By Simon Imobo-Tswam
APC members need a new approach to the Gabriel Suswam problem. If the incessant petitions and detentions are all about containing him, the methods are not working. Yes, the current strategy is only making the man all the more popular.
Here is a man whom we beat fair and square in the last election! Here is someone who was so ashamed of himself that he ran away on the Handover Day on May 29! He couldn’t stand the stares of Benue people, especially workers whose unpaid salaries peaked at four months!
This is a man who, as an incumbent, couldn’t win his senate seat despite all the alleged gubernatorial, Diezanitorial and Dasukitorial exertions!
Today, the same man has become a political enigma: attracting mammoth crowds; mesmerising masses across party-divides; magnetising to himself throngs of people who booed him in April 2014; and becoming a symbol of Opposition’s hopes, Come 2019! At burials, in Churches and even at apolitical outings, Suswam now rivets attention as the cynosure of all eyes!
My Questions: Why has the fear of someone we made mincemeat of only two years back become the basis of every political decision? Why is he waxing stronger and stronger when we are the ones with the allocations and bailouts and the loans and the IGR and the Paris Club Refunds all the other Federal receipts that flow in quietly? How did a rejected stone, to borrow Biblical phraseology, become the head of the Benue political corner?
My candid thoughts: We have not been able to raise the bar of governance beyond where he left it! His four- month-failure has become our 11-month-albatross! The ills we charge him with, and hound him for to hell and back – we amplify and perfect same! The plaintive murmurs of civil servants have become loud, inconsolable lamentations!
And what is worse is that his mess has become our message as if…as if… he was our campaign promise; as if we have nothing to offer; and as if we wanted power at all means just so we could access the accoutrements of power and blow sirens apan-dan!
Long after he left office, Suswam continues to enjoy the same mention on Radio Benue that he enjoyed in the days of his gubernatorial incumbency!
My advice: Suswam is out of power: let us stop sharing power with him! We didn’t share power with him. I remember going to Radio Benue on December 9, 2014, to pay for an announcement, and the staff told me to take both my money and my announcement to hell; that Radio Benue did not air Opposition news! How can we now, after accessing power, be giving the Leader of Opposition free publicity on our Radio Benue? If Suswam must be heard on our Radio Benue, let it not be free – let him pay!
But if we do not stop giving him free publicity, we risk helping him to graduate from a political enigma into a veritable political nightmare! And with 2019 silhouetted against the political skyline which is not good for us at all. We risk becoming a one-term party; with a one-term governor!
Already, the signs are ominous. The cells can detain him, but they cannot retain him! PDP agents are now calling it: Detention without retention!
Way to go: If we want to secure 2019, we need to look away from Suswam; we need to shift our strategic gaze unto the electorate – that is where the votes are! As it is, he is cheating us…he is gaining the sympathy of the people even as we get their apathy; and apathy that bothers on the contemptible!
Last-line: If we beat Suswam…and PDP…before, we can beat him and the PDP again. However, it would be with votes, not petitions; and it would be with the people on our side, not EFCC!
Let us give the people our message; and show them the dividend-value of their investment in the APC brand! The campaigns have long been over- let Change move from the sloganic to the empirical; and from rhetoric to reality! It is time to refocus and re-strategise!