Mammoth Crowd As Fr. Alia, Flags-off Governorship Campaign in Gboko yesterday, Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

The ancient city of Gboko was thrown into frenzy as thousands of Benue people lined the streets to welcome the incoming governor of Benue State, Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia, and his deputy, Dr. Sam Ode, together with the leader of the APC in Benue State, Sen. Dr. George Akume, the Honorable Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, when they arrived the administrative headquarters of the Tiv Nation for the official flagoff of the Alia/Ode 2023 governorship campaign.

The event, which took place at the NKST Primary School Playground in Genyi, Yandev, Gboko LGA of Benue State, was filled to capacity as the APC Governorship Candidate, Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia, officially flagged off his governorship campaign.

Party members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and other supporters from across the country thronged the venue of the rally as early as 7 a.m. yesterday to flag off the “Alialization Gubernatorial Campaign” for a Greater Benue, which will reach the nooks and crannies of all the local government areas in the state.

Fr. Alia said with all the pain inflicted on the Benue people by the PDP-led administration in the state, he expected the good people of Benue to vote them out in the coming elections and urged them to cast their votes for him and the APC.

He assured the people of good governance when elected into office and equally called on aggrieved members to shield their swords and return so that they could build the party and deliver dividends of democracy to the Benue people together, while calling on the good people of Benue State to go out en masse, collect their voter cards, and vote for APC candidates from top to bottom.

The incoming governor of Benue State, Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia, also took time to eloquently outline his policy document titled “A Strategic Development Plan for a Greater Benue.”

“Fellow party members, today is the culmination of what started some months ago. In a very salient way, we are gathered today to formally flag off our campaign that had informally flagged off in our hearts months ago after our primaries. I commend your resilience. You have all stood firm in the face of political and legal turbulence that characterized our victory at the primaries. Leadership is given by God. But politics is not a one man game, but a game of the many. Every one contributes his or her quota to arrive at victory. I therefore stand here publicly today, to say that my gubernatorial candidacy has not been due to my overwhelming intelligence. In every contest, one person would always take the lead. This is more of a struggle than politics. It is more a movement than a contest. I therefore once again call on our aggrieved brothers to shield their swords; my arms are stretched out for an amicable embrace. Let us team up to rescue the soul of our dear state, Benue, from the abyss of gross maladministration as perpetrated by this PDP government.  It is not so much a personal struggle but a collective effort for the emancipation of Benue State.

Mammoth Crowd as Fr. Alia, Flags-off Governorship Campaign (Photos)

Today we gather here to answer a call to return Benue State to responsibility and accountability. Ours is to shape governance in a way that the citizens can gleefully follow, with confidence in their leadership. In more ways than one, this is what has been lacking in the present administration. The citizens have lost hope in a government that has brazenly, in broad day light misused the general heritage and commonwealth of the Benue people.

Today, more Benue indigenes live in utter penury. The difference between the unemployed and the civil servant is almost nonexistent. A grossly depleted civil service, non-existent bureaucracy, lack of incentives and ghost workers syndrome govern our public sector. Civil servants are perennially scared of retirement where all their years of servitude are discountenanced by a malicious administration that wickedly subjects them to a life of pain and dejection with their pensions and gratuities denied them. For eight years there has been massive diversion of state finances for personal gains with impunity. Above all, the local government, as a tier of government has been rendered completely dysfunctional.

Benue State rightly is nationally acclaimed ‘Food Basket of the Nation’. However, farming no longer holds any incentives to our teaming farming population who are abandoned and without farm input such as fertilizer, quality seeds and mechanized implements. The little that is produced is ravished away due to lack of storage facilities, while there are no rural roads to convey the products to the markets. The lack of agricultural extension services means our rural dwellers are mentally stocked in archaic ways of farming which limit their general output and dividends at the end of the cropping season. Two major rivers, the rivers Benue and Katsina Ala dissect the Benue topography, alongside many subsidiary streams and water ways, limitless Fadama, all lying in waste for lack of enhanced irrigation for all year round farming which is the best form of modern agriculture. 

