GOVERNOR SUSWAM: TRIBUTE TO A TRAIL BLAZER AT 49

Posted: December 4, 2013 in BENUE, political, Uncategorized
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GOVERNOR SUSWAM: TRIBUTE TO A TRAIL BLAZER AT 49

BY: SOLOMON WOMBO

 

As the Governor of Benue State, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam, Ph.D, CON, turns forty nine years, a unique opportunity presents itself for me to take stock of the sojourn of this gentleman who has impacted lives on different fronts and at various levels. Far from assessing the life of Suswam in political terms, I am rather taking a look at how his life has impacted mine especially in the past number of years that I have had the privileged of serving as his aide and to see what lessons are in it for me.

 

It feels like I have known the governor for the whole of these forty nine years but it has been less than five years of working with as an adviser. This sense of familiarity derives from the ease I felt when I first met him up close – I have been in close quarters with him before but without having to work with him. This gentleman has an unassuming disposition that immediately puts one at ease in his company. That sense of boss-employee relationship that some leaders exude is totally absent with him as he perceives all the people around him as collective stakeholders in implementing his developmental blueprint, Our Benue, Our Future and have equal interest in the job at hand. This explains Suswam’s capacity to consult.

 

Oftentimes there are decisions he could have singularly taken without recourse to anyone, after all he is the chief executive, the person who secured the mandate of Benue people. But he adopts no such approach. Instead, he patiently hears out the suggestions and ideas from those involved in any particular issue or project. For me, this disposition had taught me the vital lesson that one only gets better results when inputs come from diverse sources and that this does not in any way detract from the recognition and respect that people accord one. In fact, it does not take away the credit because right thinking members of society would always give honour to who it is due. My colleagues at the State Executive Council will attest to this from our regular meetings every Wednesday where every member is accorded due prestige of a Chief Executive Officer in his or her establishment, presents views on issues perceived important to the state and nation.

 

However, listening to counsels from one’s aides and advisers is prudent only when the circle around one is made up of competent people. I doff my cap to for Governor Suswam in this regard. He has demonstrated that it is no Herculean task to identify talents in appointing office holders even when political balance has to be struck. Benue State benefitted from this insight into human capacity, which somehow explains the transformation that the state is witnessing. The trend is now a framework that future administrations can disregard only to their peril as the benchmark created by Governor Suswam is now a kind of institutional framework that excellence and competence are requirements that those wishing to serve must possess.

 

Furthermore, the Governor has not left the relationship among his appointees to chance as he ensures that the collective interest of the state and not individual tendencies is the driving force for decisions that are taken. I have never known him to tolerate any form of bickering or infighting. This trait of Governor Suswam has a scaled-up version at the national level where he has continually played the role of a peacemaker.

 

As he facilities the restoration of cordial relations among constituent groups in Benue State so does he arbitrate and mediate in pressing national issues that ordinarily have the potentials to snowball into crises of frightening proportions. He has also consistently demonstrated that he is a nationalist who shuns ethnic and sectional pursuit in preference for a united Nigeria.

 

On a personal axiom, I observe with enthusiasm each time Suswam deals with detractors and would-be campaigners of calumny. He always explains that the bitterness that some people feel should not be allowed to derail or distract the job at hand, which is that of moving Benue State to the next level. The Governor would only allow issues to be dealt with following due process, fully submitting to the judicial process to prove whatever point he has.

 

More confounding for those who do not know our boss whom I personally love to call the Lion, he allows those that assail him politically the free space to air their views and goes into his inner mind to see if there is any lesson from it. I have since come to realize that even umbrage of one’s detractors provide vital insight into how to further make improvements in whatever one is doing.

 

Such personality could only have come from the pragmatic approach that Governor Suswam takes when dealing with issues. He goes out of his w ay to explain this concept to officials who work around him that, it is always about the people, whether it is in terms of providing quality healthcare, employments, standard infrastructure or security. These, he also ensured are spread across the state so that no people or geographical area is left out in line with his perception of the entire Benue State as a family that cannot afford to marginalize any member.

 

His countless awards came from doing things that place the people and not personal interests at the forefront. In this one learns another lesson from Suswam: that awards and recognition for excellence should only serve as fuel to do more. I decipher that his desire to excel is usually further fired by any award he gets for making Benue State work. No arrogance or false sense of self-worth has arisen in the Governor with these countless awards.

 

I must admit that we should all feel challenged by the achievements, skills and disposition of Suswam at 49. This should not in any way be confused for feeling inferior but rather it is recognition of the fact that with the improvement in life expectancy, forty-nine is the nadir of youth and for a man to have attained feats like these at this age, one needs to imagine what other achievements lie ahead. As a State Governor, he has brought to bear his experience from being a federal lawmaker in the House of Representatives. Now, I think of what would happen when he combines the wealth of experience from federal lawmaking with that of being a governor. Such skills would need a national political space to find optimal expression and must never be allowed to wither away for any mundane reason.        

 

As I wish my boss a happy 49th birthday, I want to draw to his attention that should he relocate to Japan he would be repeatedly confirmed as the youth that he is. The lesson here is that this birthday absolutely does not bring him close to retirement. Instead, it is a call for him to intensity his service to the fatherland as the energy of youth buoyed by the kind of experience he has garnered must not be allowed to go to waste.

 

Happy 49th Birthday our amiable leader, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam, Ph.D, CON.

 

Contributed by Prince Solomon Wombo, Special Adviser to Executive Governor of Benue State on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs from Makurdi, Benue State.

 

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