When we say the world is interconnected, we typically think of the developments enabled by information technology and the internet, but sometimes the cascading dominoes are toppled by non-technological factors. For example, the Sahel has a total of 135 million people living on a landmass of 3.053 million km² with 50 million of them feeding off proceeds of livestock farming. However, climate change has resulted in temperature changes and droughts that have made 80% of its farmland unsuitable for agricultural purposes, forcing numerous pastoralists to migrate downwards into fertile lands such as Benue State in the lower portion of West Africa. Criminal bandits and terrorists have joined this migration flow into Benue, causing frequent outbreaks of inter-communal violence that have greatly affected Benue’s agricultural output and overall safety.

Benue has a landmass of 34,059 km² which is three times the size of Kosovo and also has the River Benue which is Nigeria’s second largest inland body of water in Nigeria. The state (and neighbouring Taraba) is well positioned to become an agro-industrial powerhouse in West Africa provided it gets the proper mix of public sector governance and private sector involvement, but the current governorship candidates have not shown the required commitment and understanding of the issues.

Ideally, the governorship candidates should suggest how they intend to create state police departments that can secure the state, and also how investors can benefit from investing in Benue’s numerous natural resources. The state has two major candidates: Hyacinth Alia of the APC and Titus Uba of the PDP.

Titus Uba is the serving speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly and would be looking to get the support of the outgoing governor Sam Ortom but this might not be enough considering the dissatisfaction with the performance of Ortom over the past two terms. Ortom’s government has been indifferent to the persistent waves of Fulani herdsmen attacks in the state. Consequently, APC’s adoption of Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia could be a brilliant way to win the state.

Reverend Alia made his name organically outside of politics with healing services and church programs. He is a Tiv Catholic priest who has a very passionate following in the largely Christian state. With his commitment to the faith, fears that an APC governor would be amenable to anti-Christian forces looking to grab land via attacks will be negated. These factors should be enough to get him the turnout required to win.