Mammoth Crowd as Fr. Alia, Flags-off Governorship Campaign (Photos)

Every sector of the Benue state economy requires a peculiar intervention. Our educational sector that has become nearly comatose. In most rural settings, entire primary schools lack the teachers to run them with many closing down. There are no positive inducements to lure our youths into teaching which ordinarily is the noblest profession. The school feeding program of the federal government, a plausible policy aimed at encouraging school enrollment especially in the villages has become a major conduit pipe for siphoning resources meant for the human capital development of our people in Benue State.

The failures of this administration are out there in the public domain for all to behold. I will therefore not spend your precious time on futile lamentations, which cannot deliver us from the present rot.

Fellow Benue compatriots, many years ago, I offered myself to go into the Catholic Priesthood to re-route lost eternal destinies and prepare people spiritually for eternity. The work of a priest is not restricted to pulpit alone but to ensure that there are basic necessities here on earth which if denied that spiritual work for eternity becomes foolhardy. In the church, or outside of it, honesty, integrity and accountability are not just relevant, but necessary. And without which life becomes brutish. The same people that are in the church are also in the civil service, in the markets, on the farms and even in politics etc. All these people are lamenting, and truly, the church must act, even as the good news must be preached in all aspects of our society. Somebody must take the bull by the horns and halt the destructive slide we are experiencing. Hence, I have joined the teeming good people of Benue to take the state out of the woods.

The PDP candidate comes with the mantra to continue from where the incumbent governor would leave. What a pity! What is there to continue from? He says that Benue has made great progress under his mentor. Well, we don’t blame him; his would be continuation of lack of capacity, ineptitude, uncertainty, under-development, hunger and insecurity. 

Essentials for comfortable living have continued to elude Benue people. With hope denied, many pensioners have died, leaving their families destitute. Many must have died with anger in their hearts, anger towards the government that has perpetrated and perpetuated such injustice on them.

But our God is a just God.

Mammoth Crowd as Fr. Alia, Flags-off Governorship Campaign (Photos)

Therefore, Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen, our merciful God has endowed us with adequate knowledge and exposure to render leadership differently when we take over the government of Benue state and ensure justice, security and peace to Benue. We shall be leveraging on the following to move the state forward –

  1.  A huge human capital from a growing and educated population. (Benue boasts of some of the brightest and fertile minds in Nigeria).
  2. Large and fertile land mass across the state – from where the state rightly derives its name as the ‘food basket’ of the nation.
  3. Abundant agricultural and mineral resources.
  4. Great potentials for oil and gas exploration.
  5. Existence of rivers. This can enhance irrigation practices that can yield year round.
  6. Massive capacity and raw materials for industrialization.
  7. Existence of reputable educational institutions in the state. (The products of these are left to loiter without gainful employment).
  8. Existence of immense economic potentials in tourism and hospitality.
  9. Existence of indigenous knowledge systems.

We have done our researches and planning and shall hit the ground running immediately we are sworn in, turning all these potentials into viable and verifiable achievements that would propel our state to an enviable position amongst the community of Nigerian states.

  1. Security

We will:

  1. Establish Permanent Integrated Forward Operation Bases for security men at all the flash points where there have been cases of armed attacks and displacement of people.
  2. Evolve a policy for the rehabilitation and resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) into their ancestral homes.
  3. Establish emergency toll-free call centers and short codes to ease reaction from security outfits in the State.
  4. Strengthen the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law for enhanced security, economic growth, and the development of Benue State.
  5. Strengthen the operational capacity of existing security organizations in the state.
  6. Reconcile all lingering land crises between communities and individuals to pave way for peaceful coexistence and development in the State.
  7. Ensure effective security cooperation and partnership between the traditional institutions and security agencies on one hand, and between the traditional institutions and the political leadership on the other.
  8. Offer the most comprehensive and reliable amnesty programs across Benue State by facilitating employment, training, grant of scholarships and entrepreneurship among militia converts in the state.
  9. Introduce the use of automated systems such as surveillance cameras, GPS, and military drones to detect and clear all criminal hideouts in the state.
  10. Construct roads at boundary points that pose security threats to Benue State and also enhance proper monitoring by security operatives.
  11. Collaborate with the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to demarcate the actual boundaries between Benue and her neighboring states of Taraba, Nasarawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, and Enugu.
  • Agriculture

We will:

