As part of efforts to succeed Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State, Hinga Biem, a veteran journalist who has served the state in many capacities before he retired to contest the 2015 governorship election recently took his consultations to Zaki-Biam. CEPHAS IORHEMEN captured the event
Consultations over who would mount the seat of power in Benue State after the exit of Governor Gabriel Suswam is being intensified with no one ready to step aside. Among those in the race is Hinga Biem. During his visit to Zaki-Biam, a town noted for yam production that was reduced to rubbles during the military invasion, opinion leaders poured encomiums on him, and highlighted the need why he should succeed Suswam. In 2001, Zaki-Biam, a bustling town in the Sankera axis of Benue State, came under attack during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, by the military who were on a mission to avenge the alleged murder of 19 soldiers who were sent there to keep peace following an ethnic crisis in the area.
That was 13 years ago, and even though the people may have put all that behind them, they are not likely to forget that horrific incident. They are also not likely to forget August 10, 2014 in a hurry. It was a day the crème de la crème of the self-styled biggest and largest party in the African continent gathered in Zaki- Biam, to do what they know how to do best; play partisan politics.
Thousands of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) supporters besieged the premises of the expansive NKST Church Central Primary School, venue of the event to honour one of their own. The event was put together under the aegis of Sankera Movement for Hinga Biem 2015 in conjunction with Pastor and Elders of NKST Zaki-Biam Central to endorse and drum up support for Biem, a frontline governorship candidate on the PDP platform. The Sankera political structure, comprising of three local government areas, namely, Logo, Ukum and Katsina-Ala, is a formidable power bloc in the political configuration of Benue State.
A duty tour of the area during this event gave an interesting insight into the political status of Sankera as a beautiful bride and strategic nexus in the politics of the state. The area is given more attention by all contending groups than any other area in the state. Politicians take the opportunity of every official engagement to visit Sankera, ostensibly to boost their chances in the area. The reason for this is not far-fetched. A sizeable chunk of political heavyweights in the state come from the Sankera axis.
Governor Suswam leads the pack which also includes Abu King Shuluwa, elder statesman, two-time commissioner and current deputy chairman, PDP Elders Forum in Benue State; Daniel Saror, two-time senator; Suemo Chia, First Republic senator; Iorwuese Hagher, former Ambassador to Mexico and Prof. Mvendega Jibo, former commissioner during the Second Republic. Any aspirant who gets such array of prominent politicians on his side would definitely make a lot of difference in an election, and to think that this is the second time that Biem is making an appearance in the area is a demonstration of the indispensability of the Sankera axis to the realisation of the governorship project of the aspirant.
The leader of the Sankera Movement for Hingah Biem 2015, Hon. Paul Biam, in his address on the occasion, said Biem was always in Sankera land because he has found favour among the people of the area, adding that there was no better way of demonstrating their preference for the aspirant than endorsing him and declaring their support publicly. Biam, who is the Majority Leader of the state House of Assembly, affirmed the collective resolve of the Sankera people to be in the forefront of Biem’s governorship project and promised to drive it with determination while assuring that no effort would be spared to ensure its actualisation.
According to the Majority Leader, the decision of Sankera to single out Biem for support derives from the careful assessment of the candidate and his performance throughout his 32-year stint in the state public service where he demonstrated that he has what it takes to govern the state. Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Hon. Terhile Ayua, in a goodwill message commended the people for their support and endorsement of Biem, saying that their support was not misplaced as the governorship hopeful is a man of honour who would not disappoint them.
Describing Biem as an accomplished bureaucrat who would sustain the good works of the Suswam administration, the speaker enjoined the people of Sankera to remain resolute in their support until victory is achieved. Also speaking, chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AshiTech Conglomerate, Dr. Terkura Suswam, acknowledged the track records of Biem which he said spanned the entire gamut of the state public service and charged the aspirant to be focused, dogged and pragmatic while exploring acceptable means of realising his ambition.
Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Laha Dzaver, thanked the organisers for their decision, saying that Jemgbagh people are also willing to identify with a credible personality like Biem to emerge as governor of the state while Helen Awuna commended Governor Suswam and the leadership of the PDP for zoning the governorship seat to Minda area, adding that Biem is truly the preferred candidate of the average Minda person.
Comrade Boga Abuul, a special adviser to the governor; elder statesman and seasoned politician, Atoza Hindan, and elder T.T. Zozo, in their separate remarks stressed the need for Sankera to remain steadfast and resolute to the Biem governorship project until victory is achieved. They described the aspirant as a humble and intelligent personality who has all it takes to occupy the governorship seat.
Responding, Biem commended the people of Sankera for their faithfulness to his ambition. Describing himself as a minority within a majority, the governorship hopeful assured them that if elected as the next governor, he would form an all- inclusive government that is tailored to meet the yearnings and aspiration of majority of the people, adding that as a journalist and technocrat of more than three decades standing, who has traversed the length and breadth of the state in the course of duty, he is very much familiar with the peculiar needs, problems and challenges confronting the people and pledged to address them if given the mandate.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of a 14-seater bus to the Hingah Biem Campaign Organisation by the Sankera Movement for Hinga Biem 2015. In what appears to give credence to the promise and uniqueness of Biem’s governorship project in comparison to others, many government appointees and elected officials from Sankera attended the event. They included commissioners, special advisers, lawmakers and council chairmen. Others were royal fathers, opinion, leaders, women and youth leaders.
Source: New Telegraph