UNONGO: THE MAN IN THE EYE OF THE STORM

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

The elections have come and gone with all but one member of the PDP rejoicing over their victories, Paul Wantaregh Unongo, PDP stalwart and elder statesman was last week expelled by his party as well as stripped of his position as the party’s caucus chairman in Kwande Local Government Area. Not long before this announcement by the party, had the state Governor Gabriel Suswam sacked his wife, former Commissioner for works, Mrs. Ntol Unongo, accusing her of underperformance.

Unongo, a former minister, is said to be the architect of his present woes. It was gathered that the, septuagarian who has been Governor Suswam’s closest ally and pillar of support had betrayed his confidant during the just concluded polls and even went ahead to pass disparaging remarks on the person of the governor and his administration. National accord here tries to look at their relationship and fallout.
The Relationship
Paul Unongo’s relationship with Governor Suswam is aledged to have started shortly after the PDP Primaries in 2006 where Unongo conceded victory to Suswam. Unongo who had just decamped into the PDP from the ANPP courtesy of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, was a very visible figure in the Suswam/ Lawani Campaign train traversing the length and breath of the State canvassing support for his friend, Suswam. After the campaigns, when Suswam eventually won, Unongo was one of the beneficiaries of the victory, with his wife Mrs. Ntol Unongo as commissioner, his god-son takes Hon. Terwase Akputu as Local Government chairman, himself caucus Chairman amongst other benefits in cash and kind. He was famed to be one of the only elders with the governor’s ear and was many times known to brag of his influence over the governor. In turn, Unongo played his part by endorsing the governor in his latest return bid and singing his praise, commending the administration’s commitment and focus in delivering its initial campaign promises. It was even believed that Suswam consulted him before every major decision was taken.

The Fallout
Up until, the recent proclamations, The Duo had a very rosy relationship; Unongo was at various occasion known to curse every body who had attempted to contest against Suswam. It was such that during an occasion he was said to openly exchange words and criticize other elder statesmen who dared criticize the governor, he publicly declared war on all who opposed the governor on the 20th August 2010.
“The respect I have received from Governor Suswam can not be comparable to any governor in the state, be it military or civilian. A fight against Suswam’s a fight against elders”. He warned.
Unfortunately this relationship like every other human endeavor had to come to an end with the advent of his nephew Prof. Steven Ugbah who declared his intention to contest against his Uncle’s protégé. Initially, Paul Unongo was quoted variously, to have cautioned his nephew against this move.
Ugba’s determination to unseat Suswam became Unongo’s albatross as he was put at a crossroads; to support his nephew or his “god son” to this end the elder statesman decided to keep mute and allow events take care of themselves. This was not entirely the case as he was at certain fora quoted to have expressed his predicament by telling the people to vote the candidate of their choice but as for him and his wife they would vote Suswam. Paul Unongo never had that strong voice in deciding in whose farour his votes and sympathy laid this time around.
The straw that broke the carmel’s back was the loss of his local Government to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the same party that he was touted to have supported and presented his nephew.

His Fate
As it now stands, Wantaregh, 75, who has been a politician since the first political dispensation has become a political bat of some sort as he is neither in the PDP nor the ACN, owing to his recent expulsion by the state chapter of the party on the grounds of anti-party activities.
The ACN in reaction to this expulsion told national accord through its state chairman, Hon. Abba Yaro, that the agreement was entirely a PDP affair and that Paul Unongo is not a member of the party in the state,
To my knowledge I have no official report of him as a member of our party. All I know is that when our leaders came visiting, we paid him a courtesy call in his position as a stake holder in the state. He is suffering because he said the truth , because he said the PDP rigged and the governor got annoyed and expelled him from the party. Abba yaro, said.
Unongo who had after the victory of Governor Suswam asked all aggrieved politicians to sheath their swords and congratulate the governor on the victory he termed as “well deserved” has now drawn a battle line as he has not only accused Suswam of malpractice but has declared war on the in-coming administration saying restoration of his nephew’s (Prof.Ugba) mandate would wipe away the tears of Benue people

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