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23 Jul 2017

How APC won in Otukpo,PDP stronghold in Benue – Hon. George Ali

By Peter Duru
Hon. George Ali is the new Chairman of Otukpo Local Government Area, the headquarters of the Benue South. He was a  lawmaker and one-time Sole Administrator of the council. As an APC member, he speaks about his victory in a PDP dominated area, his relationship with opposition members and his plans for the council. Excerpts:

What has been your experience since coming into politics?
It has not been easy as a politician, especially, as a businessman, because one must give way to the other for you to make progress and I think politics has taken over everything about me. But I thank God, I’m doing my best to give my people purposeful leadership. I was in the House of Assembly and later a Sole Administrator of Otukpo local government. I want to say its been worthwhile.
As a one time Sole Administrator, I can boldly say my community felt my impact. We constructed roads, provided sanitation and water projects, and lots more, and the people were happy with our achievements and we are prepared to do more given the massive support they gave us at the last local government election.
I want to believe that it was on the basis of the accomplishments I recorded in my short sting as Administrator that prompted their insistence that I must run for the elective position as an executive chairman. Moreover I must state unequivocally that my election was a Divine blessing. It got to a point when core opposition members came out to say look, we are not voting for parties but individuals that can deliver and true to their words, they all rallied around me and supported my election. I was indeed overwhelmed by emotions when I saw how members of the opposition in our local government area stood by me to ensure that I emerged victorious. I see that gesture as a good development that is good for our democracy because the gesture naturally killed every tendency for political bigotry and acrimony.
How do you intend to carry the people along in your new assignment?
Well, my kind of politics is that which embraces all, moreover, my friends cut across  political parties which contributed a lot to my victory. You know that in the politics of our country today, one can be in a party today and the next day you are in another party so why create enemies for yourself when we all know that good friends are of great value to the life of any living being. I mix with everybody irrespective of party affiliations.
I’m doing that because there is always a tomorrow and if you don’t do it today, tomorrow you will be paid back in your own coin. So as an individual, I know where I’m coming from and I know where I’m going. I know my friends of yesterday and I know my friends of today too. I want to maintain all of them. That posture is working for me. I have no reason not to carry everybody along. Despite the fact that I’m in APC I still have many of my friends in PDP and these are people who worked openly for me not minding the fact that they were being accused of anti party activities but they stood their grounds insisting that that era had passed. So I have no choice but to carry everyone along in my administration.
What spurred you to run for the chairmanship position?
Otukpo local government is a very old council area, though people will tell you that the area has not actually experienced any major changes development-wise. That simply means that at this time we do not have to wait for anyone who will go cap in hand to wait for allocation from the state or Federal Government to develop the area. So I told myself that if I’m making progress in my private business, I should bring the same template to the governance of the area in order to make the desired impact. I think to a large extent in my six months as Sole Administrator we were able to achieve a lot which the people appreciated. And I believe with the opportunity given to me for another two years as executive chairman we will even do more and Otukpo would be concretely established as the commercial nerve centre of Benue south zone.
What are your plans for the council in the next two years?
I want to take up the issue of security with all seriousness. In my   six months as Sole Administrator we were able to tackle cult related crimes and today such issues are now unheard of in Otukpo main town. Unfortunately the masterminds have moved to the village-level, where cult related crimes are being committed. So my first major assignment is to ensure that I tackle the issue headlong in order to make our villages safe for the people. Fortunately, the state government recently signed the anti cultism and kidnapping bill into law so we are going to set up a committee to better inform the people of the penalty of being a cult member.
Secondly, I want to embark on the industrialization of the area. It is a task I have given myself. We will adopt the system the Asian Tigers adopted to transform their countries. Not with big factories and industries in the continent, rather we are going to start small and medium scale industries that you can start off with just about N15million and at the end of the year you are able to get 200 percent profit from your investment. I have done it before and it worked for me and it is still working for me. These are the ideas that I have and I will sell to my people. We are currently developing the Otukpo industrial area where three major factories are going on right now. The modern rice mill and a bag packaging industry, both are on ground now. So all we need do now is to galvanize work in the area.
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