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2015: The Mess In Benue State And The Change Imperative By Aonduna Tondu

March 23, 2015

It is apparent that Jonathan and his PDP gang of fellow incompetents and nation wreckers are universally despised and are about to be repudiated at the polls by the overwhelming majority of the Nigerian electorate.   Yet, if the Abuja wing of the anti-people PDP and the various provincial manifestations of the latter are about to be justly defeated in the 2015 presidential, national assembly, governorship and state legislative elections, the Benue State enclave of that divisive behemoth is indeed  set to suffer a most shattering and decisive electoral debacle, thanks, in part, to the peculiar circumstances of the PDP’s reign of terror and sleaze comprising a sinister roll call of misfits and scavengers led by Gabriel Suswam  and his henchmen.


 If for nothing else, Suswam and his co-travellers deserve special scrutiny on account of the unparalleled and unforgivable suffering and destruction they have inflicted on Benue State and its harried people.  The Jonathan-inspired spoliation of our commonwealth does pale in significance when measured against the organized and senseless looting of Benue State that passes for governance under  Suswam and his fellow desperadoes. 

To say that the so-called Food Basket of the Nation (now virtually a basket case) has been grappling with a severe case of administrative truancy, lack of vision and kleptocratic impunity is to state the obvious. Today, Benue State is a terrible mess, literally and figuratively. The alarming paucity of infrastructural development in every domain, the advanced decay affecting the few existing industries, the stone-age decrepitude and backwardness of Makurdi, the only state capital that lacks running water and is perpetually in darkness at a time when serious-minded state governors are busy working hard to provide viable alternatives to an inefficient and badly run national electricity sector, the abysmal neglect of rural communities, the remorseless and sustained assaults against the state’s civil service as well as against the vital education sector whose workers are routinely owed salaries for several months , amongst other demeaning transgressions, all attest to woeful failure on the part of the profligate, under-achieving and tragically insousciant Gabriel Suswam and his reckless PDP  regime. Add to this distressing picture, the frightening spectre of youth unemployment that is further aggravated by bad government practices and the sheer cluelessness of an obviously uncaring and ill-prepared governor and his lacklustre cabinet. And as if this was not bad enough, the state’s economy has been dealt a near-fatal blow by the demonic, lawless and unpardonable attacks against democracy and its structures by Suswam, his acolytes and fellow impostors as was the case in the last governorship and local government elections, respectively. 

In the forthcoming re-scheduled polls at all levels, the good people of Benue seem more determined than ever before to perform their solemn and patriotic duty by voting against Suswam, his hand-picked stooge, Terhemen Tarzoor,  and the whole cast of PDP men and women who have all but destroyed Benue State and thus made our lives a living hell. In the contest to salvage Benue and Nigeria in general, there is no room for complacency. That is to say that sitting on the fence is no option. The choice is between the untenable status quo as represented by the ruinous PDP and progressive change as symbolised by retired General Buhari and his APC. All hands must be on deck toward the realization of the qualitative change we have been yearning for.  We are reminded here of the adage which says that when citizens fold their arms and refuse to exercise their civic responsibilities of active political engagement, either through the ballot box or other forms of democratic involvement, they invariably allow their collective destiny to be hijacked or mismanaged by unqualified individuals, charlatans and, worse, by criminals and other riffraff of every hue as has been the situation in Benue State in the past seven and a half years. Suswam and his confederates must be made to understand once and for all that the people of the state are determined to take their destiny in their hands by rejecting the dehumanizing status of slaves and beggars to which he and his reprobate regime have sought to confine them.

