Magazine article New African

Governor Akume: Keeping Hope Alive; the Benue State Governor, Chief George Akume, Is Forging Ahead with His Plans to Develop the State, Including Capacity Building for the People. That Is Not All, He Wants the State Government to Cover the Fees of Every Benue Native Who Wants to Study at Home or Abroad. Ben Asante Reports

Magazine article New African

Governor Akume: Keeping Hope Alive; the Benue State Governor, Chief George Akume, Is Forging Ahead with His Plans to Develop the State, Including Capacity Building for the People. That Is Not All, He Wants the State Government to Cover the Fees of Every Benue Native Who Wants to Study at Home or Abroad. Ben Asante Reports

Article excerpt

In Benue State, most people who occupy leadership positions are often also very religious. This is a clear acknowledgement of the role played by religion in the numerous struggles of the people, including the struggle for political rights. Governor George Akume and his wife are deeply religious. He attends mass regularly. It is a routine family affair for him. He arrives most Sundays without any official paraphernalia and leaves quietly after the service.

On a recent visit, I found the governor and his wife, Regina, at a thanksgiving service in Gboko. The local Catholic parish church had specially arranged the thanksgiving for the governor and his family.

Gboko is considered to be the traditional spiritual home of every Tiv, and on this Sunday things were rather different. The governor and his family had come to the St. Joseph parish at the invitation of the leaders of the Church. It had rained heavily that morning, something that is common at this time of the year. But not even the rains were going to stop the church service. It turned out that the cathedral where the worship was being held was still under construction. The walls had been raised to roof level. The floors had been cemented but the entire shell of the massive cathedral was without a roof. Heavy rains, which later turned into light showers, fell intermittently during the worship. Everyone present appeared to understand what needed to be done. The unspoken word on every lip, including those lucky enough to find shelter under the few canopies, was the need to roof this House of God.

Governor Akume and his wife read the scripture lessons. When it came to addressing the congregation, Akume said (to thunderous applause and cries of Amen): "Today we shall roof the Lord's House."

Among the worshippers were local residents of this historic town and many others from the nearby farming communities. The influential king of the Tiv, the Tor Tiv, lives in this town. Many of the governor's friends had come to lend him and the Church their moral and financial support.

The parish bishop spoke of the reasons for holding the service for the governor's family. Turning directly to the governor, he said: "The people of this state have been witness to the many trials which you, as our elected leader, and your family have been through in the past years."

At these words, a group of elderly women, mainly widows dressed in the traditional black and white cloth, sang and danced. They were all beneficiaries of Mrs Regina Akume's "Hope Alive Foundation" and had come to show their gratitude to the family. …

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