Friday, 25 December 2015

Mark, Onjeh in fierce battle for #Benue South re-run

The deadline for the conduct of the rerun senatorial election of the Benue South West following nullification by the Appeal court of the election of former Senate President, Senator David Mark is fast approaching .

The rerun election between Sen. David Mark of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP and Daniel Onjeh of the All Progressive Congress, APC according to the judgement must take place within 90 days and the deadline is almost here .

The two gladiators in the election , Mark and Onjeh are of Idoma tribe of Benue South West senatorial district comprising of nine local governments.. Since the inception of the democratic experiment in 1999, Senator Mark has remained in the green chambers of the National Assembly and had defeated various contenders including General Ejiga rtd, Major General Lawrence Onoja rtd and Alhaji Abubakar Mai Shano AKA “Young Alhaji”.

Before the advent of the current democratic rule in the country , Mark had also held sensitive positions in the past and this include being the Minister of Communication and later the Military Governor of Niger state during the military rule of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

Thereafter, he left the shores of the country first to Ghana and later United Kingdom, UK where he spent three years during the regime of Late General Sani Abacha. Hon. Daniel Onjeh first came into prominence in 2002 when he was the Zonal Co-ordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS Zone A.

He was then a student of the Federal University of Technology, Minna. After the NANS National Convention of 2002, he contested and got elected into the National Executive Council of NANS as the President. It is worthy of note that Onjeh was suspended from school barely few months after his election.

His alleged sin was that he was bold enough to speak against the authority of FUT-Minna over the police brutality and eventual death of a young female student . When Daniel Onjeh emerged as the Senatorial candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC in Benue South West senatorial district, many political observers took him for granted until the last elections were held and the political watchers witnessed his wizardry as he was in early lead until the result began to somersault leading to the eventual result in favour of his opponent.

As campaigns towards electing a candidate to fill the now vacant senatorial position in the Benue SouthWest senatorial district otherwise known as zone ‘C’ hots up, the two major contenders, Sen. Mark and Hon. Onjeh have already gone back to the drawing board canvassing for votes by way of holding electioneering rallies and soliciting the support of the electorate pending when the election umpire, (INEC) will blow the whistle and fix the date for the election.

Preparations has reached top gear as the two political gladiators are not taking anything to chances as they are already advanced into the hinterlands of the area to convince the people to vote for them.

Indications is rife in some quarters that the Senatorial candidature of Onjeh have been sponsored by the dominant Tiv ethnic group which in the last elections overwhelmingly voted for the APC thus producing the Governor, his Deputy and a host of others too numerous to mention.

It is interesting to note at this point , the wave of recent decampment as well as defectors from the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP to the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC on a daily basis in the state.

Arguably some kinsmen of Sen. Mark who preferred anonymity have vowed not to disgrace their son as they described his reign as an effective era while he served his people diligently in the senate and must by all fairness be supported to return.

The other school of thought who confided to National Mirror said there can never be two leaders in one local government, this is because the deputy governor is of Otukpo stock and Senator Mark is also from the same area and they feel that does not portray equitable power sharing taking into consideration the entire population of the state.

Investigation further revealed that the kinsmen of the ex-president of the senate recently met at the headquarters of the Benue South West senatorial district of Idoma kingdom in Oturkpo and unanimously resolved to return Mark.

Another accusation which is trailing the trio of Senator George Akume, immediate past senate minority leader and former Governor of Benue state and current Governor, Samuel Ortom as well as Senator representing Benue North East, Senator Barnabas Gemade is that they are the ones who handpicked Daniel Onjeh as APC candidate rather than allowing the zone to choose who represents them from the area.

It is clearly showing on the face of ordinary Benue South West senatorial voter that rather than accepting an outsider to decide their fate politically by way of imposition of a candidate who is seen by many as a political toddler to face Senator Mark, they will rather vote Mark.

In the last16 years which Senator Mark had held sway as senator in the green chambers of the National Assembly, he had always been campaigning and working for the creation of Apa state and this has endeared him into the hearts of his people .

