From AVIASHIMA TOOM, MakurdI
STAKEHOLDERS in Benue State no longer ponder on why Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, was led by two senators from the state, George Akume and Barnabas Gemade, representing the North West and East Senatorial districts, respectively, to pay an impromptu visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
The visit took place on the eve of the sitting of the Court of Appeal, Makurdi Division, when the court is expected to deliver judgment on the appeal filed before it by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship Candidate in Benue State in the 2015 elections, Prince Terhemen Tarzoor, challenging the judgement of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in the state which dismissed his petition against the return of Samuel Ortom as winner of the April 11, 2015 election.
While the reason for the visit was overtly indicated by the visitors to be a canvassing for more appointments for the state’s indigenes in the Buhari administration, the covert motive for the visit and their likely implications for the building of greater bonds of unity and deepening of democratic culture in the state may not be lost on keen watchers of the politics of the state, especially, against the backdrop of the struggle for control of the political space between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition PDP.
Many people have been suspicious of the stated reason of the Akume-led visitors to Aso Rock that they went searching for more federal appointments for Benue sons and daughters, considering that the three political leaders are Tiv without at least any one from the predominantly Idoma populated South Senatorial District, if the mission was to represent the interest of that part of the state as well. The implication here is that the skewed composition of the missionaries invariably presupposes that the mission, itself, was flawed from inception. In addition to all political calculations, many stakeholders in Benue are of the view that the visit to President Buhari at a tiem very close to the judgment of the Appeal Court was to save Ortom’s job and protect the Tiv hegemony in the state.
The President of Benue Youth Agenda, (BYA), Anbua Timothy, in a statement, noted that a more serious flaw in this visit is the impression it foists on Ortom as being on a mainly Tiv ethnic agenda when he is supposed to be, by his status as governor, a father to all sections and parts of the state, working at all times to build bridges of peace, unity, co-operation and equality of all citizens of the state regardless of tribe and faith. “By choosing a totally sectional delegation to a visit which aspires to such a broad mission, Ortom has exposed his chronic lack of grasp and appreciation of the intrinsic balance component sensitivities of the state he is ruling,” Anbua argued.
He emphasized that it is such a pretentious and shallow claim as to the reason for that visit that has made it inevitable for keen watchers of political events in the state to search a bit more deeply for the likely hidden motives to this August visit by these goons of the ruling party.
“In this regard, the clandestine visit in the night by Ortom and the two senators to President Buhari on the eve of the Tribunal judgement in the petition against his victory by the PDP candidate, Prince Terhemen Tarzoor, readily comes to mind, as the following morning, the tribunal which was slated to have commenced sitting by 9.00 am delayed its sitting inexplicably for over two and a half hours, to sit at 11.27 am after which it delivered a judgment dismissing Tarzoor’s petition in a manner that left everyone wondering as to what the basis for its action was,” Anbua declared.
He contended that it is, therefore, a coincidence too strong to ignore that those three APC leaders in the state have chosen, of all days, to visit Aso Rock on the eve of the sitting of the Appeal Court in Makurdi to entertain the appeal by Tarzoor against the Tribunal judgement in favour of Ortom. Moreover, following the recent judgement of the Governorship Election Tribunal for Taraba State which ran contrary to that given in Benue in a matter with similar particulars, it is expected that Ortom and his godfather, Akume, will very likely get desperate, he remarked.
The Anbua admonished that President Buhari should be aware that already the ordinary people in the country are beginning to perceive him as being willing to bend to the whims of certain entrenched powers, adding that the triumvirate of Akume, Ortom and Gemade fit this bill of a cabal determined to pay any price, including, sacrificing the wellbeing and sustainability of the democratic process in its entirety to protect their narrow and selfish interests.
According to Anbua, “the Nigerian president must be reminded that his credential as being incorruptible is seriously being put to question with his rather curious intervention in the litigations being pursued against Ortom by Right Hon. Emmanuel Jime, who was challenging the emergence of the governor as the candidate of the APC over other aspirants, a matter which was already well advanced in the law courts, but was suddenly withdrawn for the publicly stated reason that Buhari had instructed the litigants to withdraw the suit.”
Many stakeholders in the state are of the view that the contradiction in President Buhari’s intervention to save Ortom from Jime is highlighted by the fact that between 2003 and 2011, Buhari had pursued litigations in all lost elections to the Supreme Court, rejecting vehemently all entreaties from traditional rulers as well as prominent Nigerians to concede defeat. On what basis, they asked, did Buhari consider it expedient to stop another man from pursuing the same course he has always taken in his electoral contests over the years?