By Terhemba Wende.
The crisis rocking the Benue State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC is far from over as the party’s stakeholders are vehemently resisting the decision of Senator George Akume to impose a governorship running mate on them.
The thorny issue of who becomes the APC governorship running mate in the state has caused sharp divisions within the ranks of the party with reports emerging at the weekend that the placeholder, Barr. Shima Vembe could not be replaced with Akume’s preferred choice Sam Ode until the expiration date of 12th August, 2022.
As it is now apparent that APC has failed to replace Barr. Vembe, the party is set to feature a Tiv-Tiv governorship ticket for the 2023 election, a development that has already triggered protests in Benue South Senatorial district, also known as Zone C.
Meanwhile, elders of the APC in the Benue South Senatorial district have written to the National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu accusing Sen. Akume of trying to impose his nephew, Hon. Sam Ode against the wishes of the party majority stakeholders.
The stakeholders of the APC in Zone C where the deputy governorship candidate is to come from are demanding to be allowed a free hand and due process in selecting a candidate to shore up the acceptability of the party in the zone.
In a petition to the APC National Chairman, the party was urged to quickly wade into the impasse and reverse any unpopular decision that may bring the party into collision with genuine members and voters in the state.
The letter dated August 17, 2022 was titled: “IMPASSE ON THE CHOICE OF THE DEPUTY GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE IN BENUE STATE” and signed by a former Senate President, Sen. Ameh Ebute and Secretary of Benue South APC Stakeholders, Chief John Agada, as well as the immediate past State Chairman of the party, Abba Yaro alleged that Akume, is using two henchmen, Chief Simon Shango and Sen. Jack Tilley Gyado in his move to impose his nephew, Sam Ode on the party.
The letter which was copied to the National Secretary, National Organizing Secretary of APC and Sen. Akume, read: “Once again, we wish to use this medium to draw Your Excellency’s kind attention to yet again, an undercurrent scheming by the leaders of the party in the state, and Senator George Akume in connivance with two of his kinsmen, Chief Simon Shango and Senator Jack Tilley Gyado to undermine the interest of the party in our Zone by imposing their nephew, Hon Sam Ode as the running mate to the governorship candidate, Rev. Father Hyacinth Alia.
“Sir, reliable information at our disposal is to the effect that on Tuesday 16th August 2022, a plan was hatched by the trio above to convene a meeting of some selected members of the State Working Committee of the party in Benue State at a designated venue in Abuja for the sole purpose of passing a vote of confidence on the purported choice of Hon Sam Ode as a running mate by just a handful of this leaders without any form of consultations with the leadership, elders and other stakeholders in Benue South Senatorial District.
“In arriving at the new plot, Senator George Akume, Chief Simon Shango and Senator Jack Tilley Gado, who conceived this latest plot as their last resort and mindful of the fact that members of the State Working Committee of the Tiv extraction from the two Senatorial District of Zone A and B will overrule that of the Benue South Senatorial District (Idoma) that will constitute one-third of those in attendance.
“It is in the light of the above that we wish to state loud and clear that for the record any meeting of the State Working Committee called for the purpose of imposing either Hon Sam Ode or any running mate of the Governorship candidate is without the blessings of the leaders, elders and other major stakeholders of Benue South and will, therefore, remain unacceptable.
“Constitutionally, we are mindful of the fact that the Governorship candidate is empowered to pick his running mate after due consultations with relevant stakeholders without any interference.
“The consequences of this deliberate manipulation in the 2023 general election should be better imagined than real.
“Some aggrieved members are already on their way out of the party because of the sole administrator-style the party is being run in the state.
“We implore you to do the needful to salvage the reputation of the party in Benue state because of the dwindling acceptability of the party and the fact that the initial enthusiasm that the emergence of the Governorship candidate attracted is already waning,” the letter added.
The stakeholders further pointed out that, “Akume’s planned endorsement meeting, is to undermine the Benue South expanded Elders and stakeholders convention held on 30th July 2022 where over 12 aspirants for Deputy Governorship were in attendance and the list arrived at in the meeting was forwarded to the National Secretariat of the party as instructed for possible selection of acceptable candidate.”