In a chat with former Minister of Interior and die hard supporter of Senator Mark, Hon. Abba Moro, he said : “as far as I am concerned, Senator Mark remains the only credible option for the Idoma kingdom. While serving at the senate, he made a significant impact second to none in the history of Benue South West and particularly the Idomas, Benue and Nigeria at large”

“For record purposes Senator David Mark has made appreciable impact that was never there, to start with the Iweto bridge linking to Abuja which is three hours drive from Otukpo the headquarters of Benue south west and the establishment of National Open University Study Center, provision of scholarship to the indigenes and non indigenes alike and the setting up of a college of medicine among several others”

“Therefore it would be pretty difficult for anyone to overshadow this structures and also owing to the fact that he was one time Military Governor, Minister along other key sensitive offices held in the past and we cannot afford to replace him with Daniel Onjeh, the APC senatorial candidate who is more of a political toddler. And furthermore, he was NANS President and legislative aide, that is all he can boast of which by any estimation is not capable to withstand the political juggernaut.

“As far as we are concerned, the candidature of Hon. Daniel Onjeh is borne out of envy allegedly masterminded by Senator George Akume, Senator Barnabas Gemade and Governor Samuel Ortom. We see this antics as a way of silencing the entire Benue south west when Mark is removed because he is the only effective representative of the Idoma race which to some people is causing them sleepless nights due to the way he spearheaded the direction for his kinsmen to follow therefore all arsenal are being implored and used to attack and silence him politically which we might not concede to it”

He also argued that the ethnic correlation being introduced in some quarters in the rerun election between Senator Mark and Onjeh is not tenable because some chieftains of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP of Tiv stock had indicated their desire to join the campaign of David Mark re-election.

He said some of them had written to him indicating the willingness to participate in the exercise while others told him during interface that they will come and collectively work towards realization of the victory for the sixth time.

Another chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in Benue South West senatorial district, Dr. Adakole Elijah in an interview with National Mirror stated that Mark will have an upper hand if the election holds today. According to him, the reasons are not far- fetched, the ex army general has been tested and trusted and he has been winning .

While reacting to the claims that Governor Samuel Ortom have a hand in the candidacy of Onjeh in the race, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Information Communication Technology, Mr. Tahav Agerdzua dismissed the insinuation with a wave of hand saying Abba Moro should not mention that in the first instance because his boss is not from that zone and has no authority whatsoever to influence any political decision there.

He absolved the Governor of having any hand in the election of Onjeh as the APC candidate and warned the former Minister to desist from his campaign of calumny saying for now his principal is preoccupied with providing good governance for the citizenry rather than dragging his name into issues that are not relevant to his administration.

The media officer to Senator George Akume, Mrs. Becky Orpine deflated the notion in some parlance that her boss was behind Onjeh’s emergence saying that is not true arguing that Onjeh is an independent minded person , more so from a different zone and described the accusation as mere beer parlor talk that are unsubstantiated and urged people to discountenance the baseless arguments.

Senator Barnabas Gemade representing Benue North East when contacted through a telephone conversation denounced knowledge of anything in relation to Onjeh’s candidacy and warned those making unguarded statements to henceforth leave him alone.

Meanwhile, when the views of the state chairman of People’s Democratic Party, PDP , Dr. Emmanuel Agbo was sought on the rescheduled rerun between Sen. David Mark and Hon. Daniel Onjeh he could not be reached.

In his comment the state Chairman of the Conference for All Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, Engr. Baba Agan urged Senator Mark to withdraw from the race advancing reasons that he should give way to aspiring young politicians to succeed him. “At least, he has spent 16 years in the Senate representing the Benue south senatorial district which is not a mere feat”, he said.

He said that courtesy demands that he can only leave the power when the ovation is loudest and called on politicians to learn to tolerate one another for posterity to thrive in the country. Political observers are of the view that the pending rerun is a fierce battle between the two gladiators.

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