Now, there is a general consensus that the 2011 governorship election in particular was primarily about reversing the existing rot through a repositioning of Benue State and its various communities by making them viable socio-economic components that would not just be self-sustaining, but would also be able to co-exist favorably amongst Nigeria’s  contending groups or sections. As Benue State’s single largest public space and potentially its most economically vibrant,  Tiv land which has been subjected to untold marginalization by the Jonathan administration as well as unprecedented inequities on the part of Suswam and his cruel soi-disant government,  would have benefitted enormously from the progressive plank of the ACN (now the APC) and the hard work of its visionary and experienced leadership as represented by the likes of Senator Akume, the Senate Minority Leader. An economic cum cultural power house that is the product of the APC’s people-oriented policies would go a long way in fostering prosperity for all by way of acting as a vector of accelerated development in the Idoma-Igede axis, that is to say in the rest of the state.

To a large extent, the noble project consisting in the repositioning of Benue State and its people is still very much alive, although temporarily put on hold because of the2011 elections that were  brazenly rigged by Suswam and his PDP, thereby paving the way for the imposition of the most recklessly evil , thieving and perniciously retrogressive administration in the history of the state. But, as they say, the implementation of a noble idea can only be postponed but never killed. It is no wonder that, as the 2015 elections draw nearer, the APC’s promise of progressive change has gained both momentum and popular acceptance in the rest of Nigeria and more so in Benue, a state saddled with a rogue regime of anarchists, alleged cultists, sodomites, gangsters, superannuated deadwood acting as “advisers” or “party elders”, sadistic crooks, quacks, forgers and fraudsters alike.

Faced with imminent electoral fiasco, Suswam and his PDP horde have resorted to their trade mark violence and antics of extreme desperation. Their disdain for the electorate and the citizenry in general knows no bounds. For obvious reasons, they would rather avoid any meaningful discussion of their dismal track record or shy away from any issue-based debates. They prefer to talk glibly of the need to vote for the younger generation while blissfully forgetting that in that self-indicting posture, a morally challenged Suswam and his ‘Mickey Mouse’ cult of fellow nihilists and usurpers are the worst possible advertisements for youths, in short for Benue State and the genuine aspirations of its otherwise forward-looking people.  So, when next you are rudely taunted or assaulted by the pedestrian babble about a so-called “man wey  sabi”, a childish reference to Suswam’s dimwitted green horn of a protégé known as Terhemen Tarzoor, you should shrug it off as comic relief, one of those hazards of democratic interaction and free speech. 

There is also the infantile and humiliating trash talk about Terhemen Tarzoor being the anointed choice of Patience Jonathan and her husband for the post of Benue State governor. Let it be known that neither Jonathan nor his wife has the constitutional power to select state executives for even their home states of Bayelsa and Rivers, respectively. It is the constitutional prerogative of the people of Benue and Nigeria in general to choose their leaders democratically, that is through transparent elections. Anybody who is futilely and self-denigratingly fantasizing about being rigged into Makurdi government house by the very individuals ( Jonathan, his wife, Suswam and co.) who have been most responsible for the on-going destruction of Nigeria and especially  Benue State , ought to be soundly rejected at the polls.

Let’s not beat about the bush in this all-important matter. The future of our state and its people is at stake. We cannot afford to continue in the path of perdition as determined by Suswam’s PDP misadventure. Like Suswam, his mentor and soul-mate, Tarzoor is not qualified to be governor. Lacking intellectual depth as well as the requisite experience, his worldview is suspect and his morality dubious as can be judged from his puerile and scary shenanigans that have turned his supposed election campaigning into an unedifying spectacle of endless frolicking and hooliganism.

