SUSWAM: PEACE MAKER, BRIDGE BUILDER
Human beings without selfless leaders will be like sheep without shepherd. In other words, they will be in total disarray; where the weak cannot find protection and the strong will end up even not having who to lord over. But then, because the subject or issue of leadership is of such immense importance, even the animal world have leaders (by their species), so that orderliness can be achieved and maintained.
The institution of leadership is a divine creation of the Lord God Almighty for proper guidance and co-ordination of human behaviour with the intent of the pursuit of the common good of all. Leadership also seeks to identify both human and material potentials available within the sphere of influence of the leader, which will be harnessed for the physical development of that given sphere.
However, not all persons can be leaders per time. So also, not all persons seeking to be leaders can be leaders. In the same vein not all persons in leadership positions are leaders, for there are persons occupying leadership positions but who are as confused as the people they are meant to lead or guide. That is why the Lord Jesus Christ famously asked the question, 'Can the blind lead the blind?' He went on to correctly posit that if the blind lead the blind, they will all fall into a ditch, which clearly shows that sound leadership should not be an issue that any society or community should toy with.
It is on this score that we find the leadership qualities being exhibited by His Excellency, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State highly commendable. In fact, if most people in leadership positions today were to be like Governor Suswam, both in character and style, our nation would have long gone out of the woods which she is currently enmeshed in. Some people's idea of leadership is to identify and exploit the inherent differences among the various peoples within their sphere of influence for their selfish gains, but Governor Suswam's own idea of leadership is to see those inherent differences as necessary catalysts needed to build better societies or nations.
In a nation where people are increasingly retreating to their ethnic, regional or religious shells, often spurred by so called leaders, we find Governor Suswam as a breath of fresh air considering how he has remarkably demonstrated enough goodwill to peoples of diverse faiths and tribes since he was a federal lawmaker up to being a governor. He has correctly identified unity and selflessness as the basic foundation on which nations thrive and prosper, which, of course, are what our nation is in dire need of. Without selflessness and unity, our nation will not develop and prosper in spite of her abundant human and material resources. It is lack of unity and selflessness that is, drawing us backwards and backwards, which aptly rhymes with what the legendary reggae singer, Bob Marley said in one of his songs that ' ….. in the abundance of water the fool is thirsty, rat race ….'. Governor Suswam has recognized that engaging in ethno-religious or ethno-cultural races instead of a common race will continue to cause us to be thirsty and hungry even in the midst of abundantly provided resources.
As a federal lawmaker (1999 – 2007), Governor Suswam promoted bills that sought to promote national good. The discharge of his responsibilities in all the committees he chaired was without bias of any kind as he related with persons from all areas of the nation with equal treatment and respect. The appointment of even his personal staff was in like manner as he did not confine his choices to his state, tribe or family members as many were and are still doing. He often sacrificed his own time and resources for the infrastructural development of communities of which most are not even his tribal communities. This essential quality is among several other good reasons the people of Benue State overwhelmingly chose him as governor in 2007.
To engender• unity and harmony, Governor Suswam embarked on a massive renovation and reconstruction of some mosques in Benue State of which chiefly among them is the renovation of mosques in Logo, Katsina-Ala, Gboko and many other towns in the state, including the Makurdi Central Mosque, which the Sultan of Sokoto; His Eminence Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar commissioned recently. And since the time he was a lawmaker up to becoming a governor he has consistently sponsored Muslims for pilgrimage in the Holy Land in addition to the supply of prayer mats and kettles to the various mosques and donation of food stuff during the Muslim fasting periods for the needy ones.
No doubt, Governor Suswam's nationalistic outlook and sound leadership qualities have endeared him to many people in and outside the state, but at the same time his political profile is soaring positively, his political detractors have become embittered.
It is worthy of note that since Suswam became governor, the rate and frequency of communal clashes within Benue State and among the various communities in the state and those of neighbouring states have reduced significantly. This is because of his altruism and commitment to the pursuit of peace without which there can be no development and prosperity. His quest for peace and unity is also demonstrated in his acknowledgement of the rights and privileges of members of the opposition in the state who often times use the media to criticize him and his government, something that is highly impossible in most other states of the nation. Can there be many such leaders as Governor Suswam today in our clime? Indeed, Governor Suswam is a leader per excellence, a peace maker, bridge builder and an unrepentant nationalist.
– Alh. Haruna sent in this piece from No. 16, Adikpo Street, Wadata, Makurdi.