It is no longer news that the Supreme Court penultimate week overturned the election of two time House of Representatives member, Hon. Orker Jev of the All Progressives Alliance (APC) and declared fresh elections which will exclude Jev, to be substituted by the court declared victor, Mr. Sekav Iortyom.
Sekav Iortyom had challenged the election of Hon. Orker Jev, claiming he was the rightful candidate to represent the Action Congress of Nigeria (now APC), in the previous election. The legal tussle which lasted three years was finally concluded last week by the Supreme Court which has replaced Jev with Iortyom for the conduct of a fresh election.
The election which according to the court order is to take place within 90 days has become the talk on every political lip in the state as it will serve as prelude to the political shape of the 2015 election, especially as the determining factor for the Benue North West Senatorial District, which the current Senate Minority Leader, Sen. George Akume represents.
Buruku which plays a pivotal role in the fate of the constituency was controlled by the APC through Hon. Orker Jev, who until recent happenings was Akume’s biggest loyal lieutenant; thus left to command this garrison. This loyalty was the reason Sekav Iortyom’s substitution was effected to make sure Jev who had just decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), made it to the back to the House of Representatives.
In as much as the politically untaught will love to see this “fresh election” as a work-over, it however portends to change the shape of the forthcoming elections as there are great indications that the APC may lose this seat which it has enjoyed for three years as a result of internal wrangling and fighting within its ranks even as the fate of APC retaining the seat will greatly determine political tone of the entire Senatorial District including the political future of Sen. George Akume, the leader of the APC in the state who is angling to return to the Red chambers.
As fall out of the recently conducted nationwide congresses by the APC, the party in Benue state fell into a series of crisis turning up a number of disgruntled members who have either decamped or are planning to work against the interest of the party’s leader in the state during the forthcoming general elections. This league of angry members prominently feature, Hon. Orker Jev, the just sacked representative who will not be a participant in the reordered elections.
Hon. Jev whose delegates and preferred candidates were sidelined on alleged instructions of the Senate Minority Leader during the congresses, has long had an axe to grind with Akume over the issue before his unfortunate sack. Many close to the former House of Reps member believe that Jev who has nothing at stake to lose if his party looses the seat and thus said to be planning to fight against the ambition of the APC as a wounded lion in revenge for losing his seat to the party’s candidate.
Jev is also believed to be joining forces with other top politicians in the state to usher in the Labour Party (LP) which is more or less not present in the state. This plot which is believed to be at its peak of preparation is known to be hatched by majority of those who were frustrated during the congresses and have refused to join the PDP and thus are looking for an alternative. Jev who is amongst these dissatisfied APC leaders, is also named amongst those who are behind the party’s emergence.
With this arrangement, Jev is also planning to return to the Supreme Court to seek interpretation of the judgement; to enquire if the reordered election allows for replacement of candidates or conduct of fresh primaries by political parties who had earlier fielded candidates in the election. This because the LP had field one Bar. John Tine, during the 2011 polls who many believe is in an understanding with Jev, perchance the court allows for replacement of candidates, he will be willing to give way for Jev to contest on the platform of the party.
Apart from the fact that the APC will have to fight disgruntled elements that have left the party alongside her just ousted representative, there is also a bigger battle to fight within the remaining members of the party. It is wide knowledge that the replacement candidate, Mr. Sekav Iortyom, also may have a grouse with Akume who manipulated his nomination to favour Hon. Orker Jev, thus keeping him from the green chambers for three years.
Iortyom who is known to be a close ally of former opposition stalwart, Dr. Iorchia Ayu, is yet to reconcile with Sen. Akume whose grouse is the former’s relationship with Ayu who is a major player in the politics of the constituency. Akume and Ayu were long time allies but the pair fell out as a result of leadership tussle which led to the sidelining of Ayu in affairs of the ACN (now APC) of which he was also a founding member; this disagreement led to his subsequent return to the PDP.
Judging from the frosty relationship between Akume and Ayu, with Iorytom on the side, it is obvious that the duo even if they finally scale the hurdle of making it to the green chambers will still be only enemies within the fold until a truce is reached between the Senate Leader and his former boss who may in turn call his dogs to lie low.
Another serious threat to Akume’s survival based on the decision of the reordered election is the PDP who have an ever ready contestant in Mr. Terfa Ityav who has tried his luck at this position for two consecutive times without success. Tyav who will capitalize on the above wrangling in the APC to achieve his long desired dream may not only win the election but also attempt to retrieve the constituency from the grasp of the APC, making it a PDP dominated constituency as against earlier political alignments. This will detrimentally affect the final elections in 2015 against Akume as Buruku Federal Constituency was earlier seen as his biggest stronghold where majority of his votes came from courtesy of his alliance with Orker Jev.
If Buruku becomes a PDP controlled constituency, Akume will be left to grapple for survival with the remaining Gboko-Tarka Federal Constituency where his greatest albatross and threat, Hon. Mike Mku who has already declared interest in the Senate will be waiting to wrestle out these remaining parts of the Senatorial district. It is common knowledge that Mku is the only candidate so far in the PDP that can upstage Akume, with considerable followership in Gboko-Tarka constituency to wane Akume’s lordship of the area.
Worthy of note is the fact that the duo of Sekav Iortyom and Orker Jev are also swearing fire and brim stone perchance they do not make it in the reordered election, to contest the senate against Akume under the platforms of APC and LP respectively. This is even as they claim ownership of the position which they argue that by the unwritten Tiv rule of kingship zoning, the seat belongs to their constituency since all other blocs in the Senatorial district have tasted it, with Akume taking their rightful turn as it now stands.
With the aforementioned political situation, the fresh elections ordered in Buruku Federal constituency will definitely be a battle to watch and one of survival for APC and her leader in the state as AKume will definitely have to face his demons to survive this litmus test.