The race for the next governor of Benue sate after the completion of the two- term of Chief Samuel Ortom has begun with about 31 aspirants on the platform of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Ahead of the party primaries, the Benue political landscape is currently warm. Consultations have reached advanced stages as aspirants criss-crosses the length and breadth of the state to sell their plans and woo potential delegates, party executives, religious leaders, political blocs, opinion leaders, elders-statesmen, traditional institutions; literally reaching out to every possible living-creature that will potentially add to their political-millage to achieve their set-out aim to fly the flag of the PDP at the forthcoming 2023 governorship election.
To underscore the desire of the incumbent governor, Samuel Ortom, to break the most difficult leadership-jinx, the “succession”, the governor offloaded all those he assembled to help run the state but with political ambitions to pursue their ambitions and sell themselves to the Benue people.
The governor further approved a forum for the aspirants on his party’s platform and, in an in-house election, the aspirants voted for Hon. Barrister Chille Wanger Igbawua as most appropriate to lead their forum and so far, leadership is what one sees by the mentioning of the PDP Governorship Aspirants Forum.
More than ever, the PDP governorship aspirants have exhibited maturity, maintained purpose and completely eliminated the usual derogatory and character assassination aspirants exhibit. The forum under Honourable Igbawua has fixed their eyes on the ball and the interest of the state is crystal clearly of paramount importance to each of them.
From the comments and body-language of the State Governor as leader of the party in the state, a consensus arrangement would eliminate avoidable animosity and place the PDP in a more advantageous position to retain the state come 2023.
It is incontestable that approaching the forthcoming election as one united house as it is exemplary in the leadership of the governorship forum under Hon. Igbawua will be the best approach and undoubtedly so.
Suffice to say, the challenges of Benue state includes and not limited to the hydra-headed insecurity, the arrogance-of –right to take life at will by the marauding herdsmen. The unfortunate display of impunity of threats to unleash terror, cause bloodbath, maiming, throat-slitting, destruction of means of livelihood of innocent people while the security operatives look the opposite direction by conquest proponents .
The paucity of funds and competing basic-needs of the people are the challenges the current administration faces and would be inherited by the next administration.
These and many more raises the call , that the conversations of a possible successor for the incumbent must be one with the right temperament, energy, exposure , antecedent and tact.
Management of people of diverse schools of thought can be tricky and requires tact, especially those with common political quest; power. This in the first instance stands out Chille Igbawua and it is to the admiration of all.
PDP in Benue state has no-doubt paraded brilliant and competent candidates whose overall interests speaks to the barrage of challenges the Benue people face today, however, the conversation appears centred around who amongst them is most prepared for the job.
It is important to appreciate that the job of governing Benue state should be vested with the person with the most suitable resume, whose experience in both civil and public service stands tall.
The odds would favour Chille Igbawua , a former permanent secretary in the Benue state’s ministry of Finance and planning for a period of eight years. This equips him with the workings of the civil service in Benue and a deep understanding of the issues and there solutions.
Between 2007 and 2011 he was elected member of the House of Representatives for the Kwande/Ushongo federal constituency of Benue state. In the lower house, his constituency projects are a testimony of quality representation.
In the area of motions, one that stands out was the restoration of Rt. Honourable Benjamin Chaha on the Nigerian protocol list and restoration of all his benefits and entitlements.
After his tenure, he was appointed Special Adviser on legislative/legal matters and deputy chief of staff to former speaker and now Governor of Sokoto state, Rt. Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal between 2011 and 2015.He was retained in the same position by Tambuwal’s successor Rt. Honourable Yakubu Dogara between 2015 and 2017.
This exposure of national politics clearly places him ahead of his colleagues and to the advantage of Benue people if, elected Governor.
He was then appointed chairman and chief Executive of the Nigeria’s Public Complaints Commission with offices across the 36 states of the federation manned by state commissioners.
As head of the nation’s ombudsman, he did not only revive the institution, he initiated and completed landmark innovations that attracted international discourse.
