In this interview with journalists, suspended Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, governorship candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue state, speaks on why he joined partisan politics. Sylvanus Tyoakaa presents excerpts of the interview
What do you have to say having emerging as the winner in Benue state APC governorship primary election? First of all we thank God for the victory. I will invite all my fellow contestants to come back, join hands with me so that we can get to the next level to know what we can do together for our great state.
God has given us much and we must not let it waste away at all. There are challenges out there and all we need to do is do a proper education of our folks to get out there and get their PVCs.
Democracy is about the people and they are the people. Once they say yes, it is going to be yes.
How do you plan to address the challenges of insecurity which is one of the major problems in Benue state?
First, our leadership got the whole thing very wrong. Issues of security are not issues of propaganda. It is not going out there and saying we are holding this meeting and that meeting, tackling insecurity is beyond that.
First, you have to get everyone on board: the traditional council, and the people must be on the same page with you. Once the people know that you are not there for them, what do you expect the people to do? You are not paying the workers, you are taking care of the youths, you care less about what’s happening within your immediate environment. How do you expect the poor folks living there that never complained to react.
So, they can respond very negatively. And then one other big factor that is affecting us negatively back at home today is that we have the home grown bad guys who are there, distabilizing our peace and causing lots of havocs.
We have to put them in check. I believe ones we do this and let everyone understand the importance of unity, we are all together and we all have a goal.
You don’t neglect the youths, pay the civil servants, employ the youths, do a number of things that will bring them on board. Give them ownership of the state and let them know that you are just a servant. Then they will see you as a servant leader and they will come onboard.
How long did you conceive the idea of joining politics to save Benue state?
That is a very good question. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t say as a Roman Catholic priest would step out into partisan politics because there are few anxieties there that the church might not want to get that involved.
So by the standard, the lay folks are encouraged to do what I stepped in to assist them to do or rather what I have stepped in to take the lead so that they can learn and do better.
I will be 32 years as a priest on July 7, 2022. You have to be in Benue state to feel the anger deep within to step out to salvage our state, to do what I’m doing. It is as though the other people who are working so well and fine have two heads.
It takes passion and compassion; it takes patriotism; it takes the love of state. So, when all these elements are lacking, you will never do anything and this is why we are in a failed state.
So the love is not there, the love for the people is not there. Democracy is not just about interest, though people say democracy is about interest. Interest of who? Interest of the people. It is not about self interest.
But if you come in there for the interest of self, then the whole thing is already lost. It is the people that desire integrity, responsibility, accountability, transparency that we are bringing to the table.
So, it is for them that I have made a lot of sacrifice, to step out there to ensure that what I have been doing for the last 32 years is again replicated in the larger arena of politics.
Saving the souls of those who are rejected and neglected; the suppressed and oppressed; those the society have forgotten about.
I am coming out there because my people want me and I have chosen to come to this less traveled road of partisanship to save the soul of the people of Benue state and to save the soul of my state. These are the triggers that brought me to where I am today.