easy ride for a well performed Chief Executive to find his way back to office than a man who does not even know the new routes to his village.
My layman understanding of a court in Nigeria is not to do injustice to people but to strenghtehn the cause of justice for peace to reign in the society. These gladiators refused to understand that no court in Nigeria will rob the masses of this country in a bid to satisfy the unguided utterances of self serving leaders. They were not aware despite their sophisticated academic qualifications that 24 hours make one day and one hundred and eighty of such remains the constitutionally allowed period to determine cases pertaining to a presidential election. Our compatriots wanted to make the last fool of the Nigerian judiciary by insisting that the apex court reverses itself in a clear constitution matter because they and not the public interest was involved.
In all their attempts to bring Suswam down, he was over promoted against their age and political records while in office as failures that were angry at Suswam’s skyrocketing credentials. It is on record that he won awards that they never dreamt could come to Benue even if Jesus Christ takes over power in Benue State as Governor. The recent Supreme Court’s judgement in favour of Governor Gabriel Suswam has turned the people’s Governor to a super general having defeated his enemies who deplored the worst form of blackmail to challenge his hard earned academic credentials.
They desecrated every moral appeal to leave the court to support Suswam with their little intellectual contributions as they so much claimed. Since they have refused to prove that Suswam did forged a certificate I will not be wrong if i say they are closer to the prison than any government.
One great lesson even if they fail to apologise to the sensibility of Benue people is that they have used their own hands to show the world their lack of purpose, their paper weight political strength and visionless political sojourn between 2007 till date.
By Comrade Philip Agbese. Comrade Agbese, is the President-General, Benue Youths in Diaspora Association contributed this piece from Abuja.
Filed Under: Opinion