By Ugaba Emmanuel
“The prophet is without honour only in his home town.” This is what one can ascribe the recent media assaults on the person of His Excellency, Engr. Benson Abounu, Deputy Governor of Benue State, by the former Minister of Interior, Comr. Abba Moro.
The political crincum crancum in Benue South Senatorial District occasioned by the annulment of the election of Sen. David Mark by the Appeal Court leading to a rerun slated to take place on February 13th, 2016, has degenerated to a media warfare between the ex-minister and Director General of David Mark Campaign Organization, Comr. Abba Moro and the Deputy Governor of Benue State, Engr. Benson Abounu.
In a press interview penultimate week, Abba Moro was quoted to have insulted Abounu, describing him as incompetent and not representing the interest of the Idoma people. In this article, I want to x-ray the achievements of the person of Benson Abounu so as to justify or prove Abba Moro wrong on several issues of incompetence leveled against Abounu.
In December 1998, Abounu used his connection and resources to pull Abba Moro who was a mere class room teacher, out of the classroom and made him chairman of Okpokwu LGC.
In 1999, when the ban on politics was lifted by the military government of Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, Abounu in collaboration with a few Idoma concerned indigenes brought David Mark back from Ghana where he was in exile to contest election into the senate. Abounu was the Director General of the David Mark Campaign Organisation that gave David Mark the first shot into the Senate in May 1999.
Abounu was among the pioneer members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that brought the party (PDP) to zone C in 1998 and was equally the single highest donor from Zone C towards governorship campaign in 1999.
Having done that, he was appointed Commissioner for Water resources by Governor George Akume, a position he earned by dint of hard work, but not by the influence of David Mark as insinuated by Abba Moro.
It is lugubrious that, having benefited so much from the political legacies of Benson Abounu, that Abba Moro suddenly forgot and now turns back to slam Benson Abounu, calling him an incompetent person.
As a commissioner of Water Resources under Governor Akume, Abounu was a star because he executed so many projects that touched the lives of people in the state; particularly Zone C. Notable among them included the judicious use of the ecological funds to construct 100kms of roads and flood control measures in big cities, majority of which were sited in zone C.
Remember the flood that killed over 10 people in Babylon in Otukpo, it was Abounu that executed the flood control project thereby eradicating the hardship the people were subjected into in that area during raining season. Ugbokolo main market and town centres were virtually closed down due to flood and erosion; it was Abounu that solved the perennial flood problem in the area.
Major contract for the supply of water from Otobi to Otukpo using big pipes for linkage was awarded and executed by Abounu; so also were the construction of Dams at Emichi, Okpomaji and Adum East in Obi LGA. It was Abounu that influenced the asphalting of roads at Otukpo and construction of Otukpicho road.
A person that used his privileged position to attract, influenced and saw to the execution of these projects in zone C is being described by Abba Moro as being incompetent, who then is competent?
Serving as Commissioner in Akume administration, Abounu was previllaged to oversee and managed the affairs of three ministries: Water Resourses, Science and Technology and Solid Minerals, during which period he recruited about 47 indigenes of Zone C into the state civil service. If Abounu is incompetent, how could he manage his ministry and then be the person to be used to open new ministries of Science and Technology and Solid Minerals?
It is, however, true that David Mark influenced the appointment of Abounu as Chairman of Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), but the same David Mark removed him before his tenure expired because of clash of interest as Abounu aspired to contest for the Federal House of Representatives.
Having analyzed the catalog of the achievements of Abounu and his contributions towards the political successes of the duo of Abba Moro and David Mark, it is ironical for Abba Moro to ascribe ingratitude to Abounu by calling him “ingrate” rather, the duo is supposed to be grateful to him.
On the issue of the position of SSG being taken away from Zone C which hitherto has been enjoyed for the past 16 years, it should be reminded here that, the position has been replaced by equally important one which is the Head of Service which Zone C never enjoyed for the past 24 years and is being headed now by a Zone C indigene.
The questions that need answers and explanations from Abba Moro and his principal are, why is Enugu-Otukpo road not completed till date? Why Otukpo-Oju road, Oweto bridge and dualisation of Aliade-Otukpo roads not completed?
The duo of Abba Moro and David Mark should explain to the people of Zone C and give them satisfactory reasons why the multimillion-naira Otobi Dam has not been completed, why Army Barracks at Otukpo has not been built in spite of the contract that was awarded for that purpose and why couldn’t they make the people of Zone C millionaires?
There are more questions than answers, as the former President of the Senate and number three citizen of this great country for eight years, David Mark had the privilege to influence the completion of all projects he purportedly attracted to his constituency and make his people rich but surprisingly, it is only his nucleus family members, his cronies and inlaws that he made rich and placed in juicy ministries and organizations.
As a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria overseeing the Ministry of Interior with several big parastatals under him, Abba Moro was in a position to positively affect the lives of thousands of zone C indigenes by way of employment. Regrettably however, his achievements in that direction was the death of about 20 hapless applicants struggling for recruitment into the Nigerian Immigration Service, a parastatal under his ministry and accumulation of about N3.5billion money collected from the hapless applicants, using an unregistered company purportedly owned by him and his collaborator.
It should be made clear to the people of the zone that the political fight between David Mark and Daniel Onjeh is not instigated by the Tiv people rather; it is instigated by the conscious political awareness of the Idoma people having realized their subjection to one family for several years without change.
When the wind of change blows, things that cannot move along the direction of change are bound to be affected either positively or negatively and that is the present case between David Mark and Daniel Onjeh. When Abounu was in PDP, first he was the Director General of David Mark Campaign Organization, the position Abba Moro is occupying today and when things went sour for him he dumped PDP, then a ruling party and went into opposition to pursue his cause.
As a member and leader of APC in Zone C, tell me, is it logical and ethical for Abounu to dump Daniel Onjeh, his party’s candidate and campaign for David Mark in the forthcoming rerun senatorial election in the zone?
Abba Moro should concern himself with plans and strategies to sell his candidate to the people of zone C, how to redeem his battered image, delve on issues rather than casting aspersions on the person of Abounu who did so much for him and his principal to be what they are today.
Change as they say is the only permanent and constant thing, all other things are variables. Make the best use of the opportunities and privileges that you have today particularly those that have direct impact on people because you will never know when the wind of change will blow and the direction it will blow so that you will not be swept by the wind.
*Ugaba is a Special Assistant to Benue State Commissioner for Information and Orientation; 07064948910, email@example.com