OpinionOPINION: Gov Alia: Our Son Of Consolation

OPINION: Gov Alia: Our Son Of Consolation

July 10, (THEWILL) – The English dramatist, William Shakespeare, posed the question, “What’s in a name?” That was in one of his celebrated plays, Romeo and Juliet.

And he proceeded to answer, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.”

He meant names per se are mere human conveniences for identification and differentiation; and that names, in themselves, have no special meaning or depth.

But one doesn’t necessarily need to agree with him: for we know that there’s much in a name i.e. there’s some depth, weight or mystery about names beyond their surface or literal meanings.

So, we can disagree with Shakespeare and insist that names, often, have intrinsic meanings that go deeper than mere identification.

For instance, if Gov. Alia’s birth name were Iortsaha or Iorvaa, rather than Iormem, would his tenure usher Benue people to their place or station of rest? Would he, like Barnabas (in the Bible) become the “Son of Consolation” or turn out to be the “Son of Despoilation”?

That’s why even God changes our names to align with His plans for us. Roll-call: Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel, Sarai/Sarah, Saul/Paul, Joseph/Barnabas are ready examples.

So, let’s look at our Governor’s name: Father Hyacinth Iormem Alia.

1. Father: In Jn. 21:15-17, Jesus told Revd. Fathers/Pastors: “Feed My Lambs/Feed My Sheep.” That’s what Alia is doing. And the Lambs/Sheep appreciate it.

2. Iormem: People have rested/People are resting/will rest. This is the reality on ground in Benue today. Ask civil servants, ask teachers and pensioners or people on the street. The Ates are booming and night-life has returned to our towns and cities.

3. Alia: The name transcends Tivland, Nigeria, cultures, faiths and geography.

In the Tiv language, Alia means the Remnant, the Little portion that remains after use. It could be Flour, it could Grains, it could be Seeds or Seedlings.

The Alia a kwagh (the Little of something) is/are often overlooked, underrated or doubted, given the quantitative disadvantage.

But in the Hand of God, Alia can be anything (ranging from the tremendous to the phenomenal) since Jesus is not a God of Quantity.

We see the “Little Cruse of Oil” launching the poor widow into the oil business! We see the Five Loaves and Two Fish feeding 5000 people with 12 baskets of leftovers!

The big lesson here is that once we put Alia (the Remnants, the Little thing) in God’s Hand, anything is possible. Even the rejected, despised, ignored or underrated stone can become the “cornerstone!”

In Hebrew, Wikipedia states that “Aliyah,” a variation of Alia, means “to go up” to, say, a higher level, upstairs, to the mountain top etc.

In essence, Alia means High-level, the hilltop, and he, accordingly, summons Benue people: to go up, to go higher, to climb up …to a higher life, to live a life of hope, value and dignity.

But Alia/Aliyah has a broader meaning. Initially, it meant “going up” to Jerusalem to celebrate, but today, it “has come to mean the return of (dispersed) Jews to the Land of Israel.”

This too has both significant and symbolic meaning for Benue people. It means those Benue people uprooted from their ancestral lands will surely return to their ancestral homes, in due season. Plus, the Diaspora Benue will get more involved in our civic/community development efforts.

This is not a forlorn hope, but a campaign promise. And, with Alia, every campaign promise is coming alive on Benue’s landscape.

In Christianity too, scholars tell us that Alia/Aliyah is not foreign to the Scriptures either. The first time we see Alia referenced in the Bible is in Exodus when it tells us of Moses “going up” to Mt. Horeb upon divine summons. This Alia, thus, invites us to move hither, to go up from the valley of lamentations to the high level of laughter and luxuriation.

In Arabic, Alia is derived from Ali. It is said to be gender-neutral, common in the Arab world, and means “high,” “lofty” or “one who is elevated.”

The circumstances of Gov. Alia’s advent and elevation advertise the organic and effervescent nature of the name. And in his elevation, he strains himself to elevate others too to the high place, to a higher life or a place of restfulness.

So, whether we look at his names within or without Tivland, they make sense – be it literally or figuratively. In fact, given the unfolding reality, we can say both his middle and surnames- Iormem and Alia – bother on the prophetic.

We can see the prophetic unfolding in the areas of social welfare and human capital development; critical infrastructure; a feverish urban renewal drive; and an ambitious effort to check the menace of annual flooding in Makurdi, especially in the Wurukum, Low-level and Achusa precincts.

Benue has had governors who were deservingly called “Mr Infrastructure” by dint of their imprint on the state. And we are grateful. But suddenly, Gov. Alia is making them look like forerunners, those who came to prepare the stage for his revolutionary or transformational advent.

Like magic, street lights are now working; major streets like Iorkyaa Ako are being tarred; the High-Level Roundabout is closed to traffic because of the mega-project going on there.

From testimonies from Gboko, Otukpo, and Katsina-Ala, Benue has become one giant construction site. Benue State is, once again, vibrating, pulsating with physical development. And the chorus is: “Alia Doo.”

Let me touch on something critical to the health of our homes, offices, environment and economy: Waste management. Waste management is an urban challenge globally speaking.

This is why in some of our cities, it’s an outright nightmare. I don’t know if the Makurdi situation was a challenge or a nightmare prior to Alia’s governorship. But challenge or nightmare, Alia has taken decisive action.

The State Government, via the Bureau of Entrepreneurship and Wealth Creation, has entered into a partnership with Sector Lead Ltd.

The agreement is to transform metropolitan waste into wealth through a comprehensive value-chain project.

Specifically, the partnership envisions grossing nearly $200 million in the next couple of years, with reflective dividends on revenue accruals, power generation, environmental protection as well as the production of biofertilisers, biogas and the revegetation of dumpsites etc.

All of the above comes with the creation of direct and indirect jobs. And for Benue which teems with an army of unemployed youths, the Bureau of Entrepreneurship and Wealth Creation is a most welcome intervention.

So much is really happening as primed government agencies are impacting lives and the landscape. For instance, the dualisation of Ishaya Bakut Road is apace and so is the remodelling of Savannah Roundabout, the transformation at BSUTH as well as the return of Benue Breweries Limited and street lights to Metropolitan Makurdi.

Gov. Alia is superintending Benue at the critical intersection of vision, preparation, good governance, prudence, sensitivity, empathy and passion. It’s evident.

But for him- it’s not enough that he is bearing his full weight on the machinery of governance – he supervises projects himself, even at night! That is leadership; that is leading from the front.

Revd. Fr. (Dr.) Hyacinth Iormem Alia, this Church Ambassador to politics, reminds us of another minister in the Lord’s Temple i.e. Barnabas.

Barnabas was originally named Joseph, but we know him more by his latter name of Barnabas, which, translated into English, means “the Son of Consolation.”

The word in Original Greek is Paraklesis, a broad term covering encouragement, consolation, comfort, compassion, exhortation, and entreaty.

The Apostolic Barnabas embodied all of the above. And given what we are seeing of Fada Alia’s consoling work, we are saying: “Like Barnabas like Alia.”

The governor has just returned from “Thank-you-tours” to the various zones. And the enthusiastic crowds that came out to welcome him are proof that Benue people still stand with him, and they appreciate his stewardship, as well as its sweetly unfolding promise.

Whether the governor gets honorific chieftaincy titles tomorrow or not, he can rest, assured that he has already been crowned by his constituents as their Barnabas, their “Son of Consolation.”

After all, there is some truth in the ancient proverb which states that “the Voice of the People is the Voice of God.”

Well done, the Barnabas of Benue state. Keep it. God bless.

*** Written by Simon Imobo-Tswam


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