Towards the end of the 19th Century, European nations gathered to discuss mordalities which concluded at the partitioning, privatising and owning Africa, as annextures of their various countries and empires; to milk these colonies, of their human and natural resources.
This possesion of already inhabited lands with rulers, was done by the Europeans without recourse to the inputs of the original owners of the land. Africa became a continent annexed to Europe with the sole aim of braggadacious show of supremacy and exploitation of the peoples common wealth without their consent or feelings.
Benue state has always been a hot bed for political activities, with the state at its liveliest during election periods as every homestead and community is agog with campaign songs and slogans; electoral matters are discussed at every corner and beer parlour (which actually abound) discussants become heavy weight political analysts of some sort.
Unknown to many however is the fact that politics is the determinant of a peoples collective destinies. This is even so because it is basically a civil service cum agrarian state-all these preoccupation are in turn dependent on the quality of leadership, in which case is leadership.
The state apart from a governor to pilot its affairs, has also three other important leaders who should decide and defend the fate of their constituents before the federal government; these are called Senators. It is expected that since governors and senators are representatives of the people, they should be chosen by the represented.
Unfortunately Benue has become a 19th Century Africa of some sort, where the political leaders are partitioning the state into small empires and personal estates along the grid lines of senatorial districts making themselves lords of the manor over the different senatorial districts they superitend.
Benue state is potentially grooming senators who intend to remain at the senate not for benefits and dividends enjoyed by constituents but out of the need to remain politically relevant and in power, thus its acclaim for the longest serving senator ever, a cliché that will belong to Benue senators for a long time to come without any significant impact on their subjects, whom they must have impoverished and decapacitated financially and economically to eradicate all form of opposition from such quarters.
Leading the pack is Nigeria’s longest serving senator and senate president, David Alechenu Mark, who has been at the hallowed chambers since the return of democracy in 1999. Mark has so far served four terms at the senate with two as senate president while gunning for another smooth sail back for a fifth which he may also be president maintain the title of longest serving Senate President also.
Although famed for his massive recruitment of his constituents, he is however accused of oppressing them to his whims and caprices. Alleged to be behind most political appointments from the state, Mark is also fingered to be responsible for the economic under development of his constituency, through tactical stiffling of business owned by perceived future opponents to his throne. This is even as he has been said to offer his juicy appointments to only members of his family to the chagrin of others.
He is already sure of a return to Abuja on a possible unopposed ticket, as up until time of writing this report there seems to be no meaningful challenger to his return, even from the opposition parties which are nearly inexistent in that senatorial district.
Mark who has constantly tied his constituents to the hope of an Apa state to emancipate them from believed political oppression from their Tiv neighbours may remain there until there is hope for an ascension to the presidency or the creation of the long awaited Apa state where he shall become governor.
Senate Minority leader, Sen. George Akume is another political
monarch who has made an empire out of his senatorial district to which he may control for as long as fate will allow.
The former governor who tactically planned his retirement to the senate as governor by planting a stooge at the senate to hold forth for him while he completed his tenure as governor, did not allow for competition in his constituency, especially that he held sway as governor of the state, ruling military style.
Akume whose eight year stay as governor was popular for its money dolling nature is however accused of infrastructural and financial neglect of his people. He was known to be generous with gifts and a common face at wedding and funeral as well as beer parlour commissioning ceremonies, while neglecting economic development of his people.
Like his counterpart Mark, he is accused of empowering only family members and his immediate Jemgbah clan over which he rules supreme.
Akume who is also the senate minority leader is still sure of a return to the senate chamber amidst pockets of opposition from other clans from his conquered chiefdom who claim rights to the seat amidst claims of oppression and marginalisation.
Though strong and consistent as these claims seem, Akume may have a smoother than expected return to his plush office at the three arms zone since most of his challengers are not financially equipped for such an enormous task as unseating Akume who is financially heavy and ready for the battle; most of such challengers are waiting and banking on sympathy as well as the known rivalry between Akume and his estranged political bedmate, Gov. Gabriel Suswam.
According to political pundits, Akume may remain in Abuja for another eight years when the next governor of the state who is probably going to emanate from his constituency, will also be in need of a retirement haven.
The newest entrant to the partitioning of Benue into senatorial empires is Gov. Gabriel Suswam, who like his predecessor is looking to retire fat at the three arms zone where he left as House of Representatives Member to become governor.
Suswam, not new to the comfort and largesse of Abuja, is angling to make an empire of his senatorial district.
The governor’s retirement plan which is talk on every lip in the state, has however been a long term hatched plot heading towards Abuja, in the usual style of empowering family and crumbling economic and financial strongholds perceived as threats. This strategy was followed by an attempt to imitate Akume’s planting of a weak challenge in the senate to deliver when needed, however his plot failed when his anointed seat warmer was defeated at the primaries owing to presidential interests in favour of Sen. Barnabas Gemade, who remains Suswam’s only viable opposition to the senate.
Even as Gemade is touted to have paraded presidential might to his advantage, it is believed it may not work in his favour any longer as Suswam who is known to be permanently resident in Abuja, may have relocated for such strengthening of presidential ties.
Although proponents of the zoning formulae popular amongst Suswam’s Tiv people and his party the People Democratic Party(PDP), are opposed to his proposed retirement plan, the governor has already taken precautionary steps ahead of his traducers by demanding for a loan (which could not have been turned down) of the said seat from those who claim its traditional right to contest.
Already analyst who believe Suswam is sure headed for the senate have predicted that like Akume, he may be berthed in Abuja for a period as brief as sixteen years when another governor may emerge from his senatorial district and on out serving his term, may be in search of a retirement home.