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Gemade @ 67: Politics and Antecedents

By Akosu Emmanuel
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“Great achievers are men who are slaves to their dreams and visions; it is the dream that drive them daily, not themselves anymore” – Napoleon Hill

The above quote aptly captures the benign, ingenious, forthright, thorough, and value inclined persona of a political colossus whose antecedents and achievements in social circles still lauds high, given an impressive political support base from his home state and beyond, and heightened by a resolute formidable followership, friends and foes alike. Admirers simply call him Senator Chief BAI Gemade. Today, Benue, Nigeria and the world celebrates this political maestro and leader at 67. Yet many questions abound on the lips of pundits as to who the man Gemade is; his antecedents and subsequent impact on fellow man.

Gemade may be seen from diverse angles by various thoughts from different walks of life. His fellows and colleagues from the field of Civil Engineering would prefer him to be solely theirs, and rather view him as a professional builder, with contemporary politicians seeing him also one of theirs, albeit with a clear cut difference quite at variance with the way and manner of the typical day to day Nigerian politician whose quest is mainly driven by self. In principle, he is acknowledged to have stood tall, nonetheless, selfless and service oriented in his dealings with the people. Quite a rare breed and indeed a true democrat in the modern day murky- watered politics, Senator Gemade still lives and shares in the people’s aspirations and needs. He has continued to with chirpy selflessness to visit the demands of many, far and near. It is to this quintessential Statesman that ’when you fight for your people and make them take up their ideal places in the society, you are invariably giving them complete independence and freedom with accompanying social prosperity and self sustenance. This, he has over the years strived daily to give to his people the proverbial net to fish rather than merely offering fish. From a humble career as consultant Engineer, to MD/ Chief Executive of an indigenous Cement company. From Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to the National Chairman of a once great Party, and now Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , it has being one success story for the people mainly and to him particularly as an altruistic leader, within his immediate Benue topography and beyond.

BAI Gemade, a Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria still renders service with selflessness to his kinsmen, whilst surpassing many a number of his contemporaries’ in the political terrain. Vibrant, clearheaded, courageous, and energetic, the Benue Chief has maintained his undaunted resolve to change the face of humanity as long as nature demands. He had in the early life of the 7th Senate briefed the world of his stewardship within barely a year as Senator representing Benue North East Senatorial District. He had severally sponsored bills at the floor of the Red Chambers, prominently – A bill on the need to decongest Abuja entry points, The Police Service Commission Amendment Bill, The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission Amendment Bill , amongst others.

the Erudite Lawmaker had influenced the inclusion of the rehabilitation of the Vandeikya – Obudu –Road in the 2012 Budget; a project that is eloquently glare today and in receiving full applause from his constituents. He had equally influenced the construction of the Ushongo- Lessel- Agberagba- Oju road to open up the rural areas for vast exchange with the larger world. At the moment he holds dear to him the intention of influencing a Federal polytechnic to the state which may be sited in the constituency.

Senator Gemade’s interest lies mainly in constituency development, youth employment, and empowerment of his constituents to take up economic places and become self sufficient. His practical role as a Lawmaker in oversight functions for transparency and good governance are impressive to say the least. In the year 2012, he had started doling out quite a fortune to over 60 indigent undergraduates in different universities across the country. It is on record that Chief BAI Gemade had embarked on awarding scholarship to indigent students since1992. Fundamentally, within a span of one year at the Senate in 2012, Gemade had influenced 18 slots of employment for his constituents - Five were placed in the Nigerian Police, 4 in the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, while 9 of such beneficiaries were offered employment with the BSUTH Makurdi. Others fell into the National Human Rights Commission, The Nigerian Airforce and The Federal Civil Service Commission. Over 100 names of qualified constituents were forwarded to the Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.

It is to Senator Gemade’s credit and his people’s admiration to have established a Yam Cassava Processing factory in Ukum LGA as well as enhanced the installation of equipment at Fruit Juice plants in Makurdi, with the Mbaivende Cement Factory, Ushongo Local Government Area in the offing.

