By James Ibechi and Ugaba Emmanuel
It now clearly appears that the Benue State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — apparently in anticipation of defeat at the Tribunal, or so to say without prejudice of the court — has resolved to up the opposition ante, by devising pull-down-tactics, against the state Governor Samuel Ortom and his administration.
For we have clearly witnessed the sudden but bland and scant upsurge in the activities of the former ruling party, but now turned opposition, against the new governor in both the traditional print and the new media in recent times.
Especially the social media has become the PDP’s most potent fry-pan in which it has started to fry the adorable Benue’s new ‘baby’ — Ortom, but for no just reason. This is evidently glaring, yet it is no news.
What is news, however, is that, after very many good politicians have seen the light in APC and have dumped the PDP for it, what seems left in the party (PDP) appears to be only the remnant of mundane partymen, who as far as I know, knows next-to-nothing about governance, democracy, accountability, probity and essence of politics; being the very reason it took the party 16 tragic years of experimenting governance on Nigerians.
Yet the party woefully failed. And, was it not this failure that ostensibly engineered and emboldened Nigerians to kick the party out of power and throw it into the opposition in which it has now found itself? It was, certainly.
What is expected of it now is what Emmanuel Agbo, the state opposition party czar, had during a stakeholders’ meeting of the party hinted the public about: to get the election management experts to tutor it, not just on election management but also on how not to be corrupt, how to avoid fielding electoral fraudsters and mediocre as governorship candidates and how to heal itself of the disease or its reputation for impunity.
It is after those things are corrected can any well meaning Benue man or woman listen to its allegations of corruption and others as it labels them against the new governor who belongs to a party that is polars apart from the PDP, when it comes to corruption talk.
That is what the PDP should occupy itself with, for now, and not to dabble into watery and scant cynicism of another party when it has not yet removed the specks from its eyes.
But the problem of such a party and politicians, not just in Benue, but in the entire continent of Africa, has been that, they very soon forget where the rain begins to beat them and their party.
The rain that beat the PDP, as it now needs a reminder, is its kicking out of power by the Benue people in the last general elections. And the reason is the party’s incurable sickness of corruption, impunity, name them.
It is the cause of the rain which beat the party that precipitated Benue people’s hatred for it up till now. Yet it seems the opposition eggheads in the state have forgotten this fact too quickly.
Or how do you explain the grisly situation where the very people who ruined the PDP, who at one point or the other during their stewardship to the state and the nation, were standing probe, or are presently facing probe panels, for allegations ranging from financial malfeasances, gunrunning, party’s maladies to general corrupt practices, are the same persons unabashedly championing the opposition by questioning the transparency, integrity and morality of the new Governor of the state, Dr. Samuel Ortom?
These men include the former minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro; erstwhile governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam and the state chairman of PDP, Agbo Emmanuel.
The trio, at a recent stakeholders’ meeting of the party which was held at the instance of Suswam, in what appeared like a review of Ortom’s 100 days in office, levelled what some close watchers of political activities in the state have already passed off as unsubstantiated allegations against Ortom.
For instance, Suswam falsely accused the APC-led government of spreading falsehood, claiming that the governing party had said he was detained in the UK and that the APC used that as a propaganda to dampen the spirit of PDP men in the state while in actual sense he, Suswam, was hospitalized because of ailment. Yet, the truth is that, the source of the news of Suswam’s detention over the beating of his wife in the UK is an international online news medium. As it were, the news medium first broke the scoop and it went viral on the internet before the APC got to know about it.
The PDP chieftains especially Moro and Emmanuel accused Ortom administration of corruption, among other allegations, without substantiating them. Such allegations, apart from negating the popular saying that, he who alleges must also prove, run counter of the maxim, “he who lives in a glass house does not throw stones.”
But for moral bankruptcy, one would have loved to know the source of Moro and Suswam’s newfound moral rights for them to have labelled Ortom as not only corrupt but also witch-hunting PDP youths in the state, when the only major news one had ever read about the former minister of Interior, all through his heyday as Okpokwu LG chairman and as minister of Interior was allegation of gunrunning, for which, if not for the tacit protection he had been enjoying from the powers that prevailed at the center then, he would have been languishing in jail before now.
It was either that or the only major news you ever have read about his stewardship as the minister of the federal republic of Nigeria has remained that of the deaths-for-jobs.
