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Sunday, May 19, 2024

The return of Thuggery in Benue state

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Dear Governor Hyacinth Alia,

I have written quite a number of articles about your style of governance but nothing has disturbed me as much as the topic of this letter. I would have emailed or sent this letter via courier privately to your office but I have chosen to make it public so that our larger society and other leaders can also benefit from it.

Your Excellency, I am writing to express my utmost concern and disappointment regarding the recent reemergence of thuggery in Benue State under your leadership. The use of thugs to intimidate and harass political opponents is a regressive and unacceptable practice that has no place in a democratic society.

You as an ordained man of God, a reverend father of the Holy Catholic Church, are the least expected to resort to the use of hoodlums to go after perceived opponents of your government. With your background as a pastor of God’s flock and a teacher of the Word which emphasizes love, compassion, forgiveness and peace, no one would have expected that you would take a descent into the abyss of brutality and violence to whip opponents into line.

A majority of Benue voters cast their ballots for you in the belief that your reign will uphold the foundations of peace and harmony and set the stage for prosperity of the state. It is however sad that you have so soon disappointed those who had faith in your bid to lead the state. Even many of your diehard supporters are too shocked for words. They are now haplessly watching you showcase aggression and intolerance everyday.

During the tenure of your predecessor, Samuel Ortom, I was not in the state at the time as I’m still not there now, but I read and confirmed from those at home that Ortom made significant strides in eradicating the use of thugs for political purposes. It is disheartening to see that you have chosen to reverse this progress by reintroducing thuggery and thereby heating up the Benue political landscape unnecessarily.

What are you afraid of Mr Governor? What is chasing you?

Your Excellency, the incident where motorcycle riders, commonly known as Okada were used yesterday to block the road leading to the APC state secretariat in Makurdi is a shameful example of the negative impact of using thugs for political gains. Such an action not only undermines the democratic process but also creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation among the populace.

Yes, I read somewhere that you didn’t want the Austin Agada-led State Working Committee of APC to hold a meeting or something like inauguration, but don’t you think blocking a major road within the state capital as you did yesterday will not only affect your political opponents but also the larger members of the public?

Yesterday was not the first time you deployed motorcycle riding thugs to cause mayhem in town. Some weeks ago, I read in the news that the day that Mathias Byuan was to visit Makurdi, your thugs blocked all the roads that connect to the one where the APC state secretariat is located. You also mobilized police to throw tear gas at innocent people who had nothing to do with the party meeting. This act is undemocratic, Your Excellency!

The reason for which a state governor is addressed as ‘His Excellency’ is because a governor is the bearer of goodness, peace, love, democratic values and development. A governor is required to protect life and make it meaningful for the people, not bring anguish and send the people scampering for safety from their daily routines on the streets as you have been doing in Benue State. A governor is a harbinger of peace, not chaos. What we have seen you do in the last few months is a direct opposite of what your title ‘His Excellency’ represents.

Mr Governor, I urge you to reconsider your approach and desist from deploying young men as thugs for political purposes. Instead of exploiting these youths for nefarious activities, I implore you to find worthy and lawfully rewarding causes for them to engage in. Investing in education, skills training, and job opportunities will not only benefit the youths but also contribute to the overall development of the state.

Some time last year, I read in the papers that your government planned to train about 10,000 Benue youths in Information and Communications Technology, ICT. When I saw the news, I was happy; but many months after, no one has heard anything regarding the ICT training again. Should that not be your major concern at this time rather than your endless fights over APC structures, Your Excellency?

It is crucial that you lead by example and uphold the principles of democracy, fairness, and respect for the rule of law. The people of Benue State deserve the leadership that prioritizes the welfare and well-being of all citizens, rather than resorting to thuggery and violence to achieve political objectives.

I sincerely hope that you will take this message to heart and take immediate steps to put an end to the use of thugs to harass opponents in Benue State. The future of our state depends on the choices you make today as governor.

The youths you are arming today may grow into monsters that cannot be controlled tomorrow. As our people say, when a man throws a stone into the market square, he cannot determine who the stone will hit.

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