Suswam: Victim of fair weather friends

By Hussaini Hayatu

Former Gover Gabriel Suswam

Nigerians are certainly living in interesting times judging from developments prior to the general elections of March 28, 2015 and the air of anticipation which heralded the elections and subsequent outcome of the elections. Presently the entire nation is holding its breath waiting for what would happen after May 29.

The March 2015 elections have come and gone and the anxieties, anticipations and fears of the unknown have been put behind us. Prior to the elections, there had been much fear and trepidation about what might happen over the outcome of elections.

A good number of Nigerians fled certain parts of the country while others headed for their villages believing that mayhem would be unleashed after the polls. A lot of them regretted their actions as nothing went wrong and they realised that they had inconvenienced themselves unnecessarily for no just reason. Some prophets of doom had made allusions to the fact that the nation might disintegrate or degenerate into chaos after the elections but the harbingers of woes have been put to shame as the nation has remained intact and indeed moving forward.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had been in control of the government at the centre for the past sixteen years and had also been in control of majority of states. The party has had a chequered history of successes and under performance in certain areas.

Many have criticised the ruling party for its perceived wrongs or right. Constructive criticism is good. But criticism for the sake of criticism cannot be in the interest of anybody. For others, criticism is habitual practice or vocation. Others have elevated the acts of criticism to an art form. A typical example was the allegation leveled against the winner of the March 28 election, Muhammadu Buhari, that he is responsible for the present fuel crisis in the country. This shows how absurd some critics can be. It is absurd to criticise somebody who has not even taken over the seat of government.

It would be recalled that Nasir el-Rufai came under all manner of criticisms and was even taken to court for his effort to restore sanity to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). However, since he left office even his worst critics would agree that the man did a good job.

The same goes for Governor Gabriel Suswam who did much for his state, but is being misrepresented in some quarters. The impression being created is that he never did anything good at all. This is totally wrong. Within the first six months of his administration in 2007, Suswam made a clear distinction between his administration and that of his predecessor as he was able to address the problem of infrastructural decay in the state. He embarked on upgrading the decayed infrastructure in the entire state and majority of the people would agree that he made far-reaching impact on the state, both in Makurdi township and most part of the rural areas.

The governor was also able to sustain this tempo of development till the very end of his administration. In the area of healthcare delivery, he was able to meet the health Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by reducing infant and maternal mortality in the state. Hospitals were upgraded and drugs supplied to them particularly those in the rural areas. The Benue State Teaching Hospital was completed and furnished with state-of-arts equipment to cater for the health needs of the people. This has greatly curtailed medical tourism outside the country as witnessed in the period before his administration. Benue State is one of the most secure and peaceful state in the country today.

There is no doubt that there have been acts of aggression and killings of innocent people in the state but the situation never degenerated as compared to other states like Plateau, Nasarawa, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. Nobody is celebrating Suswam for this feat, but his efforts in that area should be applauded by all and sundry. The various communities in the state have co-existed peacefully to the extent that the people of the state pursue their businesses and livelihood in a conducive environment. Suswam’s unparallel effort at maintaining law and order in the state may have endeared him to President Goodluck Jonathan who appointed him to head the committee mediating the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) crisis.

The peace that has ultimately returned to tertiary institutions across the country, can be credited to Suswam’s dogged effort at ensuring that peace returned to our various institutions, yet nobody is praising him for the phenomenal feat.   Since 1999, Suswam has demonstrated that he is a politician that could be relied upon as a party man. No matter the storm he has passed through, he has always remained a loyal party man. He has demonstrated his loyalty to the party by standing with the party even in defeat, while others have left the party in droves.

At home, those he trusted so much and even entrusted them with responsibilities of delivering the state to his party failed him at the last minute. Most of these people, particularly his political associates, have at various times benefited immensely from his patronage. In spite of that, when they saw the crack in the political ship, they fled in time to escape what they saw as an impending shipwreck. This is in character with the Nigerian politics and Nigerian politicians.

Indeed, the last election exposed so many fair weather friends who otherwise would have been enjoying with Suswam in victory had his preferred candidate won the governorship election.


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