By Jakaya Unamtor
The emergence of Rt. Hon. Titus Uba as the consensus governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the Tiv speaking area of Benue State is already causing confusion and panic in the camp of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Soon after the choice of Uba was announced, a serial contestant, Prof Terhemba Shija did a piece which he personally wrote and only appended the name of his media aide Samuel Adzegeh. But that is what you get when desperation and uncertainty sets in.
Shija’s attack on Uba and Governor Samuel Ortom is rather unfortunate but it also signposts the palpable fear within the APC camp in Benue State. They were not expecting PDP to put up such a well organized consensus arrangement. They expected to see an implosion of PDP in the state after the consensus. Now that Titus Uba has emerged and is set to become the overall consensus candidate of the party Benue, Shija and his co-travellers have sensed defeat ahead and have begun to cast stones on the PDP ship.
The decision to settle for Uba was a unanimous one. All stakeholders who were present spoke in one accord. It started with the people of Vandeikya who said it’s Uba. The entire Jechira (Konshisha and Vandeikya) said it’s Uba. Local government chairmen of the 14 local government areas in Tiv land also said it’s Uba. The G-14 political class itself said it’s Uba. Benue State House of Assembly members said it’s Uba. The House of Representatives caucus in the Tiv speaking area said it’s Uba. Senators of Zones A and B said it’s Uba. And above all, his fellow governorship aspirants from Kwande and Jechira also unanimously said it’s Titus Uba. This has never happened before in Benue State! Terhemba Shija must have been filled with envy when he heard about the PDP consensus.
Prof Shija should be worried more about his dwindling chances of picking the APC ticket rather than writing lengthy articles about the PDP consensus arrangement. He is not even among the first three aspirants in Akume’s pecking order. But perhaps he is on another mission to becoming the director general of the campaign organization of the APC aspirant who will eventually emerge. He is a professional campaign DG. He has served as DG of almost every governorship candidate (apart from Ortom) since 1999. So I won’t be surprised if Shija is announced as the campaign DG of the next APC guber candidate. It is the only job that he does well.
Shija failed as commissioner of information. Under his watch, journalists who wrote reports and articles that criticised the fraudulent government of George Akume were beaten by thugs and some of them forced to flee from the state. The case of Babajide Johnson of Tribune newspaper who was beaten and dumped inside a car trunk is one such case. Shija also failed as commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs. It was during his time that deductions from local government allocations began. He has no known record of achievement to his name despite serving as a two time commissioner in the state.
Terhemba Shija is also known for disrespecting his elders but expects those younger than him to respect him. He is the first commissioner to engage a party chieftain in fisticuffs. He publicly fought Iyorchia Ayu who was the godfather during Akume’s time and sensing danger, he hurriedly resigned from the cabinet.
Shija is the least of all Benue people to counsel anyone on political campaigns and governance. It was during his time as commissioner for information under the George Akume administration that thuggery was introduced into Benue politics. He personally recruited thugs who harassed anyone who raised a voice to criticize Akume. He was brutal. He went everywhere with daredevils who were ready to devour any opposition person. This is history that can’t be washed away so easily.
Terhemba Shija should face his demons in APC and leave Rt. Hon. Titus Uba alone. Even in Vandeikya where he comes from, Shija can’t win more than his polling unit on the day of election.