Benue 2015: Lawani an Idoma reinforcement?

Posted: August 30, 2013 in political, Uncategorized
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With the last week’s declaration by the Benue State deputy governor, Chief Steven Lawani to vie for the position of Benue state governor come 2015 at the Benue Government House, the story on the lips of many is whether his boss has secretly anointed him as successor and if the Idoma race has finally sat up to the competition. atiterkula brings the issues arising from this declaration.

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It is no longer news that the Benue state Deputy Governor, Chief steven Lawani last week openly let out his intention to succeed his boss after their co-tenureship of the food basket government house come 2015. The deputy governor declared to vie for the state’s number one seat when he received members of the Benue State Governors Aides Forum from his senatorial district- the Benue South senatorial district, which came to seek direction from him as regards his future after the expiration of his servitude to Suswam.

In his speech, Chairman of the forum, Mr. Clement Okoh who led the team said they were interested in the deputy governor’s stand on the forthcoming 2015 general election.

“As leader and father of the governor’s aides from Benue South district, we are here to seek your direction ahead of the forthcoming 2015 general election,” Okoh said.

Although this declaration may come to many as news and even a shocker to some, Lawani had earlier informed the state executive council of the party penultimate this disclosure.

“About three weeks ago before I travelled, I had informed the state executives of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of my intention to put myself forward to run for the office of governor of Benue state. Before today I have had delegations coming to me to urge me to run and I am declaring today before you that I am running and I am counting on your support to actualise the dream.” He informed.

Ironically, Chief Steven earlier in the year denied speculation and allegations of his desire to be the next occupant of Benue Government House when posters, indicating his interest in the gubernatorial race 2015 flooded the streets of Makurdi, the Benue state capital.

The posters which were found pasted at strategic places including all the roundabouts in the town as well as some conspicuous establishments, gardens, electric poles as well as walls of both private and public building carried inscriptions such as, “Makurdi Government House 2015, No vacancy”, “Steven Obekpa Lawani for Governor Benue state”.

The deputy governor through his Special Adviser Media Mr. Ejembi Ogwuche, dissociated himself from any such display and declaration calling the act a work of mischief makers and his detractors.

However with the open declaration of Lawani to join in the race for the coveted position many have began to believe that he may be the icing to the cake that may sweeten his boss’ heart to hearken to  the cries of the Idoma people who have long yearned to lead the state even as they have never tasted that position since the 1978 creation of the state.  

Many believe that chief lawani who had in 2006 ran against Governor Gabriel Suswam during the primaries of the PDP and agreed to become Suswam’s running mate and subsequently his deputy, even though he is known to be older than the later, has served the governor loyally enough to be handed over the reins of office to continue from where ever their building process ends with the expiration of Suswam’s tenure and also as reward for his loyalty.

In line in with this, a group of Idoma and Benue South Senatorial District political leaders headed by former Minister for Education, Dr. Jerry Agada, had last month at a reception to honour some of their illustrious sons among whom was the Deputy governor, had requested that power be handed down to the senatorial district after Suswam’s exit and specifically handed to Lawani as appreciation for his alleged loyalty.

The group which further noted that the only way fairness and equality will be justified by the governor was if the position was made exclusive for the Idoma race whom they claim has been marginalised since the creation of the state. They further added that since the zone had given Suswam the highest number of votes in the last general elections amidst renewed presence of opposition parties in the state, it was only right to honour them thus.

Although there is serious agitation from the people of this senatorial district as to their ownership of the highest seat in the state, it is also common knowledge that other zones have already began presenting their finest to compete for this coveted position. The contest as usual has taken a clannish posture as every section has adduced reasons to their right of occupancy.

Unfortunately, this situation had earlier played itself in 2006 when the agitation for the exclusive zoning of the guber seat to the Idomas was hottest in the state. The zone displayed an array of technocrats and experienced politicians, amongst who was Chief Steven Lawani. These Idoma aspirants were believed to have given their Tiv counterparts a race of their lifetime as they actually stole the day garnering larger support even in the Tiv speaking areas.

However, to the chagrin of spectators, the Idomas decided to turn around and back out wholly at the PDP primaries which their own, Chief Mike Onoja was in clear lead with other Idoma aspirants like, Steven Lawani and Comr. Abba Morro following  closely in the ranks, to donate votes and declare support for a Tiv aspirant- Gabriel Suswam, who in turn took the day owing to this support.

In view of the foregoing many have already become sceptical of the zone’s real intent to the governorship seat coupled with the perceived silence of their strongman and political determinant, Sen. David Mark over Idoma succession. Many have accused  Mark of being silent on the issue of Idoma governorship by 2015 after the perceived failure to push through his state creation agenda where he would have been in total control of the Idoma race if granted.

This belief is even as the state governor had denied preferential candidature and zoning in the race as according to him everyone and zone had equal right to the governorship as he has not anointed or chosen any zone to clinch the seat at his exit.

In a recent interaction with journalists, Suswam declared that as an individual he could not say where the seat will be zoned ahead of 2015 general elections. “In fact, it is too early to begin to think of zoning. At the appropriate time, the party hierarchy will sit and decide on that”. He added.

The Governor also advised all aspirants to carry out their consultations with utmost sense of decorum and respect for one another and rules of the game said an enabling environment will be created for all intending people in the state to test his or her popularity at the polls come 2015.

 

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