By Awunah Pius Terwase
Recently, I met with a friend by coincident at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. We were discussing issues affecting our state (Benue State). Standing beside us was unknown personality with unfamiliar face who after listening keenly to our discussion, did not hold himself any longer and thought that to contribute to our discussion is by looking at me furiously and saying “I am sick”. I heard him laud and clear but ignored him and continue explaining to my friend how disappointed I am in the ongoing administration in our state under the leadership of Governor Samuel Ortom.
Shortly after, a driver came in a Land-Rover-Truck, and took this man away. I seek to know who is this man from somebody who was standing bit far from us but saw the man and luckily for me, he has an idea. Thereafter, I realized that he is one of Governor Ortom’s loyalists. No wonder, there will never be a smoke without fire.
However, why should I not be sick when the Governor is owing workers 4, 5, 6 and 7 months’ salaries and allowances respectively? I am sick because the over 28 billion naira bailout funds developed wings and flied to unknown place under the watch of the state Governor, I am sick because Fulani herdsmen are constantly killing people in the state and the Governor don’t know what to do as a leader to address the problem, I am very sick because the benefits of the retirees in the state are yet to be given to them after so many years of retirement, I am sick because of the heavy imposed tax on the people by the state Governor, I am sick because of the fees increment in state owned schools, which sent the children of the poor out of school and placed them on the streets to hawk sachets water, groundnuts and so on.
Nevertheless, I am sick because the Governor is yet to fulfill any of his promises, made during his campaign rallies and he is left with few time to leave, I am sick because the Governor is only good at diverting the public funds but not good at solving the public problems, I am sick because billions of naira have been spent by the Governor on foreign trips that were for attracting the foreign companies into our state but there is no single company of such on our land, I am sick because fruits are wasting year in year out in our state but the state Governor is overlooking such a huge business opportunity that can create jobs for the unemployed youth and generate revenue for the state if only this opportunity can be utilized, I am sick because of the ongoing hardship in the state due to the non-payment of salaries and allowances of the workers, coupled with the mismanagement of the public funds by the state Governor.
For several occasions, I heard the Governor advised that people should go into farming and stop relying and hoping for the government jobs. It is a good advice but is there any support by the state government? In this era of advancement in technology, many countries have adopted mechanized system of farming where tractors and other technological farm tools are used for farming but here in Nigeria, particularly in Benue State that is the food basket of the nation, people are still using the traditional farming tools that were used by their great grandparents instead of using the modern tractors meant for farming. The Governor would have first of all made available the modern tools for framing before advising the people to go into farming.
We all know that majority of the farmers cannot afford to have any of these tractors and government supposed to come to their rescue thereby purchasing these tractors and teaching them how to use them, which in turn, farmers should have been paying a token to the government for maintenance and that as well can generate revenue for the state.
The provision of fertilizer and giving of meager amount of money to the farmers in the name of loan by the government is not enough and that does not mean government has been supporting farmers in the state. Most a times, the so called loans and fertilizers are even hijacked by some government officials for their selfish interests, which at the end don’t reach to farmers.
Therefore, because of all these, I am sick. Anyone who is not sick in this situation, must be one of those who are taking what belonged to the public to enrich themselves with, anyone who cannot be sick in this situation must be one among those sending Fulani herdsmen to kill us, anyone who refuse to fall sick in this condition must be one among those responsible for the hardship in the state, anybody in Benue State who cannot be sick despite all these, such a person must have been part of the political elites’ group that is responsible for the sick condition of the people in the state.
For me, I have chosen to be sick. At this point I wish to invite you to join me on this sick bed. Let us get sick quickly and continue to be sick until the right things are done.
Awunah Pius Terwase writes from Mpape, Abuja via firstname.lastname@example.org