Wednesday, 30 March 2016


It is no longer news that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, recently dissolved the membership composition of the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSEIC) and appointed a new one.

The action of the governor did receive the unquestioning and predictably unfailing confirmation of the state Assembly, and today the new chairman, John Torhile Tsuwa, and Commissioners of the electoral body were sworn into office.

But a number of pertinent issues, both moral and legal, have been thrown up by this action of Gov. Ortom, and they include the following;

1. ILLEGALITY- With still some months left on the tenure of the sacked commission, Gov. Ortom could only legally terminate the appointment of its members on the approval of the state Assembly with 2/3 support to that effect, as provided in the law establishing the commission. But this was not the case, as the governor blatantly ignored the provisions of the law and dissolved the commission with impunity, without any recourse to the legislature.

2. IMMORALITY- From available records the chairman of the newly appointed commission, John Torhile Tsuwa, has been an active member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and in the 2015 general elections served as the Returning Agent for Senator Barnabas Gemade in his re-election bid. Also the social media activities of the new BSEIC chairman over time show him as not only a passionate supporter of the APC but also as a man with very little tolerance for the views of the opposition PDP.

How could such a clearly partisan person be trusted to be an impartial umpire to the conduct of free and fair local government elections involving his beloved APC, especially with the dwindling electoral appeal of the party in the state on account of the poor performance of the Ortom government?

Also, perhaps being eager to confirmn the appointment of the new BSEIC chairman, the state Assembly did ignore a glaring lapse in his resume tendered before it, which contains a letter of temporary appointment issued to him over ten years ago by the Benue State University, Makurdi, but not signed by any authority, for his services as a lecturer. Question here; is it not rather strange that Mr. John Tsuwa has worked and risen to the rank of a Senior Lecturer at the university all on strength of a temporary appointment conveyed by an unsigned letter?

3. Another absurdity in the appointment of the new commission is the inclusion in the tendered resume of one of the members, Lady Kate Ijogi, of a letter of her resignation from membership of the APC dated 15th of last January, just a couple of months back, placing again a moral blot on the character and intergrity on the membership of the newly appointed commission.

How could someone who was a registered member of the APC until two months back be trusted to be an impartial umpire in elections involving the very party which has now rewarded her with this appointment?

It is instructive to note here the provisions of the law establishing the commission, which bar persons who served on it from contesting in any election it conducts for an upwards of a minimum of five years after their exit from its services. The principle behind this law clearly is to ensure impartiality and credibility in the discharge of the very sacred duty of the commission, and the appointment of Lady Kate Ijogi is a very brazen and obscene negation of this principle.

The law establishing BSEIC requires that its chairman and members be "persons of unquestionable intergrity", but sadly this requirement has been completely rubbished by Gov. Ortom in appointing to the commission persons of questionable allegiance and character, and by so doing he is indicating a lack of desire to have free and fair local government elections, especially with the rising unpopularity of his party and government.

We like to assure all Benue citizens that the PDP as a party is working assiduously to right our mistakes of the past and to build on the strength of our well known developmental character, even as we pledge to once again give our citizens purposeful stewardship at the third tier of government by 'changing' the disaster and failure called 'change' in the forthcoming LGC elections.

On a concluding note, we wish to make it abundantly clear that as a party we are mobilsed, ready and willing to participate in free and fairly conducted elections at the local government level in the state, and any attempt by the Ortom administration to deny the people this right shall be met with stiff resistance.

Dr. Tsetim Ayargwer,
State Deputy-Chairman,
PDP, Benue State.

Hon. Tertsea Gbiseh,
State Secretary,
PDP, Benue State.

No comments:

Post a Comment