Exclusive: Why Suswam deserves Senate Minority Leader seat
Nigerian Concord Newspaper
As struggle on those to become the principal officers of the next National Assembly continues, there have been calls on the Senator-elect for Benue Zone A, Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam, to run for the post of the Senate Minority Leader.
Some political analysts opined that Suswam, former governor of Benue state, merits the seat as a result of his legislative, executive and legal experiences.
Suswam had meritoriously served as a member of the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2007 before becoming the executive governor of Benue state for two terms but before then, he has been a successful practising lawyer.
Gabriel Suswam’s achievements as a federal lawmaker at a glance:
Between 1999 and 2007, Suswam was very successful at the National Assembly in the areas of good and quality representation.
Talking about his achievements, Suswam was able to make people become very conscious of the then presence of Benue in the federal sharing arrangement by virtue of the position he held in the National Assembly.
Secondly, he was able to get employment to a lot of Benue indigenes at the federal level, and that was something that hitherto appeared to be almost impossible.
He was also able to integrate Benue within the scheme of things by at least giving some employment to Benue indigenes and also using my position to make people become conscious of the existence of Benue in terms of federal sharing arrangement.
He brought the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation which he chaired then to Benue because he wanted Nigerians to be very conscious that Benue should be considered very serious in the sharing of the National cake.
Recall that the Appropriation Committee within the system is saddled with the responsibility of dividing the national cake and sharing it among the federal units of this Nation.
So as chairman of that committee, Suswam felt it was necessary and important for the committee members to come personally to Benue state and feel the problems of the state, and the only way he could do that was to bring them to Benue where they met with the then governor, Senator Akume, and the people of Benue state.
He did that and his colleagues appreciated the problems that Benue had and there was a slight change and positive focus on the part of his colleagues to assist.
His intention was to put Benue on the front burner, let the people appreciate the problems of Benue and as he presented them they had a disposition and tendency towards addressing them.
His achievements as governor for eight years:
When Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam took over the affairs of the North Central state on May 29, 2007, little did the indigenes of the state know about the development coming in.
This was because Suswam was taking over from Senator George Akume of the same Peoples Democratic Party , PDP, who was unable to effect anything positive on the lives of Benue people for eight years- 1999 to 2007.
At the expiration of his tenure, George Akume, now a senator under the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), couldn’t show anything he was able to achieve as the state governor.
Akume ran the state aground before Gabriel Suswam, whom he has been persecuting unjustly, came on a rescue mission.
But on assuming office as governor, His Excellency, Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam who just completed two terms at the House of Representatives then called a meeting of stake holders in the state where he was adequately briefed on the situation on ground and the possible way forward.
Several visits by Nigerian Concord to Benue state show that Suswam was able to transform the North Central state and that indeed attracted attention to all and sundry while he reigned.
Under Suswam, Benue witnessed a new level of development like never before because abundant human and natural resources were tapped.
Between 2007 and 2015, there were notable and significant improvement in the standard of living as well as infrastructural development in the state because the senator-elect engaged in massive construction of township roads, drainage, pedestrians walkways functioning street lights in Markurdi, the state capital.
On the township roads, Suswam constructed some in Otukpo, Gboko, Katzina-Ala. Several kilometers of roads were built. Apart from this, he did what is called Intra-states roads linking everywhere in Benue state together.
During this period, Suswam ensured that every sector of the state economy witnessed transformation.
Out of his caring heart, Suswam constructed and completed three water works in the state. One in Katsina-Ala, one in Otukpo and the major one in Markurdi, the state capital.
Suswam also completed and commissioned 500 Units Housing Estate for the Civil Servant in Benue State. Findings reveal that each of these apartments has 3 bedrooms.
Before Suswam came on board, the government house in Markurdi was nothing to write home about but when he got in as the governor, he fully renovated the Government house.
Apart from this, Suswam also completed Markurdi International market.
The former governor didn’t only limit his performance to the above mentioned alone. He went ahead to improve on the health system in the state.
In the area of health, the former governor performed creditably well by completing the construction of almost eleven hospitals located at Anyiin, Ugba, Lessel, Buruku, naka, North Bank (Markurdi), Agatu, Idekpa, Alaglanu, Otukpa and Owukpa. All equipped and commissioned.
In the area of agriculture, Suswam’s administration supplied fertilizers to farmers at subsidized rates. He released funds for re-stocking of livestock breeding and investigation of Raav. He also constructed and equipped guarantine Centers in Markurdi and Gboko for effective check on animals.
Despite the paucity in funds, Suswam commissioned several rural electrification projects as well. He put the Benue Television service in good order. He constructed the new government house, Ultra modern medical facility and Benue State University Teaching Hospital and several roads.
Suswam, a good leader who believed and still believes in quality education, released 300 million naira for the renovation and improvement of facilities of learning in primary and secondary schools across the State.
He also released 192 million naira for tertiary institutions for accreditation, as well as another 200 million naira for Benue state student at the Nigerian Law school. He also renovated more than 36 secondary schools. He delivered in the area of Information, Communication Technology as well.
Before he came in as governor in 2007, tourism and sports activities in Benue state were nothing to write home about.
But, Suswam as governor performed creditably well in the areas of tourism, sports, commerce and industry, information and social mobilization, lands and survey and others.
He produced waste management equipment among other things. He introduced new budget system, electronic in nature that allowed accountability and transparency in all government transactions.
In addition, Suswam’s administration embarked on aggressive investment drive to China, South Africa, and South Korea and the results were positive.
His government took delivery of equipment purchased for the establishment of Benue State Television by previous administration.
He also took delivery of the new 30 Kw transmitters for Radio Benue FM Station and 50 KW transmitters for Radio Benue AM Station.
Still on sports, Suswam’s administration established new board for Lobi Star with Technical Crew, and players have been re-positioned.
On security, Suswam came in as governor at the time Benue state was encountering security challenges created by the government of his predecessor, Senator George Akume. Suswam made the issue of security his top priority.
Suswam once said on security that: “My government believes that development can hardly occur without peace and security” and as a result of this, his administration intensified efforts through Joint Border Patrol Committee to promote peaceful co-existence with neighbouring states(Benue/Taraba, Benue/Cross River States). With these efforts, criminal activities in Markurdi and its environs reduced considerably.
Still on security, he donated Vehicles to Benue State police Command to combat crimes in the State. His exemplary leadership style helped to build peace and bridges of understanding between the political gladiators of the State and the nation at large.
Furthermore, his administration created new roads and estates in Makurdi in order to expand and make it an urban center as against the rural community it used to be before now. He also did a lot of rural electrification projects in the state.