 Instead of hallucinating about illegally coming to power with or without the help of the PDP’s Mama or Papa Christmas of electoral heists, Suswam and his PDP government should tell the Benue people and the rest of the world what they have done with the huge sums of monthly allocations they have been collecting since 2007, to the extent that salaries of civil servants and those of pensioners are scandalously not being paid when due or are not being paid at all. And what has become of the much vaunted efforts by the Suswam maladministration to fill the state’s coffers through the tax scheme that was established some years ago?  Like the monthly state allocations, monies derived from that tax regime, one hears, have been systematically plundered by the army of itchy fingers in the PDP kleptocracy of Gabriel Suswam. The people would also want to know what is happening to the huge amounts of money being made by the state government through, for instance, the sale of its shares in the BCC (now Dangote Cement). About 9.2 billion shares were reportedly sold in October last year. Importantly also, Suswam should come clean and tell the people of Benue how, at a time when the state , including Makurdi, is being subjected to what is tantamount to  economic sabotage of the worst kind through  endemic power blackouts which have crippled all economic activity there, he is alleged to have bought major shares in a Jos-based electricity distribution company. There is also the possible scandal involving Suswam’s alleged ownership of a recently built luxury hotel  in Makurdi – Metropolitan Hotel . That hotel is now a source of major competition against the state-owned Benue Hotel. To add to the horror story of the Suswam/PDP reign of sleaze, South Africa, amongst other favorite foreign destinations, has allegedly become a lucky beneficiary of the devastating  capital flight that is bleeding Benue State dry.

Elsewhere, Governor Suswam’s anti-education, anti-youth stance has seen primary school teachers as well as those in tertiary institutions go on strike for many long and unproductive months. For Suswam and his PDP, governance has thus sadly been reduced to the wanton squandering of our common assets and resources .Yet, only an exhaustive investigation will reveal the full extent of the Augean Stables that the globe-trotting Suswam, his family and his PDP allies have ruinously inflicted on Benue State and its badly battered people. And as if to cap the sinister catalogue of the governor’s profligacy and violent sinecure, the state’s inhabitants have throughout his misrule been orphaned in the strategic area of security, with hundreds of victims either displaced or killed in murderous communal conflicts like the perennial and deadly attacks by marauding pastoralists and their mercenaries. 

In sharp contrast to the PDP and its den of anarchists, bigots, anti-democrats and kleptocrats, the APC is blessed with figures of uncommon talent and dedication led by the tested, trusted and amiable Senator Akume who is certain to win  re-election in the North-West zone, Samuel Ortom, its governorship candidate and obviously the people’s choice and  the feisty Senator Barnabas Gemade of the Benue North-East zone who is set to send crashing Suswam’s misguided ambition to be senator in the next dispensation. Mention should also be made of David Onjeh, a former president of NANS and the APC’s  candidate for the Benue South senatorial district. Articulate and passionate in his desire to bring meaningful development to the people of his constituency, Onjeh is expected to score an upset  against a demystified David Mark who has been battling a serious credibility problem on account of his relatively poor performance as current senator for the zone. Beyond its mantra of progressive change, the APC’s inclusive vision of societal rehabilitation for all after the locust years of the dreaded and anti-people PDP has enabled it to assemble a formidable and experienced team whose commitment to Project Nigeria and Benue State is not in doubt. Crucially, like in the rest of the nation, the APC’s wind of salvation and hope is blowing across Benue as can be attested from the enthusiastic multitudes that follow the campaign trails of the party’s candidates in the forthcoming elections. 

I’d like to end this exposé on a note of caution. History has taught us that the enemies of the people and especially those that brazenly and remorselessly visit suffering and destruction on them as the PDP and its owners have done for over 15 years now, are bound to fight in order to maintain their stranglehold and selfish advantages. Suswam, his malevolent, irresponsible clique and their masters in Abuja are both desperate and dangerous. But they are also insignificant and powerless in the face of the determined and united voices of the people who have resolved to send them packing so that Nigeria and particularly Benue State will develop and prosper.  We must remain vigilant and focused in our collective quest for the promised land of APC-inspired rejuvenation and growth. Above all, we shall continue to actively canvass support for the APC and its candidates ( in the presidential, senatorial, governorship and legislative elections, at both the state and federal levels ), ensure that we go out to vote massively for Buhari and the entire team of APC candidates on election day and thereafter, proceed to protect our votes.

Aonduna Tondu.