When Comrade Abba Patrick Moro became a legislative aide to Chief Ameh Ebute, a former Senator, who later became Senate President, little did he know that he would one day become a Senator. Some people would say that the holder of first and second degrees in political science and public administration respectively was destined to rule/rise, hence, his decision to join politics as a young degree holder.
Abba, as he was fondly called in his secondary school, higher school and university days went into politics at the time his contemporaries were struggling for civil service jobs. Moro had acquired leadership qualities under his late father, Chief Moro Agbam, who would always ask Abba about the whereabouts of his friends.
The interest Abba’s father had in ensuring that he moved together with some of his friends made many of the young men that came across him to imbibe and emulate his humble and kind dispositions.
When Abba became a lecturer at the Benue Polytechnic Ugbokolo, he endeared himself to both staff and students. As chairman of the body of lecturers, Moro fought for enhanced welfare of his colleagues and the students. This was how the prefix, ‘Comrade’ was added to his name.
At the time Comrade Moro nursed the ambition to become chairman of Okpokwu Local Government, he had not discovered that such ambition needed to be backed up by resources, thus, he gave his trust to the people who largely gave him their goodwill. The issue of resources was later put aside by majority of Okpokwu people except for a few politicians who believed that Moro was supposed to oil their palms before climbing the seat.
As God would have it, the good deeds of his father coupled with the tremendous goodwill the people of Edumoga, Okpoga and Ichama districts had for him helped him to clinch the revered position of chairman when the money seeking politicians had gone to sleep.
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Ranked as one of the best performing council chairmen at that time, Comrade Abba Moro built bridges of understanding across the districts and the entire Idoma land and made the people to see themselves as one and indivisible entity. Moro’s motto as council chairman was: ‘Okpokwu must grow’.
With this desire of putting his people on the fast track of development in mind, Moro duplicated many of the projects he executed in the three districts of Edumoga, Ichama and Okpoga. Building classroom blocks, bridges and culverts, rehabilitation of rural roads, rehabilitation of federal roads, which had become impassable and hooking of communities to the national grid as well as construction of health clinics and community halls, were some of the legacies Moro left behind when he left chairman.
Moro built the famous Okpokwu Hall, which is today standing as a monument at Okpoga, headquarters of Okpokwu Local Government. Moro’s aides cut across the local governments in the senatorial district, his friends are from across Nigeria. Moro’s residence at Ugbokolo was the Peoples House. No visitor came to Ugbokolo or Okpoga to see Moro without having a word or two with him. If Moro traveled out of town, his aides would ensure that they did not leave with negative impression. He did not discriminate in his dealings with diverse groups.
With this character disposition, Comrade Abba Patrick Moro took College of Education to an enviable level when he served as chairman of its Governing Council. When he contested for governorship, he made a lot of impact. Journalists and people of different shades of opinion formed volunteer/support groups for his ambition. Moro, today maintains the structures and contacts that he used for the governorship race. Today, Moro is a household name in Benue State.
When the former Senate President, David Aleichenue Bonaventure Mark, invited Moro to be the director general of his campaign organisation twice, respectively, he (Moro) did not hesitate. Moro knew that selling Mark who stood vehemently against late General Sani Abacha’s self succession bid to Idoma people would not be a problem because the spirit of democracy was also in him. Moro knew that Mark had tall credentials as a military officer, who presided over the affairs of Niger State as military governor and as minister of communication.
Moro made the Idoma to see Mark as a leader, who had the love of his people at heart. The campaign was made easier for Moro because Mark had used his position as Senator to put some Idoma and other Nigerians in some positions. Mark took cognisance of the fact that Nigeria must be a nation with a future that lies in the strength of its unity in diversity.
When Moro laundered the image of David Mark for the first time, no one knew that he, Mark, was going to become a Senate President who introduced the doctrine of necessity when late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua took ill and could not perform while some overzealous Nigerians tried to rule the country on his behalf. Mark’s ingenuity brought about a peaceful transfer of power from Yar’adua to Dr Goodluck Jonathan with the introduction of the doctrine of necessity at the National Assembly.
