Meet Ex-Catholic Priest Who Defeated Politicians To Emerge Governor Of Benue
On Monday, Hyacinth Alia, a former catholic priest was declared the winner of the Benue State governorship election.
Alia who contested under the platform of the All Progressives Congress polled 473,933 votes to floor his closest rival, Titus Mba, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who got 223,913 votes while Herman Hembe of the Labour Party scored 41,881 votes.
Mba is the current Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly while Hembe is a former member of the House of Representatives.
The catholic priest who abandoned the pulpit to ‘rescue’ Benue state from poverty will now become the second cleric to govern the middle-belt state after Fr Moses Adasu who served as governor from 1992-1993.
Alia was born on May 14, 1966, in Mbangur, Mbadede, Vandeikya LGA of Benue state. He attended St. Francis primary school, Agidi, Mbatiav in Gboko LGA, before proceeding to the St. James Minor Seminary, Makurdi in 1983 to begin his journey into the catholic priesthood.
He then proceeded to St. Augustine’s Major Seminary, Jos, Plateau in 1987 to complete his theology for catholic priesthood before bagging a bachelor of arts degree in Sacred Theology in 1990 from Urbaniana University, Rome.
Alia acquired two Master of arts degrees, one in religious education (psychology and counselling) in 1999 from Fordham University in New York, the United States, and the other in biomedical ethics from Duquesne University, Pennsylvania, US, in 2004.
He also bagged a doctorate degree in biomedical ethics from Duquesne University, Pennsylvania, US, in 2005.
Until his foray into partisan politics, Alia served as the parochial vicar at St John’s Parish, Gboko, Benue and subsequently the assistant cathedral administrator at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral Makurdi, Benue’s capital.
He was also the parish priest of several catholic churches including St Jude’s Parish, Koti-Yough; St Thomas Parish Anum, Makurdi; and Christ the King Parish, Adi Etilo, Benue.
As a priest, Alia was popular for gathering sick members of his congregation to pray for them, earning him fame in the Benue Catholic community.
Alia announced his intention to ditch his 3-decades of pastoral works for politics when he bought the All Progressives Congress (APC) primary nomination forms.
This led to his suspension as a priest by the Bishop of Gboko diocese, William Avenya, who held that Alia’s participation in partisan politics was in contravention of canon laws.
Facing stiff opposition from within his own party, the catholic priest faced party primary election three times and emerged victorious in all of the re-runs.
Alia’s campaign manifesto titled ‘Strategic Development Plan for Greater Benue’ revolves around seven priority pillars of security, agriculture, rural development, commerce and industry, human capital development, infrastructure, ICT as well as political and economic governance.
He also pledged rehabilitation and resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs to their ancestral homes and establish emergency toll-free call centres and shortcodes to ease reaction from security outfits in the state.
Whether or not the governor-elect can heal Benue, and fulfil his campaign promises to the people is a question that will be answered in the next four years.