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‘Zoning is retrogressive politics’

WT: Benue politics tends to draw acrimony between the predominant Tivs, Idomas and other ethnic groups. Why is this problem still lingering?  Maxwell Ahule: A…

WT: Benue politics tends to draw acrimony between the predominant Tivs, Idomas and other ethnic groups. Why is this problem still lingering?

 Maxwell Ahule: A state is at its best when bonds between people are strong and when the sense of national purpose is clear. Benue society is today too polarized along the lines of ethnicity, religion, class, sub-ethnicity, and urban-rural dichotomy. As a result of this, the state is constantly on the boil. Communal conflicts are the worst manifestation of the deep divisions within the state. As we all know, these conflicts have caused untold damage; many innocent lives have perished, valuable properties have been destroyed in these unfortunate ethnic and sub-ethnic clashes over land, chieftaincy and political differences. The best way out is to make deliberate efforts to reconcile the Benue society. The elites from all sections of the state should be involved in this development. The broad masses that bear the brunt of these conflicts should be sensitized to their consequences and encouraged to avoid taking arms at the slightest provocation.

WT: Compared to other states created at the same time with Benue, the state is lagging behind in terms of development. What is responsible for this?

Ahule: Lack of honest, transparent and accountable government, lack of social harmony and inconsistent democratic decision-making. There has to be functional agriculture, industry, infrastructure and human development. You can also add a modernized civil service and the entrenchment of institutionalized democracy. Rural transformation is also key.

WT: Why are you contesting for governor?  

Ahule: I am deeply disturbed about the quality of life of the majority of the people of Benue State. Most of us are regrettably living in abject poverty in spite of existing opportunities to live a more contented life. I am determined to drastically manage the Benue economy to enhance mass welfare.

WT: What experience would you rely on to make the difference?

Ahule: As a Project Management consultant, I will use the project management fundamentals to accelerate industrial development of the state and create wealth. Politics is additional responsibility to perceive society and apply healing to the pressure points where our people are hurting. Above all, leadership to me is servanthood, where the governor is Excellency only when he excels in serving. The people and not the government are supreme. The government serves as the servant in God’s vineyard. I know that the governor governs best when he knows that every action of his is subject to accountability.

WT: Nigerian politics is for godfathers and money bags. Which of these is at your disposal?

Ahule: In fact, when people talk of godfathers I laugh. God is my Godfather and that is why I am Tersuur, meaning God consoles. If people like President Barack Obama can rise to become the President of America, I can assure you that because of my sincere plans to rescue Benue State from the stranglehold of some cabals and the determination to make it a reality, I believe God shall see me through without any of the twin monsters come 2011. On question of money politics, there is a dictum that says where there is will, there is a way. We have to tell ourselves the truth, politics is not all about money but it is more of ideas than money. If you allow people who have no ideas but have the opportunity to cut the national cake through illegal means to take over the helms of the state, we are finished as there shall be no fresh ideas to propel our collective yearnings. Those privileged individuals who steal our tax payers’ money and are bent on destroying our democratic struggle because we are poor and they can beckon at us at any given time for us to fall in for their parade, we are saying no way, it is time for us to sacrifice our today for our tomorrow.

WT: The present PDP government in Benue seems to have a tight grip on politics in the state. Do you think you stand much chance in upturning this order?

Ahule: We are all living witnesses and we can attest to what actually happened in the state. It was the same PDP carry- go syndrome that has eaten deep to destroy our political system which President Goodluck Jonathan is trying to undo for credible people to be able to come on board now. When people use other means than people’s mandate to ascend to power, they misuse such powers. That is why you can see Lagos, Edo and Anambra performing as if they are not part of Nigeria’s political system. We owe our society a duty to voice and challenge election rigging which is the worse form of corruption that has been with us destroying every facet. The PDP should carry out internal democracy to get the best candidates instead of selecting the anointed ones who are now anathema to the image of the party.  

WT: There are people who think that young Nigerians are not prepared to assume leadership positions in this country because of their relative inexperience compared to the old breed politicians. What is your take on this?

Ahule: All these come as a result of corruption. World over there is a generational change in leadership except our corrupted leaders here who feel the youths if given the opportunity shall tread a different path. I wonder why people want to be buried around the corridors of power as if they don’t have reasoning enough to hear the ovation sounds diminishing as the days past. Why should I take a problem to a minister who shall return to ask me what you think can be done as a solution because such a person has overstayed his welcome and he is bereft of new ideas? It is time we assemble our pool of senior citizens and advise them not to every now and then jump for political appointments till death overtakes them. If my late father is to be alive and contesting for governorship today, where is my hope to be in the race? Our old breed politicians should wake from sleep and support the younger people to take over from them as the world today is a jet running one, more sophisticated than what they were used to. This nation needs young visionary and dedicated men and women to forge ahead.

WT: What is your take on zoning?

Ahule: Zoning stands for the retrogressive, oppressive and corrupted philosophy of governance that has cast its long pall over Nigeria from inception. Zoning stifles meritocracy and imposes the ‘our turn to eat’ mentality upon a polity. Zoning and its cousins, ‘Federal Character’ and ‘National Cake’ are what have colluded to make Nigeria the giant-baby of Africa. Zoning is a silent message that we are stupid, that the electorate cannot be trusted to think and choose for themselves.

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