The All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial candidate in Benue state, Rev. Fr Dr Hyacinth Alia, said on Wednesday that his foray into the political space of the state was borne out of the wish for collective effort to rescue the state from the maladministration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

Dr Alia said his ambition to govern Benue state was more of struggle than politics, adding it was “more of a movement than contest.”

Rev. Alia, who spoke on Wednesday at the flag off of governorship campaign in Gboko, Benue state, pleaded with the people of Benue to team up with him “to rescue the soul of our dear state, Benue, from the abyss of gross maladministration as perpetrated by this PDP government.”

He said the failed PDP state government had already gone down.

“But we must deliberately arise and be willing to be used of God to bring His will to come to pass in Benue State.

“Much more is demanded of you and me. After the flag off today, you should not go to sleep. We are not underrating our opponents, having seen their desperation; they can do anything to retain themselves in power to inflict more pains on our great people.

“We must sacrifice our comfort, our energy, our sleep and our resources for a greater Benue.

“I therefore call on the good people of Benue State to go out en-masse and collect your voters’ cards and vote for APC Candidates from top to bottom.”

He said his entry into politics was equal to that of his priesthood, saying “many years ago, I offered myself to go into the Catholic Priesthood to re-route lost eternal destinies and prepare people spiritually for eternity.

“The work of a priest is not restricted to pulpit alone but to ensure that there are basic necessities here on earth which if denied that spiritual work for eternity becomes foolhardy.

“In the church, or outside of it, honesty, integrity and accountability are not just relevant, but necessary. And without which life becomes brutish.

“The same people that are in the church are also in the civil service, in the markets, on the farms and even in politics etc. All these people are lamenting, and truly, the church must act, even as the good news must be preached in all aspects of our society.

“Somebody must take the bull by the horns and halt the destructive slide we are experiencing. Hence, I have joined the teeming good people of Benue to take the state out of the woods.”

He stated that “leadership is given by God. But politics is not a one man game, but a game of the many. Every one contributes his or her quota to arrive at victory. I therefore stand here publicly, today, to say that my gubernatorial candidacy has not been due to my overwhelming intelligence. In every contest, one person would always take the lead.”

He continued: “Today we gather here to answer a call to return Benue State to responsibility and accountability. Ours is to shape governance in a way that the citizens can gleefully follow, with confidence in their leadership.

“In more ways than one, this is what has been lacking in the present administration. The citizens have lost hope in a government that has brazenly, in broad day light, misused the general heritage and commonwealth of the Benue people,” he told the gathering.

He lamented that more Benue indigenes in recent times had been pushed into utter penury.

“The difference between the unemployed and the civil servant is almost nonexistent. A grossly depleted civil service, non-existent bureaucracy, lack of incentives and ghost workers syndrome govern our public sector.

“Civil servants are perennially scared of retirement where all their years of servitude are discountenanced by a malicious administration that wickedly subjects them to a life of pain and dejection with their pensions and gratuities denied them.

“For eight years, there has been massive diversion of state finances for personal gains with impunity. Above all, the local government, as a tier of government has been rendered completely dysfunctional,” he said.

According to him, “Benue State rightly is nationally acclaimed ‘Food Basket of the Nation’. However, farming no longer holds any incentives to our teaming farming population who are abandoned and without farm input such as fertilizer, quality seeds and mechanized implements.

“The little that is produced is ravished away due to lack of storage facilities, while there are no rural roads to convey the products to the markets. The lack of agricultural extension services means our rural dwellers are mentally stocked in archaic ways of farming which limit their general output and dividends at the end of the cropping season.

“Two major rivers, the rivers Benue and Katsina Ala dissect the Benue topography, alongside many subsidiary streams and water ways, limitless Fadama, all lying in waste for lack of enhanced irrigation for all year round farming which is the best form of modern agriculture.

“Every sector of the Benue state economy requires a peculiar intervention. Our educational sector that has become nearly comatose. In most rural settings, entire primary schools lack the teachers to run them with many closing down. There are no positive inducements to lure our youths into teaching which ordinarily is the noblest profession. The school feeding program of the federal government, a plausible policy aimed at encouraging school enrollment especially in the villages has become a major conduit pipe for siphoning resources meant for the human capital development of our people in Benue State.

“The failures of this administration are out there in the public domain for all to behold. I will therefore not spend your precious time on futile lamentations, which cannot deliver us from the present rot.”

He lampooned the PDP candidate, whom he said “comes with the mantra to continue from where the incumbent governor would leave. What a pity! What is there to continue from? He says that Benue has made great progress under his mentor. Well, we don’t blame him; his would be continuation of lack of capacity, ineptitude, uncertainty, under-development, hunger and insecurity.”

He claimed that the essentials for comfortable living had continued to elude Benue people.

“With hope denied, many pensioners have died, leaving their families destitute. Many must have died with anger in their hearts, anger towards the government that has perpetrated and perpetuated such injustice on them,” he noted.

He boasted that he was endowed with adequate knowledge and exposure to ensure justice, security and peace to Benue.

He enumerated some of endowments of the state to include, a huge human capital from a growing and educated population. (Benue boasts of some of the brightest and fertile minds in Nigeria); large and fertile land mass across the state – from where the state rightly derives its name as the ‘food basket’ of the nation; Abundant agricultural and mineral resources; great potentials for oil and gas exploration; existence of rivers, among others.

“We have done our researches and planning and shall hit the ground running immediately we are sworn in, turning all these potentials into viable and verifiable achievements that would propel our state to an enviable position amongst the community of Nigerian states.

“We will Establish Permanent Integrated Forward Operation Bases for security men at all the flash points where there have been cases of armed attacks and displacement of people; evolve a policy for the rehabilitation and resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) into their ancestral homes; establish emergency toll-free call centers and short codes to ease reaction from security outfits in the state; strengthen the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law for enhanced security, economic growth, and the development of Benue state; strengthen the operational capacity of existing security organisations in the state; reconcile all lingering land crises between communities and individuals to pave way for peaceful coexistence and development in the state.”

He promised if elected as Governor, he would resuscitate the state government agricultural agencies like Benue Agricultural Development Company (ADC), Benue Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (BNARDA), and Benue Tractor Hiring Agency (BENTHA) to encourage modernized agricultural practices in the state.

He also promised to revamp the Agricultural Training Institutes across Benue State to facilitate the training of low and middle level agricultural manpower.

“Give priority attention to the timely supply of subsidized farm inputs, especially fertilizer and quality seeds, to farmers through the revamped Benue Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (BNARDA) in the state.

“Ensure the revival of the fisheries department under the Ministry of Agriculture, alongside all the important fishing festivals in Benue State.

“Empower ministries, departments and agencies to propel and promote independent development of the state as an agrarian society, with capacity for food security and self sufficiency.

“Increase the capacity of the state’s strategic grain reserves and establish public modern warehousing facilities with cold storage (for perishable farm products) where local farmers and cottage industries can store finished products and raw materials.

“Upgrade and equip all Primary Health Centers (PHCs) via the Primary Healthcare Board in the council wards.

“Establish at least a functional diagnostic laboratory in each senatorial district of Benue State.”

On education, he promised to ensure the effective implementation of compulsory free primary education throughout the state.

He promises to “engage and train adequate teachers for public schools with an emphasis on science, computer, technical, and mathematics teachers to re-enkindle public trust in public schools;

“Assist the education ministry in modifying the extant curriculum to capture the major indigenous languages in the state, viz., Tiv, Idoma, and Igede.

“Provide adequate and timely motivation to teachers through enhanced emoluments, training, and a conducive work environment,” among others.

Credit: National Accord

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *