|Thursday, March 16, 2023|
New York, USA
is full names are Hyacinth Iormem Alia. An ordained Catholic priest, Fr. Alia's dramatic and auspicious appearance on the Benue political scene as governorship candidate of the APC is one of those tectonic moments of history whose visionary undergirding does invariably inspire and motivate a society hitherto blighted by degeneracy and numbing inertia.
An emblem of our collective catharsis, 'Alialization', as the Fr. Alia-propelled mass movement is referred to, is, to a large extent, the direct antithesis of the current kleptocratic kakistocracy of Governor Ortom and the grim legacy of the ex-Governor Suswam era. There is a refreshing religious rationalization at the heart of the Alialization bandwagon and its mantra of "Yes Father" - both chorus and credo loosely translated as 'We believe in you and what you stand for', a bond of revolutionary zeal and complicity between the long-suffering people of Benue State and the quintessential symbol of their democratic aspirations.
On February 25, 2023, under the sagacious leadership of Senator George Akume, current Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, and the compelling guidance of its gubernatorial candidate, Rev. Fr. Dr. Alia, the APC scored resounding electoral victories in both the presidential and National Assembly polls. In many respects, those wins herald what are expected to be even more devastating defeats inflicted on a desperate, demoralized and election-rigging PDP and its reprobate and mendacious soi-disant leadership.
Considering the untrustworthy and anti-people nature of the current regime in Benue State, the APC has a primary assignment of setting the records straight. We should reject the ignorant narratives, not to mention the deliberately false and mischievous stunts and rants that are ultimately diversionary in intent and steeped in self-serving schemes of wanton and obscene self-enrichment at the expense of the average Benue citizen whose essential worldview which is predicated on industriousness and pan-Nigerian accomodation has of late been subjected to revisionist and barbaric assaults of isolationist ethno-religious tantrums. Between the pseudo-sermons of imaginary territorial and existential salvation and the genuinely illiterate media narratives, the true situation of Benue State is badly represented. Today, the APC as the legitimate mouthpiece of the deprived and politically disenfranchised can be rightly said to be the pre-eminent voice of democratic expression and liberation in the Food Basket. As emphasized early this year by our national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, the APC, through the vigilance as well as the collective hard work of the people of Benue State and their legitimate aspirations, will recover the mandate that was accorded it in 2015 and which has been so badly and criminally managed by PDP usurpers and interlopers alike.
As demonstrated by the convincing APC wins in the February polls, Benue State is an impregnable bastion of popular support for the party. To maintain our stronghold status , the APC and their friends nationwide must do the morally and democratically needful and just, namely, by marshalling all the necessary resources, financial and otherwise, at their disposal, to salvage the state and its long-suffering majority through a generous and purposeful contribution to the campaign effort of the Alia/Ode Divine Mandate Mission. As for the security forces, they should provide adequate security before, during and after the elections. Importantly also, they should address the legitimate concerns of orchestrated violence targeting mainly the opposition APC and its members. The PDP government in Makurdi is reportedly desperate on account of its numerous atrocities and wicked policies that have alienated the bulk of our people. Among other devious schemes, actors in the service of the rogue regime are said to be resorting to the mindless provocation of communal strife through the diabolical sponsorship of cattle rustling masquerading as the enforcement of the anti-open grazing law by the state's Livestock guards. Civil strife in traditional APC strongholds like Guma, Gwer-West and Makurdi and its environs would create voter apathy, a recipe for the truncation of the yearning for change by way of democratic elections.
Benue State and its diverse people have historically made heroic sacrifices for the unity and corporate existence of the Nigerian nation. They have no apologies for that. Merchants of division and disunity of whatever guise should not seek to negate the qualities inherent in those sacrifices. At the same time, Benue's citizens legitimately demand to be territorially and existentially secure, to develop and prosper by dint of their personal enterprise as well as through augmented governmental intervention at all levels by insisting that their naturally welcoming spirit should neither be abused nor taken for granted for whatever reason. We firmly believe that the APC under a visionary Tinubu-Shettima presidency will build on the positive legacy of the current Buhari administration in order to meet the yearnings and legitimate aspirations of Benue and its citizens. It goes without saying that those legitimate aspirations will be better served under a Fr. Alia pro-masses administration in Makurdi that should establish a harmonious working relationship with the central government. Of course, this calls to question what is at stake for Benue's citizenry in the governorship and State Assembly elections of March 18, 2023.
BENUE STATE AND WHAT IS AT STAKE IN THE FOOD BASKET POLITICALLY AND ELECTORALLY.
The situation in Benue State today is that of a painfully tragic dereliction of duty on the part of the PDP's Governor Ortom. To put it starkly, governance for this man and his lacklustre team of yes men and fellow incompetents has been reduced to a criminal enterprise of self-enrichment and personal aggrandizement. The average Benue citizen is the worse for it. In order to conceal the inadequacies or failures of his tenure, that is when he and his associates are not personally benefitting from dubious schemes and activities, the governor often resorts to an egregious and unstatesmanlike playing to the gallery through the stoking of clannish cum ethno-religious schisms that invariably harm the short and long-term interests of the very people he claims to be fighting for.
