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A word of caution for Benue APC

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State came into the 2023 general elections as one united family, unlike their main rival, the People’s Democratic…

The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State came into the 2023 general elections as one united family, unlike their main rival, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), that was enmeshed in internal wrangling.

It is an undeniable fact that the unity and wide acceptability of the party’s gubernatorial candidate and now governor, Rev. Fr Hyacinth Iormem Alia, gave the APC victory in the 2023 elections. The Alia candidacy was a movement and most of those elected on the APC platform won largely because of the Alia-tsunami.

But things started going downhill after the composition of the leadership of the Benue State House of Assembly.

While the state’s party executive and those loyal to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation supported Hon. Mrs Becky Orpin to become the speaker, the governor’s candidate, Hon. Hyacinth Aondona Dajoh, emerged victorious.

Since then, the governor has held two separate APC stakeholders’ meetings where issues concerning the party were discussed with solutions proffered.

During the last stakeholders’ meeting held in November, the main agenda was the composition of the local government caretaker committees. The governor had asked the stakeholders to select three names each from the 23 LGs for the chairmanship, vice chairmanship, council secretary and supervisory councillors positions. These were to be done based on zoning. The governor had promised to select one name each from the list submitted to him.

Upon receipt of the names, the governor acted as he had promised, except in very few LGs where there were unresolved disagreements by stakeholders over choice.

Sadly, after the announcement of the interim executive committees, some stakeholders became angry.

Although saved for 2 LGs, the names selected and appointed by the governor did not come outside of the three names submitted by the stakeholders.

There was an emergency meeting of the party’s LG and ward chairmen, and at the end of the meeting, a communique was issued, with a vote of no confidence passed on the governor, with the chairmen reiterating their unalloyed support for the president and the SGF, Senator George Akume.

Although Akume played a role in the emergence of Alia as governor, the 2023 general elections in Benue were won largely because Alia was on the ballot.

It was obvious that it was not only because of the Akume or the love the Benue people have for the APC as a party. This is what the leadership of the APC fails to understand.

Alia also played a role in Akume’s emergence as SGF. It is no hidden fact that Solomon Lalong, the former governor of Plateau State, was ahead in the race for the position of SGF after it was zoned to the North Central, and so was Sen. Barnabas Gemade.

The governor pleaded with his colleagues to support Akume and it was easy for President Bola Tinubu to choose Akume. Yet, the governor does not seek to have any overbearing influence on the decision-making of the SGF.

What those undermining the powers of the governor need to know is that already, the Benue electorate are viewing this brewing war as a conflict of interest between the general will of the people and that of the party stakeholders.

The fight, if left to degenerate to another level, will give more credence to the accusations against the SGF that he always wants to have total control of the people he midwifes their becoming governors, a situation all of them end up protesting and eventually abandoning him immediately they find their feet in government.

The governor has started well. Those with a disposition to plant and reap from political crises must resist the temptation to draw the state back to the scenario of distress and rancour.

What Benue needs now is unity and peace from all its illustrious sons and daughters. There has to be elite consensus rather than elite conspiracy. The former will make the state while the latter will break it.


Clement Fave Uzuku, a political analyst, resides in Makurdi.