  1. Resuscitate state government agricultural agencies like Benue Agricultural Development Company (ADC), Benue Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (BNARDA), and Benue Tractor Hiring Agency (BENTHA) to encourage modernized agricultural practices in the state.
  2. Revamp the Agricultural Training Institutes across Benue State to facilitate the training of low and middle level agricultural manpower.
  3. Give priority attention to the timely supply of subsidized farm inputs, especially fertilizer and quality seeds, to farmers through the revamped Benue Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (BNARDA) in the state.
  4. Ensure the revival of the fisheries department under the Ministry of Agriculture, alongside all the important fishing festivals in Benue State.
  5. Empower ministries, departments and agencies to propel and promote independent development of the state as an agrarian society, with capacity for food security and self-sufficiency.
  6. Increase the capacity of the state’s strategic grain reserves and establish public modern warehousing facilities with cold storage (for perishable farm products) where local farmers and cottage industries can store finished products and raw materials.
  7. Collaborate with the Benue State University Center for Food Technology and Research (CEFTER) on post   of farm produce to reduce waste.
  8. Promote the use of organic fertilizer in the state.
  9. Liaise with private entrepreneurs through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to establish processing zones and deploy post-harvest storage facilities across the state to cater for the needs of farmers.
  10. We shall embark on massive agro-processing of our produce to obtain the maximum benefit accruable from the value chain.
  • Health

We will:

  1. Upgrade and equip all Primary Health Centers (PHCs) via the Primary Healthcare Board in the council wards.
  2. Establish at least a functional diagnostic laboratory in each senatorial district of Benue State.
  3. Facilitate the procurement and installation of functional ventilators in all health institutions, especially general hospitals.
  4. Upgrade or renovate building facilities at all general hospitals to ensure that health workers are present in the quarters for duty calls.
  5. Strengthen the College of Health Sciences of Benue State University through the recruitment of high-level staff, equipment, and consumables.
  6. As a deliberate policy, make healthcare services affordable and accessible by strengthening the Contributory Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS), which shall cover civil servants, businessmen and women, as well as farmers.
  7. Provide ultra-modern laboratories with quality equipment, facilities, and technology at BSU Teaching Hospital.
  8. Support the Anti-Quackery Committee in monitoring health care activities to fish out quacks.
  9. Introduce free ante-natal for normal delivery services to pregnant women in all public health centers and facilities across the state, as a pilot scheme.
  10. Encourage the development of drug management systems, as well as the outsourcing of drug management services to pharmaceutical companies.
  • Education

We will:

  1. Ensure the effective implementation of compulsory free primary education throughout the state.
  2. Engage and train adequate teachers for public schools with an emphasis on science, computer, technical, and mathematics teachers to re-enkindle public trust in public schools.
  3. Assist the education ministry in modifying the extant curriculum to capture the major indigenous languages in the state, viz., Tiv, Idoma, and Igede.
  4. Provide adequate and timely motivation to teachers through enhanced emoluments, training, and a conducive work environment.
  5. Support the Benue State Scholarship Board to liaise with scholarship awarding institutions such as Common Wealth, Bilateral Scholarship, and the Federal Ministry of Education to attract scholarships to deserving Benue indigenes.
  6. Improve funding for all state-owned tertiary institutions in the state for effective service delivery.
  7. Increase and ensure timely disbursement of bursary allowance for all indigent students.
  8. Give priority attention to the funding of infrastructure and accreditation exercises at the Benue State University.
  9. Work for expansion of existing research facilities and also institute a special research grant at Benue State University.
  10. Decongest the Benue State University via Satellite Campuses.
  • Revenue Generation

We will:

  1. Review the legal status of BIRS, block revenue leakages and increase remittances to make it a reputable revenue-generation organization
  2. Strengthen the capacity of revenue generating ministries, departments and agencies of government for increased remittances to government.
  3. Ensure revenue flows from new agro-processing zones and industrial revival via PPP, BOT and outsourcing.
  4. Lobby the federal government for special allocation or concessional funds for budget implementation and infrastructural development.
  5. Key into federal government financial interventions particularly for agriculture, education, health, security and infrastructural development.
  6. Explore revenue opportunities from international organizations, i.e. UN, UNDP, World Bank, AfDB, etc.
  • Debt Management

We will:

