Gladiators jostling to fly the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship tickets in Benue State are leaving no stone unturned ahead of the party’s governorship primaries slated for May 18. Daily Trust Saturday examines five top contenders who may clinch the ticket.
Eighteen days to the conduct of the governorship primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC), aspirants for the race in Benue State are dotting their lines as best as they could in consultations with stakeholders.
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Our correspondent reports that of the 33 aspirants jostling for the APC governorship ticket, the pendulum is swinging towards five of them.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party had on April 20, approved May 30 to June 1 for the party’s presidential primaries and May 18 for governorship primaries.
This is just as stakeholders of the party are considering the option of consensus in the selection of the party’s governorship candidate. The hint that the party stakeholders may consider consensus was handed by the former governor of the state and current Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, during a retreat for the aspirants.
Akume, who said consensus arrangement is proper and in line with the APC Constitution, however said the aspirants are at liberty to test their popularity at the primaries through either the direct or indirect mode as stipulated in the party’s constitution.
Among the candidates are; a Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia; an economist, Terlumun Paul Ikya; a university don, Prof. Terhemba Shija; Chief Steven Lawani; Dr. Sam Ode; Dr. John Tor Tsuwa; Senator Barnabas Gemade; Barr. Herman Iorwase Hembe; Mark Tersoo Hanmation; Engr Nick Wende and a former minister of Justice, Chief Mike Kaase Aondoakaa.
While some of them have met with the party’s hierarchy to intensify efforts to get the support of the party delegates to clinch the ticket, there are others who are yet to widely consult with party leaders and elders or seemed to be doing nothing at all.
So far, in this report, below are five among the aspirants who are leaving no stone unturned in their bid for the stakeholders to team up with them to clinch the ticket in May.
Herman Iorwase Hembe, 46
A lawyer who is currently House of Representatives member for Vandeikya/Konshisha Federal constituency in Benue State.
The federal lawmaker, who is serving his people at the lower chamber of the National Assembly for the fourth time, had stated severally that he would bring something that is different to the table of governance if elected as governor of Benue State in the 2023 general election.
Hembe added, “We want to bring back development to Benue State. We want to reintroduce physical development and other things which a government responsible to his people should do.”
His admirers think he would be given a chance to fly his party’s ticket.
Paul Terlumun Ikya, 43
A 43-year-old economist, renowned for public and private consultancy, who has made his mark in working to set up young people and improve income of small and medium scale businesses across the country through the office of the vice president.
He was instrumental to the reconstruction of Zakibiam international yam market by the federal government in 2020.
Ikya is a frontline contender for the APC’s governorship ticket according to feelers and would likely have it. He once said that: “As we struggle with insecurity, we are struggling with the economy of the state. The economy is in shambles.
“As of today, internally generated revenues in the state does not account fully to the government’s coffers. 50 per cent is being stolen.”
Ikya, who believes that a technologically driven economy would raise Benue from the ashes, sells his candidature to the people on the basis that the APC government, when in power, would embrace deep science-based technological education for graduates to be able to compete favourably with their counterparts across the globe and provide solutions to the problems confronting the state.
Professor Terhemba Shija, 61
Shija is university don who has canvassed for his aspiration among party stalwarts and is liked by many across the state.
He said, “Benue is a state of extremities. For a few people in government, it is the best of times as they live in opulence and extravagance of life. For most of the people, it is the worst of times as they are dying in poverty, denied the good things of life and the wealth of their fatherland.
“The Benue Rebuild Agenda is an idea not a personality. It is a mantra, a creed, a dogma designed by a group of concerned Benue indigenes desirous to change the method of doing government business and its attendant loss of development and capacity, to catch up with modernity and globalized systems. Benue farmers grow over 20 different crops such as yams, beans, rice, soyabeans, potatoes, benniseed, ginger, cocoyam, pepper, millet, sorghum, tomatoes, groundnuts, maize, and tree-crops such as oil palm, citrus, cashew, mangoes, ogbono, kolanut and shea-butter.
Shija posited that Benue farmers who have the potential to feed all of Nigeria had yet not come close to achieving its potential due to lack of infrastructure, financing, training, technology, legal structure and other key inputs to produce optimally as he promised that if voted to power, his administration will make the state a farmer’s agricultural haven.
Chief Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, 59
An ex-minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation is set to pick the APC ticket, having consulted widely and believed that the delegates would consider his rich antecedents.
He recently outlined ways he would tackle farmers-herders crisis in the state if given the mandate in 2023.
“I am telling people what I will do that is right. Number one, I say in six months’ time, the IDPs camps will be closed down and people will be enabled with foodstuffs, seeds and a token of N100,000 per family to go back and start their lives. And I will use the money used for feeding in the IDPs camps to enhance security within the environment.
“I will also ensure that the Livestock Guards work harmoniously with other security agents in the state to ensure that if there is infraction by any group of people, whether herdsmen, into farmer’s farmyard, the dispute will be settled right there.
“If you have destroyed the farmer’s property, you pay right there. It’s not the question of bringing the Livestock Guards to arrest the person to Makurdi and the farmer is left there and there will be reprisals. It will be a win-win situation, the farmer wins and everybody wins,” Aondoakaa said.
Chief Steven Lawani, 74
A former deputy governor of Benue State, Chief Steven Lawani, in the eyes of political observers would carry the day effortlessly if the party zones its governorship ticket to the Idoma speaking area of the state.
He once dismissed rumours making the rounds that he had perfected plans to abandoned APC to re-join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Lawani said he had invested so much in the party (APC) and is sure of becoming Benue State governor in the coming 2023 election, so he couldn’t be contemplating to leave now.
He said, “on the issue of leaving the party; I have contributed immensely to the development of the party to the point that I feel strong enough to win the next election and that’s why I brought myself forward for the election.
“You do not vacate a house that you have built in the manner that I have done. So, all these talk about he is going to leave is not true.”