By Philip Agbese
It is another time to again celebrate an icon in the person of the Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam. The celebration is however unique this time around as Suswam is turned 50, that unique milestone of stacking five decades in human chronological years.
One must be permitted the indulgence of waxing spiritual at a time like this since our dear governor like any human being will only turn fifty once inn his lifetime and after proceed to greater attainments. In the past age fifty was erroneously misconstrued as the trigger for the decline that precedes going into retirement but with the improvements in our living index, which Suswam contributed to in Benue State, life expectancy is on the rise and 50 is actually like the new 20, a new beginning.
The beginning of the Bible, the first chapter – the Book of Genesis has fifty chapters and opened the narratives to all the greater things that were to follow in the holy book. The symbolism of fifty also extends to deliverance or freedom from a burden. The commandment of God to the Israelites was that every 50th year, on the Day of Atonement, that a Jubilee was to be declared with the sound of a trumpet (Leviticus 25). All debts were settled in the Jubilee year in favor of the debtor while inheritances were returned to their rightful owners. Also, those who worked as slave laborers in order to repay a debt were granted their freedom to return home to their families and land.
This thus indicates that the importance of a 50th birthday has not diminished just because there has been improvement in life expectancy. The longevity that comes with the new lease of life from longer life expectancy is a reason to celebrate as it opens up new vista for one to improve on whatever one has done well in the past. The bonus comes from the fact that gone are the days when retirement is the next major thing to come after 50, what comes the jubilee milestone these days is a greater call to serve.
So as our own Suswam celebrated this turning point we declare him anew as a goldfish with nowhere to hide. His contributions to the growth of Benue State, Nigeria and to humanity at large have sealed his place as someone people will perpetually seek out. He has touched lives both in his official capacity as a public office holder and as an individual with that unmistakable philanthropic touch. Today, the harvest of progress that Benue State has made in health, agriculture, employments creation, education, security and every facet of life are to the credit of this hardworking man.
Being that this is a tribute to Suswam on his birthday, it is in order to mention his exemplary life as a family man. In this regard he is a pathfinder to upcoming families and a lesson in how to strike that delicate balance between devoting one’s time and life to public office while at the same time ensuring that the home front is not neglected. His support to the faith is well documented; apparently this must have played a role in the way he struck that work-family balance.
Even before turning 50, Suswam has brought to bear the wisdom of an elder which saw him often playing the role of a bridge builder, a stabilizing factor in times of crises.
Several writes ups by diverse writers have in the past chronicled the great achievements of Suswam as a politician and as an individual. For this, there is no point is no point listing his achievements item by item as time and space would not permit such.
However, it is pertinent to also mention at this point that he should not relent in the great things he has being doing seeing that turning 50 is a new beginning. For those who criticized unfairly and unjustly, he showed unprecedented capacity for tolerance, understanding and forgiveness in the past and must now increase these same attributes fifty folds. In whatever he thinks he could have done better, he should not hesitate to make amends to enable him emerge an even better person.
As we pay tributes to Suswam at 50, this amiable gentleman must continue to give the listening ears. The people of Benue State have spoken and globally verifiable trend have confirmed it that this is no time to feel old. This is why the people have set for him their latest challenge to serve them in greater capacity than he is already doing. Having served excellently before, no one will accept NO as an answer from him. Suswam, as our gold fish has no hiding place in this matter. He should step to the plate and continue doing what he has always done best: being of service to the people.
Happy Birthday Governor Gabriel Suswam!
Philip Agbese wrote in from Abuja.