By Charles Igwe
The appointment of Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Alia, a Catholic priest, as the Governor of Benue State, has brought hope and excitement to the people. The state has endured a period of mismanagement, strained relations with the Federal government, and a lack of infrastructure and social services under the previous administration.
These negative trends have resulted in disproportionate levels of insecurity, unemployment, and the non-payment of salaries and pensions for retired civil servants, with some owed for over 60 months.
In addition to the failure to pay workers’ salaries, the previous PDP-led administration in Benue State focused more on political engagement than on governance and the prudent management of the state’s limited resources. The state became heavily dependent on donations from other state governments and statutory federal allocations, which were often misappropriated, causing significant challenges in running both the state and local government areas.
The local government, meant to be the third tier of government responsible for day-to-day operations, became a channel for embezzlement and diversion of funds, leading to partial payment or non-payment of salaries for months.
Fortunately, Benue State has seen positive leadership from clergymen in the past. Late Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu, during his brief tenure, made significant efforts to address the mess left by the previous administration. Providentially, the arrival of Rev. Fr. Alia on May 29, 2023, marked another promising chapter for Benue State.
Having secured power through the will of the people and the APC’s victory in the March governorship election, which freed the state from the shackles of the ineffective PDP leadership, Alia wasted no time in initiating meaningful actions to restore the state’s lost glory.
He promptly established a mechanism to assess the state’s indebtedness to workers at both the state and local government levels and began the process of paying part of the outstanding salaries, ensuring that workers received their pay for the first time in seven months in 2023.
Alia also reviewed and nullified last-minute employments and appointments made by the previous administration, including the removal of local government chairmen in accordance with constitutional conventions and provisions.
Concerned about the state’s infrastructure decay and governance challenges, the governor swiftly set up a committee to recover public assets looted by former administration members, aiming to reclaim all stolen public property for the government’s benefit.
With renewed determination and a commitment to rectify past wrongs, Governor Alia’s strong start holds promise for correcting the anomalies witnessed during the eight years of the former administration under Governor Ortom. His leadership aims to uplift the citizens from poverty, improve governance standards, and revitalize the deteriorating infrastructure scattered across the state.