RACE TO 2011: BENUE’S BLOOD TRAIL

Posted: July 18, 2011 in BENUE, makurdi, political, Uncategorized

From the creation of the state in 1976, Benue State has been the hub of politicking in the North Central region of the nation with high class negotiations and alignments taking place, resulting to her position of prominence among her fellow states. In as much as it has been very central to the political life of the North Central, it has not been devoid of her own problems emanating for the level of political awareness amongst her citizens.
In recent times, violence is that which is threatening the unity the erstwhile peaceful state. Since the return of democracy in 1999 Benue State has known no peace owing to power tussle between the ruling party and opposition power blocs.
First it was between the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), when the people of Kwande Local Government Area led by Wantaregh Paul Unongo then of the ANPP and the PDP led by prominent PDP chieftains. When the ANPP group resisted what they termed imposition of a local government chairman. This fracas lasted for three years until the intervention of the federal government through a bill in the senate which consequently instituted a panel of enquiry.
Due to political divorcing and marriages, today Benue has become another battle front of some sort. With many members of the PDP decamped to opposition parties with the sole aim of unseating the PDP, it has become a do or die game with violence taking centre stage. With major rivalry between two elephants, being the outcome of a romance gone sour between a dissatisfied godfather and erstwhile godson.
When Senator George Akume and his loyalist decamped to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), many political watchers sensed trouble as the decamping was not void of violence as it was laced with clashes between the ACN and PDP in Buruku and Kastina Ala Local Government Areas from then the line was drawn with the commencement of hostilities between these determined adversaries.
First it was an attack on the campaign train of the gubernatorial candidate of the ACN, prof. Steve Ugbah in Yandev, Gboko Local Government, resulting many people injured in the ensuing clash. Next was an assault on the Governor’s convoy in Gwer-West Local Government with supporters of the ACN brandishing brooms- their party’s emblem, at mounted road blocks.
From road blocks, it evolved to armed attacks and arson with both parties competing at fire bombing. At the funeral ceremony of the Ter Kwande, a second class chief in the state, followers of PDP attacked and burnt down ACN offices in the area, as well as a campaign vehicle belonging to Sen. Joseph Akaagerger pulling down all ACN ensignage in the area. This did not go without retaliation from the ACN followership in Gboko with the destruction of an official vehicle belonging to the transition chairman of Gboko Local Government, Hon. Angbande in Gboko.
Then assassinations which have in record an attempt on the Deputy gubernatorial candidate of the ACN, Alh. Usman Maishanu and a senatorial candidate, Gen Lawrence Onoja (rtd), who was shot in the arm. The later’s Aide, Mr. Emmanuel Ejigbo also lost his life to assassins while with family in Oturkpo Local Government Area. Also in Anyiin, Logo Local Government Area, an ACN convoy belonging to Sen. Akaagerger and Hon. Mzenda Iho, was involved in crossfire with followers of the PDP, resulting in servere injury of three persons and burning of seven motorcycles.
Freshly, kidnapping of rival party members has also become a trend. Only last week, riots broke out in Makurdi over the kidnap of a 400 level undergraduate student of the Federal University of Agriculture, popularly known as mozino, who was alleged to have drawn a cartoon of the state governor riding a pig.
This violence has become a thing of concern to many causing the State Security Service to call political leaders in the state for a meeting where they were warned of the consequences of further acts of violence.
While this ugly trend persists, many wonder what the future portends for the state under this violent atmosphere.

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