Aper Aku writes Gov. Alia from the great beyond

 Aper Aku writes Gov. Alia from the great beyond

Our ancestors said I should tell you that they are glad to see that you have now removed the previous regalia and are now ruffling feathers and busting balls in suit and traditional attire rather than liturgical vestments.

I personally do not feel comfortable interfering in the affairs of your leadership. But I have been itching to write you since the 29th of May 2023 when you were sworn in as executive governor of Benue State. A state l once served as governor. I feared as your admirers cheered you to the high heavens, including the irritating pretentious men and women who called themselves sons and daughters of Benue State without the required moral credentials, and the external enemies who for a long time, have been disguising as friends of the state. I was extramondane here and since have been wondering how best to message you.

Let me start by saying that your friend and once a senior colleague, Rev. Father Orshio Adasu finally figured out the workaround I am using to send this message to you. So he and the likes of Wantaregh Paul Unongo, though yet to be committed to the mother earth, and several others of your ancestors all say l should tell you they wish you well.

They said I should tell you that they are glad to see that you are wagging fingers, ruffling feathers and busting administrative balls in the streets of Makurdi town and other parts of the hamlets in the state.

In the words of Adasu, “For some of us who were in the vineyard and later in politics like you now find yourself, we understand you and the shepherd’s enthusiasm in your head. Your adoration for a “social reform” in every sphere of the state is not something we expect you to abandon in a hurry looking at the pathetic status of the state in this 21st century generation of states in the federal republic of Nigeria; Benue State at some point seemed to have stopped moving both democratically and economically. Having said that, I write to say, be wary, be wary, be wary of, my son/soul brother.

I can see that you are having minor problems understanding the political landscape in Benue State. I could help you out.

I have left the earth and have been on this side for several decades now. And as a highly esteemed ancestor, I can tell you without mincing words that the great beyond is a bit different from what some people may have imagined it to be; however, our ancestors were right all along- nature would pronounce anathema on our names after we must have succeeded in betraying the people after they voted us into leadership positions. Brother, this should influence how you live your life on that side of the divide as an individual and now as executive governor of Benue State.

Remember that the Tiv people caution that when a child dances too proudly, he forgets who taught him the steps. Likewise, the Ashanti would say that, when a pot brags of its beauty, it must remember the hands that molded it. By this they say l should tell you that you should not be distracted by any one that might forget that it was the supreme being that gave the favour they are bragging about even as they seem to have forgotten their root. They said l should tell you it was their request to the supreme being, the creator, that triggered His benevolence to keep the land and the people upon whom you are governor today and you must be circumspect too.

They are thrilled that by your first steps, though amid certain hiccups, you have proven to be a wonderful dancer. My dear brother, we are watching your choreograhpy with heads and shoulders high.

It is self-evident that elders should not watch a tethered she-goat give birth. But from here, we can hardly do better than worry that you are facing these challenges as governor, even as you have young people observing you as a leader. For instance, since you have not yet rolled out massive employment as you promised, even if these young people seem distracted by their struggles for daily bread in different styles both at home and abroad, remember that they are watching and would definitely know when a snake stops acting like one. That is when they will use the snake to play, and as they return home some day, they will use the snake to tie their luggage.

Note that these young people have the internet which has come with its tools- the social media. These social media is a basket people, especially the young people, put on their faces to tell the truth to kings who have gone astray. As a matter of clarity, this basket grants them the anonymity they sometimes need to speak truth to power. With its tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Linkedin, TikTok amongst others, it does something else. It eliminates the gap between the mighty and the low, the government and the governed, the gods and the worshippers.

More importantly, the internet shrinks distance. With these tools, the internet reduces the time between the birth of an opinion and its delivery to the intended audience. It eliminates not just the gatekeepers but also the entitlement bestowed on the privileged few. With its tools, floods of unfairness and inequality have automatically eroded natural filters in people who feel they have suffered discrimination, confusion, and decades of neglect. With the internet cancellation of delayed gratification, what is in the communication market now is what Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo once described as “pure fornication of opinions” so for any reason, keep your head up and do not allow these young people to easily use your name in TikTok as a failed governor. Give them jobs as you promised them.

I can add to you that our forefathers’ guiding principles have more wisdom than all the policies ever mapped out by members of political loyalists. The leadership principles of our ancestors are guided by the philosophy of common good. Do not yield to unnecessary pacification of party loyalty in case it arises at any point in time.

On the part of those who would claim to be the fingers that fed you so as to divert your attention from the ideals of morality and legality of governance even at the peril of the state, they said l should tell you not to worry and also brief you about my personal experience as one time governor of the same state which you govern today:

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I was a governor of Benue State from 1979-1983 and I did my best. It was quite unfortunate that trouble started finding my feet right at home. I was resolute in governance. The welfare of the people of Benue State remained my top priority throughout the time. Regrettably, this home-grown trouble (enmity) redesigned me in terrible appearance, prompting the military administration of General Muhammadu Buhari, who later seized power from the then civilian government, to frog-match me to prison. I stayed in prison for allegations levelled against me by my own brothers. Though I was later released from the walls of the prison, I developed terrible health complications in the prison and that sent me to the great beyond from where I am writing you today.

