February, 28th, 2010
shocking and amazing how the minders of Governor Gabriel
Suswam are shopping for trouble. The latest of such is he
interview granted by his Special Adviser on Public Policy,
Conrad Wergba and published in several National Dailies.
The Benue society knows Conrad Wergba rather well, having
come to political limelight from the stable of opposition
politics. He decamped into the PDP from the ANPP. Indeed he
was the State secretary of the ANPP here in Benue. And all
it took then was that George Akume, then the governor of
Benue state gave him a car and he was beside himself with
orgasmic excitement and it was all over the Radio Benue and
The Voice newspaper.
It is funny that most of the major political actors in the
PDP now are decampees from the ANPP and they were swayed
over into the PDP by George Akume. It is likely that the
bashing Akume is getting from his party is a consequence of
his enticing over to the party, strange bed fellows.
Everybody has a price so he bought them - tons and tons of
them and his enemies have converged in his party and that
partly explains the kind of diatribe that he is experiencing
from people who should, at least show some form of gratitude
or at least respect the cold facts of history.
You would think reading Conrad Wergba’s interview and other
similar ones from Akume’s bashers that the Senator is
standing an election against Governor Gabriel Suswam in
2011. You will not believe that they are talking about
somebody who donated the governorship to Gabriel Suswam
against all odds. You may even be tempted to think he is
from another party.
Preparatory to the 2007 elections, George Akume swooned over
Wantaregh Paul Unongo, the self-acclaimed leader of the
opposition into PDP. And to make the party strong for the
2007 elections, he even reconciled other party members. It
was then that we heard about the old and new PDP but they
were all fighting for one purpose under the control of
Governor George Akume then to produce a new leadership at
the state level. Everybody was on the leash including Conrad
Wergba himself. It is a fact that the state government
controls the party just like it was then, so it is now –
that Gabriel Suswam is in control of the PDP here, he is
also in control of the funds and we expect that some people,
because their lines of survival have changed they can afford
to wag their tails to please their new master and in the
process, stand history and facts on their heads.
It is an established fact that votes were donated by Raphael
Igbago and Prince Ogiri Ajene to shore up the counts of
Suswam at the gubernatorial primaries. That fact was blown
across the state and country by even the government’s
mouthpieces - Radio Benue and The Voice and other media. In
spite of all their shortcomings, the Nigerian media do not
change the course of events that are in the public glare.
Whether the practice of vote donation is constitutional or
not, it is not the business here and ‘Barrister’ Conrad
Wergba did not raise any objections to it either. Afterall,
the PDP breaches the Nigerian constitution and theirs at
will and we are used to their illegal ways and we accept the
outcome of whatever that they purport to do, after all, it’s
always a family affair. It could even be a do or die affair,
If Conrad Wergba is worried that Suswam emerged from an
illegal selection process then issues have gone beyond that.
It is an incontrovertible fact that these arrangements were
made possible by George Akume and the least, he can show is
a little dose of gratitude because Suswam is governor of the
state now. After all, President Umaru Yar’Adua had the
courage to admit to have benefited and emerged as President
of Nigeria from a flawed election. But he is President and
he is not looking back over his shoulder.
It is possible that views coming from Conrad Wergba are
fundamentally peripheral; he may not have been present at
the gubernatorial congress. Even now, more than two years on
as Special Adviser on public policy, his peripheral conduct
is still his basic character. So such views must have been
cooked from a nocturnal spree of carousing and they can be
ignored. But we are getting close to a very serious election
year and good or bad, the views of a close associate of
governor Suswam must be considered for what it portends for
the polity whether the views represent the thinking of the
man himself or merely the ejaculations, yawns and belches of
an unproductive Adviser, whose contribution to state policy
is not visible in any ramification. We consider such views
unsavory and gratuitous. It becomes even more fearful if you
are perceived as a stumbling block to someone’s ambition.
You are not safe, divinely or devilishly.
Today, the death of Steven Akiga has been declared by Conrad
Wergba as a blessing to Suswam’s governorship and it does
not matter how he died! The late Stephen Akiga died
mysteriously after vomiting bowls of blood. His doctors
suspected food poisoning and advised that an autopsy could
help. His Uncle, Solomon Akiga objected saying that whatever
the outcome of the autopsy, Stephen would not come back to
life. From his utterances, it is possible that Wergba and
his principal who consider the death of Stephen a blessing
to their political ambition may know what we do not know
about his suspicious death.
Undoubtedly, what goes around comes around and in our
political history, Gabriel Suswam is the first beneficiary
of such political largesse of an incumbent preparing a soft
landing ground for him to emerge as governor. The apparatus
of state was used to favour his elections. Indeed other
elections that led to his were manipulated by George Akume
to favour his chances and the overwhelming victory of his
party’s candidates in all elections. Even at the local
government levels, his party men were in control of the
local governments just to make sure that nothing was left to
chance. And for his aide to say “so it is more of Suswam
that was instrumental in Akume becoming senator than Akume
making him governor” is preposterous.
Of course, Conrad Wergba throughout the interview is full of
divination as cure all for Suswam’s emergence as governor
and such upside down thinking or hallucination may be a
consequence of a stupor.
Because any right-thinking analyst, who is not woolly and
fuzzy in his thinking will know and remember that right from
1999 when Suswam became a green horn at the National
Assembly, to when he lost the 2003 elections to late Mahmud
Akiga of the ANPP, it was George Akume’s leverage that
ensured that the 2003 was announced by INEC in favour of
Suswam. And Mahmud went to the tribunal with facts and
figures that forced for an out of tribunal settlement for
Suswam to remain in the National Assembly in 2003. This
ensured Suswam’s continuation in the National Assembly to
prepare for the race for governor and which was made easy in
2007 by Akume.
If we must remember, the National Assembly election was won
resoundingly by Senator Saror and the bandwagon effect of
that victory carried in it’s momentum, Mahmud Akiga. One is
aware of the order Akume gave to his foot soldiers and the
role they played especially in Ukum that saved the election
for Gabriel Suswam.
In any case, Gabriel Suswam and George Akume are still in
the PDP and it is idiotic for an aide to fan embers of an
estranged relationship between principal actors of the party
just for the sake of it. Of what positive political
consequence can such views be to the fortunes of the party
in the senatorial zone which has a bigger population than
other zones in a re-election bid? Would it not be better to
mend fences? Because Akume cannot be political adversary to
the political interest of Gabriel Suswam in Benue state. The
man cannot be governor again and cannot be senator in Zone
‘A’. Why won’t the hawks not allow a synergy of political
interests that will put more food on their table as it has
been for the last ten years? Because as it is, some of them
have survived all these while by placing themselves at the
dinner table and engaging in subterraneous conduct just to
feather their nests in spite of their political
inconsequence. They have personally tried elections and lost
in all such attempts!
It is worrisome that the governor has not found it proper to
reign in his lapdogs. You may think they are barking at his
enemies and protecting his estate, but he must know that
politics is defined by various strategic levels of leverage.
The interest of Sankera can only be protected by them, so it
is with Jemgbagh, Jechira, Kwande, MINDA, Idoma, Igede etc.
He must guide against using poisoned darts from other
political leverages to hit at other people. It is his duty
as a statesman to weigh his options well for his political
future. Because even as governor, he needs the help and
political savvy of stakeholders from other cleavages to have
a complete hold on power.
Finally, if you want to be king, you don’t kill a king.
Mr Maurice Tsav is a journalist based in Makurdi, Benue