BENUE 2015 : DR. SAM ODE IS TRULY THE BRIGDE
As the campaigns over who succeeds Governor Gabriel Suswam in 2015 takes centre stage in the politics of Benue State, nocturnal meetings are regularly organised by supposed contenders, pretenders and their associates to strategies on how to gain advantage in the unfolding contest.
With the high level of political awareness in the state, there are a number of factors that would determine who would emerge as the next governor come 2015. Though the political equation in the state has overtime being anchored on a zoning system, it has mainly being practised and benefitted among the Two Tiv hugely populated zones of Benue North-East and Benue North-West.
Since the creation of the state in 1976 by the General Murtala Muhammed's Military regime, the two Tiv speaking geo-political zones have predominantly dominated the leadership hierarchy of the state particularly at each democratic era. From 1979-1983, Mr. Aper Aku from Benue North-East senatorial District ruled as the first Executive Governor of Benue State. Between 1991-1993, the Late Revd Fr. Moses Orshio Adasu from the same senatorial district reigned as governor. On the return of Democracy in 1999, Senator Dr. George Akume from Benue North-West took over the reins of leadership and ended by 2007. At the present, Rt. Hon. Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam of Benue-North-East is heading towards concluding his mandate by 2015 as governor. The sensitive ponder now is, where does the Governorship points in 2015 in all fairness? And if going by the core principle of fair sharing and participation which the Tiv nation holds as a core value and has christened as 'ya na ngbian', would it be even fairer to extend such gestures to the Benue South Senatorial zone despite their minority status in the state? The taste of minority leadership in states such as Edo State, Kaduna State and recently the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has proven viable and of great success across the board.
For Benue State to begin to experiment the viability of the minority philosophy, it would appear for the sake of common wisdom to start with one who would serve as a bridge, a pillar of cohesion and unity, a detribalized Nigerian and a genuine Benue son of both Idoma and Tiv parentage. Without benefit of doubt, Dr. Sam Ode a former Minister of State for Niger-Delta Affairs seems to fit into the saddle in all ramifications.
Indeed analysts are of the view that a vote for Sam Ode would obviousy break the jinx against the stereotypical minority discrimination in the state. Dr. Sam Ode has a passion for the state and the country at large. A detribalized Nigerian; quite humble, extremely generous and easy going person that carries every one along irrespective of tribe, religion, culture and race.
As a former Honourable Minister of State for Niger-Delta Affairs during the Late President Umaru Yar'Adua's term and later under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Dr. Sam Ode, a man armed with tact and negotiation teamed up with his principal to tame the grave hostilities that engulfed the entire Niger-Delta region. It was during this time that the Federal Government initiated the Amnesty Programme for the Niger Delta outlawed militants with the latter reaching an accord with the government to embrace peace and development. It is on record that this wonderful programme on Amnesty kicked off on a virile note with Dr. Sam Ode as the Honourable Minister of State along with his principal, Chief Ufot Ekaette. Infact, the subsequent sustainability and success of that viable programme had its roots to the initial foresight of the Yar'Adua and Goodluck Jonathan administration with Sam Ode and Chief Ekaette as primary messengers and executors of its vibrant goals.
The then Honourable Minister of State for Niger-Delta Affairs who had his office situated at the Federal Secretariat in the heart of FCT would practically avail himself for both official and unofficial matters. At the height of the administration, Dr. Sam Ode maintained a strong sense of selflessness, humane disposition and accommodated larger interests of Nigerians particularly the Benue indigenes regardless of tribe. Both his private residence and office became a haven of a sort, for all Benue sons and daughters. A strongly detribalized Nigerian, the Tiv people indeed had a better share of his reign as the Minister of State. Most Tiv folks relatively received social boost and empowerment never to have been experienced in latter times. Infact, most Tiv, Idoma, Igede stocks benefitted from the large heartedness of this humane philanthropist.
As one who have always supported the Tiv cause, Sam Ode became a prominent proponent of the Governor Suswam's vision for the Benue people. He stood and ensured that Governor Suswam was successfully nominated and elected governor in 2007 and later retained in 2011 despite strong opposition. Sam Ode later served in the administration as the Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. He formed a strong pillar for the success of the Suswam's administration. At such a time, the local government in Benue State became a very robust tier of government despite the fact that there existed acute paucity of funds from the Federation Account Occasioned by the nefarious activities of the Niger-Delta militants. Yet salaries of local Government staff were promptly paid and projects executed. The recognition of Benue Traditional Rulers became glaring during the Sam Ode's era as a member of the cabinet. Traditional Rulers got a fair boost in their status as custodians of the people. The Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs deemed it wise to provide brand new Toyota Prado Jeeps for all the 2nd class chiefs across the state.
In a similar vein very many senior staff like Directors General Services and Administration (DGSAs), Treasurers, Council Chairmen, Secretaries, Leaders of Legislatures were provided with befitting vehicles to enhance smooth performance and effective administration of the third tier of government in Benue State.
Dr. Sam Ode, a man with viable connect with stake holders both at the state and the national realm of politics have consistently kept faith with the people. He is practically frank and transparent personality whose excellent deeds the people have benefitted immensely. Considering relevant factors in the range of zoning, credibility, character, tact, consistency and given the cream of candidates gunning for the number one seat in Benue State, Dr. Sam Ode clearly stands out with impeccable credentials for the Benue Governorship come 2015 as the people beckons upon the true bridge.
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