By Bemgba Iyortyom
As the day draws closer to the 2019 Governoship Election, in Benue State there will be many narratives and talking points touching on a wide range of issues which will be distilled into a number of topics.
Top on the list of issues in Benue for the campaigns at hand will be Security, this being on account of the level of bloodshed and atrocities Fulani herdsmen have visited on the helpless people under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari.
This is a situation that has pitched the state’s governor, Samuel Ortom, in direct confrontation with a Presidency which has been largely unresponsive to the crisis and inactive in doing the needful to quell it.
If anything, the feeling among Benue people is that even the few measures which the Buhari Presidency took ostensibly to quell the situation only rather served to further compromise the security of the people of the state to the advantage of the invading Fulani herdsmen.
In the course of this, Gov. Samuel Ortom took the bull by the horns to publicly stand with his people and cry out persistently and loudly to the world over the crisis, and by doing this he sacrificed a possibly favourable personal relationship with the president and his cronies and has instead become a pariah and persona non grata around Mr. President.
It is an open secret that the Anti-Open Grazing Law which the governor brought into being and the three mass burials he conducted for slain victims of the herdsmen attacks in the state were done in defiance of the sort of pressure from the Presidency that only a man with uncommon courage could withstand.
Without much argument, Gov. Samuel Ortom has earned fast growing acclaim as ‘Defender of the Benue Valley’, an acclaim which is spreading to far and near places.
Courage, as demonstrated by Ortom, is about the most critical character attribute to have as a leader.
Now, pitted against Gov. Ortom as his major opponent in the 2019 guber race is Emmanuel Jime, a man who it is doubtful if he has this very important attribute.
The history is not far-fetched of how Jime chickened out at the most crucial moment of his political career so far, that being his withdrawal of the court case at the Supreme Court against Gov. Ortom.
The curious reason he gave publicly for his action was that President Muhammadu Buhari had told him to do so, and that is where the kernel of the matter lies.
When the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Ortom in the litigation challenging his election by Prince Terhemen Tarzoor, the apex court held that he, Tarzoor, lacked locus to challenge the governor’s emergence at the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries.
What this directly meant was that Jime on the other hand had solid locus and was touted to have been on sure grounds to winning victory.
Jime at that point represented a golden opportunity for the original change agents to reclaim their mandate which god-father, George Akume, had inveigled away to Ortom who wasn’t one of them having just crossed over from PDP overnight.
Yet, Jime stalled, stumbled and fell when it mattered most, preferring to bow in obeisence to Buhari in the manner of Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
Buhari himself, since 2003 had been going all the way to the Supreme Court to challenge his defeats in the Presidential race, so how could he stop another from following in the same footsteps which himself had already so indelibly etched in the sands of time?
Jime could have simply pointed this out to his god-father, Buhari, but that could only have been possible if he, Jime, is a man of courage.
A man who is lacking in courage and firmness will be a disaster as governor of Benue State, and this is for the fact that the times ahead are pregnant for us as a people, and we will more than ever before need rock-solid courage and firmness from the office of the governor of our state.
Jime has shown himself before as been so submissive to Buhari that he could abandon his ambition which in turn represented the ambition of an entire political movement, just to please this god-father of his who has a history of having such contempt for the people of Benue State that he can hardly even conceal.
Benue cannot afford to have a lackey, a stooge and a yes-man of President Buhari as her governor, particularly at such critical times when our security as a people within Nigeria is a matter of grave concern.
Benue does not need a Yahaya Bello.
The Ortom way is the sure way to go in the best interests of the security of the lives and properties of the Benue man, woman and child.
Bemgba Iortyom is the Director- Media & Publicity, Ortom/Abounu Campaign Organisation- 2019,