By Sylvester T. Kurga 

Reverend Father Hyacinth Iormem Alia contested for the governorship of Benue State in the 2023 elections under the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and won. He was sworn-in on the 29th may, 2023. At his inaugural and even during electioneering campaigns he made promises to the people of Benue state. Some of them were;

  • Payment of staff salaries and pensions of retired civil servants.
  • Massive infrastructural development to enhance economic development of the state.
  • Aggressive urban and rural development programmes
  • Pro-poor programmes to help the poor and the disadvantaged groups to live a happy life.
  • Prioritizing health and education sectors both at primary and tertiary levels, to mention but a few. He finally invited the people of Benue state especially his political associates of all classes to team up with him in realizing the set objectives.

It is exactly one year since the governor assumed office and he has kept to his promise in doing the following;

  1. Payment of salaries and pensions.

Governor Alia is paying workers salaries and pensions of retired civil servants in a manner that has thrown everybody into a state of awe and trepidation as no civilian government in the state ever gave priority attention to this matter but rather they treated it with reckless abandon. But why has he chosen to prioritize wage and pension payment? Two reasons;

  1. As a Rev. Father and lover of humanity, believer in God and his injunctions as exemplified in the Bible, vide Romans 4:4 “now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. David celebrates the same truth”. –NKJV.
  2. Payment of salaries and pensions is a judicious implementation of contract agreement entered into between the employer (government) and employee (worker) recognized by the constitution of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and the various Acts and Laws of parliament. It is therefore preposterous, mischievous and diabolical for any person, group of persons to question Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, a law-abiding and God fearing governor, observing the laws of God and the state over his prioritization of payment of salaries and pensions. The common refrain from the detractors has been thus: “Is that all he came to do as the governor”? Those who deliberately denied the workers and pensioners of their hard earned wages have woes awaiting them and this; God has spoken in James 5:4 “look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who moved your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty”. NKJV.
  • The third category of those being remunerated by the Benue State government are those politicians holding elective positions and those appointed by the Governor. Needless to say that their pay packages are all covered by laws made by National and State Assemblies, the R.M.A.F.C Act has empowered the commission to fix the pay packages in this regard. Here too, the governor hat not transgressed the laws by making payments to political office holders.
  • The governor’s engagement in critical physical infrastructures and other sectors of the economy.
  1. The Makurdi and Gboko underpass or flyovers. These are undertaken to decongest urban traffic, prevent or minimize fatal accidents, and beautify the cities where they are situated. It is understood that one is soon to be done in Otukpo. For supporters of positive change and modernization, the construction of these monuments is very necessary, timely and overdue as Benue State capital and other cities cannot continue to look like a medieval city years after the state was created. Detractors have again dismissed these as wasteful of resources and misplaced priorities. They have again resorted to their usual refrain ‘’ Na flyover we go chop”?
  2. Rural and Urban Roads

In less than a year the governor has started and completed or is about to complete urban and rural roads, (these are verifiable) in Makurdi, Vandeikya etc. the importance of these can’t be over emphasized. Years after Makurdi was made the Benue state capital many township roads have remain impassable. The way the governor has started, if God permit, 80% of streets in Makurdi will be well paved before his four year tenure ends. While many people are happy with the development in this sub-sector detractors have again resorted to the usual refrain “Na roads we go chop”?

  • Transport sub-sector

The removal of fuel subsidy on petrol by the Federal Government brought sufferings of immeasurable proportion to all citizens in Nigeria. The Federal Government assisted States with funds to undertake measures that can help the masses to meet their travelling needs. Busses were purchased for the new look Benue States transport company the Benue links. Transport fares have been subsidies by the governor to affordable rates. Many people are happy. Detractors have since said that the busses purchased are old and unserviceable, even though on daily basis the busses commute roads in the state and beyond. What is very important about the action taken by the governor is that from the underpass, urban and rural roads, transport, employment of staff and upgrading of health care system is covered by the appropriation laws of Benue state. That is to say that money spent on the projects are budgeted funds and each project has heads and sub-heads of the State budget. For the time being, I am unable to see any evidence of misappropriation or even misapplication of funds by the Governor.  It may seem that   the Governor’s critics largely, but not restricted to his immediate party constituency, the APC are doing so not because the Governor has committed any infraction in the course of governance or that the projects are not impactful, rather the criticisms stem from what is perceived as the governor’s tightfistedness and his inability to “service “compensate or settle elders, stake holders or those who helped him to become the Governor of Benue State. If truly this is the reason for these criticisms, then too bad.

