The news that some 7,000 students were unable to pay their school fees over at the Benue State University (BSU) Makurdi was depressing, very depressing indeed. As a result of the angst resulting from this state of affair, this university is shut till further notice. What is plaguing the BSU is a small-scale manifestation of what plagues the larger Benue society where the office of the governor has been a cheap getaway to the billionaires’ club.
George Akume was someone who spent Benue State money with careless abandon. Gabriel Suswam was addicted to a cult of personality. When I first mooted the idea of a cattle ranch homestead plan to the Benue State government that would be under the auspices of an appropriately-named National Ranch Homestead Commission (NRHC) circa 2012/2013, the idea was such a great one that the federal government committed a hefty chunk of money into the process of ensuring that the Fulanis are settled for good in ranches. How Governor Suswam managed that fund is still a mystery to me. It sickens me to think that Suswam is a smug billionaire today whilst his hometown folks in Logo are being mowed down by the herdsmen that some say a N100 billion was appropriated for to settle them in ranches in the vast open landmasses of Northern Nigeria.
Now, Benue state parents cannot pay their charges school fees because the culture of impunity that involves non-payment of salaries began with Suswam. Since former governors Akume and Suswam are ex-public servant billionaires, it should be on their consciences to do restitution and pay the school fees of those students who are hard-pressed for money at the moment over at the BSU Makurdi. Governor Samuel Ortom must pay the emoluments of civil servants and quit entertaining the thought that a cheap route to a crooked billionaire’s club is a cool thing. Benue state has endured too much tribulation as it is and this is a state that lends itself to ease of governance with so much pliable flexibility. I wonder why the governors cannot get it right.
Sunday Adole Jonah,
FUT, Minna, Niger state