Monday, 28 December 2015

Benue: APC, PDP In Fresh Power Struggle

Recently in Aliade, headquarters of Gwer East Local Government area of Benue State, three prominent members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led their supporters to defect to the ruling All Progressives Party (APC).

The defectors included two gubernatorial aspirants of the PDP in the last election, Mr. Hingah Biem and Comrade Simon Anchaver as well as former National Assembly member representing Gwer/Gwer West Federal Constituency, Mrs. Christy Alaaga.

At the ceremony, thousands of their supporters also surrendered their PDP membership cards which were burnt in the full glare of all present while they were also received and issued membership cards of the APC.

The defectors told the gathering that they left the PDP because of the injustice done them as well as what they described as insincerity of its leadership, adding that they decided to join the APC so that they could team up with Governor Samuel Ortom by providing him the necessary support to deliver on his mandate to the people.

They explained further that they were glad that one of them who started out from the PDP eventually won the election, adding that they have come to join him in the APC to add value to his administration.

Represented by his wife, Regina, Senator representing Benue North West Senatorial District, George Akume urged the people of the state to rally round the governor so that he could muster the respect to secure their interests at the federal level.

Also at the Akume Atongo Stadium in Katsina- Ala, some members of the PDP led by a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Benjamin Chaha, last weekend, defected to APC.

Others who defected included former House of Assembly members for Logo and Katsina-Ala constituencies, Godwin Akaan and Hembadoon Amena as well as former PDP state youth leader, Anaana J. among others with hundreds of their supporters also.

The mass defection in Katsina-Ala also coincided with the formal defection of some PDP members to APC in Otukpo during a rally organized to welcome the APC senatorial candidate in the forthcoming rerun election at the Benue South Senatorial District, Dan Onjeh.

Governor Ortom who personally received the defectors at both Gboko and Katsina-Ala told the people that he was transparent and responsive in running state affairs and assured the new members that they would be involved in the scheme of things in the state.

The governor who described the APC as a party which believed in working collectively as a family assured that his administration would conduct credible, free and fair council elections and would accept the verdict of the people in good faith.

He enjoined the defectors to team up with old members to develop strategies that could make the party grow stronger to enable it secure electoral victory at all levels.

Ortom also used the occasion to reiterate the resolve of his administration to lead the state with the fear of God and run an all-inclusive government which would impact positively on the lives of the people of the state.

On his part, Onjeh while assuring the defectors that they would be carried along in the scheme of things explained further that his mission is to liberate the Idomas from years of misrule, adding that he is better situated to bring development to the area as a member of the ruling APC.

But the question on the lips of many close watchers of political affairs in the state is whether the PDP can survive in the state going by the recent tsunami from the party especially since the enthronement of the APC in the state.

To this, a PDP stalwart in the state, Chief Abu King Shuluwa insisted that those who were leaving the PDP had no political relevance at all in the PDP.

“Let them go. What impact did they make when they were in the PDP? Hingah Biem was only a retired civil servant at the time he contested to be governor. Simon Anchaver was a labour leader. Whether they are in PDP or not does not really make any difference so, it is better they leave so that we know how many of us are remaining.”

Shuluwa who noted that the present challenge of his party was only a temporary setback however assured that with adequate planning and strategies, the PDP would bounce back and reclaim its man­date in 2019 in the state.

He disclosed that those who were leaving the PDP were those who came into the party after the party had been formed and then destroyed the vision of the founding fathers.

“Most of these people you are talking about were not there when we founded the PDP. It is this same set of people that later came and destroyed the vision of the founding fathers of the PDP. So, we are happy that they are even leaving. We need them to leave so that we can revive our party when they have all left.”

Corroborating Shuluwa’s comment, state PDP Vice Chairman, Hon. Godwin Ayihe insisted that despite the defecting of some of its members into the APC, the PDP is definitely going to survive and even go ahead to take the state in 2019.

“The recent decampment of some of our former members into APC in Gwer were people who left the party after the primaries. They are saboteurs who worked for Ortom when he decamped to the APC. So, they have not been members of the PDP before now. We don’t consider them as our members even before they finally decamped”, he said.

Asked how prepared is the PDP for the forth­coming rerun election, Ayihe said the party had been holding series of meetings to plan and restrategise ahead of the elections.

“Even next week, we will be holding a meeting to ensure that we coast to victory in the forthcoming elections in zones A and C. I am very sure that the PDP is strong in the state.

“Also, going by the poor performance of the APC since its assumption of office in the state, a lot of people who defected from our party are already regretting their action and wishing they could come back to the PDP. We are not losing sleep over those who are defecting at all because we are now more focused than ever before”, he said.

From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi.

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