Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Benue South APC rejects Abounu as running-mate

SOME disenchanted stakeholders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue South Senatorial District at the weekend protested at the Makurdi residence of the Senate Minority Leader and leader of the party in the state, Senator George Akume, over the purported nomination of Mr. Benson Abounu as running-mate to the party’s governorship candidate, Dr. Samuel Ortom, in this year’s general election.

However, as this protest was going     on in Makurdi, a peace mass organised by the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the state led by the Bishop of Gboko Diocese, Bishop William Avenga, was held at Saint John’s Cathedral in Gboko Local Council of the state.

  In the course of the peaceful protest, a multitude of youths and some leaders of the APC from the Benue South Zone were seen carrying placards with inscriptions: “APC is for all of us, we want change and not imposition”, “Imposition is a crime”, Benue leaders, don’t kill APC, no to imposition and “Let the will of the people prevail”, to portray their disapproval to the nomination of Abounu as deputy governorship candidate of the party.

  Some of them, who spoke with The Guardian against Abounu as running-mate to Ortom, said his candidature for the position is a political mis-normal and a conscious but desperate design by the impostors to ensure that the APC loses in the forthcoming elections in the state.

  Meanwhile, the party’s candidate, Ortom, has assured the people of the state that contrary to insinuations reigning in some certain quarters that he dumped PDP to pinch tent with APC to realise his governorship ambition, there was nothing wrong with his candidature.

  Ortom, who made the clarification yesterday while speaking as a guest of honour at the 2015 Praise Festival organised by the Brethren at the New Word of Life Church, Agedam in Gboko, the ancestral home of the Tiv nation, attributed his emergence to divine providence which had ensured that all things, including the amendment of the APC constitution to admit and offer a platform to new comers as well as provide for consensus candidature and the delay in the party’s state congress, worked in his favour.

  He stressed that all the doubt about him had been ratified by the relevant authorities, including the APC National Working Committee and major stakeholders of the party in the state.

  Also, Ortom has condemned the crises that broke out between rival political parties in Tyeku, Gboko Local Council last Saturday resulting in injuries on persons as well as destruction of campaign property.

  In a statement signed by his campaign Media Adviser, Tahav Agerzua, he regretted that the crisis was coming on the heels of efforts by the leadership of the Mdzough U Tiv, and the Prayer Pilgrimage for Peace convened by Catholic Bishops in the state at which all political leaders subscribed to violence-free polls.

  Noting that the leaders of the two dominant political parties in the state, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the APC, Governor Gabriel Suswam and Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume, made pledge for peaceful, free and fair elections before God and the people in the presence of the Tor Tiv, Orchivirigh Dr. Alfred Torkula, and other royal fathers last Saturday in Gboko, Ortom stressed that the commitment was binding on members and supporters of the two parties and the entire citizens of the state hence the need to end all hostilities with immediate effect and keep to the terms of the covenant of peace.

  But in another development, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State has vowed that the PDP under his leadership would put all necessary machinery in place to ensure that the party wins all the elective positions in the forthcoming general elections in the state.

  Suswam, who made the vow at the weekend during the inauguration of the Governorship Campaign Council and Directorate at Aminu Isah Kontagora Theatre Complex, Makurdi, said that the party had held the most transparent governorship primaries, which made aspirants who lost out, to be pleased with the party.

  He said: “Let nobody be deceived this time around. We are going to record one hundred per cent victory as before. The opposition party is going to have nothing. We must return to the record of 1999 where we won all the seats in Benue State come rain come shine.

  “It is better for the worst candidate in PDP to win election than to vote a best candidate in the opposition party.”

  The state chairman of the party, Dr. Agbo Emmanuel, who performed the presentation of candidates and inauguration of the campaign team, charged members and candidates to be effective and proactive in the course of selling their ‘products’.

  The APC protesters led by the APC Chairman in Okpokwu Local Council, Mr. Patrick Ukwenya, its leader in Apa, Mr. Baba Salami, as well as three others, said that Abounu, since his travails in government as Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment during George Akume’s administration, has no political clout to woo support for the party in the area, “and as such will not enjoy the support of APC faithful due to his poor antecedents.

  “As a former Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment in the state, he had failed to deliver the dividends of democracy in Idoma land. This is the time we need a vibrant candidate who will be able to galvanise serious support for the victory of our party in the next elections.

  “We have equally ruled out Benson Abounu’s candidature because the entire stakeholders and elders of the party from Zone C were not carried along in the decision-making process that brought about the choice of his candidature as running-mate to Ortom, and cannot be accepted by the Idoma people,” they stated.

  The protesters, which appealed to APC’s leadership in the state to reconsider its decision and effect immediate substitution of Abounu with a credible candidate, further explained that they decided to make their feelings open now so as to avoid the consistent blames usually apportioned to the Idoma people for failing to deliver the party in their area.

  But one of the bishops, who spoke at the peace mass, Monsignor Wilfred Anagbe in his message appealed to all the aspirants in the state to emulate Jesus Christ by promoting peace, stressing that justice and peace are two sides of one coin.

   Agbo, who however threatened to drop any member of the campaign team that would be found wanting, acknowledged the ‘purposeful’ developmental stride recorded by Suswam in the past seven and half years, adding that even the President of the Senate, David Mark and the entire PDP at the National Assembly have done well.

  Accepting the candidates on behalf of the state government, the Deputy Governor, Chief Steve Lawani, pledged the resounding victory of PDP in the state, saying that the people have rejected opposition politics as shown since 1999.

  Responding on behalf of other candidates, the party’s governorship flagbearer, Terhemen Tarzoor, thanked party leaders for finding them worthy to represent them.

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