Fr Adasu The Priest-Cum-Politician
Fr. Moses Orshio Adasu of Mbaamena, Shangev-Tiev, Konshisha local government of Benue State was among the 7 priests, who were the 2nd Class of Tiv indigenous priests in the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi in 1971, after James Akor, who had the honour of being the 1st in 1969.
Fr. Adasu was 26 years old when he became a priest. Shortly after his ordination, he took up a teaching appointment with Government Teachers College, Jos, Plateau State. After a series of Pastoral works he left for further studies.
Upon his return, he took up the appointment as an Assistant Lecturer at the Advanced Teachers College, Akwanga (now COE), Nasarawa State, where his courses included Political and Developmental issues.
He later transferred his services to the College of Education (COE), Katsina-Ala, where he rose to the ranks to become Senior Principal Lecturer and Dean of the School of Arts.
While at COE, Katsina-Ala, he left for the Constituent Assembly (CA), and with the approval of the Catholic Church in 1988, he went there as a Technocrat. Adasu went alongside Dr J. Ortyoyande, Rev. Moses A. Antse, Orbunde Gbim Gbande, Engr. Yakubu Agada and Prof. Iornem; the CA was chaired by Hon. Justice Anthony Aniagolu. Those who earlier went to the CA in 1977 were: Paul Unongo, Paul Belabo, and Suemo Chia.
Fr. Adasu retreated to the Catholic fold when the CA was disbanded, he had however made acquaintances, he tasted the “forbidden fruit” and it began to make him see the light. He was called by his people, the people of Iwarnnyamku Council Ward whose turn was to produce the LG Chairman for Konshisha, but he refused; he had bigger dreams.
Upon his return from CA, he was assigned Pastoral duties as the Parish Priest of Holy Ghost, Makurdi, where he did his political consultations till the ban on partisan politics was lifted by the IBB administration.
The Catholic Church has always frowned on involvement in partisan politics by its priests. Rt. Rev. Dr A. A. Usuh, Bishop of Makurdi who was also Adasu’s fellow ordinand vehemently ruled against his priest venturing into the stiff arena of politics.
The Church quoted Canon 287, Paragraph 2, which states that: “Clerics are not to play an active role in political parties or in directing trade unions unless, in the judgment of competent ecclesiastical authority, this is required for the defence of the rights of the Church or to promote the common good”.
Fr. Adasu chose “… to promote the common good” (that move is mentoring a few Priests now).
He assembled a campaign team comprising Sebastian Agbinda as DG, Dr Gabriel Moti, Mike Idumah, and Barnabas Nyiwo who served in various capacities. Prominent among the 12 who contested in the primaries were: Engr. Joseph Igbetar, Chief Abu King Shuluwa, Engr. Samuel Utoo, Barr. Gbihi Vembe, Dr. Lim, Rev. Agba Antse, and Alh. Ismaila Twar.
He clichéd the ticked, his closes rival was Engr. Igbetar, who suffered a petition by Engr. Adagih for misappropriation of funds. Fr. Adasu went on to fly SDP party flag with Engr. Yakubu Ochogila Agada against Prof. Ignatius Ayua of NRC, whose running mate was Dr. Enyantu Ifenne.
Very Rev. Fr. Moses Orshio Adasu went on to emerge winner at the polls, defeating his opponent by the margin of 57,634 votes, and was returned as the elected governor of the Benue State. He took over from Lt. Col. Fidelis Attahiru Makka, Chief. Shuluwa chaired the transition committee and Dr. Gabriel Moti as Secretary. The Governor was sworn in by Benue State Chief Judge, Justice Alhassan Idoko.
Rev. Fr. Adasu went on to make these appointments:-
* Engr. Sefanu Torsabo as SSG.
With the following Commissioners:
- Mr B. I Ugallahi – Agriculture, Natural Resources & Rural Development.
- Mrs Patricia Ashi Aondoakaa – Education, Youth, and Sports.
- Mr Terna Unum – Establishment and Management Services.
- Mr Felix T. Abagen – Finance and Economic Development.
- Mr Tony Liam-Ge – Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.
- Dr Pius Yakubu Ochefu – Health and Human Resources.
- Engr. Samuel Orayer Utoo – Works and Housing.
The Master Program Fr. Adasu presented to his Cabinet, taking into account the limited resources at hand included, including the establishment of:
- Benue State University,
- A Specialist Hospital,
- A Medical Centre,
- An Airport, and
- The Tarka Foundation.
- The meeting also gave birth to the hosting of the first Benue Day in 1993.
Despite the achievements within that short time, there were also serious challenges, it took Dr Iyorchia Ayu who was the then Senate President to intervene after 17 Members of the House of Assembly signed an impeachment notice against the Governor.
When Gov. Adasu eventually recovered and got his wind back, he worked out strategies that led to the removal of Stephen Tsav as the Speaker and other House leaders. Emmanuel Jime ascended to become the Speaker of Benue State House of Assembly on 7th July 1993.
But before the dust could properly settle, the “khaki boys” returned to town on 17th November 1993; and the mandate to govern was terminated.
Very Rev. Fr. Adasu could be described as an academic priest, having spent more time in the class and lecture rooms than at the altar or in Church Administration.
After coming out of the Government House, he immediately took up an appointment as a Lecturer at Benue State University, an institution his administration had established.
At the far right is Mr George Akume, who would later become Governor, Senator & Minister (GSM). 2nd from the right is Engr. Sefanu Torsabo, the SSG. At the Commissioning of running water in Makurdi township.
Culled from a book titled “Moses Orshio Adasu: Religion, Politics and Development” by Terhemba Wuam.