The need for progressive politics and good governance in Benue: An interrogation on Suswam’s political intrigues

By David Wayas PhD, Public analyst/University don.

Senator Gabriel Torwua Suswam PhD, a renowned legislator is a former House of Representatives member for Katsina-ala/Ukum and Logo Federal Constituency, where he was appointed chairman House service Committee and later, Chairman, House Committee on FCT among other sensitive positions he handled and delivered explicitly well without any form of indictment.

Suswam who is also a  two-time governor of Benue State, and now a  senator representing the Benue North-East Senatorial Disttrict is the Chairman, Senate committee on Power.

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As an indomitable and quintessential leader who has ever been responsive to yearnings and aspirations of his constituents, Senator Suswam has shown great leadership prowess in his political career as it is evident in his record of achievements.

Indeed, in a faltering democracy like Nigeria, the need for a motive reformist lifestyle in the strife for strong democracy and progressive politics can never be overstated. It is however unfortunate such reformists are becoming incalculably and vanishingly scarce in our clime like Benue State in particular.

The questions now are, “do we resign the hope for the Benue of our dream or do we keep a firm grip of the rags of this hope? If there is a handful of the needed pioneers of a new front, how long would they continue to stand the vicious cult of “if you can’t beat them join them?

 “By what instrument shall we identify these rare pioneers of a new front?” It was at this probing point that Senator Gabrial Suswam’s political intrigues came handy for interrogation.

Born on the fifteenth of November, nineteen sixty four in Anyiin, Logo Local Government Area of Benue State, Senator Gabrial Suswam, after his primary and secondary education was admitted into the prestigious University of Lagos, where he obtained a bachelor’s’ degree in law in the year nineteen eighty nine and was called to Bar in nineteen ninety.

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He started working for law firms in nineteen ninety while continuing his studies and in nineteen ninety four Suswam launched his law firm.

When the military government of Abdulsalam Abubakar did a transition programme to hand over power to civilian government in nineteen ninety nine, Suswam was among productive Nigerians that purchased nomination forms under the People’s Democratic Party and as fate had it, he was elected by Sankera people to represent Katsina-Ala/Ukum and Logo Federal Constituency at the National House of Representatives. 

Interestingly, that seductive victory by Suswam in nineteen ninety nine keeps playing inconsequentially in the political fore ordinations of Benue State as a political macrocosm and Nigeria at large as a political complex structure till today.

In his ever burning desire to contribute to the society, the ambitious and zealous Suswam in 2007, under the Peoples’ Democratic Party, contested for the seat of the Benue State governor alongside many high profiled persons. And when the die was cast, Suswam emerged victoriously and governed the state from 2007-2015.

 Iimportant to recall that, Senator Gabrial Suswam, throughout the service years of his political destiny as a governor of Benue State, a state with myriad social,  economic, cultural, religious and political components, was saturated in humongous catastrophes ranging from court cases, seeming assisted ethnic cleansing against the  Benue State indigenes within and without, apparent apathy and emotional black mail among other things that were capable of creating terrible emotional and psychological exhaustiveness for a leader.

However, like Edward de Bono once said, there is never any justification for things being complex when they could be simple,  Senator Gabriel Suswam, an indomitable leader rather simplified this complicated political destiny by focusing on governance and he engraved his foot prints in the sand of history as a two-time governor of Benue State.

Spectating from a vantage point of view, it could be observed that, Senator Gabrial Suswam exudes a high particularity of character as demonstrated in his uncommon posture in the narration of Nigerian politics. This, which should be emulated, is manifest in his young people oriented leadership style without emphasis on ethnicity or family affiliations, women inclusiveness in governance, constituents’ needs assessment and possible response with less accessibility challenge.

Suswam’s significant attitude of unlocking potentials attests to the Bill Bradley’s ideology of leadership being about unlocking people’s potential to become better.

Apart from being a pragmatic, gregarious and egalitarian politician, Dr. Gabriel Suswam is also known for not limiting his reach to his constituency but taking his affection beyond the coast and creating remarkable impact on people from other constituencies across the state. 

It is unfortunate to have recorded however, that amid his glaring penchant for utilitarian leadership, in two thousand and fifteen, Dr Suswam contested for senatorial seat for the Benue North East and lost out.

Although, the prime thing to point out and celebrate in that political outing was the nobility and the posture of sportsmanship with which he accepted the fate without taking laws into his hands or racing to court as many would do in order to cause distraction but sued for peace while giving time a chance to play its magic.

Excitedly, like it is said, “He whom the cap fits wears it, in two thousand and nineteen, the Zone “A” electorate, to whom power belongs considered that the senatorial cap would fit better on Dr. Gabriel Suswam and so he was graciously crowned into the Senate.

In the period of two years as Senator Dr. Gabriel Suswam was able to make his priority on results undoubted by creating enormous dividends of representative governance and demonstrated qualities of a true democrat in many ways. 

