Open Letter To Archbishop (Prof.) Dr. Sam Zuga

Time For A Retreat And Sober Reflection

By Simon Imobo-Tswam
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Archbishop (Prof.) Dr. Sam Zuga

" *_We have no other country than, Nigeria. And we'll remain here and salvage it together."_* Anonymous.

*Preamble* :
I begin this Open Letter with the above quote. It used to be popular in the 8Os, but owing to the cobwebs of time, I have forgotten the author. Please, any patriot who's reading this, and recalls the author's name should insert it there. (Let's be co-authors).

So, the quote is relevant today for Benue state and people as it was relevant to Nigeria in the 80s. Nigeria may have 36 states, but we, in Benue, have only one state i.e. Benue. We have no other state.

Some states are richer than Benue, but they are not Benue. Some are more populous than Benue, but they are not Benue. Still, others may be more resource-endowed than Benue, but they are not our Benue.

We can parody that advert of yore about a certain pharmaceutical product thus: "If it's not Benue, it's not the same thing as Benue... because Benue is (uniquely) Benue."

*A pause for introduction*
At this point, let me pause and introduce myself. My name is Simon Imobo-Tswam, Ikyurav-Tiev born, journalist, poet, speech communicator, media consultant, public affairs specialist, public space activist and ordained minister of the Gospel.

We are not known to each other, but I have heard a lot about you as: an Archbishop, General Overseer of the House of Joy, Professor of Digital Economy, founder of Zuga Coin, politician, businessman, philanthropist etc.

*Why I write to you now*
I find it expedient to write you this Open Letter now because your recent videos leave much to be desired.

Even if your professorial standing places no ethical demands on you, your position as a General Overseer and Archbishop does. One of them is sobriety. It's a qualification for a bishop.

Another qualification is deliberation. Even professors require this: it makes them think before going public! And, sir, as a man of learning as well as an international player, certain behaviours should be beneath you.

*We have only Benue*
Even from a mundane and less philosophical standpoint, we can say our land is different, even special. It's not only fertile - it is well-watered.This is why it gives us a variety of crops (Yams, Ground-nuts, Mangoes etc) that are uniquely different in colour, taste and nutrients.

Our people are also different: They are some of the most nationalistic, most courageous, most patriotic, most resourceful and most selfless. No need to mention names here, but each of us can point out a name - if not in our homes or in the neighbourhood, then certainly in History books.

*Truth be told*
But if we are sincere too, we can ask ourselves and answer (agree) that these superlatives have not really served us well as a people. And the superlatives have not really given our dear state the competitive edge either.

Benue state continues to underperform in all indices, the people continue to lose hope and the land continues to bleed from primitive communal clashes as well as well-orchestrated genocidal invasions.

*The problem*
At the heart of our problem is a gross and perennial lack of unity. We have no unity of purpose, no unity of visioning, no unity in the appreciation of reality, no unity of effort, no unity of strategy, no unity of finishing. It is always a market-square of cacophony, a perpetual Babel, with reason, out-voiced, out-shouted, outspaced and out-propagandaed. We play divisive politics in season and out of season.

And yet, Abraham Lincoln told us that: "United we stand; divided we fall."

So, are we not fallen yet? Are we not lying prostrate before those who love our land more than they value our lives?

*The world speaks to us*
In this age of globalisation, the world speaks to us, and I challenge us to listen well.

"There is beauty and power in unity. We must be united in heart and mind. One world, one people." – Lailah Gifty Akita.

Who, what can, thus, divide us?
"Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean." - Ryunosuke Satoro.

As an ocean, who can dare us? But as a drying stream, dare we imagine that we can defend ourselves?

"When spiders unite, they can tie down a lion." - Anonymous.

Is there no lion in the homestead, devouring, despoiling and devastating us now?

"Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." - Henry Ford.

Need more be said?
"There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about." – Margaret Wheatley.

Even if we don't care about our honour, peace and security in the present, don't we care also about our future or that of our children?

