Why APC May Lose 2019 Elections In Benue
From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi
Since its creation in 1976 from the old Plateau State, Benue State has remained relevant in all the electoral processes in Nigeria with each successive election ushering in a tensed atmosphere. The 2019 general electons may not be different if the mood and indeed remarks of a good percentage of citizens of the state are anything to go by particularly with regards to the chances of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in winning elections in Benue come 2019.
As expected , Benue remains a place to watch in the forthcoming general elections because, according to some stakeholders in the state, there is every possibility that people may sell votes for money due to the excruciating and perpetual lack and hardship currently being experienced in the state. They say whichever way it goes, the chances of the APC remains lean.
In Benue, politics is not an exclusive preserve of a certain people. Everyone, both old and young, are involved in deciding who becomes the leader when elections are held. This is because apart from the civil service, there are no industries in the state; the few existing ones, the Taraku Oil Mills, Tomato Processing Company, Fertilizer Blending Plant, Flour Mills Processing Company, Otukpo Burnt Bricks, to mention but a few, are moribond. So, the biggest business you find in Benue is politics.
The APC wrestled power from PDP in Benue State in 2015 beacause the people had become disenchanted with the failed promises and programmes of the latter. However, for obvious reasons, the same people have lost faith ànd confiďence in the APC led government and are patiently waiting to show the party the way out through the ballot.
Corroborating the above scenario, a Social commentator and political stakeholder, Elder Nat Apir said as far as Benue state is concerned at the moment, the chances of APC winning election is Benue are very slim.
“This is not based on some magical clairvoyance but recent events in the state have caused our people to be very disenchanted with APC and it’s leadership at the top.
“The Fulani herdsmen invaded our land and killed over 73 people within 24hrs cycle. We had expected a robust response from the national body of APC leadership but it didn’t happen. They have not even visited Benue to commiserate with the people and Governor of the state and the president of the country has failed to take actions”.
Elder Apir expressed disgust that at some point, the President was pleading with the people and government of Benue to learn to accommodate their neighbours.
“But we are not neighbours with Fulani herdsmen killers and the minister of defence came out to say the the killings were as a result of blocked cattle routes, then IG of Police came out to say it was a communal clash the DSS said it was ISIS West African that was responsible for the killings, and since then the president has not deemed it necessary to visit Benue state to commiserate with us”.
Continuing, the political juggernaut insisted that “for this simple reasons, Benue people are disenchanted with the party APC and even if they get votes in Benue, it will just be negligible numbers because the people have made up their minds about the party and they will not be voting for the APC.
“For the Governor, the people will decide his faith. One thing that has galvanized the people around the governor is his stand on issues of killings by Fulani herdsmen. It has turned him into a hero and has made him come across as someone who is ready and willing to defend the interest of his people against his personal interest. To that extent, I think the people will consider him very fairly when the elections come and will most likely give him a second chance.
Elder Apir disagreed with the fact that the recent Fulani invasions have weakened the strongholds of the party to clinch seats come 2019 saying “besides the Fulani invasions, the APC have basically damaged the economy of the country.
He recalled that the National Bureau of Statistics had Said about 8 million Nigerians had lost their jobs between 2015 to date, while several companies have shut down. “I tell you that by January this year, Coca Cola Company depots in Kaduna and Jos were shut down and so many other companies have been shut down too.
“The APC government has borrowed more than all the other governments borrowed, at the national level and yet their is no money in circulation for development and for the welfare of the people. Beyond the issues of herdsmen killings, they have badly managed the economy, they have divided Nigerians more than we have ever seen in the history of Nigeria.
“The APC is a very divisive party where the president appoints all the security chiefs from one section of the country undermining the provision of the constitution that talks about federal character principles in considering people for positions and appointments.
So, basically this APC government is a band of confused people who came together to hijack power and now they can not govern or mange power, and for this reasons and many others they will be voted out come 2019”, Apir stressed.
On his part, former Police Commissioner in Lagos State, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav said Governor Samuel Ortom has displayed love and care for the state and her people in his recent outings.
“I don’t think the issue of Fulani Herdsmen will affect the 2019 election in Benue State even though Governor Ortom displayed the attribute of a caring leader in the Herdsmen attack but one main issue remains unsolved”.
He mentioned the non-payment of salaries and pensions to workers and pensioners running to several months arrears adding that there is no ongoing project and development since Ortom came on board.
“This is further worsened by the recent retrenchment of workers by the Ortom administration. There is also the rumor that the APC may not present Ortom for a second term for non-performance and confrontation of APC leadership and the federal government”.
While insisting that Benue State is a poor State where citizens depend on salaries and petty farming for subsistence, Tsav reiterated that people may sell votes for money but even then APC may have no chance in Benue State except by God’s intervention.
Governor Samuel Ortom has meanwhile suspended all forms of political activities pending the resolution of the oncoming herdsmen attacks on Benue communities. The governor said he can only resume politicking after the displaced people have returned back to their ancestral homes.
In the meantime, contenders for senatorial seats in the various senatorial districts in the state are taking no chances. In Zone A, the immediate past Governor Gabriel Suswam of the PDP has locked horns with the Executive Chairman of the Benue State Board of Internal Revenue Service, Chief Mimi Orubibi of the APC. Elsewhere in
Zone B, it is a battle of life and death between the sitting Senator George Akume and Hon. Emmanuel Orker Jev all of APC. The atmosphere in Zone C appear to be different as no one has come out on the platform of the APC but the former Interior Minister, Comrade Abba Moro is warming up with the PDP ticket, to take over from his boss and former Senate President David Mark, who is believed to be eyeing the presidential seat, come 2019.