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Opinion - Editorial Updated: April 12, 2024

Governor Alia's battle against vicious circle's influence

By Maureen Okpe
April 12, 2024
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By Aondoakaa Asambe

In the realm of politics, missteps can derail progress, especially in Benue where underdevelopment and stakeholder politics intertwined. Governor Hyacinth Alia's tenure highlights the challenges posed by this vicious circle who ascribe to themselves “stakeholders." Their trademark is to prioritize personal gain over community and general state welfare.

Governor Alia's integrity disrupts the existing state of affairs, challenging “stakeholders” accustomed to profiting at the state's expense. Despite attempts to blackmail him, Governor Alia has remained unwavering and steadfastly clinging to his seven (7) pillar agenda for a greater Benue tagged.

Security of Lives and Property, Agriculture and Rural Development, Commerce and Industry, Human Capital and Social Development, Infrastructure and Environment, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Political and Economic Governance (SACCHIP).

Since 1999, “stakeholders” have exploited Benue, leaving it neglected, abused and exhausted. Contracts under past administrations were seldomly executed, with infrastructure projects existing only on paper.  Their self-interest has always overshadowed the state's needs. 

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One can painfully recall when these stakeholders opposed former Governor Suswam for prioritizing capital projects over their interests, asking rhetorically, “Ka igbenda se ya ye?” which translates to “Are roads what we will eat?” 

They spared no one in their efforts to intimidate former Governor Gabriel Suswam into complying with their demands. When those tactics proved ineffective, they turned to the Action Congress (AC) as a new avenue, but failed to cut short Suswam's tenure.

They then resorted to legal maneuvers, accusing Suswam of certificate forgery, though they may not have achieved their intended outcome, Suswam was terribly distracted to a point that he faltered, lost track and derailed completely.

The APC's emergence provided these “stakeholders” with a new platform, bringing Samuel Ortom to power. Here, they seized control of governance and operated without limits. 

They launched a relentless campaign against Gabriel Suswam, scrutinizing his eight-year administration and causing him to spend nights in detention. With Ortom as their willing accomplice, Benue suffered unprecedented haemorrhage for three years without haemostatic. 

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Though Ortom left them after three years, his term was characterized by financial mismanagement fueled by self-interest and “stakeholders” pressures. “Stakeholder” servicing, allegedly absent from budgets, accounted for as much as 30% or more, yet remained unseen. 

In hindsight, it's evident that former Governor Samuel Ortom's performance notably improved after he disassociated himself from the gangrenous “stakeholders." During this period, he effectively executed quite some capital projects to his administration's credit.

Governor Alia since May 29th 2023 is facing staunch resistance from this same gang unwilling to relinquish their siege and influence. His commitment to prioritizing the state's interests challenges their control. This remains the sore in all the sponsored campaigns and fights to scuttle his vision for Benue's future.

Despite smear campaigns and recruitment of social media cyber soldiers, Governor Alia's resolve offers even more assuring optimism. By resisting stakeholder pressures and prioritizing development, he charts a path toward progress. Yet, the fight against entrenched interests remains ongoing.

Benue people need to understand that Gov Alia is more keen to justify the over quarter of a million votes he polled than fan the fancy of a few who erroneously believe they laid down their lives for Benue and not the toiling farmers, youths, and women in the villages. 

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Similarly, the hordes of social media youths need to reflect that their liberation lies in the liberation of Benue from the shackles of “Stakeholders" whose hands have firmly held Benue by the jugular. This freedom will free up the space and resources that can get them productive and secure more meaningful and sustainable livelihoods. 

History has shown that no young man or woman has built a livelihood or an economy clapping and cheering to “Stakeholders." None! In the past twenty-four years, the “stakeholders” purportedly in power have failed to develop any agenda for the elderly, women, or the numerous unemployed youth, exacerbating poverty in our society. Rather, Stakeholders have weaponized poverty and even created more frustrations for youth development.

In a recent peace parley at the Tor Tiv palace, the “stakeholders” through their scions did not hide their disdain for Benue's development in an alleged 11 point conditional peace deals that made its way in and out of the social media. The public's attention was mostly drawn to how they covertly deemed Governor Hyacinth Alia's capital projects unnecessary.

Securing peace between this gang and Governor Hyacinth Alia could be elusive unless he places their welfare above that of the masses. Governor Alia is locked in a battle against seasoned political veterans who will stop at nothing to retain their control over the state's finances. The very essence of Benue is risking, and the people see Governor Alia as their champion, the David who will vanquish Goliath and deliver Benue from captivity. He must remain steadfast, with no room for hesitation or looking back, knowing that it takes unwavering determination to conquer such formidable foes.

Allow me to firmly assert that Governor Hyacinth Alia has commenced his tenure positively. His task now is to continue progressing, focusing on uplifting lives through impactful and honorable actions. Governor Alia has upheld a commendable track record in salary and pension disbursements. To further enhance his standing among civil servants and retirees, he should address any outstanding arrears, streamline pension processes, and introduce additional infrastructure projects to bolster the state's prosperity.

Governor Hyacinth Alia is encouraged to remain committed to his 7-pillar agenda social contract with Benue, resisting any external influences. Additionally, stakeholders are urged to unite behind Governor Hyacinth Alia, forsaking individual agendas without proper authority. It's imperative to recognize that the people of Benue hold the highest authority in this new governance paradigm. 

May God grant His Excellency the strength and wisdom to lead the battles he has undertaken.

Dr. Aondoakaa Asambe
Public Commentator, Good Governance Advocate & Convener, Benue Alliance for Good Governance (BAGG)

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Maureen Okpe

Maureen is a media practitioner and an impeccable writer with close to 4 years active experience wor...

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