Suswam, Bride Of Benue Politics
WRITTEN BY OLAJIDE KOLAWOLE
When Former governor of Benue state, Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam, took over the affairs of the North Central state on May 29, 2007, little did the indegenes 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.
He ran the state aground before Gabriel Suswam, whom they now persecute 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 former governor 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.
The APC-led government in the state under Governor Samuel Ortom should stop brushing Suswam’s giant achievements aside, rather, Ortom and his team should emulate Suswam who, out of his caring heart, constructed and completed three water works in the state. One in Katzina-Ala, one in Otukpo and the major one in Markurdi.
The APC-led government keeps telling lies that Suswam stole money yet they refuse to acknowledge the fact that he (Suswam) 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.
It will be hard for Benue state to see a caring leader like Suswam. He was the only Benue governor who had touched all aspects in Benue state.
For instance, 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 have 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.
SECURITY: Suswam came in as governor at the time Benue state was encountering security challenges created by the government of his predecessor, Senator George Akure. Suswam made the issue of security his top priority.
Suswam once said on security that: “My government believes in the axiom 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.