It was a night of interactions and frank talk, leading to the endorsement of the candidature of the candidate of the All Progressives Candidate (APC) for the governorship election in Benue State, Rt Hon Emmanuel Jime, by eminent sons and daughters of Benue, resident in Abuja. John Onah was there for DAILY ASSET
It was like an event set aside to x-ray the fate that has befallen Benue State in the last three and a half years of the present administration.
While some described the present Benue as a state at the edge of collapse that needs revival, others said it is sinking so fast that if nothing is done quickly, the present generation should be ready to answer the question “where were you” from the children yet unborn.
That was the mood when Benue indigenes resident in Abuja hosted candidate of the All Progressives Candidate (APC) for the governorship election in Benue State, Rt Hon Emmanuel Jime at an interactive session.
While presenting the candidate, Jime, and his running mate, Hon Sam Ode to Benue people, the Director General, Jime-Ode Campaign Council 2019, Senator Jacob Tilley Gyado thanked the people for turning out in their numbers to hear from the candidate at the session tagged ‘Benue Needs You,’ and urged them to continue to drum up support for the Jime/Ode ticket.
He told them that, though they are not presently in Benue on day to day basis, they have the influence to change the fortune of elections in their respective communities back home.
“You wouldn’t have come here for any reason if you did not have some iota of respect for this meeting. I am doing this job because Benue is sinking very fast and as you can see, Benue is the least developed state in the country today. I took this job to change the system in Benue state.”
Senator Gyado described Jime as a focused and thoroughbred achiever, who is modest and delivers on every responsibility he’s given.
He said Jime’s “Rt Hon” prefix was well earned as a result of his sterling legislative records, and not procured.
He told the Benue indigenes not to be swayed by the divisive rhetoric on herdsmen by incumbent Governor Samuel Ortom, assuring that one of the first projects the Jime administration would execute would be to revive the Ikyogen Cattle Ranch and draw the accruing economic benefits from that to the state.
Jime, in his remarks, said he was happy to be in the midst of the Abuja Benue community, to rub minds and cross-fertilise ideas on the best way forward for our once – promising but now – struggling state.
To him, Benue is at a cross roads: torn between great potential and crass incompetence and those Forty three years ago when the state was birthed, expectations were high and our chances almost tangible.
“Our first democratic experience in 1979 to 1983 gave much hope and indeed set the state on a sound pedestal for greatness. Subsequent administrations followed those footsteps and did their best to realize that dream. Unfortunately we did not build on the foundation and at no time in the history of our state has the deviation from that foundation laid by our first civilian governor, Sir Aper Aku, been so devastating as it is today.
“Fellow Benue sons and daughters, those of you who have kept abreast with developments in our state in the last four years will agree with me no less, that Benue has never had it this bad. Benue has never lost direction as it has now. And our people have never felt this hopeless.”
He said that he had met with the Benue people across all divides in the course of his campaigns and what strikes him most, is just how modest people’s hopes are, and how little it would take to meet their expectations and make them happy, if the intention is sincere and the attitude is right.
“Since our people have not been harbingers of great wealth, most of them are quite satisfied with the little wages they earn as civil servants; as peasant farmers; as petty traders; as artisans and as small budding entrepreneurs.
“They believe that anyone willing to work – in whatever vocation, should be able to find something that at the least, guarantees a living wage. All they seek, therefore, is an environment, created by a conscious and discerning leadership that guarantees the realisation of these hopes.”
According to him, people should not have to sell their scrappy assets to afford drugs when they are sick, adding: “Every child in Benue should have the opportunity of a genuinely good and affordable education, and it shouldn’t just be some loose political verbiage – even if their parents are not rich. They want to be safe and secured in their homes. They want clean air, clean water, decent environment and decent social wellbeing. And above all, they want some assurance that when they get old, they would be able to retire with some dignity and respect. And I agree with them.”
“Although they know and do not expect government to solve all their problems, they figure that government should at least help by putting in place the requisite environment that will facilitate the attainment of these yearnings. To me, ladies and gentlemen, that is the role of government and this is not asking for too much. These are about the simplest things that are achievable with diligent planning and modesty in governance.
