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How Suswam’s kinsmen almost ruined his re-election in Benue

BY PETER DURU

THE last general elections may have come and gone but the fallout has continued to reverberate across Benue State. It is apparent that the key beneficiary of the outcome of the polls in the state is the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and Governor Gabriel Suswam who particularly coasted home to an historic victory that shocked the opposition.

Suswam’s victory could best be described as eventful given the confidence proponents of opposition politics in the state, specially the leadership of the Action Congress of Nigeria ACN had radiated in the run up to the polls.

Unarguably, the outcome of the governorship polls was precisely a product of a campaign strategy that relied on the youths, who believed in the Suswam dream and also adored his vision of a new Benue.
But the road to victory for Suswam was not laced with gold as the governor had to contend with high level intrigues, conspiracy, back stabbing and deceit.

He  was caught in a web of political godfathers who saw his rising profile as a threat  against an established order especially among select Tiv political heavy weights.

It was the bid to stop a budding political enigma that prompted the alignment and realignment of political forces leading to the decamping of notable politicians in the state from the ruling PDP to the ACN while those who did not decamp chose to rock the boat from within, all in a bid to checkmate a governor, who had broken loose from his former masters and was engrossed with propagating the sermon of accountability and probity.

This sermon of his, coupled with some inexplicable factors sparked off an epic battle with political godfathers who looked determined to wrestle power from the ‘Our Benue Our Future’ proponent.

The ensuing encounter between the Governor and his league of youthful supporters on one hand and his estranged godfathers who led a formidable opposition bloc in the ACN paved the way for an epic political battle in the state.

Strangely,  the move to dethrone the PDP government saw some top appointees of the administration being secretly conscripted into the opposition movement, a development that left the ruling party in a precarious situation in the run up to the election.

But for the swift moves by Senate President, David Mark, Minister of State for Niger Delta, Dr. Sam Ode and Governor Suswam, there would have been a major political tsunami in the state.

Governor Suswam would have been licking his wounds today but for the overwhelming support and votes he got from the Benue South senatorial zone courtesy of Dr. Sam Ode, who rallied tremendous support for the PDP and also ensured that all the nine local government areas in the zone were PDP compliant.

This singular show of political strength by Dr. Ode, who enjoys tremendous support among the youths and elders of Idoma land, made all the difference for Governor Suswam, who however was allegedly  betrayed by majority of his Tiv brothers including most high ranking government officials who occupied and are still occupying sensitive positions in his administration.

Today, the Idoma nation has become the toast of the ruling PDP but unfortunately the people of the zone have nothing on the table to bargain with in a government they wholeheartedly brought into being.

The Tiv speaking areas of Benue State was indeed the crest of betrayal of a Governor, who did so much for his people especially in the areas of infrastructure development and political patronage.

Perhaps Suswam’s greatest undoing was his failure to offload a baggage of political appointees he inherited from the previous administration.

This set of politicians secretly collaborated with the opposition ACN to unleash the ‘change’ revolution in the entire Tiv-speaking areas of Benue State.

Indeed the level of conspiracy to ship out Suswam brought to the fore the Tiv style of politics where despite your level of performance in a political office, the people would still turn their back on you to effect change in fulfillment of a popular maxim among the people, ’ya na wangbian’ (eat and give your brother to eat).

The late Ape Aku of blessed memory suffered the same faith, but today the people sing his praise even in death just as they proclaim him the father of modern Benue.

Kudos must however go to the likes of the PDP National Auditor Dr. Samuel Ortom, Ambassador Iyorwuese Hagher, Mr. Andrew Ayabam, Conrad Wergba and Mr. John Tondu, who fought a good fight through robust campaigns to ensure that Governor Suswam garnered enough votes in the Tiv speaking areas to guarantee his victory at the gubernatorial polls.

But realizing infamous roles some top government officials played to frustrate his second term bid and the ignominy that would have befallen him as Governor and leader of the PDP in the state, Suswam wasted no time in boothing out some of those government functionaries who allegedly sold out to the opposition.

And top on the list of the Suswam’s act of vengeance was the wife of elder statesman, Wantaregh Paul Unongo whose wife, Mrs. Utol Unongo, was booted out of the state executive council for her husband’s sins.

Unongo himself has been handed a one month suspension from the ruling PDP by the State Working Committee of the party. Announcing the suspension to newsmen in Makurdi, the PDP state chairman, Dr Agbo Emmanuel said that the legendary Paul Unongo would remain suspended until issues of anti party hanging around him was resolved by the party’s disciplinary committee.

Governor Suswam himself acknowledged the shocking level of conspiracy to oust him from power by those who immensely benefitted from his administration before the elections.


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