But before then, what was my offense? My offense was that l was bent on giving the necessary responses to the then demanded social and political overhauls that Benue State stood to be proud of.

Buhari jailed me when he became the military head of state, setting up military tribunals to investigate my conduct while in office. My health was broken by the harsh conditions in jail, and I died in 1988 shortly after being released, leaving two wives and four children.

It pains us here from the great beyond that many of the projects I had begun were later abandoned by the later military governors and agricultural production plunged until this day. The elaborate water supply scheme that l had initiated was abandoned, and the infrastructure that I built was not maintained. However, to this day, I am regarded as the best governor to ever govern Benue State. And don’t be surprised that in 2008, at a press conference to mark the anniversary of my death, Professor David Iornem referred to me as a visionary leader ahead of his time. I hope you will do better.

Temptations and distractions will surely look for you and come but they said I should tell you to only observe and ignore such. They said you should understand that it is when the fire ignores the pot that it cooks what is inside it. Benue State is a huge house of human and material resources so cook something out of the state for the people and ignore anything distraction. Remember our forefathers warned that curiosity and the desire to see and respond to everything are why bullets hit the monkey on the head.

In his emphasis, Adasu said l should allow his words to accompany mine in this message to tell you that you don’t need to be reminded of your resilience in fighting demons while serving in your previous assignment as priest and he believes that it was your determination that made you go far and even acquired the credentials that took you to the present assignment. He said he believes you have not forgotten the philosophy that, “when you stop to uphold human dignity, the direction your hands face will betray you. When the words of your mouth stop gearing towards maintaining a just and progressive society and start showing discrimination and unmeritorious considerations, even those who attended night schools will smell it.” As it is true of true democracy, the only way to drain the swamp is to start draining from the swamp, not from the “scourge of hyacinths” in the water inside a nearby pothole.

From the great beyond, we sent our spirits and are hovering around, they must have told you to hold tightly unto your penchant for smart delebrative governmence against political othering at this momentous political hour of Benue State; a state too battered by lack of the willingness to raise to the challenge of personal example. Initially we observed from the great beyond here that the house we left behind was becoming neither cold nor warm but thought maybe our heirs were sleeping. We are now happy that the city is awake and full of life. We are trusting that your liveliness won’t let you forget yet again that the sleep that lasts for more than a week is death.

Like the rest of them, I have joined the ancestors after serving the state for decades ago now. But they said l should tell you that we left Benue in the hands of all and it belongs to every son and daughter of the land. Remember that there are no buttocks you will examine without finding poops in them: though individual siblings may have their shortcomes but as a leader, we implore you to ignore those shortcomings and build on their strengths; for that is the only path you can follow to greatness.

Like I said earlier, l was once in this shoe of leading the multi-faceted political entity called Benue and it was not easy. I pity you but I am glad I am not there to be termed a god-father in a new generation with new inclinations when l try to share my tactics with you to show you how l succeeded in earning my name as the best governor Benue State have ever had so far.

All that I can say to you is the same thing Paul Unongo and the host of your ancestors have for you, do not have a hand in underdeveloping Benue State. Some say you are involving yourself already by making lopsided appointments. But even if that is true, it is still morning on creation day. You can still remove the monkey’s hand from the pot before it becomes a human hand. The choice is yours.

As a catholic Church Priest right from your earliest years, you are familiar with the core message of Don Moen’s hymn, “Trust and Obey.” time is apt you trust that the new generation will find their mission and obey their new rules of engagement. There is no other way to be happy living with today’s generation than trust and obey the reality that comes with job creation and employment. If you cannot trust and obey this, remember Newton’s 3rd law of motion, which says that action and reaction are equal and opposite. This law applies to the fact that when a child is not embraced by the village he is likely going to burn it down just to feel its warmth. This is what we are seeing in many parts of the state. Some rumours are even making the rounds that external enemies are hiring our own children to kill us. Could it be on account that they find these children idle and hungry? It’s what we need to find out.

As you noted in your one-year anniversary speech, which according to you was delayed till the 2024 democracy day anniversary, you made lofty but achievable promises to the people of Benue State as enshrined in your 7-point agenda, ranging from economic growth, to infrastructural development, security of lives and property, prompt payment of salaries and pensions/gratuities, amongst others, they said l should tell you that now it is time to walk your talk.

Note, a good leader would always remember he has a responsibility to purify his name. I hope you do not use the early political part of your life to destroy the future. Good luck!

Yours truly,

Aper Aku through Ernen Kaanti.


Ernen Kaanti holds B.A Mass Communication from the prestigious University of Nigeria Nsukka. He also holds a diploma in Mass Communication from the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo. He has interest in protecting democracy. Ernen has interest in sociopolitical, economic and human rights affairs. He has flair for both fiction and nonfiction writing and has been publishing with media platforms including crispng.com.

08134711289, [email protected] & The Tribune Newspaper.

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