June 17, 2009

Leave Suswam alone, please

By  David  Ihalo

IT is not so difficult to put one’s fingers on the objective reason for the clandestine attempts by people from some quarters to denigrate the achievements of Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State.

Everyone knows that the spurious allegations of financial impropriety often made against the Governor are only a part of what now looks like a well-rehearsed plot to divert the attention of the people from the real issues that are involved in the political squabble.

To put it bluntly, the contentious issues have to do with the struggle for political relevance amongst some ubiquitous political godfathers of Benue State, rather than Gov.  Suswan’s handling of the political and administrative affairs of the state.

It is relevant to stress that Gov. Suswam has done much to ensure that all shades of political interests in the state are accommodated under his PDP’s umbrella. Indeed, Gov. Suswam has fortified that umbrella, and made it bigger to shelter all, irrespective of their political leanings.

That the amiable Governor has a large heart is well-acknowledged, not only by his Benue people, but by many across the vast Federal Republic of Nigeria. Only recently, for example, he magnanimously stepped down for Chief Solo Ogba in the electoral contest for the position of Chairman, Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN).

Chief Ogba subsequently won that election. It is this spirit of “give and take”, which many political over-lords lack, that informs Gov. Suswam’s administrative decisions, especially as these decisions concern appointment and promotion into sensitive positions in the government of Benue State.

So, why would hyper ambitious politicians not give him a chance to press ahead with his well-researched plan to accelerate the all-round development of Benue State? I shudder!

To those paid agents of Gov. Suswam’s political adversaries, it must be said loud and clear that the plan to distract him from his good works by painting him in false colours of corruption, can never succeed. Apart from his pedigree and political leadership experiences, the people’s unshakeable confidence in Gov. Suswam is hinged on a number of important considerations: One, Gov. Suswam understands the problems of his Benue State people very well; and he listens to them.

Two, his commitment to the over-riding social, economic and political interests of Benue State, as amply demonstrated when he was in the House of Representatives, is well acknowledged by all; and three, even his most ardent critics eulogise his humane approach to issues pertaining to the  needs of the people of the state.

In only two years of Gov. Suswam’s handling of the administrative affairs of Benue State, the picture of the state has been radically transformed. The civil service works efficiently; the SSG’s office, the power house of government work, ensures that all are carried along the development plans of government. Indeed, the SSG’s (DR. Audu Achigili’s) education, experience, as well as commitment to the realisation of set goals, are all being applied in programmes to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people of Benue State.

Apart from a solid administrative foundation laid by Gov. Suswam very early in the day, a lot has been achieved by him in only two years. For instance, through a well thought out loan scheme to farmers, agricultural development is on top gear in Benue State, bringing back the fame of the state as the “food basket of Nigeria”.

Two standard hospitals have been built and equipped. Others, especially in the rural communities, have been upgraded. Gov. Suswam’s record in the area of the education is simply unbeatable. Facilities at the Benue State University have been improved upon; a number of primary schools across the state are being refurbished. Under Gov. Suswam, two Colleges of Education have been accredited by the relevant national regulatory body to award degree certificates.

On the provision of the basic infrastructure for sustainable growth and development, Gov. Suswam has done very well too. Several roads in Makurdi and other parts of the state have been refurbished. Not less than six bridges have been built to link hitherto isolated communities with the rest of Benue State. On a recent journey to Makurdi for a conference recently, a visitor to the state asked why Makurdi now seems to be the first choice of many governmental and non-governmental organizations for conferences.

The answer is simple; it was chorused by many. Unlike many other capital cities in Nigeria, Makurdi has a reputation for peace and security. But that enviable reputation did not just come about. It is the result of Gov. Suswam’s emphatic concern for security in the state.

He routinely provides logistic support to the Police in order to beef up the security arrangements in the State. Makurdi is clean. And on the peculiar problems of women and children, the First Lady has, by the testimony of many, won the hearts of the people of Benue State by her exceptional care and concern, especially for the vulnerable segments of the society.

Her contributions to the concerted efforts to fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS in the land has also been internationally applauded. We can go on and on.Those who want to kill a dog by first giving it a bad name must look for a credible name to give the dog. The attempt to paint Gov.  Gabriel Suswam in black colours can never succeed, especially given the people’s appreciation of his remarkable contributions to the all-round development of Benue State in only two years. So, leave Gov. Suswam alone, please!

Mr.Ihalo, a commentator on national issues, writes from  Lagos.