By Tahav Agerzua
Reading former Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State in a paid advertorial in the Pilot Newspaper of January 18, 2017 in which he derided his successor’s stewardship while self praising his own clearly indicates that some politicians are only interested in their egos and not the welfare of their people.
In the advertorial, Dr Suswam accuses the incumbent Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, of sponsoring a ” smear campaign” against him in media reports where his arraignment before a Federal High Court over charges of money laundering was announced.
In stating his own side of the story, Ex Governor Suswam bemoans Governor Ortom’s alleged indictment of one Simon Lough, a Chief Superintendent of Police who works in the Legal Department of the Force Headquaters in a case of alleged interference in the criminal charges proffered against him (Suswam).
Without advancing any evidence to connect Governor Ortom to the publications, Suswam concludes that the Governor ” targets to soil the track record of a Tiv son serving with the Nigerian Police Force…”
It is interesting to observe Suswam’s sudden defence of a Tiv son working in a Federal Establishment. I say it is interesting because one of the causes of Suswam’s political demise is his penchant to vanquish Tiv sons working in Federal establishments .
I am aware of his sponsored well documented petition against a very senior Director of Tiv descent at the Headquaters of the Independent National Electoral Commission. I also know that Dr Suswam generated multitudes of petitions against a Tiv man who held a sensitive position at the National Secretariat of his own Party. The former Governor also loudly protested against the appointment of a Tiv entrepreneur who was appointed into the Board of the Abuja Investment and Property Development Company.
While he was Governor, Dr Suswam told everyone that cared to listen that he was so close to the then President Goodluck Jonathan that he even had unfettered access to his bedroom. He was a permanent member of delegation on almost all foreign trips of the then President. He can do himself a lot of good to mention how many Tiv sons he influenced their appointments at the federal level and how many Tiv sons he helped do big business. Throughout his eight years as Governor, there was no Tiv Permanent Secreatary in the Federal Civil Service. There was no Tiv career Ambassador in the Foreign Service, No Tiv Contractor got any slice of the national cake . He couldn’t secure the appointment of a Comptroller General of Customs when a competent Tiv woman was next in line to succeed a departed CG. He cornered a lucrative power Distribution Company to himself as a member of the National power Committee instead of paving way for the numerous Tiv businessmen around. Given all of these, one is tempted to ask when he suddenly became a champion for the advancement of Tiv interests.
Dr Suswam’s attempt to play to the gallery by whipping up negative sentiments against President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent appointments into managements of River Basin Development Authorities is just another ploy to play the ostrich and divert attention from his numerous failures as Governor. Mentioning such will not deflect attention from his eight year fiasco.
The former Governor, in the publication, continues to vaunt the discredited lies about financial impropriety against the Ortom administration. He repeats a sore chorus of imaginary theft of bailout funds and loans collected to mitigate his plunder of the state. The former Governor may indeed be referring to what he would have done if he was in position to disburse the said funds. This is a wicked attempt to evaluate Governor Ortom by his own standards. Unlike what obtained during his discredited era, every income of the State has been public knowledge from day one. The fact that a cordial relationship exists between the Government and workers is due to Ortom’s transparent handling of the Stare’s resources. The People of the State only got to know recently that $24million was collected as Paris club refunds while Suswam was Governor. The money developed wings the same way over N107billion was embezzled .
When Dr Suswam talks about ” developmental milestones” and his “legacies”, he adds insults to the injuries he inflicted on the State. He cannot call renovation of a few primary schools with insulting inscriptions “thank you Suswam” as monumental developments. He definitely cannot refer to the commissioning of a water works construction site without reticulation as development. Neither can the construction of the living quarters of a Government House for his own comfort be so termed. Resurfacing of a few township roads in makurdi at inflated costs do not qualify to be described as monumental.
It must be stated here that the former Governor received over N1trillion in his eight years as Governor. I challenge him to for once give a breakdown of his application of these funds since he refused to do so before a judicial commission of inquiry.
For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Ortom has a duty to ensure the recovery of Benue funds so mindlessly looted by the previous administration but will do so within the provisions of the law and due process. Unlike Suswam, he cannot descend from the high office of Governor to witch hunt a Tiv son earning a living in Abuja.
Ex Governor Suswam is hereby advised to focus on his defence at the trials which are self inflicted and refrain from dragging unconnected people into his travails. If I were him, I would stay away from unnecessary controversies and remain silent until may be the noose around my neck is loosened. Silence at this point should be golden for the wise.
Special Adviser, Media and ICT.