Suswam, Politics and the National Security Question
The present travails of our nation in the hands of fellow countrymen and women has fully proven to us and the rest of the world that peace is an inevitable exorbitant commodity that if we like it or not must stand up to pay the price. For life to be meaningful anywhere in the world, both government and individuals must consciously work together in unity to sustain this invisible unavoidable ingredient of the cosmic.
Politics and not religion, has been fingered as the root cause of this brouhaha because of the selfish manner in which our leaders have allocated the resources of state to themselves and cronies leaving the poor masses to wallow in abject poverty. The foreign governments have blamed the present scenario on our leaders for failing to ensure that equity, fairness and transparency exist in the distribution of social amenities to the federating units. This particular music our leaders do not want to listen to because their ears have become deafened to any sound of reason that intends to contradict their lustful greed for material and money.
However, in Benue State Rt. Hon Gabriel Suswam is quite demonstrating to Nigeria and the rest of the world that peace making does not start with the hungry man on the street but the sane, comfortable and rational person in the palatial edifice built with taxpayers' money, who sees mosquito bite like the hot metals from an AK-47 riffle. He reasons differently from those who believe in using their security votes to defile the sanctity of human dignity by sponsoring and arming all manner of militia groups to coerce their opponents and silent basket mouths like my humble self.
Governor Gabriel Suswam saw the need to ensure that the common people without food in their stomach are allowed to close their eyes quietly at nights when Jehovah has not decided otherwise to sleep and dream big for the future. This is the main reason why the Suswam led administration has invested huge amounts in providing adequate security for the people of Benue state and their visitors that come to add value to their lives. I will not be wrong to say Governor Suswam deserves Mr. Security as a synonym more than Mr. Infrastructure which the international media has ascribed to him because of the numerous sacrifices the present administration has made in terms of financial and moral commitments to see peace walking physically in every nook and cranny of the state.
To appreciate the various strategies which Suswam has used to maintain law and order in Benue, one may need to see the cordial relationship between the governor, as the political leader of Benue state, and other political actors whom God has also placed above him or side-by-side with him to deliver the dividends of democracy to his people. Judging from the national scene, you will agree with me that the usual protocol tussle that normally follow Mr. Senate President and his home state Governor does not exist in Benue. This is largely attributed to the fact that Senator David Mark, sees himself as a father to every Nigerian that appreciates his maturity and unassuming posture while Suswam, by nature, respects every stakeholder in the Nigerian project with a mindset that what belongs to Caesar must be given to Caesar.
Benue State has become a home to all since Suswam took the mantle of leadership to pilot the affairs of the state. In achieving this, the Suswam's administration saw the need to moderate the excesses of his people in some areas of life in order to accommodate the teeming population of local and foreign investors coming into the state for developmental purposes. He is making efforts to bring in foreign investors to develop our core areas of competence and visible potentials, but there is still need for us in the diaspora to assist government in taking home those that mean well for our land and country to boost governmrnt's efforts in this direction.
Therefore, when the Suswam's led administration on assumption of office in 2007 decided to place a ban on commercial sex hawking on the streets of Makurdi at night, no one saw reasons with him to be quenching a time bomb that was gathering momentum to explode. A good number of us exploded that Suswam had done this to protect his Hudco Quarters personal residence and its environs from the unholy 3Ts trade that helps to serve as succor to our teeming unemployed young ladies and their counterparts from other states that come to serve our men. This initiative the Governor's wife has continued to impress it on our people as part of her efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in Benue State, though public commentators have attributed it to the wisdom of the present administration to control crime such as human trafficking, drugs and other related anti-social activities within the state.
The decision of the government through a collaborative effort of the Benue State House of Assembly to ban the consumption of local gin popularly known as 'ogogoro' few days to the commencement of the 2011 political campaigns is a right step in the right direction considering the ability of ogogoro to trigger high magnitude crisis especially when consumed by the illiterate population. Apart from its negative health implications on the users, it used to be the major tool that disgruntled elements including cultists normally use to cause confusion and charge the atmosphere for pandemonium that most times escalates to high scale palaver.
The Suswam success story in providing adequate security for lives and properties might not be far from the inter-agency collaboration between the various security agencies in the state under the State Security Committee. These agencies meet from time to time to access and exchange intelligence during their meetings and advise the governor on how best to contain anything that is seen as a security threat to the people. He makes the job of the police in fighting crime easier by not allowing politicians to arm the youth for any reason because of ugly tales from the past when political thugs turn themselves to armed robbers when there is little or low patronage after elections.
The recent visit of the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Abubakar Saad III to Makurdi, the state capital and accompanied by Governor Tanko al-Makura of Nassarawa State is another indication that Benue State being predominantly occupied by Christians has continued to sustain the warm brotherly relationship in northern Nigeria as part of the Sardauna legacy. Alhaji AbubakarSaad III who was full of praise for Governor Suswam emphatically stated during the visit that only love can sustain peace anywhere in the world and commended Suswam for being a good brothers' keeper.
We have no business with Boko Haram in Benue State except for the fact that it has become a national burden that if we like it or not has crippled the economy of northern Nigeria, claimed the lives of many innocent countrymen and women and razed properties worth millions of Nigeria. The wicked politicians who make money from this ugly trade have decided to add Benue State to their destination by attacking the character and personality of Governor Suswam just to diminish his ever rising profile as a peacemaker par excellence. Judgement day awaits everyman that derives pleasure in sacrificing the blood of his neighbor for personal benefit and worst still- the wicked demons in Benue politics.
Despite all these efforts by Governor Gabriel to sustain the peace building initiatives of his administration, some disgruntled elements are still working day and night to stir unnecessary waters to make Benue ungovernable. I would like to remind them that they have failed in their attempt to pitch the youths of Benue against the people oriented leadership deeply rooted in our hearts.
Comrade Philip Agbese, President-General, Benue Youths in Diaspora Association contributed this article from Abuja.