  1. How can the elders, stakeholders’ professional politicians and benefactors benefit from Governor Alia and the Alia’s administration?

If I were an American, a Briton, Australian or even our next door neighbor, Benin Republic, my answer to this would have been swift, absolute, unequivocal and direct. That is, that they can benefit from Alia’s good governance like all other Benue citizens. But as Nigerian, I know as a matter of fact that the expected benefits of those who profess to be professional politicians go beyond mere enjoyment of social goods provided by government and cover things such as gifts in cash, vehicles, animals, landed property, respect and recognition, attention and un-hindered access to the chief executive and in some cases the claims of ownership of the chief executive which renders such an answer rather injurious to some politicians. This matter has a history and background that date back to the first Republic and become progressively entrenched as a norm in the other republics. But then is there anything like professional politicians? The Webster’s dictionary of the English language, international edition has defined profession as one of a limited number of occupations or vocation involving especially the learned professions: law, medicine and the church. Elsewhere, too, the wiktionary has defined profession as declaration of faith, promise or vow made on entering a religious order. Occupational profession has been defined by the same source as occupation, trade craft, in which one has a professed expertise in a particular area, a job especially one requiring high level skills or trading, doctors, lawyers, engineers. The public service for example has a plethora of professionals paid on the basis of their professions. Politics should be seen as hobby as it is regarded in other climes and not a profession as we look at it here. It is not a paid profession, as being regarded here.

        But must governor alia listen to elders? Yes. Must he take advice from party elders? Yes, advice that he regard as beneficial to the Benue people. Must he compensate those who assisted him to become the governor of Benue state? Yes.

As an elder and APC member that I am, who played a part to ensure that Alia emerge victorious, I will be very glad to be compensated. So who determines the manner and mode of compensation? The governor of course. This is the stage where we need to understand the psychology of the governor and his economic style of governance. Governor Alia’s psychology is discernable from his actions, utterances and body language. He has brought change in the way people were compensated in the past which was characterized by gifts that benefited very few individuals. I call that change Alianomics in which people should be patronized with legally budgeted items of development which in the end benefit the entire community. Now let me ask a simple question. Can those criticizing the governor show any evidence that they made a request to the governor for development projects to be sited in their community and the requests turned down by the governor? From the actions, utterances and the body language of the governor he is only averse to spending money which is not explainable and so to many, Alianomics as an economic paradigm is not only too sudden, harsh but hateful. This is the crux of the matter.  

Governor Alia is not the only governor that has found himself in this political quagmire accentuated by those who depend on government money for survival, such people have often resorted to blackmail, vituperations and diatribe so as to cow a chief executive of the state to capitulate and derail on a positive chosen path to development .

          Recall that, in the inauguration speech of the former Governor of Benue State, Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam, he stated inter-alia that…………….. “In accepting your mandate here today, I pledge before you, before my creator, the only living God I serve, that I desire to give my people no cause what so ever to regret. I desire and pray the Almighty God to make me surpass the achievements of my fore bearers who have brought us this far” was he allowed to maximized the desire? No sooner had he started his rural development projects across the state than the backward looking persons did all they could to thwart his efforts. He would later reflect on this matter with high sense of disappointment especially with these who saw nothing good during his tenure in so far as their personal interests were not achieved. In the interview he granted Arise TV some months ago he stated that he was inundated with the usual refrain, “Na projects we go chop” during his tenure as governor of Benue State. What does this portray?

          Those endowed with foresight ought to know that living on what is not yours is very transient and when undue reliance is placed on ones benevolence and is suddenly withdrawn, frustration and anger sets in. this is the scenario at play in Benue State today. Paradoxically a typical Nigerian politician is very resilient and enduring type, surviving decades of military rule when there was zero political activity. I urge all to live with the reality of the situation , turn to alternative areas where you can best utilize your aptitude for survival.

          Alianomics as an alternative to bad governance has arrived let us accept it and support Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia, in his efforts to make Benue another Japan.

          I promise that if Governor Alia is later found wanting for acts of misconduct in the course of his office, I will personally lead a campaign to have him placed a political guillotine on his neck to swallow.

Sylvester T. Kurga

Elder, Politician and Commentator on National issues.


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