“They are right: government may not solve all their problems but with a slight change in priority, we could at least guarantee that every Benue citizen has a decent chance at life and meets the challenges we face as a state. Unfortunately, events in Benue today are nowhere near giving the slightest hope in this direction to our people.
“This gives rise to pertinent questions and perhaps too, the reasons I called us all to this parley: is this the Benue our fathers fought and created? Is this the Benue we desire and deserve? Are we satisfied with the Benue we have? Should it continue in this direction? And I urge you to please add as many more questions as you can, and in all honesty and good conscience, endeavour to proffer sincere solutions to them.”
Continuing, the governorship hopeful said: “Our people have been compelled to compromise their standards just to conform to ignominy. In an environment of dizzying poverty where integrity has lost place and personal survival holds forth; in an atmosphere of cut-throat politics and unremitting clannishness; in a society where we don’t even seem to possess a shared ideology with which to discuss our ideals, I realise the seeming vagueness of my views to some people.”
“My argument however is that we have a choice – and that choice is in your hands, all of you Benue sons and daughters here seated. You don’t need an opinion poll to know that the vast majority of our people are weary of the dead-end that Benue has reached. Whether we are from Zone A, B or C, we know deep inside of us, the total lack of honesty, the overwhelming insincerity and deceit with which our state is being run,” Jime added.
He announced to the gathering that he has outlined six (6) major areas of priority that he thinks are core to the yearnings and aspirations of the Benue people. These, include security, economy, education, infrastructure, health care delivery and social welfare.
“I am of the opinion strongly, that to set Benue on a sound path to development and to him and his team, they shall prioritise capital expenditure over recurrent expenditure.
“They shall pursue social programmes of financial inclusion of the most vulnerable on the social ladder, develop partnerships through PPPs as a major source of funding of our programmes and projects in infrastructure, agro business and enterprises, roads, education, healthcare etc. and fully implement the Treasury Single Account in order to reduce opaqueness and ensure transparency and accountability in the management of our public finances.
“Also they shall ensure the domestication of the Public Procurement Bureau as well as the Fiscal Responsibility Bill to ensure service delivery, overhaul, restructure our MDAs to improve efficiency and create an enabling environment for implementation of tax reforms. In this regards, the BIRS will be reformed under a codified and standard tax system and also pursue the integration of the formal and informal sectors.”
To the applause of the people, Jime announced that his administration, when elected, shall revisit and review the wage bills and pension issues in the state with the view of having a sustainable wage and abolish the Joint Accounts regime to ensure that local governments get their due allocation so as to enhance development at the grassroots.
“This will be a prelude to a comprehensive reform in the local government system to ensure their effectiveness.”
“But again, the choice is in your hands! The choice to enthrone genuine change and once more set Benue on the path to greatness is in your hands. You seated here, are the ones to determine what happens in our communities back home. Your influence is not in doubt, and I know for a fact, that you hold all the aces”.
“Benue needs you to give them direction and point out the way forward to them. Your communities rely on your advice and your words to take a step. It is in realization of your immense influence that I thought it pertinent to invite us to interact and to present myself to you; and for you to present me to your communities so that together we can begin the task of rescuing Benue from the unpalatable path it now threads”.
“Do not be discouraged! Benue is indeed in dire straits, but remember, the darkest part of night is the period just before dawn. And I believe strongly, that the sun will rise on us soon.
“Someone once said, that it is often the last key in the bunch of options that opens the lock. I present myself as that last option in your hands. Use me to open the lock that holds Benue back so that together we can truly harness and enjoy the potential that our state holds”, he added.
Guests present got a chance to ask questions and make suggestions on how best to move the state out of its current situation. Some of those who contributed include Dr Yima Sen, a top-notch development expert, former NIA national president, Arc Philip Iortyer, Hon Titus Zam, a former Special Assistant to the Benue State Government on Local Government Affairs, Ms. Doosughun Tarkur. Chief Sylvester Ameh, Chief Douglas Ogbo, Comrade Moses Ojeka Ahile and Princess Lizzy Obande.
Others in attendance were Chief Mrs Enyantu Ifene, Chief Akange Audu, Col Edwin Jando (rtd), Chief Ambrose Feese, Mathias Byuan and others.