A Famous Author and Scholar, Terhemba Wuam had singled the likes of Tseayo, Mark , and Gemade for their forthright lobby and credited them for drawing the most benefits for Benue State during their respective tenures as Ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Wuam in his subsequent submission may view the likes of Gemade as undisputed leaders in Tiv nation, but for the myriad of interests at both state and national levels, a single central cult figure in Benue politics would no longer be effective.

Gemade’s emergence as the flagbearer of the APC in the Benue North East Senatorial district race and his subsequent triumph at the polls over then incumbent governor Gabriel Torwua Suswam remains in the annals of political history in Benue state as one of the keen, fiercest and competitive contest. Yet the former’s victory was made possible basically owing to his tract records of achievements over the years. Notably, Gemade has placed an appreciable number of Benue sons and daughters into Federal boards of ministries and parastatals, accounting for his success at every political instances.

In 1999, Gemade a founding member of the PDP emerged as the party’s National Chairman after a close contest with his rival, the Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi; himself a co founder of the party. As Chairman at the helm, the party recorded tremendous success in elections, stability, cohesion and unity of purpose culminating into electoral victories at every interval. While he held sway, the office of the national chairman along with the NWC of the party worked assiduously to enshrine not only discipline in the party, but it equally became potent, virile and effective as it was accorded its due reverence from governors, lawmakers and even the Presidency , amongst others. By 2003, Gemade would courageously slug it out with the then incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo for the position of the president , thus becoming the 2nd Tiv man after Chief JS Tarka to have opted for such an elevated position.

In principle, Gemade remains a strong voice for minority politics. He would throw his weight behind several calls for the then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to be made president for the sake of unity, stability and progress in Nigeria. This feat would be replicated in 2015, during the race for the National Assembly leadership. his loyalty and regard for party supremacy knew no bounds, having been a former National Party Chairman himself, he did understood the role of part supremacy in the management of national policies as practiced in even advanced democracies like Britain, US, and other western democracies . He had earlier stood with Senator Akume, a minority Christian from Benue State until the latter aligned his ticket with Senator Ahmed Lawan from the North Eastern part of the country. Still Gemade would not buckle. He justified his earlier support for Akume whom he described as the most qualified candidate given the latter’s effectiveness and capacity, first as a ranking senator from the North Central and second, as a Senate Minority Leader.

Again Gemade’s support for Lawan/Akume ticket was anchored on principle. He had frowned at the process that later produced Senator Bukola Saraki and Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Sanate President and Deputy respectively. His position was that, the process that led to the duos emergences had eroded his rights and those of his colleagues to fully participate in the election, viewing such as unconstitutional. But for these reasons Saraki and Ekweremadu’s emergence would have gone down well with Gemade. And as they say however, only permanent interest thrives in politics.

Gemade, a frontline politician from Benue State. Born on September 4, 1948. He holds the traditional title of the Nom I Yange U Tiv and an Officer of the Order of the Niger, OFR. He began his early career as an Engineering Consultant in 1974. between 1985- 1992, he was CEO of then Benue Cement Company where his conduct in office were exemplary and highly effective. By 1994, he was a member of the constitution Conference convened during the General Sani Abacha regime. Most of the conference’s very salient recommendations were captured and has formed components of the 1999 Constitution. Gemade became Secretary (Minister ) of Works under the General Ibrahim Babangida’s government. A position he utilized to the greater good of several Nigerians, particularly his Benue kinsmen who took up better placements at various Federal engagements. He was The National Chairman of CNC, a national party which had other major political parties merged into it in 1998. In 2011, Gemade opted for and was supported overwhelmingly by vast majority of Benue people to be elected as Senator representing the Benue North East Senatorial Zone. At the 7th Senate he served as Senate Committee Chairman for National Planning. He repeated his winning stream in 2015 when he was re- elected to the Senate in a race acknowledged by many to be largely anchored on goodwill, achievements and antecedents in life.

EMMANUEL AKOSU
PUBLIC AFFAIRS ANALYST
WRITES FROM MAKURDI
[email protected]
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