As the change in Benue State takes roots, it is coming to light that some mischievous politicians, especially in Makurdi local government Area, have already perfected plans to ensure that the governor of Benue State, Chief Dr Samuel I. Ortom does not have a hold on the politics of his immediate catchment area known as MINDA.
The area known locally in Benue State as MINDA comprises four local government areas, viz, Guma, Gwer, Gwer West and Makurdi. Governor Ortom is from Guma.
These politicians who are mostly from Makurdi are led by the so called All Progressive Congress, APC’s Zone B political leader, Chief Akange Audu and Benue State House of Assembly Majority Leader, Barrister Benjamin Adanyi. Their actions show that they are out rightly undermining most of the all inclusive policy decisions of the Ortom adminstration as regards the unity and growth of the party in the area.
I wish to expose these people, their evil plans and the fallacies they parade as a justification for their clandestine political moves which are clearly a par with the strategic plan of the Ortom administration to run an all inclusive administration base on social justice and fair play.
Their latest plan is to refute the zoning template that the governor has set as a guide in the party for the forth coming chairmanship polls in the state.
Inaugurating the caretaker committee councils in July last year, Governor Ortom stated publicly and emphatically that all the sections who were benefitting in the caretaker chairmanship slot from the respective local government councils were automatically disqualified to contest in the council polls proper.
Benue has 23 councils and in all the other 22 in the state including those in the MINDA area like Gwer, Gwer West and Guma have complied with this directive and are set to implement it , but in Makurdi , Chief Audu and Barrister Adanyi are bent on disregarding this directive from the governor.
It is important at this juncture , to clearly bring out the picture of the composition of Makurdi Local government and the possible reasons that these men put across to justify their unholy political activities.
Makurdi Local government is made up of Isherev people, the Ipusu , Uke , Tyoshin and Ugondo communities. In the build up to the 2015 General Elections, two prominent Isherev sons, Barrister Emmanuel Jime and Hon. Terhemen Tarzoor also aspired to be governor of the state with Ortom . Most ihyarev people , as expected , in Guma , Gwer West and Makurdi Local government Areas supported and took side with their own.
Ortom won the election eventually, and from his actions, he has shown that he is ready to play an all inclusive government, but for unclear reasons, it appears, Chief Audu who is Ugondo and Adanyi who is Tyoshin have been doing everything possible to either frustrate or tacitly ignore the governor, as they demonize the Isherev simply because they stood with their own, what even the Ugondo too did in 1999 yet were later integrated.
It will be remembered that In 1999, the main challenger of Senator George Akume to the Benue Government House race , Late Chief Ignitious Nomhwange of the then APP was a Masev man. It is on record that most Masev people voted overwhelmingly for him from Gwer, including the Ugondo people in Makurdi . But after he won the election, Akume accepted the Masev people and gave them several key positions in his government including that of Ter Makurdi Chief Sule Abenga, Late Senator Joshua Adagba, Senator Zone B, Fred Orti , Mrs Hanatu Ulaam, Margret Iormember who were made commissioners , Akange Audu who was appointed a permanent secretary and a host of others .
The hypocrisy of the Ugondo and Tyoshin people is not even logical because, in the last elections, APC lost both the presidential and gubernatorial elections in their areas as it was in Isherev. The lost was so abysmal that some of these politicians like Adanyi lost even at their polling units, so why put emphasis on Isherev support of Tarzoor in 2015 election as a yardstick to ostracize them from the mainstream because it is a historical fact since 1999, the Isherev people of Makurdi are the only voting bloc that have always stood with the ruling party ? This brings to suspect the real reasons while Chief Audu and Adanyi are playing this political card.
Today, an Ugondo man, Hon. Joseph Gbashima holds the caretaker chairmanship of Makurdi Local government, so as expected since it is in line with the governor’s public pronouncement, they are automatically disqualified from vying for the council polls, but chief Audu is bent on putting this aside and going ahead with an unpopular decision. He is still insisting that Ugondo produces the next chairmanship.
This is to note further that the last caretaker chairman, Hon. Linus Tyogbawer who was appointed by the former governor, was also Ugondo. The current chairman Joseph Gbashima is enjoying his second term having been sworn in July last year. This made it the third time that Ugondo will be doing this. If the Ugondo people wanted to participate in the polls proper, it was easy for them to sacrifice the caretaker chairmanship.
Apart from the Caretaker chairmanship appointment, the Ugondo and Tyoshin have benefitted a lot from this present administration at the detriment of the other major voting blocs in Makurdi. This is even when they do not have the numerical edge over the Isherev, Uke and Ipusu groups who want the governor’s decision to be implemented in line with his public pronouncement.
For example, let’s take an Xray of the voting patterns in the last election and see how these over pampered people, the Ugondo and Tyoshin do not even worth the attention they get judging from their political capital.
Makurdi has eleven council wards namely; Agan , Ankpa/Wadata, Bar, Central/South Mission, Clerk/Market , Fiidi, Mbalagh , Modern Market , North Bank 1, North Bank 2 and Wailomayo.