For, here is a minister who supervised the immigration recruitment fraud, which claimed over 20 lives of innocent and unsuspecting Nigerian poor job seekers, wielding effrontery — instead of showing contrition for his corrupt past — has now turned to hurling baseless allegations against a performing Governor Ortom.
Moro and Suswam erroneously think every Benue man or woman thinks the way they do, as to have apparently thought every criticism against the Ortom administration from them would be gobbled hook, line and sinker.
No wonder, that is why Suswam could say that Ortom/APC is witch-hunting the PDP youths.
If anything, were these not the same politicians who have bred the gun-wielding thugs and the ‘area boys’ out of the Benue youths that the Ortorm administration is making painstaking efforts to rehabilitate through the declaration of the Amnesty that is already yielding fruits in the state? So, how is Ortom witch-hunting the same youths as the former governor who was widely believed to be the worst corrupt governor in the history of the state, has alleged in the media?
The trio of Suswam, Moro and Emmanuel may know that gone are the days when leaders raised, nurtured, and armed thugs at public expense to commit crimes against the people with impunity and full support of government machinery.
The Ortom administration has moved against crime and criminals in the state and none will enjoy any shade or protection.
Well, in summary, the allegations of corruption, witch hunting, and false propaganda levelled against Ortom, credited to the PDP chieftains in the state and published widely in the media this week are baseless are false.
Those who read the reports would have been surprised that no proof to substantiate any of the allegations was established against the governor, quite contrary to the maxim that he who alleges must also prove.
Close watchers of events in the state may have also noticed that since his assumption of office the governor has been making full disclosure of the situation on ground.
He has also been giving regular accounts of monies received and how they are being spent.
This is consistent with his policy of transparency and accountability, terms alien to the previous PDP administration in the state.
Yet Governor Ortom’s judicious use of scarce resources in the state has seen the commencement of payment of full salaries, reopening of the Benue State University, full accreditation of the College of Health Sciences for five years, ongoing comprehensive rehabilitation of the School of Nursing and Midwifery for reaccreditation, resumption of pumping of water in Utobi and Katsina-Ala as well as ongoing construction of laboratories at the College of Agriculture, Yandev.
It has also led to the commencement of the upgrading of facilities at the permanent NYSC camp in Wannune, release of funds for the completion of the House of Assembly complex and resumption of work on the Daudu-Gbajimba road and several other projects.
The list is not exhaustive besides the return of development partners to the state and rekindling of confidence in governance.
The truth is that Ortom has not soiled his hands and the allegation of corruption levelled against him cannot be proved.
The PDP chieftains are therefore challenged to controvert this fact. But if it has no proof its current hue and cry simply amounts to weeping because it has lost power.
However, the advice for the party is that, whenever it is out to criticise the governing party, it should think carefully, to first examine itself and weigh the consequences of the people’s reactions before going public because as public figures that the party’s eggheads such as Moro, Suswam and Emmanuel were, or are, there are no secrets they kept while still holding public office that cannot be unveiled when they are out.
Benue is our own state, let us synergise our collective ideas for the development of our dear state, instead of resorting to the pull-down syndrome orchestrated by some disgruntled elements.
Our new God-fearing governor is not afraid of criticisms, but critics should bear in mind that constructive criticisms aimed at making him to sit up and be alive to his responsibility will trickle down development while negative criticisms will detract or hinder development, and are highly retrogressive. This, we cannot afford not to avoid.
As for the PDP trying to asses the new administration in the state, what is100 days compared to the 16 years of maladministration, abuse of office, impunity, insecurity, etc?
It is, however, not surprising for the chieftains of the former ruling party now turned opposition to look for wolves where they did not exist, thus making frivolous accusations only to be heard because they no longer have the power to enjoy the paraphernalia of government which, for 16 years, they enjoyed with zest and disdain for Nigerians.
So, the more exasperating thought one has for the weeping party is simply to condole with it in these words, “Weep not PDP.”
It is indeed painful to be in opposition and more painful when unprepared you are forced into it. The truth is that our people have become too enlightened than ever to believe PDP’s lies, especially now that we have a governor that is accountable to everyone, whose integrity and transparency are indisputable, guided by the fear of God and being surrounded by people that are equally God-fearing.
The change Benue people have been clamoring for is now here are real: change from misrule to the rule based on the fear of God; change from impunity to accountability; change from falsehood to truth; insecurity to security, inaccessibility to accessibility; change from lawlessness to the rule of law and order.
*James Ibechi (ejeibec@is a public affairs commentator and writes from Lagos