Moro’s leadership qualities and commitment to growth and development of Idoma nation was seen by Mark who nominated him for the position of minister. One good turn, they say, deserves another. While serving as minister, Moro subjected himself to the dictates of the Federal Government under the leadership of Goodluck Jonathan. He was also loyal to David Mark, his political leader.
Moro and Mark worked together to take Idoma nation to another level. What Idoma people missed at the state level were not missed at the federal level. The story of what the duo did for Idoma people would be better told by the people themselves. Suffice it for one to say that the story of Idoma people has changed with the understanding shown and demonstrated by Moro and Mark in the past few years.
Election of Moro as Senator
When the Idoma discovered that Mark was ready to handover leadership of the people to a competent person, they did not hesitate in nominating Moro though Moro’s rising profile as he was understudying Mark was becoming the envy of many. Some persons had become worried that Moro’s credentials would become so tall if he became Senator and that they may not be able to bend him to do their bidding. This group of people was clearly in the minority.
They tried to launder the image of some persons who had not made marks on the sand of time. They had arranged with some money bags to be on standby in case they were able to change the narratives. They had wished that Moro was not endorsed by David Mark. Unfortunately for this group of persons who thought they did not benefit enough from Moro when he was minister, Mark kept the issue of whether he was going to be his successor or not to himself. None of those against Moro’s candidature could say if he had approached Mark to give him the blessing to step into his shoes.
For one who was always with his people, Moro knew that he would not have problems intimating the people that he had the ambition of going to the red chamber should Mark agree in principles to support his ambition. The issue of who would take over the baton from Mark did not cause any conflict because the Okpokpowulu K’Idoma knew that some persons were waiting for his public declaration of his support for Moro so that they would stir the bird’s nest.
Anyone who knew how Mark relates with Moro would say that he (Mark) has never had conflicts with Moro not because there were no issues that would bring about conflicts but because in the Idoma culture, young ones do not look into the eyes of elders, let alone making elders to be angry.
Moro’s first huddle was at the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, senatorial primaries where a lawmaker emerged from nowhere and began to rub shoulders with him at the initial stag. This was because some of the young men who thought Mark was against Moro’s candidature worked with the member of the Benue State House of Assembly. As God would have it, some of the supporters of Moro used the shift in the venue of the primaries from Otukpo to Makurdi due to security reasons to confirm that Mark and Moro were in the same understanding on the issue of Moro’s candidature.
Moreover, the people of Benue South Senatorial District used the opportunity of the shift in venue to compare the achievements of Moro and his opponent, Mr. Joe Ojobo. While Moro was parading a long list of those he helped to get employment at the federal level, Ojobo could only say that many young men and women got admission into the Benue State University, BSU, through him. It was at that university that the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, ALGON, under the leadership of Moro built a gigantic multipurpose auditorium.
The PDP senatorial primary in Makurdi was in the day time, so, those opposed to Moro’s interest could not foment trouble as planned. By the time results of the senatorial primary were announced at the Aper Aku Stadium, only Moro spoke to journalists on his victory.
As the 2019 general elections drew nearer, those agitated by Moro’s victory urged Mr. Ojobo, a two time member of the Benue Assembly to go to court. The main argument in the petition was that at the initial stage, the plaintiff was leading but when the venue was changed to Makurdi, Moro became victorious because the list of delegates for the primary was allegedly tampered with but he gave no convincing evidence to support his claim.
From the High Court to the Appeal Court, the judges were unanimous in their verdict that the primaries were conducted in line with the party’s constitution and guidelines for the primaries and that the plaintiff did not give convincing evidence to support his claim on the alteration of lists for the senatorial primaries.
They further held that substantial parts of the evidence given in support of the claims were based on hearsay and that Moro’s election at the primaries could not be nullified on the basis of hearsay.
After the primaries came the senatorial election proper, which had gathered momentum. In the nine local government areas where Moro had traversed for more than 20 times before the election, more than 40 support groups flew the PDP flag of Comrade Abba Patrick Moro. Vehicles donated by friends of the former minister were found in every nook and cranny of the various local government areas.
Majority of the people were pleased that those that benefitted from Moro’s magnanimity used the opportunity of the one day work free day approved by President Muhammadu Buhari to be in their villages to vote for the deputy political leader of the Idoma nation.
