By Kenneth Atavti
We live in interesting times much in fulfillment of the great Chinese adage! Interesting because of the elastic capacity of political spin doctors to connect totally unrelated political dots to fit into predetermined mindsets.
Recently, the usually combustible atmosphere in Benue State has once again been inflamed by contrived controversies over the siting of a Federal Polytechnic in Wannune, in Tarka Local Government Area of Benue State.
According to trending narratives, the Polytechnic was originally sited in Adikpo, Kwande Local Government Area in the Zone A axis of the State.
The Adikpo school was birthed by Senator Barnabas Gemade, who was representing the zone at that time.
According to the purveyors of the story , the polytechnic has been moved to Wannune in Zone B due to the machinations of Senator Gabriel Suswam, the current Senator and the Hon Minister of Special Duties, Senator George Akume, working independently to vanquish the achievements of Senator Gemade by erasing one of his star accomplishments as Senator.
The storyline has it that Suswam wanted the state owned College of Education in Katsina Ala to be taken over by the Federal Government while Akume should rather have a polytechnic sited in his ancestral village of Wannune.
The rumour mills have no doubt been fed by conspiracy theories laden with negative political innuendo, portraying the leaders of the state as engaging in a selfish game of musical chairs.
Very few people have taken a step backwards to undertake a dispassionate assessment of the state of things. Most people seem consumed by the sentiments of the discussion rather than the facts.
First of all, it stands logic on the head to insinuate that Senator Gabriel Suswam, being a seasoned political player will endorse the “relocation” of an institution from a highly populated part of his senatorial district to a place outside of it. That will amount to political suicide.
Secondly, while it is true that the Senate in 2017 approved a Bill by Senator Gemade to site a Polytechnic in Adikpo, the same bill was never concurred to in the House of Representatives, neither was it gazetted by the President.
The Adikpo Polytechnic is therefore, still undergoing legislative and executive refinement and is yet to be accorded final status as a school.
As it stands today, the polytechnic in Wannune must have been fast tracked due to the presence of basic infrastructure on ground and the efforts of political and community leaders from there. From my understanding, the Wannune polytechnic isn’t a replacement for the Adikpo one which is still undergoing processes of approval.
In any case, Senator Suswam has never had a hand in the Adikpo project because he wasn’t in the Senate when the bill was presented.
As a matter of fact, he was in DSS detention when that bill was passed! To therefore, impute that he is part of any design to rob his zone of such a project is mischievous and uncharitable.
As a proud member of the Tiv community, it is incumbent on him to celebrate such a great feat as bringing a federal institution to any part of Tivland giving the consequential chain of development it will bring to the area.
It is strange to observe that the zeal for political victories, whether real or pyrrhic, outweighs concrete issues of development in Benue State. Rather than pull resources together to celebrate rare privileges such as this, some actors will rather expand the fault lines in the state and paint others black in order to take center stage. This is politics of self abnegation- a case of cutting your nose to spite your face.
It should be a thing of celebration for all Benue citizens to have yet another Federal Institution within its borders. This shouldn’t be a platform for ego flexing because not only the relations of those who attracted the school to the state will be admitted as students.
It is understood that politics dominates discussions right now but it is better to channel the same energies used in destroying others to cultivate issues that benefit our people. The furore about Wannune Polytechnic and the needless controversies on relocation or not amounts to much ado about nothing.
Atavti, is the Judiciary Editor of Nigerian Pilot Newspaper in Abuja.