Governor Gabriel Suswam
Who is Behind the Rampaging Benue Elders?
Who really is pushing the move by the so-called Benue Elders to pitch two Benue giants against each other ahead of 2015? Any clash between the two would be a battle royale in Tivland. Some Benue elders from Benue North-east zone, called Zone A in Benue State, according to a report in virtually all the major newspapers in the country last weekend, said they would vote out the Senator representing the zone, Barnabas Gemade, and bring in the state Governor Gabriel Suswam to represent the zone in 2015. The elders specifically said they had endorsed Suswam for the zone in 2015. The governor would be rounding off his second term by then. The elders who converged in their large numbers on the Akume Atongo Stadium in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area of the state, described Suswam’s antecedents as profound and promising.
They insisted the governor must contest for the senatorial seat of the zone come 2015 with a view to unseating Senator Gemade of the same ruling PDP like Suswam and who the elders called a self-serving egocentric. Gemade was formerly works minister and later PDP national chairman. He is a major leader of the party in the zone. As I read the story I said to myself these elders have missed it this time round as Suswam won’t run for a Senatorial seat. He can’t be goaded into doing what he has no plans for; this wish is one that won’t be granted I said. My mind had raced to Suswam’s opinion on his post-2015 plans. When the Benue State governor was asked in a recent interview by THISDAY Style magazine what he would devote his time to after his tenure as governor in 2015. He had answered this way: “I want to go to the university and teach as I have a Ph. D in Law.
So I am preparing myself for that, I am not particular about where I teach.” Suswam’s post-governorship plan, to my mind, represents a refreshing divergence from the plan by most of his former and present colleagues, particularly governors running out their second terms, who before leaving office would be perfecting their ways to move over to the Senate to represent their senatorial zones. That incredible response flashed in my mind as I pondered the demand by the Benue elders. But how did the governor now respond to the moves by the Benue elders, which came after his interview? He urged the elders to carry out proper consultations in their choice of candidates, saying as a loyal servant, he was currently executing the mandate of the governor and that at the appropriate time their demand would be looked into. Who really is powering the Benue elders’ plan, one may ask?
Omeri: Small Gesture that Goes a Long Way
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) under Mike Omeri, the new Director-General, is doing some things right. Last Monday, Omeri was in Lagos to give the Citizens Responsibility Award to the state Governor Babatunde Fashola. It was in appreciation of the courage he demonstrated by arresting an army colonel who took a lane dedicated to BRT buses in Lagos. The governor’s act in apprehending the soldier may not have gone well with the rank and file of the military as he brought them public odium (though it’s the unruly officer that actually brought the institution to ridicule), by arresting the soldier, Fashola was showing that no one is above the law and the law is no respecter of anybody. The NOA DG gave Fashola the award under its “Nigeria Do the Right Thing” programme. NOA had earlier given an award to a taxi driver who returned money found in his cab for his honesty and another award was confered on a Nigerian born in the UK, Jonathan Akinyemi, who represented Nigeria at the just concluded olympics for his patriotism. Both were given N30,000 each for their award. The award to Governor Fashola would no doubt ginger him to do more noble things in the state. I understand he was also given N30, 000, but it’s in respect of that that I am surprised. If you give that to the lowly-placed I can understand, but giving Governor Fashola is like wasting the money. He does not need that small money.
Criticisms Have Good Effects Too
President Jonathan dubbed himself the most criticised president in the whole world. He was speaking last Monday at the opening of the 52nd Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association at the international Conference Centre in Abuja. “I think I am the most criticised president in the whole world but I want to tell this audience that before I leave I will be the most praised president.” I don’t have the statistics as to be able to determine whether in fact the president is the most-criticised or not and I do not know how President Jonathan gauged his criticisms against those of other presidents and arrived at his verdict. But I think criticisms can also help to ginger people into action and that is the way I would urge Mr. President to see the corrections from people; that is if such criticisms are constructive though. In fact, his Political Advsier Gulak says the president is open to constructive criticisms. The president has, however, set a challenge for himself: to rise from the unenviable depth of the most criticised, the most villified to the most praised. That seems a tough one for President Jonathan. I think he can walk his talk and rise to the challenge.