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Chief Barnabas Gemade is no new comer to the political scene in Benue state and even in Nigeria, as he has served and attempted to serve in the highest offices available in the nation during his short political sojourn.

Gemade, a trained Engineer who has been in the public sector and retired as the Managing Director of the then Benue Cement Company (BCC), cut his political teeth when emerged National Chairman of the Congress for National Consensus (CNC) during the Abacha years and even went forward become the chairman of the joint political parties of Nigeria, an association of all the political parties in Nigeria which had endorsed the infamous sole candidature of Late Gen. Sani Abacha as President of Nigeria until death truncated that democratic attempt.

At the return of Democracy in 1999, Gemade who was one of the known money bags decided to pitch tents with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was formed by the group of Anti – Abacha dissidents and was responsible for the financial involvements of the party’s build up in the state and the north central zone.

His financial involvement politically in the formation of PDP which watchers believed was a form of penance for the role he played during the Abacha era, fortunately earned him the position of National Chairman of the party at her first convention in Jos in 1999.

The one time Minister of Works was unfortunately dropped soon after his election as national Chairman, act attributed to his fall out with Sen. Iorchia Ayu and former political bedmate Sen. George Akume in the tussle for political relevance and leadership of the state. When Gemade was dropped as National Chairman in an emergency convention for reasons shrouded in confusion, gemade came home to Benue to meet stiff opposition in the state coming from his former friends, the duo of Akume and Ayu, who completely alienated him from party activities, as even party members avoided him although many attributed it to his acclaimed tight fistedness.

After his unsuccessful shot at the presidency, where even delegates from his home state refused him votes, came succor from the assemblage of the United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP) in 2003. It was then touted and widely believed that Gemade was one of the promoters of the party in the state- a means to fight and if possibly replace his friend turned foe, Akume and by extension also serve Ayu the bitter pill. Unfortunately the party whose advent into the state was met with so much excitement and expectations failed to  create the desired impact as she won only one house of representatives seat, which was attributed to the deep pocket of the winner, Miss Aondona Dabo and nothing to do with the party’s popularity as the core financiers in the state could not match Akume’s financial prowess backed by  the government chest of the PDP. This many attributed to Gemade’s inclusion in the party’s league of extraordinary players  as he was said to have kept his pocket far away from his mouth during the campaigns, maybe owing to the previous experience dealt him by Akume.

By 2006 Gemade, who inarguably has one of the tallest political records in the North Central Zone, had returned to full PDP politics and even made an unsuccessful attempt to represent his people at the hallowed chambers of the senate. This attempt was acclaimed to have failed due to his financial reservations as against the perceived generosity of the then political novice col. Joseph Akaagerger who floored him at the party primaries.

 Senator Gemade who is now representing his North East Senatorial Constituency at the hallowed senate chambers after another fierce battle with money bags like political neophyte Mathias Byuan who was alleged to have trumped him at the primaries if not for the timely presidential intervention.

With his successful ascension to the hallowed chambers, after strategically positioning himself at the senate, the political enigma came with a perceived gusto to undo the ill image he had acquired in his years of political engagement with his people identifying with them at every given occasion like every known politician nationwide.

With two just years of servitude to the people of Benue North East senatorial district, the legislator whose continued stay at the senate is threatened by recent indications that the State governor, Hon. Gabriel Suswam, might be eyeing his position come 2015, the senator is now known to be flamboyant in his outings as most recently he has been seen to be people oriented in his political approach, but unfortunately this also seem to be his political albatross as this show as seen in the eyes of political analyst is that which has begun to dig his grave.

Just last week the prolific Senator was said to have donated a cow at the funeral of his late political ally and Kwande PDP local government chapter Chairman Hon. Baver Juwa but unfortunately like the proverbial dog which is about to be hung, Gemade’s benevolent gift was rejected by the Local Government party hierarchy, on grounds that the cow which they described as sickening was an insult to the deceased who was said to had worked for Gemade over the years and also a slight to the PDP in kwande. Also notable was his last appearance in Katsina Ala, his constituency headquarters during his constituency briefing in December, the senator who came to interface with his constituents over his service, met serious familiar opposition with banners in support of the Governor’s rumored 2015 agenda  adorning the latter’s bill boards and songs praising the governor to spite Gemade.

Not deterred to do his new found calling of generousity, the two time party chairman, just disbursed funds to his constituents in an elaborate ceremony with adequate press coverage, where he dolled out various sums of money to beneficiary of his quarterly financial assistance scheme. At the said occasion Gemade outlined his tall achievements in his two year sojourn which have as usual been put down by observers.

Gemade’s scholarship scheme which dolled out sums ranging from twenty to Fifty thousand Naira to beneficiaries was seen by traducers as a white wash project as according to them it had not represented the weight and number of needy undergraduates and students in the senator’s constituency since the scheme had only twenty one beneficiaries. Meanwhile the also criticized health assistance scheme which had only seven beneficiaries has been seen as an aberration when compared to his predecessor who brought in experts in Medicine to provide free health care for constituents while he held sway.

Although atiterkula did not get the luxury of visiting the numerous projects sited by the good-natured senator, who had at an earlier press briefing attested to lacking the power to attract national projects to the state as his duties stopped at the legislation of rules and laws for the nation has been known to in recent times influenced the employment of twenty five benue indigenes into various civil, military and paramilitary establishments. This development, though commendable has also been criticized by onlookers and political observers who had earlier scorned Gemade’s attestation to inability to influence dividends for his people as he is believed to have opportunity to influence far above that number of appointments if he really were people oriented as recently demonstrated.

The senator, who is fighting tooth and nail to remain afloat, has also been criticized by constituents for his negligible number of projects which he has to his name since his foray into politics. According to records made available by him in his speech with the press during the disbursement ceremony, the senator has apart from the empowerment and scholarship scheme paraded his constituency projects which amounted to three classrooms blocks in each local government in his senatorial district and 35 boreholes as well as provision 25 transformers and institution of football competition worth five hundred thousand, but these seemingly tall achievements have also been berated by his critics who say a man in his caliber who prides of a relationship with the presidency and his years of prominence in political focus is billed to have done better than these as more pressing needs of lack of roads and even water still abound in his constituency.

A constituent from Katsina Ala, Mr. Shaa Gbaaye, who spoke to our correspondent, complained that they had expected better from Gemade who they had voted not because they felt with a man like him in the senate the senatorial district was better off as he had made connections far and wide and will in turn use them to better his political fortune as well as that of the constituency.

 

 

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