‘Why Idoma de­mand power shift in Benue’

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - From Hope Ab­bah, Makurdi

What are the main prob­lems fac­ing your con­stituency?

The prob­lems of my lo­cal govern­ment are largely sim­i­lar to those in other parts of the coun­try, but ours have been com­pounded be­cause of the long pe­riod of ne­glect the place has been sub­jected to. We have chal­lenges of potable wa­ter, ru­ral elec­tric­ity, feeder roads, lack of po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age etc.

Pri­mary school teach­ers in pub­lic schools in the state have been on strike for some months now, what is the way out of this sit­u­a­tion?

His Ex­cel­lency, Dr. Gabriel Suswam has ex­ten­sively dealt with this is­sue in the pro­gramme “Ra­dio Link” a few months ago.

And presently the State Govern­ment has con­sti­tuted a com­mit­tee to con­sider the whole gamut of salary struc­ture in the state with a view to ar­riv­ing at a rea­son­able and am­i­ca­ble so­lu­tion to the pay­ment of the pri­mary school teach­ers once and for all. But if I must add my voice here, I think the ma­jor prob­lem is the lack of suf­fi­cient funds. Added to this is also the fact that govern­ment be­lieves that the num­ber of teach­ers on its pay roll is overbloated. Govern­ment also ex­plained that it had al­ready im­ple­mented the N18,000 min­i­mum wage.

You are al­most at the end of your ten­ure. What is your am­bi­tion?

If my people wish, I would have pre­ferred to move to a higher pedestal. I be­lieve that it is bet­ter to learn the rudi­ments of pol­i­tics and ad­min­is­tra­tion from the ba­sics be­fore throw­ing one­self to a po­si­tion one has had no pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence. If you do that, you may in­ad­ver­tently ex­pose your in­ad­e­qua­cies and flaws. Ex­pe­ri­ence is there­fore the best teacher.

For ex­am­ple, His Ex­cel­lency the deputy gover­nor, Chief Steve Lawani, has been in govern­ment for the past nearly eight years now. He knows all the nu­ances and nitty-gritty of gov­er­nance. And if by the grace of God he be­comes the ex­ec­u­tive gover­nor, the ex­pe­ri­ences he has learnt will stand him in good stead in the per­for­mance of his job.

I be­lieve that if I were to go to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, I would not find my­self in a strange en­vi­ron­ment be­cause I would be do­ing sim­i­lar things as I am do­ing here in Makurdi ex­cept on a higher scope.

How can the mys­tery sur­round­ing the is­sue of con­stituency projects in re­spect of federal leg­is­la­tors be re­solved?

At the point when a budget is be­ing pre­pared, federal leg­is­la­tors are ex­pected to present their re­quest for a num­ber of project; they want to be ex­e­cuted in their con­stituen­cies.

The idea is that since they are closer to the ar­eas where these projects are lo­cated, they are in a bet­ter po­si­tion to mon­i­tor their ex­e­cu­tion. This means that the leg­is­la­tors must lobby for the in­clu­sion of the en­vis­aged projects.

Has Benue PDP been af­fected neg­a­tively by the gale of de­fec­tions?

In Benue State, es­pe­cially in the Benue south Se­na­to­rial District, there is no trace of APC in that area. You re­call that about five leg­is­la­tors both federal and state re­cently de­fected from APC to the rul­ing PDP. That brings me to the point that though it is agreed that our Tiv broth­ers and sis­ters are more in num­ber than the Idoma, they should un­der­stand that we all have equal stakes in the Benue project and that this time around all right think­ing people should sup­port an Idoma can­di­da­ture for gov­er­nor­ship, come 2015.

If there is a will, there is a way and gover­nor Suswam be­ing a lawyer, who un­der­stands the is­sue of eq­uity and jus­tice will go down in his­tory as one who made Idoma gov­er­nor­ship pos­si­ble in the nascent demo­cratic dis­pen­sa­tion.

What has been your con­tri­bu­tion to solv­ing the lin­ger­ing prob­lem of the Fu­lani herds­men in your area?

The State House of As­sem­bly in which I am a mem­ber has passed so many mo­tions on this un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion. But as you know, mo­tions are not bind­ing on the ex­ec­u­tive.

The is­sue of Fu­lani herds­men has been very trou­bling to us. I, on my part can only do a lit­tle by way of help­ing to pro­vide some pal­lia­tives to the people. My coun­ter­part in Agatu, Hon. Audu Sule has also been sup­port­ive. We pray that a time will not come when our people will be forced to take to self-help to de­fend them­selves. I call on the se­cu­rity agents to do all they can to put this un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent to an end so that there will be peace in the state.

Mr. Ya­haya Ocholi

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