Since 2015 when the administration of President Buhari took the decision to help the various state governments alleviate their financial burden by making available to them cash transfers with relatively generous refundable conditions, not to mention the laudable reimbursements by the central government of the so-called Paris refunds, the treasury in Makurdi has also been enriched considerably through hefty monthly federal transfers and questionable government loans, sadly with little or nothing to show for it either by way of the prompt payment of staff salaries or pensions of retirees. Pensioners are reportedly being owed about 57 months of arrears; civil servants are callously owed 17 months of salary arrears, while infrastructural development as well as investment in key sectors of the economy by the state government have shown an alarming paucity. In the midst of the generalized underdevelopment and penury, the Food Basket is increasingly becoming a self-inflicted illusion - a basket case of killed dreams and legitimate aspirations cohabiting in a toxic milieu with the vulgarity and indecency of booming industries controversially owned by the Ortom clan and their henchmen. It is the combined sordid legacies of the Suswam/Ortom Augean Stables that the Benue people are being summoned now through the agency of the Fr. Alia/Ode Mandate to repudiate in order to sanitize and render the place prosperous. With vigilance and proactive planning on our side, the curtain is about to come down, in the manner of a "deus ex machina", on the agonizing tragedy of Benue's self-acclaimed greatest industrialist. This time around, all the violence against the APC opposition and the type of rigging that the PDP unleashed in 2019 will not save Benue's anti-democrats.
THE ALIA/ODE CAMPAIGN TO RESCUE AND REPOSITION BENUE STATE
The scope and magnitude of the damage inflicted on Benue State and its people by Governor Ortom and his dreadful misrule will probably take decades to undo. Makurdi, the state capital, other decrepit towns and the neglected villages are in terribly bad shape and this dire condition is what is propelling the APC through notably its governorship candidacy to embark on the rescue mission to salvage and reposition the state through responsible, people-based governance.
Unveiling his strategic blueprint at a media briefing in Makurdi early last January, the governorship flag bearer, Fr. Alia, revealed his decision to venture into partisan politics. The quest to turn around the state by liberating the people from poverty was the overarching reason. "I have a good cause to step out from the podium (pulpit) to do what I am doing because our state is in a bad shape. We have a responsibility to bring betterment for our state. Benue is too rich to be poor, to do anything less will be not to appreciate what God has done for us. My government will be centred on seven pillars - the foremost is to secure lives and property. .." The resettlement of IDPs; the strengthening of the Anti-Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law to make it more transparent, less rancorous and competence-oriented; greater focus on the agricultural and rural development , health, commerce and industry, human capital and social development, infrastructure and environment sectors; etc., will be accorded priority. He also promised to run an inclusive but competence-based government in the process of developing the state. "When you have wrong people in government, the result is wrong. When you play by the principle of transparency, everything works. The green revolution will make us come alive as it was in 1993 when Benue was indeed known as the 'food basket'. The present government in the state has perforated the food basket. Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State bears testimony to all states saying President Muhammadu Buhari provided everything a state needs so why is Benue different?"
Our heightened sense of optimism that the APC will score resounding victories in all the elections in Benue State does derive, firstly, from the universal acceptability and strength of the Fr. Alia/Ode governorship aspiration; the character, professional and administrative track records or legacy of the candidates, the plausibility of the APC presidential campaign message of renewed hope for a better Nigeria and the solid administrative legacies of both the incoming president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and his incoming vice president, Kashim Shettima, and, of course, the credibility accorded the APC political machine and its ability to deliver on the promises of its respective candidates.
Attention has been cast on the relatively weak and unpopular PDP, LP and NNPP presidential tickets, especially in Benue State. The governorship aspirants of these three parties there are weak and lacking in credibility and electoral capital. Besides the personal demons that the PDP gubernatorial candidate is confronted with, the man has to fight the image of himself as a spineless surrogate Governor Ortoms is hell bent on planting to perpetuate his awful legacy. We have also especially stressed how the track record of failures and dereliction of duty on the part of the current Ortom government has made the PDP and its candidates pariahs in the 2023 elections. When governor Ortom not only heaps scorn and derision on his party's national chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, but also goes on to denigrate his (Ortom's ) party, the PDP, and eventually attempts a tragi-comical statement of praise and preference for the LP's Peter Obi and his presidential ambition, little does he realize how untenable his position is. While vaunting Obi's alleged statesmanship and character, Ortom comes across as hollow and misguided. If Ortom knew exactly what it means to be a true statesman or to have character, he and his PDP would have by now thrown in the towel and not be trying so desperately to rig the 2023 elections given his abysmal track record as governor.
In conclusion, Benue State and Nigeria have a date with destiny as far as the 2023 elections are concerned. Our vision of renewed hope and much improved living conditions for all will be a reality only if we continue to vote APC all the way. On March 18, therefore, the vote is for Fr. Alia-Ode ('Yes father') and all APC contenders for the State Assembly. A vote for the discredited PDP, the unviable LP and even the NNPP is a wasted vote - an exercise in futility. Members of the other parties or their sympathisers are encouraged to do the needful by voting APC, the choice of the young and not-so-young.
The people shall thus rejoice that in Akume and Alia's Benue, it is "post tenebras lux", that is 'After the darkness, the light'.