  1. Dialogue with the debt management agencies of government, including the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Debt Management Office, and the Federal Ministry of Finance, to ascertain the actual debt burden of the state.
  2. Evolve modern strategies such as recovery from the guarantor, conversion to sinking fund and restructuring, in the management of debt burden.
  3. Adopt debt prioritization. That is imbibing an inward-looking culture that de-emphasizes external borrowing for social elephant projects.
  • Civil Service

We will:

  1. Ensure prompt payment of salaries, allowances, claims, pensions, and gratuities.
  2. Ensure periodic review of workers’ welfare to keep pace with economic realities of our time.
  3. Lift embargo on employment and undertake a general recruitment in the state civil service.
  4. Undertake necessary training and re-training of all civil servants for optimum service delivery.
  5. Upgrade the necessary infrastructure at all government ministries and departments as well as empower the Staff Development Center for effective service delivery.
  6. Evolve a deliberate scheme to clear all the accumulated arrears of salaries and pensions in the state.
  • ICT, Youth/Women Empowerment

We will:

  1. Promote youth participation in governance both at the state and local government levels. Employment opportunities exist for youth/women at the primary, secondary and tertiary school levels. Such opportunities also exist in the state civil service, LGCs and industrial establishments of government.
  2. Promote youth participation and employment in agro-processing industries that will be strategically located across the three senatorial districts of the state.
  3. Train young doctors, engineers, ICT experts, lawyers, and other needed professionals to enhance the human capacity of Benue State.
  4. Facilitate employment, training, scholarship awards, and entrepreneurship programs for militia converts in the state.
  5. Ensure adequate women’s representation in all appointments, both at the state and local government levels.
  6. Combat the menace of gender-based violence in the state and encourage girl-child education.
  7. Evolve financial empowerment schemes for widows and their dependents as well as the disabled in the state.
  8. Establish the Office of the Special Advisor on all special groups to ensure inclusive governance.
  9. Facilitate the establishment of an ICT village in the state to equip our youth with 1–3 self-sufficiency skills.

This failed PDP state government has already gone down. But we must deliberately arise and be willing to be used of God to bring His will to come to pass in Benue State. Much more is demanded of you and me. After the flag off today, you should not go to sleep. We are not underrating our opponents, having seen their desperation; they can do anything to retain themselves in power to inflict more pains on our great people. We must sacrifice our comfort, our energy, our sleep and our resources for a greater Benue. I therefore call on the good people of Benue State to go out en-mass and collect your voters’ cards and vote for APC Candidates from top to bottom.”

The event also witnessed the mass decamping of members of other political parties, including the PDP, Labour Party, APGA, SDP, and NNPP (who collapsed all their state excos) into the All Progressives Party (APC).

Fr. Alia, alongside the leader of the APC in Benue State, Sen. George Akume, and the Honorable Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Alh. Mu’azu Bawa Rijau, National APC Vice Chairman, North Central, who represented the APC National Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, received and welcomed decampees into the APC. They assured them of fair and equal treatment, praising their wise decision to dump the sinking political parties.

Mammoth Crowd as Fr. Alia, Flags-off Governorship Campaign (Photos)

In conclusion, Fr. Alia thanked the Benue electorate for their unwavering support for him and the All Progressives Congress (APC) and urged them to elect him, the presidential candidate of our great party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and other candidates of the party for efficient service delivery.

Fr. Alia was not the only personality who spoke at the occasion. Sen. George Akume, Alh. Mu’azu Bawa Rijau, National APC Vice Chairman, North Central, Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime, the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers’ Council, is represented by the Senatorial Candidate of the APC in Zone B, Hon. Titus Zam; Hon. Mrs. Princess Zahra Mustapha-Audu, APC Zonal Woman Leader, North-Central; Rev. Frederick Ikyaan, Director General, Alia/Ode Campaign Organization; and Governor Yahaya Bello, represented by his deputy, Hon. David Onoja.

The Benue APC Chairman, Comrade Austin Agada, also decried the poor performance of the Governor Samuel Ortom-led administration, pointing out the high level of insecurity in the state, diversion of public funds, nonpayment of salaries and pensions, deplorable infrastructure, underemployment, high poverty rate, and unemployment as legacies of the PDP government, and called on the people to vote for the APC candidates from top to bottom for a greater and prosperous Benue State.

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