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On tackling godfatherism in Benue politics

A key member of the stakeholders mentioned are the electorate themselves who by now should have been enlightened enough to understand the damage godfatherism and…

A key member of the stakeholders mentioned are the electorate themselves who by now should have been enlightened enough to understand the damage godfatherism and money politics have wrought on the progress and development of the state. Benue State should have been one of the most developed and wealthy, considering the immense human and material resources the state is blesed with. But alas for poor leadership, especially since the return of democracy in 1999, little has been achieved in the area of progress and development. The reason for this is not difficult to discern. Politicians who rely on godfathers to get to power are more beholdened to the same godfathers than they are to the electorate who purportedly voted them into power. Their loyalty is first and formost to their godfathers who they believe are the only ones that have the power to ensure they are re-elected when next they seek another term in office. Benue State is already a living witness to this trend, and if the people of Benue refuse to wisen up to these shortcoming it would spell more woes for the state.

It is the same with money as a decider of the political worth of any candidate seeking elective office in the state, especially in the rural areas. Any candidate seeking elective office in the state would realise soon enough that what the electorates are more interested in is the pecuniary gains they stand to gain from a particular candidate. This is nothing short of outrightly selling their vote, yet it is the norm. Well, I would like to draw the attention of my fellow compatriots in Benue State to the ills of such a practice. A politician who pays you money to get your vote on winning an election would see such money as an investment that should bring him returns. And the returns? It is the reckless embezzlement of public funds which is today the hallmark of governance in the country. It is simply baffling that our people have failed to make the connection between electoral fraud and bad governance, yet daily we keep sustaining our bad democratic habits hoping that somehow a deliverer would emerge that would help to set right our woeful affairs in the area of infrastructural development, poverty alleviation, education, health and other vital sectors of our lives.

 The way things are moving, even when credible candidates with the experience, patriotism and will to make a difference emerge they would not be given a fighting chance because of our penchant to defer to godfathers and sell our votes and concience. Right now, Benue State is blessed with people who have all it takes to bring the state out of the doldrums towards the path of development. These people are role models anytime, anywhere. They are people who have held positions of trust in the past and have adequately discharged their responsibilty satisfactorily without being found wanting. These are people whose hearts ache whenever they behold the kind of injustice that is going on in our mode of conduct in the name of purposeful governance. Yet, how do we align ourselves with them and support them the way the Americans did with Barack Obama?

One of such young men is Maxwell Ahule whose mission to sanitise Benue politics is not in doubt. He has been reaching out to the youths to enlighten them about the dangers of allowing themselves to be used as tools in the hands of unscrupulous politicians and their godfathers. He has also been organising enlightenement campaigns for rural women and other groups on the need for them to make their votes count by making sure they do not sell their votes and their concience and vote for the right candidates. These are initiatives that should bring all Benue citizens on board in the effort to make the state great.

Youth groups, religious and community groups, civil society groups and various unions in the state should be part of this effort at creating change by signing up to be part of the team that wants to make a difference. We have seen other societies come together to wrest their destinies from the jaws of those who do not have their interest at heart. We too could do the same if we decide to once and for all renounce godfathers and refuse to sell our votes and concience to them. This is a duty we owe to ourselves, our children and our posterity. The 2011 elections in Benue should be an opportunity for us to elect the kind of leadership that would work for us and be responsive to our needs. We have the right people on ground who are blessed with the right vision. We should support their aspirations.

Engr. M.M Abena wrote from 25, Iyorchia Ayu Road, Makurdi

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