Notably, in  Ikurav Tiev, Katsina/Ala Local Government where the people were abandoned in , total darness, dearth of study facilities among others for many years, the pragmatism of Senator Gabrial Suswam liberated the people through the  construction and furnishing of three classroom block at Lunjo   and construction of motorized borehole and ten thousand litre-overhead water tank at Joo -Mbatyough,  as well as installation of Solar street lights at Ikowe, Kyurav Tiev respectively.

Also to his credit is the extension of Electricity from Tyowanye to Takor through Joo Mbatyough; construction and furnishing of a three Classroom block at LGEA Primary School, Mbasar, Ikurav – Tiev two as well as the extension of Electricity from Amaafu to Ikove – Mechanic Village also in Katsina/Ala town.

In Konshisha Local Government, Senator Suswam showcased hipragmatic leadership in many aspects including the extension of Electricity from Tse –  Galo to Kyon, Iwarnyam Ward; extension of Electricity from Kyon in Iwarnyam ward to Tse – Swende (NALDA) in Mbakyase Ward. extension of Electricity  from Mbaakpur through  Ikyongo  to Tsue – Daka Mbakyase Ward and the construction of Motorized Borehole with ten-thousand-litre overhead water tank at NKST Church, Ugba, Mbayegh/Mbakyegh Ward.

The lighting up of Tse – Agberagba and all the eleven Council Ward Headquarters in Konshisha LGA are all the tragectries of Senator Suswam’s commitment to impacting on the people and this has in no small measure, improved the economic and general well being of the people.

As a demonstrative leader that he is, Suswam also saw to the provision and installation of Solar Street Lights at the residence of all the eleven District/Ward Heads (Tyoor) in Konshisha LGA as well as the installation of Solar Street Lights at the residences of Mue Ter Gaav and Mue Ter Shangev in their respect.

He also saw to the installation of Solar Street Lights at the residence of Ter Ikov; connstruction of a Block of three classrooms at Community Secondary School, Degu, Mbagusa/Mbatser Ward; construction of a Block of six Classrooms with Furnishing and ten VIP convenience facilities at LGEA Primary School, Bonta,   Mbagusa/Mbatser Ward; construction of a Block of Flat for Maternity Ward at NKST Comprehensive Health Clinic, Mbaakpur, Mbakyase Ward respectively.

It is interesting to know that these projects were running concurrently with the construction of Motorized Borehole with ten thousand-litre overhead water tank at Tyoor Una Akoko residence, Akusha, Mbakyase Ward; the extension of Electricity from Gungul to Agune, Tse – Shen, Bonta and Degu billed to  be extended to Degu-Gbinde to Bonta to cover both Mbakyase, Mbagusa/ Mbatser council Ward. There was also a functional scheme for training and Empowerment of Women in Konshisha LGA on Modern Agricultural Methods through wives of Heads (Tyoor) of eleven Wards and women leaders.

When Senator Gabriel Suswam turned to the Vandeikya Local Government, his leadership gallantry was manifest in phase one extension of Electricity   from Gbem to Anongo, Mbajor ward; extension of Electricity from Anongo to Mbaakon, Geri – Tor Tiv and Mede in Mbadede ward; construction of a Block of three classrooms at NKST Primary School, Antyo, Mbajor; Building of the Atum River Bridge with three point three kilomiter Access Road & Street Light along Ihugh-Damkor- General Hospital junction road in Mbagbera Council Ward,

Also, there were both finished and ongoing projects at defferent locations at ward levels including the residences of all the twelve District/Ward Heads (Tyoor); at residences of Mue Ter Kyan and Mue Ter Tiev and some churches across the local goverment area.

Provision and Installation of Solar Street Lights at the residence of Ter Kunav and Tor Jechira; provision of twenty KVA Solar Home System at Primary Health Centre (PHC), Vandeikya; training and Empowerment of selected Women (all wives of District/Ward Heads – Tyoor Mba iorov and other women leaders in all the twelve council wards respectively.

In Kwande there is a construction of a bridge across river AKEMATI, INOGOR, KUMAKWAGH ward, TURAN; construction of one thousand KVA Solar Minigrid at Anwase, Mbakyor ward; construction of motorized Bore hole with ten thousand Litres overhead water tank at Azaibo, Kumakwagh War; construction of a three Block of classrooms at LGEA Primary School, Ijever, Injoorsha kindred, Mbadura ward; installation of Solar Street light in Jato-Aka; installation of Solar Street light at Ichor (Residence of Chief Ikpambase among others.

