By Ahmad Sajoh
“False words are not evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil” – Plato
These timeless words kept re-echoing in my mind when I read recent utterances of one Albert Stephen on the political situation in Adamawa State. He was purportedly responding to some issues raised by Governor Murtala Nyako on developments in the state and Nigeria. Unfortunately, rather than build his arguments on facts of the matter, he dwelt more on falsehood and messages, which border essentially on mischief, blackmail and hate mongering. But then, for those of us who know him very well, we are not surprised.
Albert Stephen and his two other co-travelers in the so-called Save Adamawa Movement are just a concert of three hate mongers whose stock in trade is to promote disharmony in the state. Incidentally all three profess the same religion (as if they are saving the state from adherents of the other religion). Two of them are former local government chairmen who were removed from office by the then Governor Boni Haruna. These facts are available at the Ministry of Local Government Affairs for verification and no matter their penchant for peddling falsehood; they cannot claim to have completed their tenures as Chairmen..
Albert Stephen was Chairman of Mayo-Belwa Local Government Council between 2004 and 2006. Listening to him claim an honest disposition and challenging others on performance makes it imperative to expose some hard facts about him.
The two years he served as Council Chairman was the lowest point in the history of the area. Apart from the alleged auction which led to his ouster by Governor Haruna in 2006, not one project was initiated and completed throughout his unfortunate tenure.
In this respect, the biggest losers are the people of Gorobi ward, a place he claims to be his home community. After spending over N6million on a supposed water project for the people living there, all that remains as the legacy of that inglorious era are metal studs and a worthless metal tank. But then complaints about his failures to touch the lives of people he claims to support are legion. While he claims Gorobi as his home community, the people of Jamdudi ward equally claim him since the name Stephen he uses as his surname belongs to a medicine man residing in the area.
No project was sited in the area by Albert as Chairman and the people have complained bitterly about it. It was the same complaint from ‘Yolde Gubudo ward, which is his mother’s place. We brought these facts to show clearly that Albert Stephen who has failed woefully to save the people closest to him cannot claim to save the people of Adamawa State. So his Save Adamawa project is simply a political gimmick aimed at relevance seeking and hate mongering.
However, the most visible legacy of the tenure of Albert Stephen in Mayo-Belwa is the abandoned proposed Local Government Complex, which is located adjacent to the existing one. According to records at the Local Government Secretariat, an amount in excess of N68million was expended in laying just the foundation of the building, and that was in 2004 and 2005. The process was carried out through what was termed ‘direct labour’ supervised directly by the office of the Chairman who happened to be Albert Stephen.
The N68million foundation has remained an eye sore in Mayo-Belwa since 2006. To add to its misfortune, the abandoned project had been a subject of litigation by one Chumaks who made claims related to nonpayment in respect of materials supplied, prompting questions as to what the N68million was spent on.
Albert has never been a product of a fair contest. It is on record that at the primaries that saw him as Chairman in 2004, Abubakar Gengle emerged victorious. It was Joel Madaki who was the then PDP Chairman that imposed him on the electorate. At the end of the voting during the nomination process, Albert Stephen scored less than 16% of the votes. We have the results and if he or anyone disputes these facts we shall publish them raw with names, voting patterns and tallies. After all there were open protests and petitions that accompanied the process.
One area Albert Stephen has excelled beyond all expectations is in holding meetings aimed at promoting hatred along ethnic and religious lines. This has been his stock-in-trade since he came into political lime light. Little wonder therefore that hate messages featured very prominently in all his recent rantings. His so-called Save Adamawa Movement is nothing but a concert of three religious bigots so ignorant they filed a claim in a law court that a loan from the Islamic Development Bank discriminates against Christians.
Little did they know that the first state in Nigeria to benefit from an Islamic Development Bank loan is Anambra which is also predominantly Christian. My worry in the whole tirades by Albert Stephen stems from the apparent hate mongering contained and brazen lies that border on mischief contained thereof. To say their hate filled campaign is sponsored by commissioners in Governor Nyako’s cabinet is to carry mischief beyond decent limits. We challenge him to name the commissioners. We want to make it abundantly clear that whoever sponsors them is indeed an evil mind that promotes hate and supports religious bigotry. No one in Governor Nyako’s cabinet has such characters.
The Adamawa-German Hospital he referred to is in Yola and not Mayo-Belwa. It was the place Governor Danbaba Suntai was managed before being flown to Abuja. The facilities in the hospital are among the best in the country. As Aldous Huxley will say “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored or wished away by ignorant minds”. Some of the statistics he bandied are not just bogus but also out rightly stupid. For the likes of Albert Stephen, the term Fulani is generic not ethnic.
They are known to brand every Muslim a Fulani and all Christians non-Fulanis. But we know that Adamawa State has 87 ethnic groups and the two religions fairly balanced. It is also a reality in Adamawa State that one could find adherents of the two major religions as blood relations in the same house in virtually all our communities.
When we say we have peace and harmony in our state, what we mean is that the activities of the likes of Albert Stephen have not and by the grace of God will not engineer unmanageable ethnic or religious upheavals anymore. Imagine a statement like “So you may be a Muslim, but if you are not Fulani from Wittijo (whatever that means) too bad. Imagine the plight of Christians”. Statements like this could only come from Albert Stephen. It’s a pity Nigeria harbours such a bigot in politics.
All his ratings on Nyako’s achievements are mere products of hatred. Apart from the lies in them and the false figures bandied, Albert Stephen cannot wish them away. Those empowered through the acquisition of life-changing skills have since found more useful things to do. They have no time for idle talk from jobless hate mongers who add no value to their lives but mislead them into hatred and wastage. Governor Nyako’s empowerment programme is based on the understanding that a restless and jobless youth is a time bomb waiting to explode.
That was the view he held long before he became governor, and it was on that basis that he wrote the President long before Jonathan came in the saddle. The governor was not referring to the false letter Albert and his fellow travelers talk about which never existed anyway. But because the intention is to lie and promote hatred, Albert Stephen turned the information upside down in order to mislead the public.
One area Albert Stephen displayed extreme insensitivity is in his support for the unjust imposition of state of emergency on Adamawa State and the attendant hardships it has visited on the people. Aside the semantics of it, Albert Stephen and all the promoters of the emergency rule cannot deny the economic losses suffered by ordinary people in the state. While Albert spends the greater part of his life in Jos, Plateau State, he feels no qualms about the plight of Adamawa people whose businesses have suffered severe setbacks.
He may equally feel comfortable with the disruption of our lifestyles or the restrictions on our spiritual activities, but we have heeded our governor’s charge to embark on unceasing prayers for protection from the evil few who do not wish us peace and progress.
Whoever sponsors Albert Stephen and his fellow hate mongers should be mindful of the fact that whatever we do today will surely be part of our records here on earth and in the hereafter. If you tell the truth it becomes part of your past, if you tell a lie, it becomes part of your future. I would like to end this response with a quotation from a modern philosopher who said “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you”
* Sajoh is the Director, Press and Public Affairs, Government House, Yola.