The outcome of elections in Benue State and the factors which led the All Progressives Congress, APC, to become the new bride, is underscored in this piece which asserts that like the biblical parable of the ‘living water’, whoever wishes to drink must first join the winning party, writes correspondent, Sunday Ogli.
At last the bubble has busted as Benue State has joined the ranks of those states controlled by the All Progressives Congress, APC.
This was made possible by Dr Samuel Ortom of the APC when he thrashed Prince Terhemen Tarzoor of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP during the April 11 governorship polls with 422,932 votes to 313,878.
For the state House of Assembly elections, All Progressives Congress, APC, won 14 seats and PDP 15 while Labour Party, LP won just a seat.
It would be recalled that two weeks to the governorship election, the state lost the presidential election to the APC presidential candidate, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari.
For a state where the governor is the regional campaign director of the president, that development was not a good testimonial. No wonder, the governor also lost his senatorial bid.
This political tsunami has become a nightmare that may linger awhile on the minds of the chieftain, members and supporters of the PDP which had governed the state since 1999. In fact, the state has been synonymous with the party because of its streak of victories in the past sixteen years of democratic governance.
The position of the state and the party is exemplified by the fact that it has reeled out the highest number of senate presidents in the political history of the country. They include Senators Iorchia Ayu, Ameh Ebute and of course, David Mark. Mark is rounding up his second term as senate president by the first week of June. He is the first to achieve this feat in the country.
Another notable aspect that had made Benue to be a predominant PDP state was the chairmanship position of the party which was occupied by some of its sons. Senator Barnabas Gemade and Chief Audu Ogbeh, notwithstanding that they both defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, they led the party at one time or the other.
However, the victory of the APC has altered the political equation in the state as the PDP will hand over the reins of power to the APC in May 29.
Expectedly, that has led to a gale of defections of PDP members who instead of staying in an empty umbrella would wish to hold the broom and tip toe around the corridors of power.
From the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Michael Kaase Aondoakaa to Maj Gen Lawrence Onoja, rtd, Dr Matthias Oyigeya, among others, the APC has been overwhelmed with defection from the party that had once described itself as the largest in black Africa.
Their action is apt as the ‘food’ has been removed from the mouth of the PDP to that of the APC by Ortom’s victory and like the biblical ‘living water’, whoever wishes to drink should join the winning party.
However, there are others like the Senate President, David Mark, the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, Governor Gabriel Suswam and their ilk who have resolved to remain in the party with the hope of returning to the drawing board to seek solution to the problems of the party.
As it is, the development has thrown the aides and hangers -on of the PDP into a terrible quagmire as their jobs and rascality will not be entertained beyond May 29 when the new administration of APC resumes.
In fact, many of them, senior government officials who are diehard PDP members, particularly the appointees have restricted themselves to their residences since the result of the election was announced and the governor resolved that the PDP will not challenge it in court.
“Most of our ogas have remained in their homes since the announcement of the election. The problem is even worsened by the governor’s decision not to go to the tribunal to challenge the result,” a senior civil servant told this reporter in Government House last Tuesday.
The hangers on or those who are popularly referred to as professional political beggars also seem to have come to the end of the road as their shenanigans were no longer needed, not when their patrons have lost elections and are in inexplicable mood.
While they are left to lick their wounds, the Senate Minority Leader, George Akume has the last laugh. He won his election and he is being tipped as the next senate president.
Political pundits believe that Akume will reap double harvest if he eventually emerges as senate president as he would be presiding over the upper chamber of the National Assembly while his political godson who was ‘reconciled’ to him by providence will be presiding over the state as governor.
In fact, when Akume emerges, he will not be just presiding over the National Assembly but over the enter North Central region, a position occupied by Sen. Mark in the last eight years. Similarly, the incoming state deputy governor, Engr Benson Abounu will assume the political leadership of Idoma land.
The traffic to his Makurdi and Gboko residences has been said to be unprecedented in the last one week because of the sudden influence he has begun to wield.
The wind of change in government in the state was said to have been too evident for everybody to know as the handwriting on the wall is conspicuously clear for everyone, including the stark blind, those in the market square, schools, offices and homes to read, but the powers that be, seemed not to notice it.
As a result of the seeming unyielding posture of government to respond to some of the issues that constituted the anger of the masses, like payment of salary and pensions, which had accumulated beyond three, in some cases up to four months, there was no turning back for the ‘hungry masses’ who enjoyed the luxury of choices to play their cards the way it would suit them best.
Besides, the acrimony generated by the party’s guber -primary last year also left a bitter taste in the mouth of most of the aspirants and their supporters who vowed to pay back by working against the PDP at the elections.
The cumulative effect of the above factors worked against the fortunes of the PDP during the governorship and House of Assembly elections despite the dogged effort by Suswam to ensure that PDP won the elections. While the APC won thirteen local government areas, the PDP won in ten.
The election was generally peaceful in the state except in Ukum and Kwande Local Government Areas where there were reported cases of violence which led to the injury of some persons as well as the arrest of some thugs with firearms.
Meanwhile, the state Police Command confirmed the arrest of 16 cases of election violence.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Austin Ezeani said those suspected of snatching election materials and causing crisis during the elections have since been transferred to Force Headquarters, Abuja.