By Iorliam’Amo Shija
Politically, we can say Dr Gabriel Torwua Suswam died in 2015. Since coming on the stage in 1999, Suswam showed ambition and prospects; his gubernatorial victories in 2007 and 2011 after two terms in the House of Reps from 1999-2007, had established him as an institution in Benue. But then came the death.
When Suswam won his 2011 re-election, everybody in the state knew or presumed that like his predecessor, Senator George Akume had done, his next political move would also be to install a successor and then go to Senate. He was unable to install a succesor and lost his Senate ambition in 2015. He had to wait for another four years to achieve that aim in the just concluded polls.
In 2016, a year into his political death, I began to interrogate the legacies of Suswam and the mistakes he made. In one of my articles , “Suswam Boys”, I had observed that Suswam had boys and loyalists and that, ” Yes, through their association with him, some made money, some travelled the world, some built houses, some bought cars and married wives. Their social patterns were changed, but on a whole , who amongst these Suswam boys were positioned to succeed him or help him become constantly relevant in the polity?”
My conclusion in that article was that , “Through hindsight, one could say Suswam was either unfair to his boys, or lacked the foresight to use them, or both. In 2011, had Suswam wanted to go to the senate in 2015, he would have positioned his loyalist as a senator who would hand over to him; against all odds, that would have been his best bet. Also, if he had wanted to hand over to a successor in the MINDA axis, he would have prepared at least someone before hand from the zone. It was quite unfortunate that Suswam left power with most of his boys. “
Obviously, reality downed on Suswam in death, and with it, came lessons which are visible now. During the days of his persecution from the APC when he had lost power momentarily, that at a point, he had to suffer in a DSS cell, Suswam must have seen that although he had not empowered these boys politically, when he had the opportunity, these boys were the only people who stood with him faithfully.
So to balance up as I had observed in series of articles , when he erred, I wish to also put on record that, now that he has resurrected politically, by winning an election to the Senate and contributing significantly to the re-election of the incumbent governor, Suswam , has done so with most of those who sunk with him in death or looked up to him for a lifeline.
As Suswam won his election, so did his loyalists Hons Bob Tyough, Richard Gbande and Benjamin Nzondu for House of Reps. He has also resurrected with Hons Tertsea Gbiseh, Aondoakaa Terwase, Kuranen Aben Yagba amongst others in the state assembly.
As plans get underway to form a new government in which he contributed to put in place, the feelers are everywhere that, he is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that more of his political sons and daughters find political relevance.
I think, Suswam needs to be commended now, especially by some of us who vilified him in the past.