Benue peo­ple want to know what hap­pened to their money - Chief Shu­luwa

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

What is your im­pres­sion about the peo­ple se­lected as min­is­ters by Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari?

Ini­tially, I felt he was re­cy­cling old peo­ple too much. When I looked at the list, I only saw one or two per­sons who are be­low 60 years of age. In my opin­ion, I felt that he should have picked more youths and mix them with the older gen­er­a­tion so that they can learn from the ex­pe­ri­enced ones. But on a sec­ond thought, I saw that the younger gen­er­a­tion has brought about too much mis­ery in this coun­try that we would want the older gen­er­a­tion to cor­rect. There­fore, on that note, I sup­port what Buhari has done. He has picked those he felt can help him sal­vage Nige­ria the way he wants.

How do you re­act to some peo­ple al­leg­ing that the tra­vails of former gov­er­nor Gabriel Suswam at the EFCC over al­leged mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds dur­ing his ten­ure is a witch­hunt by his Tiv kins­men?

I don’t think so. How can any­one come to Benue and em­bez­zle so much money, in­clud­ing even what they don’t have? You em­bez­zle it and you want us to keep quiet? Then some­one sits some­where and talks about the Tiv man, ev­ery Tiv man is a poor per­son. As far as I am con­cerned, no­body is witch hunt­ing Suswam. The peo­ple of Benue, par­tic­u­larly the Tiv peo­ple want to know what hap­pened to the state’s share of the Benue Ce­ment shares. We learnt it had been sold. Where is the money? We want to know what hap­pened to the state’s share in Julius Berger. We heard it has been sold. Where is the money? We want to know what hap­pened to the N500 mil­lion flood money that the fed­eral govern­ment gave to Benue. Where is the SURE-P money? It might not nec­es­sar­ily be Suswam. Why are peo­ple so sen­ti­men­tal and heap­ing ev­ery­thing on Suswam?

But do you sup­port that this on­go­ing probe be ex­tended to Akume?

Did Gov­er­nor Sa­muel Or­tom take over from Akume? Why should it be ex­tended to Akume? Why didn’t Suswam, who re­ceived han­dover note from Akume probe him? Is it be­cause he wanted to do what he did? Be­sides, how can you in­ves­ti­gate some­body who Chief Abu King Shu­luwa is a Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) chief­tain in Benue State and deputy chair­man of the state’s PDP El­ders’ Fo­rum. In this in­ter­view, he talks about the min­is­ters re­cently se­lected by Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari as well as is­sues on the po­lit­i­cal front burner in the state. Ex­cerpts: puts you in of­fice? Akume made Suswam gov­er­nor and he never probed him (Akume). The same Akume made Or­tom gov­er­nor, how then can he probe Akume? He never took over from Akume, Or­tom took over from the govern­ment of Suswam.

Do you think Or­tom would have done what he is do­ing now if he had won this elec­tion on the plat­form of the PDP?

Yes, be­cause in the his­tory of this state, we have never met a deficit trea­sury. Never! And if you, as a gov­er­nor meets a deficit trea­sury, you would want to know why it is so. I don’t know why peo­ple are so sen­ti­men­tal about these things. Let’s in­ves­ti­gate and know why so much money came to Benue and we can­not see it. We want to know what re­ally hap­pened. That’s my po­si­tion. We should know ex­actly where these monies are.

Would you sub­scribe to le­gal ac­tion against the former gov­er­nor if even­tu­ally the two probe com­mit­tees in­dict him?

Let le­gal ac­tions be taken against any­body who il­le­gally ac­quired wealth by em­bez­zling our money; any­body at all and not just Suswam. Even if that per­son is my fa­ther, so long as it is es­tab­lished that he has fraud­u­lently em­bez­zled our money, let him be taken to court and let jus­tice take its course.

What is your stand on your re­cent out­ing at a stake­hold­ers meet­ing or­ga­nized by the APC-led govern­ment in the state where you sup­pos­edly spoke on be­half of the PDP and it did not seem to go down well with the state PDP?

I have the right to speak for the PDP. I didn’t speak as chair­man or any­thing. But I spoke as an el­der and a found­ing mem­ber of the PDP. What was con­vened at the govern­ment house was a stake­hold­ers meet­ing dur­ing which par­ties were asked to speak. Labour Party came up and spoke and when it was the turn of the PDP, no­body got up to speak even though many PDP mem­bers were in at­ten­dance. I was not the only PDP man. So, as deputy chair­man of the El­ders Fo­rum of the PDP, I de­cided to speak. Yes, I spoke on be­half of the PDP at that meet­ing be­cause I am the old­est per­son in the PDP in the state as at to­day. I am also the old­est fi­nan­cial mem­ber of the PDP in the state as at now. All of those sit­ting at the state sec­re­tariat to­day as ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers were not in the PDP. I am not to be ap­pointed to speak at that fo­rum. The PDP should rather be happy that I spoke on its be­half at that meet­ing sup­port­ing Or­tom’s govern­ment. Or­tom is the state gov­er­nor and he is

the gov­er­nor of all the peo­ple of Benue State ir­re­spec­tive of party af­fil­i­a­tion, re­li­gious in­cli­na­tion or tribe. Who says the PDP is not in sup­port of Buhari’s govern­ment? At that meet­ing, I ad­vised the PDP to be calm but watch Or­tom’s ad­min­is­tra­tion care­fully and chal­lenge it ob­jec­tively. But I said on the side of the party, we will op­pose the APC whether they have done good or bad be­cause we are try­ing to and we will wres­tle power from the APC come 2019. I also said as a govern­ment, we in the PDP will sup­port Or­tom where he has done well be­cause we want to move Benue for­ward. That was what I said at the meet­ing.

But do you think with the way PDP is go­ing in the state, it would be able to wres­tle power from the APC in 2019?

We will wres­tle power in the state in 2019. Yes, the shock that we have lost elec­tion is still with us. And we have re­fused to come to­gether and re­or­ga­nize our­selves prop­erly. But with time we will. We have or­ga­niz­ers in this party who are still think­ing of what to do. I am one of those or­ga­niz­ers. I want to let you know that what I said at that stake­hold­ers meet­ing was the think­ing of two-third of the PDP in Benue.

There is this in­sin­u­a­tion that as at now, the PDP in Benue does not have lead­er­ship. Do you agree? That is true. Then, how do you want to wres­tle power from the APC when you are not to­gether?

2019 is not to­mor­row. If I get up by next week, I can re­or­ga­nize the PDP. I am one of those who brought PDP to Benue and I still have the ca­pac­ity of do­ing that by mo­bi­liz­ing the peo­ple. Time is com­ing when we shall do away with those new en­trants who are not orig­i­nal PDP, who have only come to spoil the PDP.

Chief Abu King Shu­luwa

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