By Nathaniel Ikyur
These are the times. The time when everyone who seeks election into an office, goes about with some form of an over bloated ego of expertise in governance. They theorise governance to high heaven but can’t be linked to what they have done to buttress their sermons. They would prefer to cast aspersions at the incumbent just to elicit support. Sadly, Benue is so fond of this. It’s like a tradition, a bad one at that. No government passes here without having a sour bite of this pie.
This is why we feel obliged to respond to the perfidious utterances of one Hyacinth Alia, a Priest who currently parades himself as the winner of the much discredited and disputed All Progressives Congress, APC Governorship nomination exercise in Benue State. The said custodian of the dubious APC mandate was quoted in the media while in Abuja as dismissing the dire security challenges experienced by the people of Benue State. He referred to it as a contrivance and propaganda by the State Government led by Governor Samuel Ortom. How absurd.
In the said interview with journalists in Abuja, the suspended Priest who is now actively in the murky political waters was also quoted as saying if he gets into office, the Holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of God will serve as the First Lady of Benue State!
While we cannot grudge the suspended priest the latitude to take liberties with the advantages conferred by his calling even if it bothers on blasphemy, we are constrained to dispute his treacherous claims as it relates to the security challenges which has claimed the lives of hundreds of our citizens across the state, including two of his brother Catholic Priests and several parishioners who were mowed down in cold blood by Fulani terrorists.
It’s unfortunate that Fr. Alia, much like all other APC partisans in Benue State has no scruples in betraying his blood that are crying out for justice on the altar of cheap politics. We would have thought that there’s a limit too low for an ordained priest of the church of Saint Peter to descend, even when he fraternizes in a circle of traitorous people, but we failed to realize that a priest who eagerly profits from an electoral heist where other contestants were eliminated by crude and fraudulent tactics cannot be an earnest ambassador of his calling.
What Rev Fr Alia is saying in effect is that the attack on St Ignatius Catholic Church, Ukpor, Mbalom Parish, in Gwer Local Government Area of Benue State in April 2018 which claimed the lives of Rev Frs Joesph Gor and Felix Tyolaha alongside 17 parishioners was propaganda. Does it also mean that such attacks are in several other incessant attacks across the state? Nigeria was propaganda. What manner of propaganda is this that has kept more than 1.5 million of our loved ones away from their ancestral lands? What manner of propaganda has kept these 1.5 million people in IDP camps not fit for human habitation? Or is it that the untimely deaths of scores of our compatriots never really happened but was propaganda contrived by the state government?
Let me ask our brother Priest, are the state governments in Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Ondo, Sokoto, Plateau, and those in such catastrophic states where the killer terrorists have laid siege also leveraging on propaganda?
Perhaps Reverend Fr Alia, given his dubious emergence now seeks some legitimacy and he thinks the cheapest means to achieving that is to rehash the same ludicrous allegations of his party chieftains who are already notorious to Benue people as the enemies within, desperate to trade the destiny of their people for political advantage.
We advise however that it is not too late for Rev Alia to retrace his steps from the despicable path of infamy he has chosen to thread. If indeed he intends to be a governor of Benue People, he should market his programs to the people as honestly as possible and in a manner expected of his spiritual ranking. And not in the manner he dances to the vulgarity of songs against his opponents as he is currently doing.
He can, for instance, bandy the name of the Holy Mother as much as he wants for political advantage if he thinks reducing the most important woman in Christianity to a phantom First Lady will make the APC members whose votes were stolen and given to him give up their quest for justice or if he thinks the people of the state will be swayed by such antics.
That will be between him, his conscience and the oath he has taken to further the work of God from which he has since been suspended. However, we can assure him that he is ill-equipped to sustain the mudslinging tactics he seems to find attractive at the moment.
It is a fact that there is a distinction between winning elections and the razzmatazz of claims of a saviour. It is more than shouts and rants of some slogans up and down. Those pretending around the impostor in the APC will be forced to come down from the high horse and admit that elections are far beyond the glitz and glamour of sloganeering. We also know that governance is more than presiding over a church congregation where no one questions anything from the altar, it’s the opposite here. It’s an admixture, a mosaic with varying degrees and shapes of sophistry. You will be called to account for your actions, before, now and in the future. It is more than dancing to the drum beats coloured in some sort of heroism that lacks depth and pedigree. You must be interrogated. And it has nothing to do with your call, either before God or man. After all, we are all called by God.
We do not want to join issues with people whose supposed mandate is in doubt. Already, their plate is full of protests and litigations. For us in PDP, the system is democratic and it evolves. Sadly, the Benue APC is a dysfunctional system. Its true character is strewn with manipulations, its treacherous and lacking in democratic tenets. This is why they’ve produced multiple candidates for various elective positions. It will be more appropriate for Alia to go sort himself with his fellow aspirants before talking about what he would do as governor when Governor Ortom’s tenure expires next year.
For Governor Ortom, he has fared well in the last seven years. His achievements are loud even in the face of daunting security and financial challenges. His administration has provided dividends of democracy in education, healthcare, agriculture, infrastructure and other critical sectors of development. This is not all that he had set out for the state. But given the resources available, and the crunchy issues he has been compelled to tackle, we can boldly beat our chest. So let no one come with an over-bloated ego, laced with a false sense of heroism. This won’t fly here.
This is why we appreciate the people of the State. They have continued to support the Ortom administration at all times despite all. Governor Ortom particularly extends his warm wishes to the civil servants for their continued understanding. And that is the reason why the Ortom administration will not waver. We will surely sustain the tempo in this remaining year, God helping us.
Ikyur is the Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor