Home News Celebrating Renewed Hope: 58 Hearty Cheers to Gov. Hyacinth Alia.

Celebrating Renewed Hope: 58 Hearty Cheers to Gov. Hyacinth Alia.


Alia: A Man of Many Parts:

Revd Fr. (Dr.) Hyacinth Iormem Alia is a man of many parts, to wit: Roman-Catholic Priest, administrator, theologian, counselling psychologist, biomedical specialist, exorcist and politician. He is today the 6th Executive Governor of Benue state.

But the foregoing is already in the public domain. The news here is that in a few days’ time, Alia will be celebrating his 58th birthday.

The Merry May:

The month of May is usually touted as the Merry Month, but May 1966 was far from a Merry May in Nigeria – it was a month of tumult.

But God’s blessings come, irrespective of seasons or human constructed tragedies.

May 15 Born:

The number of children born that year was 118, 093, 834. Meaning: 323, 545 children were born every day of the year. And Iormem Alia was one of the 323, 545 children born on May 15, 1966, to the family of Pa Thomas Kachina Alia. The birthplace was Mbagur, Mbadede, in Vandeikya local government area of Benue state.

Defining Traits:

There are many traits that define individuals born on May 15, but two of them bear mentioning here.


May 15 Babies/People are compassionate in nature. And empathy comes to them naturally. This predisposition makes them natural caregivers to those in need. Alia’s Ministry to the Vulnerable (healing the sick and giving helping hands to the needy) derives from this trait.

Mental Gifts:

Children/People born in the Merry Month of May are gifted with a bouquet of mental attributes.

These include deliberation, circumspection, financial intelligence and cautious risk-taking. To all who have a case with the governor’s cautious approach to governance or his tight grip on the public purse, this innate attribute offers an insightful explanation.

A Birthday Mate

Gov. Iormem Alia has a birthday mate that he may not even be aware of.

She is Violet Odogwu, a Nigerian sports star of Delta state extraction. She is a celebrated long-jumper, high-jumper, hurdler and sprinter.

The Connection:

So, what’s the connection? What’s she got to do with Gov. Alia? The connection is that Gov. Alia is her political version: In the game of politics, he is a long-jumper, high-jumper, hurdler and sprinter!

Those who have played politics with him in the short span of his evolving political play – be they rivals or opponents – can attest to his high-jumping prowess on the electoral turf as well as his hurdling agility in the political arena.

And even those who have just watched him play the game – be they impassive spectators, zealous fans or enthusiastic cheerleaders – can testify that the man is an uncommon long-jumper when the occasion is a political marathon and a sprinter in the mould of Usain Bolt when the political race is a 100 metre dash!

Mindpower over Manpower:

He may not look it, but that’s as far as appearances go. He is the breed of mankind that Providence has favoured them the use of Mindpower over Manpower!

Heavyweight Capacity:

Actually, his medium frame doesn’t betray the mental weight he carries or his heavyweight capacity. If one factors in the fact that he is a Revd Gentleman, then the tendency to dismiss him as a political tactician/strategist is strong. And given his flair for sartorial elegance, __Orhiti, as he is sometimes called by supporters, cuts more the image of a fashion model; and not a political bulldozer!

In a nutshell, what Alia misses in the physical frame, he makes up adequately in grit. It is the grit that drives his political sportsmanship and powers his ambidextrous gamesmanship.

Grit, Grey Matter:

And being blessed with grey matter, what technical people substantia grisea, the governor

combines this grit with a cosmopolitan education that gives him a good appreciation of reality – be it politics, economics, homiletics, dialectics, bombastics etc.

Benue, Sophisticated, Critical:

Benue state is a very aware state, ranking in political sophistication and critical consciousness, perhaps, even higher than states like Lagos, Anambra, Rivers etc. The state’s social media space is, unarguably, one of the hottest and the most vibrant in the country. Cyber-players here hardly take prisoners.

This may be attributed to the people’s early exposure to progressive politics dating all the way to pre-Independence. But it could also be traced to the plethora of topnotch higher institutions in the state. This is, however, a topic for another day.

Still, An Enigma:

Suffice it to say that despite the state and people’s political sophistication or high awareness threshold, their governor still remains an inscrutable personage: as mysterious as the ocean.

It is curious that even though he has been a man of the people, officiating at Masses and organising healing services across the length and breadth of the state i.e. even before the pull of politics, the birthday celebrant remains something of an enigma.

Inscrutable to all:

Benue people can’t read their governor – not the stakeholders who brought him; not the shareholders who bankrolled him; and not the stateholders who just want to hold the state down while Nigeria moves on.

He is the first chief tenant of Government House, Makurdi (GHM), whose halo of mystique is still woven around him after one year in office. It wasn’t so yesterday or the days before yesterday.

A Different Governor:

Gov. Alia is a break from the past. The psychologist is becoming a psychological study.

Dr. George Akume:

The first Governor in this civilian dispensation, Mr. George Akume (later Dr. Sen. Minister and now SGF), was an affable bureaucrat from Tarka, Jemgbagh. His mission was to lay the foundation for Benue state’s development after so many years of devastating military rule! He delivered in that historical context. And people could read him and predict his moves.

Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam:

Next came the Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam. He was the debonair lawyer from the Sankera Axis who had done eight years in the National Assembly. His mandate was to build on the Akume foundation. And he delivered in context. Still, people could read him.

Chief Samuel Ortom:

Then it was the turn of Dr. Samuel Ortom, the political juggernaut whose grass to grace story is still the stuff of legends. His mission in government has been grossly misunderstood even by discerning minds. But he too did his bit on the gubernatorial beat. And the jury is out on his legacy. And people could read him and did.

Gov. Iormem Alia:

And now, Revd. Fr. (Dr.) Hyacinth Iormem Alia is in gubernatorial incumbency. His historic duty is to change the narrative of arrested or suspended development in the state.

And like his predecessors, he is at it, commendably – albeit enigmatically. So far, the basket of achievements is filling up pretty quickly. Every sector is being impacted. The awards he is receiving are testaments to the changing narrative in the state. Good things don’t happen by accident. Gov. Alia is driving this process with his development-focused leadership.

He is demystifying power, simplifying governance, democratising development, prioritising urban renewal, upgrading infrastructure, tying the bolts of grassroot development, reconnecting Benue to the national grid of power and relevance etc.

With so many things on the table, and with the Abuja connection, the hurdles may be removed; and, who knows, Benue state’s long delayed industrial takeoff may be by the corner.

Review, Renew the Social Contract:

It is instructive that the governor’s 58th birthday coincides with the first year of his anniversary in office. As he reviews the years of life (21,179 days), with thankfulness, may he also: 1. Review the one year of his stewardship (365 days), with eyes on history and 2. Renew his Social Contract with Benue people while correcting mistakes.

Our prayers are with you, Your Excellency.

May divine grace continue to guide you. May you not lose steam or focus. May all Benue rally behind you for our collective good.

Benue must be better, greater and safer.

Happy Birthday, Your Excellency.

This is giving you 58 Hearty Cheers.

Imobo-Tswam writes from Abuja.


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