...Accuse governor of including 80% of opposition, alien faces on caretaker chairmen list
Clear indications of a possible implosion of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in Benue State emerged on Thursday as zonal leaders of the party have blamed the crisis on Governor Alia whom they said is romancing with chieftains of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The leaders are vehemently angry with Governor Hyacinth Alia for hijacking the party and piloting its affairs solely a situation they said has fueled deep fracas between the governor and the entire party.
Addressing newsmen in Makurdi at the party’s secretariat, a trio of the state zonal vice chairmen for zones A, B, and C including Elder Barr. Vincent Uji (Zone A), Hon. James Tor (Zone B), and Bishop Pinot Ogbaji (Zone C) expressed worry over the intractable crisis rocking the party since the inception of Alia’s administration describing the situation as humiliation.
Bishop Ogbaji who led the group noted that the shaky relationship between Governor Alia and the party started immediately after he took over from his predecessor, Chief Samuel Ortom, particularly during the inauguration of the State Assembly where he had preference for a candidate for the position of Speaker but could not confer with the leadership of the party, rather he allowed the party to painstakingly sit, zone the position and anoint a candidate that was not his choice.
“The result was an embarrassing situation where stalwarts of the party were enmeshed in a shameful altercation that clearly lowered them and the party in the chamber of the Benue State House of Assembly.
“Away from the speakership tussle, the party again nominated and spread other principal officers of the Assembly, namely; Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Chief Whip, and Deputy Chief but shockingly, the Speaker happily accepted all nominations from the PDP as duly endorsed by the PDP State Chairman and Secretary, however, he jettisoned the list submitted by APC and rather announced the list that was allegedly submitted by the governor, through his Chief of Staff.
“It was a humiliating experience for the party, having to face that level of neglect in the hands of an administration we all laboured hard to plant, nevertheless, we sustained our faith in the governor and his government. Even when we felt so bitter and visited the leader of the party, Sen. Dr George Akume, he simply counselled us to pray for Gov. Alia and give him every support he needs to succeed as governor”.
“In picking his Commissioners, Alia exercised his sole discretion without the usual tradition of directing local governments to make nominations taking cognizance of zoning and necessary political permutations, he rather made his independent choices as he found soothing but the party did not oppose him; we rather gave our full support to his action since that was his own State Executive and Security Council and he needed people he could trust.
They maintained that when it was time for the nomination of the just sworn-in caretaker committees to administer the local government councils, the governor threw it back to party members during the second stakeholders meeting by demanding an immediate nomination of three candidates each for the positions of Council Caretaker Chairman, Deputy, and Secretary as well as Supervisory Councillors across the 23 local governments, demanding for 2 slots of supervisory councillors from each of the local governments, saying “this was the first time a Governor would demand such from the caretaker council formatton as against the usual one slot per local government.
They expressed shock that when the nominations were finally announced, the party was bewildered that 80% of the names were outside the actual nominees that were sent to the governor, as members of opposition parties and alien faces made the lists in a higher proportion than members of APC”.
The APC chieftains said it was as a result of these that some aggrieved local government party chairmen opted to stage street protests to express their open disapproval of the governor’s intentional disregard for the party.
They expressed shock that the government house which is now controlled by the APC, has now been taken over by PDP chieftains who fought against the candidature of the governor at the neglect of the APC who worked for his emergency as governor.
“The last visit of the so-called party stakeholders leaves a lot to ponder about. Recall that shortly after Gov, Alia was nominated as the gubernatorial candidate of our party last year, Sen. Barnabas Gemade relocated from his house and was dwelling perpetually in the law courts where he sought to amongst other legal prayers, nullify the Alia ticket to leave APC without a candidate and after that suit became fruitless for him he went home and partnered with Sen. Joseph Akaagerger to work tirelessly for Herman Hembe and Peter Obi both of the Labour Party, that is evident in the results that emanated from his local government; Gen. Lawrence Onoja who openly campaigned for the Labour Party following his grievance v it (he choice of Hon. Dr. Sam Ode as Deputy Governorship candidate?
“The greatest shocker that sent jitters down our spines is the presence of Hon. Dr. Chile Igbawua, a 2023 PDP governorship aspirant and Coordinator General of all PDP 2023 Governorship Aspirants and Coordinator Atiku/Okowa Campaign Organization in Benue and an active PDP stalwart now appearing in Government House and on TV stations as an APC Concerned Stakeholder who is speaking in defense of the governor, we have also credibly gathered that a five-man propaganda committee has been set headed by the OBIdient Gen. Lawrence Onoja and Emmanuel Jime whom assiduously worked for Atiku as member with a mandate to perforate the Villa and National Secretariat of our party with falsehoods and mistruth against the party and the SGF to misrepresent the Benue situation, the committee has since been funded and has commenced operations.
The party men however commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Secretary to the Federal Government, Sen. Dr. George Akume, the National Chairman of our party, Sen. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, and the State Chairman of the party, Comrade Austin Agada for their show of leadership and love for the party, expressing the belief that a harmonious relationship with the party can make Benue an idea home for all.