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Benue: Laying an agenda for quick recovery

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What have been the dominant issues in Benue State since the advent of the current administration?

Much as the question would sound abstract, it is trite to note that the extrapolation of dominant issues in a domain helps to locate the thinking, perception and the working of the government of the day.

It is therefore unfortunate to note that since the current administration in Benue State, the state has not moved from issues that inspire confidence but has been stuck to mundane and most times negative issues that cast the state in bad light.

The collective effort of the Benue indigene which saw the state projected as the Food Basket of the nation is gradually being eroded and that is where it has become imperative to compare Benue with a patient who needs to recover quickly to catch up and even compete with his peers.

Benue State is in need of a push in three major areas, youth employment, security and enterprise.

The large army of Benue youths are tired of rhetoric and would want to see their lives transformed from their current pitiable position of not being employable to ones with skills and opportunities who will not only be able to fend for themselves but even become employers of labour and contribute to the economic development of the state.

The inability of the various governments to realize and work towards this had led to despair and frustrations which have found expressions in so many fronts that are largely violent like political thuggery, armed banditry, cultism and prostitution.

The state is also in need of a political direction to steer it away from the false narrative of victim hood where leaders do not take responsibility for their failures but shift blames to the central government even when there are no basis for this.

The inability of the current administration to pay workers salaries despite the many bailouts handed over to the state and its inability to stem the attacks from herdsmen owing to poor implementation of statutes come as cases in point.

And again, the state needs to reignite the sparkle that saw many businesses coming into Benue due to its serene and secure landscape.

In the past, Benue was home to all and it was not difficult seeing people from all parts of the country trooping in to do business in the state.

These had added to the economic wellbeing and enhanced productivity for the teeming youths and patronages for the products coming from the food basket.

These opportunities are being frittered away due to sentiment and these are the debt that those aspiring to govern Benue must have at the back of their minds.

The pair of Barrister Emmanuel Jime and Sam Ode who are cosmopolitan in outlook and have rich backgrounds and experiences in humanities comes to mind.

The people seem to be aware that a whole lot needs to be done.

Little wonder that within a week that former minister of state for Niger Delta, Chief Sam Ode was nominated as the running mate to the All Progressives Congress, APC, governorship candidate in Benue State, Barrister Emmanuel Jime, that the political climate in the state changed.

Hitherto standing delicately on unsure foot, it became clear that the third leg on the tripod which the state needs to stand on in the 2019 governorship election has not only been discovered but erected.

The combination of Jime and Ode presents a fresh vista that has never before been witnessed in politics due to the youthfulness and vibrancy it evinces.

Since the return of democracy in 1999, Benue State has always been presented with a pair that rests largely on the need to ensure balancing according to the political configuration of the state and nothing more.

In 1999, George Akume picked the humble Ogiri Ajene as his running mate. The choice of Ajene was seen more as favour and the duo got on well until the tenure elapsed and the then deputy governor went to contest as a councilor.

Gabriel Suswam paired with Stephen Lawani, a much older person, and the avuncular regard for the older deputy lasted until the latter wanted to succeed his boss.

The story of Benson Abuonu and the current governor also has the tinge of the dearth of common reasoning due to age difference.

But Jime and Ode promise to tell a different story.

Ode who has a wide range of experience in politics and administration just clocked 50 while Jime an experienced lawyer and astute politician is just 56!

The nearness of age, the equilibrium in values and subscription to modern ideas makes the pair the most formidable in the history of political pairing in Benue State and with a promise to bring development to the state.

But age is not the only factor that is giving vibrancy to the political climate in Benue since the coming out of the duo.

Ode comes with a double package as being one of the few politicians in Benue State that is accepted in all senatorial zones in the state.

When he was appointed minister during the Umaru Yar’Adua administration, the people of Benue State that usually point accusing fingers over which zone gets the slot witnessed a reaction that surprised even the most melancholic in tribal emotions.

There were jubilations from across the senatorial zones in the state as the tow major ethnic groups, the Idoma and the Tiv were happy that their son had been appointed as a member of the Federal Executive Council, FEC.

This is not without reasons. When Ode served as the adviser on local government and chieftaincy affairs he reached out to all the districts and chiefdoms and ensured equity in the classification of the traditional rulers while ensuring that the welfare of the royal fathers was never toyed with.

The fact that his father is Idoma and his mother, Tiv, as important as it is to engendering acceptability; was not the only magic that endeared him to the entire state.

Rather it was his amiable disposition, sense of fairness and concern for the plight of the downtrodden that shot up his image and political profile that many were beginning to feel threatened by his meteoric rise to fame.

He had wanted to become governor in order to extend the scope of this principle for the benefit of the larger society but it would seem that fate would prefer him to function one lending a helping hand to see to the realization of the kind of society that the average Benue indigene is yearning for.

There is therefore no doubt that the Ode would not only complement the effort of Jime in governance but will serve to instill hope in governance where the past leadership seems to have failed.

The duo needs to bear these in mind as they try to bring Benue back to its feet as an economically viable enterprise.

By Okanga Agila

Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State.

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