Mr. Hingah Biem is a former Permanent Secretary of the Bureau of Internal Affairs and Special Services, Benue State. He is running for the office of governor of Benue State under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the coming 2015 elections. He tells select journalists in this interview of his capacity to deliver if elected, adding that he will establish industries to transform agricultural produce into finished products, denying of any anointed candidate or aspirant ahead of the state guber polls. AZA MSUE brings excerpts:
Benue State seems to be ruled by Tivs since the inception of this democratic dispensation. What is your take on zoning?
I talk to you as someone who is aspiring to be governor of Benue State. I believe in zoning and I also believe that, it is zoning that can make it possible for someone like me to be governor of the state. The state has zones, the Tiv people like you all know are the majority tribe in Benue, we are not saying other components, other tribes are not entitle to governorship position of the state; you know as well as I do that in every tribe or group there are always components within a group and there are always components within a tribe. As a Tiv person, I also come from a community that is deprived and when I go round telling people that I want to be governor of my state, I always say my people from where I come have right to aspire to be governor of the state, just in the same manner that my brothers in zone ‘C’ have a right to aspire, so we all have the right, my component from where I come from is saying we have never had the opportunity to be governor of the state and this time we are saying ‘give us the opportunity to be able to produce the governor of the state’.
You are aspiring to govern the people of Benue State, what do you have in store for them?
Well, I expect everybody to ask that question, because if I say I want to be governor of a state then people will certainly ask why I want to be governor. And I like addressing that question. Like I said earlier I have spent my entire life working for my state, Benue.
Given my position first as a writer and then as an editor and subsequently director – in charge of managing information flow of the state and the image of the state so I have this rare privilege of going round my state and as a reporter I have a column in the Voice newspaper, called rural notes, that column I devoted so much time going round the state and getting to know the problems of the remotest of communities in Benue State, that was over 20 years ago, I went round the state and I know the state very well and I know the challenges that our people face in terms of basic amenities, so my desire to aspire for the governor of Benue State is to be able to take Benue to the next level, because before now Benue State was seen as basically a rural state, apart from being an agrarian state, because most of our towns and villages are not developed, it is the present governor, Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam, that has for example tried to transform the state capital and most of our major towns and villages, he is also taking steps to ensure that most of our rural communities are opened up, so a good number of our communities that hitherto were without roads, have good roads now.
As he leaves, we need somebody who can take Benue to the next level and I believe I have the capacity, given my experience in government as a journalist and then as an administrator to be able to transform the state. There are a number of challenges in the state, in the area of agriculture for example, if you go round the communities you will see the level of waste that is occasioned by the share quantity of food products that are produced in the state, we need industries to be able to transform some of these materials into finished products so that they can easily be put on the market and even. So these are some of the challenges that I believe I will be able to address. Again, youth restiveness is a major problem in Nigeria and in most of the third world countries. I have a feeling that we can do more to ensure that at least, even if we are unable to get employment for everybody, we will at least succeed in engaging them one way of the other.
Insecurity has become a major problem within Nigeria and, most especially, in the North, how do you intend to tackle this?
You know it will amount to a ramble if I went on and on discussing some of the major areas that will occupy me. Some states in the North are engulfed with one crisis or the other, Benue was very peaceful until we had this conflict between herdsmen and farmers that posed a major challenge for government, luckily at that time I was still in service as a Permanent Secretary and I am happy and also thankful to God that Dr Suswam has to a very large extent, been able to restore peace in the communities that were hitherto affected by the crisis, but it is happening all over the world and most especially back home in Nigeria.
Some of these security challenges have come and we should be able to develop a strategy that will be able to contend with them. In my state Benue, I have in the course of going round the communities, been able to draw their attention to the fact that we cannot develop if we do not have an enabling environment to express ourselves in terms of business, unity, what our people are known for, that is farming, except we have a very peaceful environment, and one of the ways to do that is to begin to act as people who are united and people who are ready to help one another in the cause of our development effort.
Source: National Mirror