Comrade Abba Moro’s kind disposition
On the day Comrade Abba Moro’s Senatorial Campaign was to be launched at Obagaji, headquarters of Agatu Local Government Area, eight illustrious children of Igede lost their lives in a ghastly motor accident. The story of the accident was twisted by those that did not want Moro to represent Idoma people at the National Assembly to mean that, that was the end of the campaign which Governor Samuel Ortom and David Mark were to attend but the Igede elite knew that Moro was a God-fearing and kind person. So, no fetish interpretation of the accident would turn Igede people, especially politicians away from supporting Moro, who was referred to as the bridge builder.
What appeared to be a minus in the eyes of critics became a plus for Moro who ensured that major stakeholders attended the burial of the compatriots. When the presidential and National Assembly elections were shifted, Moro renewed his contacts with the people saying; on no account would he abandon Idoma people who supported Mark and himself when it mattered most.
Moro’s humane disposition helped him to have a smooth sail at the polls. He won convincingly in the local government areas in the Benue South Senatorial District, while his closest rival, the former deputy governor of Benue State, Chief Steven Lawani of the All Progressives Congress, APC, came a distant second. Moro defeated Lawani in Ogbadibo, his home local government.
Comrade Abba Patrick Moro had, in the past, parted ways with those who insisted on establishing friendship with him on the basis of the understanding that his people’s interest would be compromised. Moro is a politician who dines and wines with his people on the same table, he is a politician who does not believe that a gap must exist between him and the downtrodden.
Testimonies are given on daily basis by those whose educational career would have been truncated but were helped by Moro. At the Benue Polytechnic, Ugbokolo, where he was a senior lecturer, Moro was a friend to all. During his time as chairman of the academic staff union, no academic, non-academic staff or student was victimised on the basis of tribe or language.
It was during his time that the recurring Polytechnic and host community conflicts were laid to rest. He was able to persuade Ugbokolo community to see the Polytechnic as their own, especially, that he, Moro, their son was a lecturer there.
Moro’s electioneering campaign ran together with that of Governor Samuel Ortom and other PDP candidates in the Benue South Senatorial District. At the middle of the campaign, the people had their first rain as the campaign train arrived Okpoga where Moro used to stay as council chairman.
In all the places visited during the campaign, Ortom and Mark spoke glowingly about Moro. While Mark described him as a man who could go for what he wants with courage, Ortom described him as a politician who is always supported by his people.
Moro’s addresses during the campaign tour of the senatorial district were highly motivational. He would calm down the crowd that wanted to cheer him for more than five minutes before speaking. He did not mince words as he told Idoma people that if he was able to show them the way to catch fish when he had the opportunity of serving as minister, how would anyone doubt his capacity in providing them with more opportunities to catch fish when he becomes a senator?
The youths in Idoma land did not take anything to chance as their T shirts and caps having the inscription of Moro for Senate dazzled the eyes of people that gathered at each venue for the campaign.
Journalists, academic, women groups, students, farmers, traders, friends, workers, including teachers and local government staff, the clergy, the lay faithful as well as traditional rulers across the senatorial district volunteered to work for Moro’s election to the extent that he won in the areas regarded as the strongholds of the APC in Idoma land.
The love of the people for Moro was shown before, during and after the elections as his Ugbokolo residence became a beehive of activities throughout the period. Abba Moro is highly respected by the people. In Edumoga, where he hails from, nobody goes to the farm nor does any other business on the day he is scheduled to visit a community.
Unlike many politicians in Benue, Moro grew up in the small village of Okwungaga where he was born. He had his early primary education at the place and went for the senior primary school course at Ugbokolo town where he also had his secondary school education at the famous Emmanuel College, a Catholic institution. He later went to Federal Government College, Kano for his Higher School Certificate course before going to the University of Lagos for his first degree in Political Science
In the elections, Mike Okibe Onoja of the SDP who had served as permanent secretary in the federal civil service was placed in the third position, coming after Chief Lawani.
In public relations parlance, Comrade Abba Patrick Moro could be referred to as ‘mixer’.