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(OPINION) Suswam is Becoming Popular Again

Written By Idoma Television on Monday, February 15, 2016 | 1:15:00 AM

By Iorliam'Amo Shija

I will not forget May 29th 2015. It was a great day in the history of Benue state. Samuel Ioraer Ortom who rose from humble backgrounds; who had prophesied that he would be governor but was heavily persecuted , was taking oath of office to become governor, eventually. 

But someone was missing. Chief Dr Gabriel Torwua Suswam, the then outgoing governor of Benue State had sneaked out of town the previous night. I understand, he was afraid he would be booed by the people if he attended the event.

Suswam was right in his judgement. As governor from 2007 to 2015, Suswam went down in history as the worst governor of Benue state; on the heels of his departure, the people were angry and hungry. Since Suswam was not willing or unable to pay salaries, the people ,didn't only reject him and his party, but if he dared to come close to IBB Square venue of Ortom's inauguration, the people would have crowned it with high sounding boos.

Other outgoing governors somewhere else like Suswam who went to the inaugurations of their successors came out with boos and in some extreme cases, pure water sachets splashes. That was how unpopular Suswam was on the eve of the take over of this current government in Benue State.
So what has happened differently that Suswam is becoming popular again? To me, the only significant thing that has happened different is the Kpojime Commission which has confirmed officially that Suswam misappropriated the state's funds. But Wouldn't that have rather made Suswam more unpopular?

The attention that Suswam got during the Tor Tiv burial and also, the crowd and goodwill that Suswam attracted during the recent burial of his grand mother has been remarkable.
That is why I want Suswam's rising popularity to be a thing of concern to the APC government in Benue State. I feel the people have started to communicate a deeper issue: Silent discontentment and dissatisfaction with the modus of APC in the state. It is for want of a better way of expression, I think, that they are attempting to make Suswam popular. This trend is peculiar in the history of Benue politics.

Aper Aku, George Akume and Gabriel Suswam who were governors before had experienced same, in a way. Luckily for Samuel Ortom, he emerged as governor, in spite of stiff oppositions , on the popular will of the people. What he needs is only to sustain the good will of the people.
Some issues seem to have so far dented the unblemished relationship Ortom had with the people prior to his nomination. These are the issue of Bail Out funds disbursement and that of Salary Payment. In case of the former, many think the disbursement has not been properly handled . In the latter, salaries have been quite irregular lately.

The above issues , to those who have followed current trends in the country and are sincere, especially in case of salary which is due to the unexpected shortfall in Federal monthly allocation, should not distract Ortom. They should only make him focused as he steadily tackles our challenges.

Another common fallacy is that of Akume being in charge and Ortom just his puppet. This too is not correct. Although not correct, the presence of well known Akume men in his cabinet and around him might have watered this fallacy.

The most recent one is way the business of Benue Internal Revenue Services, BIRS is handled.
At the moment , to me, these are issues that the people seem not to be comfortable with.

To me, the fact that Ortom is on course and he shall rise to prove many people wrong eventually, is not in doubt. But, the APC must as a matter of urgency, go back to the drawing board and reassess the commitments they made with the people last year.

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