He took Nigeria into the West African association of ombudsmen and further gave West Africa an exalted place in the world association of ombudsmen in Vietnam. This was achieved by share hard-work and strategic thinking.
This international exposure is equally what the state requires and the benefits are better imagined.
Then, most importantly would be how he intends to govern Benue giving the wide-range of challenges.
His agenda captures Security, Education, Agriculture, Economy, Integrated Rural Development, Environment, Sports, Health, Governance, Resource Mobilization as well as Poverty Alleviation.
It will interest the Benue people that he will not only sustain the Anti-Open Grazing and Prohibition and Ranches Establishment law , but that he will step up implementation by introducing the Tenancy and Security of persons law, create substantial security role for the traditional rulers and community vanguard; promote the concept of “Sor Tema” with township settlement as against scattered settlements culture.
His plans for the introduction of security studies in all schools, control of ungoverned spaces through urban declaration to release vast lands for mechanised agriculture speaks volumes.
His programme to enforce quality control, provision of infrastructure , online distance learning to eliminate illiteracy, reinvigorate vocational education as well as establishment of science and technology village for the development of scientific inventions and ICT in the areas of education will undoubtedly bring Benue to higher recognition and development .
In Agriculture, his plans for mechanized farming and livestock agriculture to take advantage of the University of Agriculture and other higher institutions of learning with speciality in agriculture will surely change the fortunes of Benue.
In the area of economy , his programmes of agriculture, industrialization, marketing of local products nationally and internationally , dredging of the River Benue, solid minerals development, creation of a pool of National players will expose the state to benefits better imagined.
Not left out is his programme on environment which will see to urban renewal , enforce legislations to restore health inspectors programme, eliminate public defecation by promoting VIP toilet system, promote parks and gardens through partnership outsourcing, comprehensive waste management system, promotion of the use of degradable materials for packaging and gradual elimination of plastic packaging culture throughout the state, promotion of aforestation programmes and institute a modern monitoring and management system will address environmental challenges across the state.
Returning Benue state to National and International reckoning in sports, promotion of health tourism by establishing specialists centers for at least 2 major ailments that attract massive foreign medical trips are also close to his chest.
And to give that sense of belonging and inclusive government, Honourable Igbawua plans to establish a two-tier Benue Governance Council to make for popular participation in governance.
Under this, there would be intensive collaboration with the National Assembly members to ensure massive federal patronage, collaboration with ministers and heads of federal agencies, upgrade the Benue liason office in Abuja to meet the enhanced demand for federal and foreign liaisons, create a pool of national social political players, collaborate with Benue senior indigenes in federal service and significant corporate bodies, those in the disapora as well as institute the culture of town and public hearings by elected and appointed officials and for budget planning.
Improvement of the internal generated revenue without direct taxation but on companies, property, rates; Federal Government Accruals, Development partners, African Development Bank where loans will be designed to pay self without any burdens on accrued resources, collaboration with states and private sector through Joint Ventures partnership, return on portfolios as well as federal patronage are some of the key programmes he intend to unveil if elected.
To alleviate poverty, there would be emphasis on dry season farming, public works, rearing of livestock, cooperative society investment in locally competitive ventures, vocational trainings for self-employment, marketing arm of agricultural and marketing chains as well as civil service workers farming and agricultural chain schemes.
It is important to state that the Benue people owe it a duty to interrogate and pay keen attention to ensure that they entrust the state into safe hands, giving the range of challenges that they face.
Leadership and governance all over the world are defined by the circumstances of the present, in times of war, leaders are assessed on the number of victories , while in those who emerged in times of peace are judged by what they used the peace to achieve and it is important that the present administration is also assessed by the circumstances the Governor have found himself.
And to continue to work to liberate and rescue the state, the people would require one with the right appeal, one who has a wide-range of acceptability that cuts across party lines and all categories of disciplines and professions.
The state should opt for the one with the right experience and with the most realistic plan for the state at this trying period. His or her maturity records are not in doubt.
Oota, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja