Towards 2015, Benue state has become a hotbed josttling and bubling with political organisations and groups engaging in activity aimed at political relevance in the next political dispensation. With the recent merger of major political parties in the country, to form the All Progressives Alliance, APC, Benue is set to present the opposition in one strengthened front. However the mega party seems to be dead on arrival owing to clash of interests and power tussles. atiterkula brings insights.

ImageWhen the merger of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, and elements of other opposition political parties sailed through amidst scepticism to form a mega opposition bloc with national colouration, the All Progressives Congress, APC, not few saw the party as the stumbling block to the power monopoly by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Benue state which has been under the total leadership of PDP since the return to democracy in 1999, was one of those states where the party was causing ripples on announcement of its registration by the Independent National Electoral Commision, INEC, primarily to the fact that there has been a futile struggle by the opposition to demystify PDP’s powers.

The news of APC’s formation was certainly a welcome development in the state’s opposition fold as the state opposition politics was a mosaic of the three major blocs that formed the APC, thus the belief that the opposition in the state will thence operate under one unified assemblage will certainly upset the PDP. It was thus a surety that PDP will become history by 2015 since these parties had as individual entities given sleepless nights to PDP in previous elections; operating as one bloc made it certain that politics in the state was no longer business as usual.

The ANPP had since 1999 been the major opposition party in the state which nearly dethroned PDP leadership in 2011 after equally terrorising earlier attempts. By 2011, its gusto died down with the appearance of the ACN which bought over the people owing to its deep pocket and funky style of politics. It gave the PDP a run for its worth and is still in a legal tussle to retrieve a mandate it claims to have earned. It is on the previous experience of engagements with the PDP that it was believed that this marriage will upset the present political arrangement in the state.

However unfolding events have proven that this seemingly perfect marriage may not afterall be fruitful in Benue state as there have begun surface skirmishes and ego contest amidst distrust amongst the leaders of the newly registered APC who is yet to legally have members in the state.

Just last week a frontline member of the party and member of the House of Representatives representing Kwande/Ushongo federal constituency, Col. Yarkwan Aboho(rtd), had on the floor of the house, declined his membership of the All Progressives Congress, announcing his intention to return to his former party, Peoples Democratic Party.

atiterkula investigation reveal that his decision to beat a retreat to his former party is borne out of the present crisis rocking the party which yet to constitute a leadership or even embark on a registration drive in the state.

The retired colonel alongside some other aggrieved elders of the defunct ACN, a major player in the political amalgamation, had earlier dragged the national secretariat of the All Progressives Congress to an Abuja high court, in a suit No. CV/62/13, dated 19/9/13, for determination of the appointment of members of the Benue harmonisation committee of the party. They are demand was for the court to order the National Secretariat of the APC to constitute a new harmonisation Committee for Benue state discarding the one proposed.

The formation of a harmonisation committee which is the first step to the constitution of a party executive council in the state, is the primary bone of contention as many elders of the party that is yet to have membership in the state, are already aggrieved over its constitution which pundits say is obviously tilted towards making it a sole proprietorship institution to be owned and managed by Senate minority leader, and leader of the defunct ACN in the state, Sen. George Akume.

Apart  from Col. Aboho, another political heavy weight and leader of the opposition in Benue South Senatorial district, Alh. Usman Abubakar Maishanu, who was the gubernatorial running mate of the ACN in the 2011 governorship elections is also at logger heads with the present fronters of the party of whom he is supposed to be a major player.Image

Young Alhaji as he is popularly known was the sole financier of the party in the Idoma speaking area of the state which makes up one whole senatorial district. He is also the most prominent opposition figure from the zone. However, he qas announced to have been expelled from the APC by a group known as the APC caucus in Benue South Senatorial district.

According to the caucus, their decision to disown Young Alhaji was because of what they termed blackmail of party cheiftains like Sen. Bola Tinubu and Sen. George Akume as well as using derogatory language on other elders of the party.

Political observers however believe that the crux of thr matter is the leadership of the yet to be constituted executive council in the state. As also corroborated by Young Alhaji in a recent interaction with Atiterkula, there is actually a plan to plant croonies of Sen. George Akume, led by the state chairman of the defunct ACN, Hon. Abba Yaro, who has variously been accused of financial misconduct even as he could not deliver his council ward in any of the elections while he held sway.

Apart from trying to impose Yaro on the APC, Akume is also accused of trying to undermine other opposition leaders in their respective zones, by planting his stooges to man the party affairs while such financiers and leaders stand aside to watch.

According to Young Alhaji be who also debunked claims of blackmailing Sen. Ahmed Bola Tinubu saying he only demanded for the sum of  200 million Naira owed him by the later, the above reasons are why Akume through his croonies alledged he stands expelled from the party.

ImageHe however saidthat the acclaimed expulsion was a charade as the party which claimed to have expelled hom has no membership in the state yet, as such it was impossible to expell him when those claiming to have expelled him were also not yet members of  the party like himself since they were yet to be registered and given numbers and cards.

Also reacting to alleged suspension, a group under the aegis of Benue APC Youth Frontier, have also described the expulsion as a hoax. In a statement by the Benue South senatorial district chapter of the APC Youth Frontier, signed by Comrades Maxwell Ogiri, Agene John and Leo Unogwu, the group questioned the platform used in carrying out the said expulsion as according to them no single person has been registered as a member od APC, even as the state harmonisation committee of the party is yet to be inaugurated.Image

Meanwhile, as the drama unfolds watchers are of the belief that last is yet to be heard of the opposition crisis  erupting within the APC as they claim this marriage of convinience is headed for divorce in the state basing their assessments on the possesive nature Akume carries the party, a character they say is inherited from his exploits in the defunct ACN, where he had the final say. Unfortunately, they observe that the dictatorial style of leadership he is accustomed to, may not go down well in the new party as the leaders of other merging parties will also need to have a stake  in the party’s activities.

It is also believed that former senate minority and senior opposition leader in the state, Prof. Daniel Saror, may not be comfortable with the such an arrangement. It is,common knowlegde also that Saror was one of the opposition leaders who were indisposed to an alliance of major opposition leaders in a meeting held at HAF Heaven Hotel, Makurdi, in 2010 to produce a consensus candidate, who will upset Suswam  in the 2011 elections. Sources say Saror led those who turned down the merger as a result of Akume’s overbearing behaviour.

The APC has potential to unseat the PDP in the state owing to her array of staunch opposition leaders occassioned by the national merger, however  feelers are that this long awaited baby may in the end be just another still birth.










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