Prior to the Presidential Elections conducted on March 28, it was ominous that the Benue State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which has been in power in the state since 1999 was going to lose the election to the dominant opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.
This was because the masses, particularly the civil servants were disenchanted with the Gabriel Suswam led government, which could not pay salaries of civil servants for about four months and therefore felt they needed a change by voting out Suswam who contested the Benue North East Senatorial District against Sen. Barnabas Gemade, including his political party, PDP under which he rode to power.
The salary palaver in the state was complicated by the over-bloated take home of the civil servants as a result of Suswam’s magnanimity by increasing the wages of the workers to over 400 per cent with a Permanent Secretary in state presently taking over N4, 00,000 per month.
He had told people at different fora that the increase in salary even before the national minimum wage was introduced was to make the workers comfortable, not anticipating that the allocation accruing to the state will dwindle.
All efforts made to drive home his point fell on deaf ears as the workers were not prepared to listen to anything of such and vowed to vote for APC, which they hoped could effect a positive change.
The situation was even worsened by the fact that the hangers-on of these civil servants; students, friends and relations could no longer pay school fees, house rents, medical bills and as well meet other pressing social needs as the salaries were not paid and therefore they considered the PDP government as wicked and insensitive.
Apart from the economic factor, the political theatrics, particularly the shoddy manner the primary elections that produced candidates to contest the different elective offices was conducted left a sour taste in the mouth of many members of the PDP as they were alleged to have been skewed in favour of certain people who the governor wanted.
That process generated a lot of heat and subsequent decamping by prominent members of the party like Sen. Barnabas Gemade, Dr Samuel Ortom, including Barr. Emmanuel Jime, who had earlier decamped to the APC.
Undaunted, Ortom was left with no choice other than to move to the waiting arms of his erstwhile political godfather, Sen. George Akume, the Senate Minority Leader and leader of APC in the state where he picked the gubernatorial ticket of the party.
The influence of the above decampees from the ruling party led to an unprecedented exodus of members from the party to the APC, which eventually culminated in the popular vote for the party at the presidential election.
In fact, the gubernatorial primary was a major factor that caused ‘the cookies to crumble’ in Benue State. The activities of PDP aspirants who were forced to withdraw culminated in their vow to vote against the party as they perceived their forced exclusion as an atrocity perpetrated against them by Suswam.
The PDP state zonal chairman, Hon. Ibrahim Anor, confirmed this during one of the campaign rallies of the party’s gubernatorial candidate, when he remarked that some of the aspirants are enmeshed in clandestine meetings with the opposition.
“Many of the aspirants who voluntarily withdrew from the governorship race at the venue of the primaries are working against the victory of our flag bearer.
“They did not withdraw wholeheartedly; they are holding meetings with opposition candidates with the aim of selling us out at the polls.
“So please allow them to leave our party so that we can have more people that can sweep our streets and offices with their respective brooms.
The situation, he said is quite unfortunate, stressing “these same people are the ones we adore most in the state.”
At the end of the day, the results collated and announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC in the state, Professor Istifanus Dafwang gave the president elect, General Muhammadu Buhari 373,961 votes against President Goodluck Jonathan’s 303,737 votes.
Similarly, in the senatorial contest in Benue North East, Sen. Gemade thrashed Suswam 140,715 votes to 118,603. Even in Benue North West, Sen. George Akume, the Senate Minority Leader thrashed Chief Mike Mku of the PDP with 168,806 votes to 110,180. It was only in Benue South Senatorial District that PDP made an impressive record with the Senate President, David Mark defeating his APC opponent, Daniel Onjeh with 99, 538 to 55,115 votes.
However, Governor Suswam rejected the result of the election calling on the chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Mahmud Attahiru Jega to remove the REC since he no longer have confidence in him to make the coming gubernatorial elections in the state credible.
Governor Suswam, who spoke with newsmen in Makurdi recently accused Dafwang of connivance with the APC candidate, Sen. Gemade who he said moved across the Benue North East senatorial district with armed militia to move election materials to thumb print.
“I was in my house in Katsina-Ala because I knew it was illegal to go about. I learnt that Gemade has moved materials from his ward and was thumb printing. I was told Gemade went to Ukum, Adikpo and Konshisha with a retinue of thugs. I called the INEC officer to tell him about what was happening. We requested that the result be cancelled but the INEC officer refused.
“Gemade was moving round with armed militia, he seized and mutilated the result because he knew he was not going to win. His action was in active connivance with the REC who is highly compromised for accepting mutilated results,” Suswam said.
The governor also expressed worry over the action of the REC for accepting results from Logo, Konshisha and Vandeikya where elections were cancelled in three and four wards respectively as well as Mbagbera in Vandeikya where election did not hold in nine polling units but ordered for election in Buruku Local Government where elections did not hold in three wards in favour of APC.
“I have no confidence in the INEC officer, we call for his change to conduct further elections in the state. I spoke with him for more than two hours and he said the APC has even called to congratulate him,” the governor further stated.
The governor’s agent in the senatorial district, Prince Solomon Wombo also told newsmen that the action of the REC demonstrated his patent sympathy for the APC, stressing that the senatorial election result in Benue North East is unacceptable as it was doctored.
Wombo who is the Special Adviser to Suswam and at the same time his agent during the election, maintained that in most part of zone A like Konshisha and Vandeikya, elections did not hold, adding that over 128,000 voters were disenfranchised.
“The returning officer for Konshisha did not announce results in the area. He disappeared with it only for him to be seen in Makurdi. In Ukum, the results were doctored. There is clear connivance between the REC and the APC. This impartial and full fledged injustice cannot be accepted,” Wombo frowned.

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