Threatened by the suite filed by Emmanuel Jime and Joseph Waku challenging his emergence as the APC candidate in the last governorship election in Benue State, Governor Ortom sought the help of President Buhari. At the prodding of the President, Jime and Waku withdrew their cases, thereby giving Governor Ortom a breather. But, it may turn out to be a temporary solution as the PDP candidate, Terhemen Tarzoor is in court challenging the governor over the same issue, writes SUNDAY OGLI
THE DECISION by Hon Emmanuel Jime and Senator Joseph Kennedy Nyikwagh Waku to withdraw their suit against Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State at an Abuja High Court last Thursday was an obvious move by the All Progressives Congress, APC to save the governor who is being challenged at several fronts with electoral litigation. That of course, was confirmed by the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara who chaired a committee set up by President Mohammadu Buhari to persuade the duo of Jime and Waku to stand down their suit against Ortom.
Dogara said, “The committee on behalf of Mr. President commends very highly Hon. Emmanuel Jime and Senator J. K Waku for their great sense of patriotism in helping bring an end to the unfortunate crisis within our party in Benue State.
“Their willingness to place the interest of the state above personal ambition without demanding anything in return is the chief reason why we are able to resolve this issue today, they are truly assets to this great party and our democracy and sons of Benue State,” the Speaker said.
Before President Buhari’s intervention, Ortom was said to have made frantic overtures to Buhari to save his job, including his recent visit to the Aso Villa where he was said to had met with the President behind closed doors.
The crust of the matter was the alleged hijacking of the process of the primaries by Senator George Akume in order to install Ortom as the consensus candidate of the party.
Even though the APC started its primaries before the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; precisely on the 5th of December, 2014, Akume allegedly delayed it in order to see the outcome of the PDP primaries, which held on the 8th to the morning of 9th December to co-opt Ortom, his close political ally into the race since he perceived he might not make it in PDP.
When eventually the APC primaries, which was rescheduled for the 10th and 11th held at a Lawn Tennis Court at Judges Quarters, Gov Ortom
none of original contenders, including Jime, Waku, Professor Steve Ugbah, Akange Audu and Mike Iordye participated.
Some claim the lawn tennis court was the one at Akume’s residence. Since there were subterranean motives by Akume to foist Ortom on the party, Jime and his co-travelers were shut out from it.
Enraged by the development, the quintet who wondered why somebody who was not an aspirant of APC or a member of the party during their botched primaries should emerge as a consensus candidate.
They, therefore, prayed the court to declare Ortom’s purported consensus candidate a nullity and order fresh primaries for a candidate to emerge.
However, the trio of Ugbah, Iordye and Audu withdrew from the litigation for several factors. While Ugbah metamorphosed as Ortom’s campaign director, Iordye and Audu claimed their signatures were forged.
While they left, Jime and Waku vowed to pursue their case to a logical conclusion as they were not happy with Akume’s sole administratorship and impunity by hand picking candidates for various political offices without recourse to democratic principles.
However, their volt face have raised dust in the state as some allege their agreement to withdraw was to prevent any likely benefit the PDP candidate, Terhemen Tarzoor would get Makurdi, should the court rules in favour of Jime. Others believe they have been ‘settled’ or promised juicy appointments.
According to an analyst, “given the sequence of events surrounding Ortom’s emergence, the court may give judgment in favour of Jime and Waku. That automatically makes Tarzoor the ultimate winner of the April 28 election since his prayer is that he should be declared winner since APC did not conduct primaries and therefore did not present a candidate for the election.”
But a press statement signed by Emmanuel Gubernatorial Campaign Organisation stated that the decision to let go the fight came after enough assurances that their action would make tomorrow better for Benue State.
“Never again shall this mundane legacy of imposition be allowed to rear its ugly head in Benue. For that was, after all, our ultimate goal.
“We regret nothing. We are happy to have stood for something, wherein our grievances have been acknowledged and fully appreciated by even the highest office in the land.
“The justice we fought for was never about one candidate; it was about tomorrow being better…For the avoidance of doubt, we have always believed that we earnestly believe that we have a genuine and sound case notwithstanding any challenges and limiting factors we’re likely to face in court.”Tarzoor’s petition, of course, remains Ortom’s last political hurdle. Frantic efforts were said to have been made to persuade him to withdraw his case but he has remained adamant.
That raises pertinent questions regarding the action taken by Jime and Waku. Does their withdrawal in any way vitiate any fundamental flaw surrounding Ortom’s emergence as APC gubernatorial candidate in Benue State? Does it in any manner possess a retrospective force capable of ameliorating an error committed eight months ago?
It would be recalled that the governor who was a former member of the PDP lost the party’s guber primaries to Prince Terhemen Tarzoor on the morning of December 9, 2014 after which he claimed he defected to the APC on the same day. His ward APC chairman who testified at the state governorship election tribunal in a petition filed by Tarzoor who is praying the tribunal to declare him winner of the April 28 guber election since APC did not conduct primaries in the state affirmed his claim and said he registered him as a member at 3:00 pm of that day.
The witness further claimed that after he registered Ortom at 3:00 pm on December 9, he forwarded the information to the state secretariat of the party. It was that foundation Ortom claimed he used in securing waiver and subsequently consensus candidature, all on the same day.Ortom’s star witness and chairman of the APC panel that conducted primaries in 2014, Barr Baba Dala submitted that Ortom met all the conditions required to make him the standard bearer of the party since he obtained a waiver from the National Working Committee of the party and was included on the list of governorship aspirants for the rescheduled primaries on the 10th and 11th of December 2014.
Dala stated that the party adopted Ortom as its consensus candidate in accordance with the constitution, guidelines and what was required to fulfill the Electoral Act.
Reacting on the development, a social critic and former Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav who lauded Jime and Waku for respecting their party however asked whether the APC will learn lessons from the development and stop imposition and impunity.
Tsav who described Akume as selfish, corrupt and wicked said “As long he remains in charge of the party in Benue state, so long will ‘mediocres’ continue to find themselves in leadership positions through fraudulent means and imposition.”
Only time will tell whether the peace brokered between Ortom and Jime will be sustained considering the threat posed by his PDP challenger.