In Nanev Clan, the people received a construction of motorized borehole with ten thousand litres Overhead water tank at Adikpo; installation of Solar Street light at major street of Adikpo town; installation of Solar Street Light at Saint Andrew Secondary School, Adikpo

He did not leave the people of Shangev Ya Clan  but put on groend the cconstruction of a Multi-purpose Block for Primary Health Clinic at Koti – Shangev Ya; construction of motorized Borehole with ten thousand litres overhead water tank at Koti – Shangev – Ya; construction of Motorised borehole with ten thousand litres overhead water tank at Tse – Upev, Adaji in Shangev Ya; extension of Electricity from Branch Udema to Ada, Shangev – Ya (Prof Nick Ada’s Village) – ongoing project.

Also, the people received the extension of Electricity from Branch Udema to Gbajur, Shangev Ya – Ongoing project; extension of Electricity from Branch Udema to Tse – Ashongo, Shangev Ya – ongoing as well as installation of Solar Street lights at Branch Udema, Tse-Upev, Adagi, Shangev Ya.

In Kurav Ya Clan, the people are smiling with the construction of a Block of three  classrooms with furnishing at LGEA Primary School, Kuula, Kurav Ya; installation of Solar Street light at Ikyogen, Adagi and many Ikuav ya villages.

Senator Suswam also understood and appreciated the Traditional Rulers in Kwande in amyriad of ways including the installation of Solar Street Light at the Residence of Tor Kwande; installation of Solar Street at the residence of Ter Kwande; nstallation of Solar Street at the residence of Mue Ter Chongo and Mue Ter Ipusu in Kwande LGA; installation of Solar Street light at all the sisteen Ward Chiefs (Tyoor) in Kwande LGA as well as installing Solar street lights at the Ward Headquarters of  all the fifteen Wards in Kwande LGA.

In Ushongu Local Government, the people went agug with the construction of one thousand KVA Solar Hybrid Minigrid at Atekombo, Mbagba Ward,  extension of Electricity from Gbem to Heghea; extension of Electricity from Heghea to Igboor (ongoing). Contact person is Hon. Bob Nege; extension of Electricity from Heghea to Nizam; construction of a Block of three classrooms at Kwaghbula, Atirkyese ward; construction of a Block of three classrooms at Heghea, Mbagwaza ward.

Construction of a Motorised Borehole with ten thousand liters overhead water tank at Wanze – Ikov. Contact person is  Hon. Fannen Leo-Frank Mondo; construction of Motorised borehole with ten thousand litres overhead water tank at Kpor; Mbayegh ward; extension of Electricity from Tse – zun to Tse – Anom, Mbakuhwa Ward, ongoing (contact person is Julius Donko); provision and Installation of three thousand KVA transformer and reticulation of electricity in Mbawuangi community, Mbaanyam Ward. 

Provision and installation of Solar Street light at all the eleven Ward Headquarters in Ushongo LGA; provision and installation of Solar Street Light at the residences of all the eleven District Heads (Tyoor); construction of a motorized borehole with ten thousand Litres overhead water tank at Tse – Mzer, Uninge, Utange Ward.

This is just but a few among the evidence of action based leadership of Senator Dr. Suswam when he was barely two years in office. How then could one wait to be told that Senator Suswam potends the integrity and qualities of a passionate leader who understands the needs of his people even before such needs are stated.

Apart from his action based, empathic, unbiased and adaptability leadership style, Senator Suswam’s aloofness to political floor crossing is a yet another character that is highly uncommon in the Nigerian political landscape. His blatant dismissiveness to play political harlotry of hopping from one political party to another has also earned him a very dignified status in his political career.

The good people of Zone “A”, I from the foregoing, feel highly and justifiably compelled to present to you, a man whose integrity, selflessness and value for values find expressions in many ways.

It is commonly said, one good term deserves another, as the twenty twenty three election is around the corner, know you that in a true democratic setting, apathy is an adversary.

So, the twenty twenty three election must not be seen as a time to play apathy and gamble with our peace and joy. It is not time to be bought over by cheap virtues but it is time for active involvement in carving out the kind of life to live. It is time to choose where we desire to be in the next four years and how we desire to live where we wish to live.

As senator Suswam has started sailing the boat towards the shores of liberation, the year twenty twenty three is not a year to give chance to any comedy of errors to be played at the peril of our wellbeing. But we should look forward to coronate meritocracy against any form mediocrity.

The time is apt to take a profound decision against retrogressive imbalances by consolidating the kind gestures of Senator Gabriel Suswam in the Benue North East Senatorial election come twenty twenty three. For if we don’t learn to embrace and nurse virtue as it comes to us in clean and royal robes such as it could be seen in Senator Suswam’s paradigm, betrayal, laxity and even plunder will reign.

Until we team up behind lovers of democracy, the progressive politics we hold shoulder high will succumb to threats and recede into fascism.

With the tenacity and dexterity shown by Senator Gabriel Suswam, it is important for the good people of Zone “A” to lary round him in the twenty twenty three election to enable him continue wrapping and hauling dividends of representative leadership to our door step. After all, the reward for good work they say, is more work.

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