Killer-herdsmen are visiting us with democratic terror, leaving death and devastation in their wake. They now even recruit the weakest among us as mercenaries/collaborators. But to even this, a former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, counsels us: "When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you."

The bottom line, therefore, is this: "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." - Martin Luther King, Jr..

And the foregoing, my Lord Archbishop, brings me to the trending issue: your videos.

*Your strange videos*
For some days now, you, the founder of Zuga Coin, an advertised form of crypto-currency, have been trending on the social media, especially Facebook, with your videos, I think three or even four. It's becoming one day, one video. (We may see one before sunset today).

*A *basket of problems*
There is much that can be better in the Benue state of today. In our state today, especially in Tivland, there is no second generation wealth, no viable succession planning and no real mentoring system.

The issue of killer-herdsmen invasion is getting intractable as Benue bleeds from Agatu to Zaki-Biam! Poverty is entrenching itself in the land. And as there is disequilibrium in the state, there is also a disequilibrium (relative to our demographics) at the Federal level.

*What we expected*
One expected that you, a prominent figure in the state, will use your videos to draw attention to some of these ills plaguing our state, and as well proffer some alternatives.

For instance, you are from the Sankera Axis of the state. In fact, as a Shitile son, you are the Sankera of Sankera. At the moment, that area is the Somalia of Benue state. It's a virtual gangland. You have so far not deemed it fit to call upon our brothers to leave the forests and return to civilization. And Gov Alia is tasking stakeholders from that Axis to help proffer viable alternatives towards ending the insecurity there.

*Zuga Coin*
Prof. Zuga, you yourself have acknowledged the endemic poverty in the state. This is why, in the recent past, using the platform of Sam Zuga Foundation, you have brought economic empowerment schemes to uplift the people.

Among these are the Ginger Initiative and the Zuga Coin, which you touted as the Number 1 crypto-currency (or digital) in the world!

*Silence and more silence*
Benue people, and Tiv people in particular, with great expectations of getting out of poverty, believed your claims and keyed into both schemes. With the gestation period being over, especially concerning the Zuga Coin, investors have been expecting their ROI. So far, it's been only regrets and lamentations from those who invested trust in their Archbishop and his fantastic schemes. And from your side, sir, it's been silence, then silence and more silence.

*Misplaced hopes*
The hope that you will use your video outings to talk about Zuga Coin and the Ginger Initiative among your other poverty alleviation schemes have proved fruitless; and Gov. Alia is now the focus of your every succeeding video outing.

In the videos, sir, you appear unusually agitated, and sound angry, bitter and, somewhat, uncoordinated. Sometimes, it appears as though you are creating content for a comedy skit, but one isn't sure. Then, in other instances, you sway from side to side, appear to go momentarily blank before resuming your jerky, staccato and tedious monologue.

*Not the Zuga we know*
That is not the Zuga that Benue people know. The normal Archbishop Zuga is a fairly stable cleric who favours garish attires, and is majorly known for his roadside exhibitions and bombastic promotions of Zuga Coin.

The Sam Zuga that is trending in the videos is a strange person - both in his endless rambling and outlandish claims against the Tiv political leadership, but especially the State Governor, HE Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia. This Zuga appears driven, even haunted!

*Nothing sacred...*
But these are political times, and nothing is sacred, nothing is off limits and nothing is off the table. Let it not be that everyone wants access to the palace, and the driving philosophy is: the end justifies the means.

*A personal pain*
Personally, I am pained that a stakeholder from Sankera, an influencer of Zuga's stature, has a chance to say something useful to our brothers, but has rather chosen the self-serving path of exhibitionism, drama, narcissism, jealousy, pettiness, bitterness, self-unmasking, verbal self-immolation etc. We have lived long enough to discover that even archbishops can major in minors! This is a hope betrayed. An opportunity squandered.

*From Alia, same message*
Sir, signals from Government House, Makurdi, show consistency. The message from the governor appears to remain the same: "No deals" and "No bazaars." "Let the public purse breathe!" "And let the commonwealth serve the common man."

It's like the governor is maintaining his principled stand that Benue's commonwealth is for Benue people; and not for the servicing of the gargantuan appetites of rent-collectors, attention-seekers, special groups or vested interests. And no amount of political blackmail or cyber-terrorism may persuade the Rev. Father to the contrary.

The governor is clearly sworn to prudence. That automatically means he is against all forms of waste, including elite parasitism - no matter how it is packaged, no matter what form it takes and no matter how it is disguised.

Those who think the governor will cave in under enormous pressure or more pressure may be grossly mistaken. His body language seems to be insisting: "I have work to do and will not be distracted by rent-seekers or intimidated by cyber-bullies and political gargoyles.

**Like Gov. Nehemiah like Gov. Alia*
Your sophomoric rhetoric and amateur videos seem to suggest that you want a fight with the governor. Your boastful taunts imply just that. You want him to go down to your shaky ground. Even if one cannot discern the purpose, one can tell that your actuations are far from holy.

Like Gov. Nehemiah, Gov. Alia's golden silence is a loud message to you and others with the same persuasions. He is saying: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Neh. 6:3).

You have two choices, sir. You can join this modern Nehemiah in the building project or you can remain tethered in the valley of envy, making student union-noises and deriving pyrrhic satisfaction! Not everyone fights a Nehemiah. If you doubt me, ask Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem. The truth is this: Alia is a lion, a he-man; and Zuga cannot feminize him!

Your Holiness, Archbishop Zuga, the overwhelming majority of Benue people, who recruited Dr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia as Benue state's governor, were deliberate in their smart choice. They wanted someone, an outsider, who would fix Benue, clear the mess and inaugurate a new order of public service, fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency.

So far, the governor is on course. Every Naira is giving value to the community. And there are corresponding results. Benue state is beginning to work again. The governor is ably delivering on his campaign promises, even inspecting projects even at night! The people are beginning to have hope in government, once again.

The governor has refused to be distracted, from the look of things. His preferred table is the work-desk; not the dining table. But there is no resting on his oars: he needs to keep the momentum of change. He must restrain himself from joining street fights. He must not become entangled with champions of shadow-boxing, and clearly need help in the form of deliverance!

*Doing the needful*
You are a respected cleric who should do the needful, once you regain your composure i.e. beat a permanent retreat from this rueful route and engage in serious sober reflections.

You will find answers to questions like: "Who's pursuing me?" "What's eating me from the inside?" "What has really come over me?" "How can I redeem myself?"

"Since every father/pastor has a father/pastor - to whom can I go for help?" "How can I win back the trust of those I have needlessly impugned their hard-earned reputations?" "And how can I remedy the damage and opprobrium I have invited lavishly upon myself, my ministry and reputation?"

But this is not to say Archbishop (Prof.) Dr. Sam Zuga cannot or will not criticise the governor, his governor. Gov. Alia is not God. And, although he means well for the state, he cannot be doing everything right or with 100 percent efficiency.

At such times, you can talk to him, Reverend to Reverend, in firm but respectful tones; you can criticise with without condemning him or descending into pejoratives and expletives. Remember: politics is over. It's now time for governance. And until 2027 or 2031, irrespective of partisan labels, he remains our executive governor.

*And to Benue people*
At this point, it is equally important to appeal to Benue people to keep faith with Gov. Alia's administration while keeping at bay rabble-rousers, failed politicians, dubious businessmen and enemies of the emerging narrative where Benue works for all. Politics is over. We will return to mudslinging in three years' time. It's time for governance now.

My Lord Archbishop (Prof.), kindly accept my sincere regrets: the letter is fairly long. But then, it has tried to answer the issues you raised in your long videos.

I come in peace.
Thank you, sir.
Yours sincerely,
Simon Imobo-Tswam.
Imobo-Tswam, a Benue patriot, writes from Abuja.