Out of these wards the Isherev are predominantly in Agan, Mbalagh and North bank 1 council wards. They are also in North bank 2 with the Ukes . Some are in Bar, Ankpa Wadatta and Fiidi wards , representing 7 out of the 11 wards .
The Ipusu are predominantly in Wailomayo which is the most populous council ward in the state, they are also in Fiidi, Bar, Modern Market, Ankpa Wadatta, North Bank 1 , Central/ South mission and Clerk /Market wards .
The Ukes are found in North Bank 2, Clerk /Market, Central South Mission and Ankpa Wadatta.
Ugondo are in Bar and Fiidi wards. Even in Bar the Ugondos control only 3 polling units out of 24, while the Isherev and Ipusu control 13 polling units. In Fiidi, out of 38 polling units, Ugondos control only 16.
The Tyoshin people are in Bar and Modern Market wards only. They control the other 8 polling units in Bar,out of the 24 and 12 polling units in Modern market while the Ipusu control the remaining 12 polling units .
Looking at this break down, it is clear that the Tyoshin are less than a council ward just as Ugondo too, yet in the present dispensation they are occupying positions of commissioner of women affairs, Executive Secretary Teaching Service Board, The Majority Leader in the House of Assembly and some are appointed as special Assistants to the governor.
At the local government level, they have the caretaker chairman who has already served two terms. They also have the DGSA, HPA, Treasurer, Education Secretary, Four heads of department out of five, while the Isherev have just an internal auditor and 1 HOD and nothing at the state level.
This disregard and open confrontation to Ortom and the powers of his office by an Audu who had nursed a gubernatorial ambition before , is a thing of concern. And for his over ambitious co- traveler, Barrister Adanyi who had the audacity to challenge the nomination of Hon. James Pine as commissioner, simply because of the latter’s loyalty and closeness to Ortom , is also suspicious . This is more so judging from the fact that they have no political capital.
This open challenge to the governor took an ugly dimension during the decamping ceremony organized to welcome Ihyarev people, mostly Isherev from PDP to APC in Makurdi on 31st March, this year. When the idea of a decamping ceremony was first muted, they vehemently opposed it . When they saw that they could not stop the event, they distanced themselves from anything to do with.
Even the fact that this was the first public appearance of the leader of the party in the state, Senator Akume to attend after his return from a medical trip to Germany, who also accompanied by Senator JKN Waku, but Chief Audu , the council chairman , Hon. Gbashima who is an appointee of the governor and was supposed to be the host of the event and the most senior Ugondo man in political hierarchy, the APC state deputy chairman , Hon JT Orkar, refused to attend the event which the State chairman of the party Comrade Abba Yaro was also in attendance.
This total disregard for the governor of the state and leader of the party, George Akume by these personalities on that day, have only gone to show the kind of powers these people have allotted to themselves .
No wonder it is common to hear the supporters of this Igbo chief, Chief Audu refer to him today as the de facto governor of Benue state, saying gleefully that Ortom is just a shadow governor whose decisions in the area cannot hold water unless they tally with what Chief Audu and Adanyi want.
In their power drunkenness, the dou of Audu and Adanyi are not only playing MINDA politics against the Isherev people alone, but they are also not comfortable with the Ipusu who have the highest voting population in Makurdi. The most visible place where Ipusu people are marginalized by the Tyoshin people is in Modern market ward where in spite of their population and voting strength which outnumber the Tyoshin, they have not been allowed to produce a councilor even for once. More so, out of the 26 party positions in the council ward, the Tyoshin went home with 24 and gave just only a paltry 2 to the Ipusu.
This is dangerous because what affects the Ipusu in Makurdi, spread across the ten local government areas of Ipusu beginning from Tarka to Vandeikya. In fact the Ipusu people who have experienced marginalization in the hands of Akange Audu and Adanyi who called them visitors immediately after elections , during the chairmanship zoning issue in Makurdi , decided to take side with the Isherev people.
It took the intervention of the party leader in the state to compel the Ipusu community to go with Ugondo and Tyoshin, in a meeting engineered by Hon Adanyi who provided the official bus of Benue Sate House of Assembly to convey the Ipusu leadership to Abuja; and for the fear of being victimized, the Ipusu have submitted to this coercion. It is now obvious that the leader was misled by Adanyi using the same formula of blackmail that Isherev people are a property of Hon. Avine Agbom , House Assembly member from Makurdi North constituency, simply because Hon Agbom stood by Emmanue Jime during APC gubernatorial primary crisis.
Yes, Iam an Isherev man and I don’t regret standing by Emmanuel Jime and was not comfortable with the way Jime was treated by the party but we are ready to join forces with our brother Ortom to make him succeed, but what Chief Audu and Adanyi are doing is capable of creating a rift not just between Ortom and Akume, but setting Ortom up against his brothers in MINDA area especially the Isherev for reasons best known to them.
I will continue to expose their excesses targeted at undermining the person and office of the incumbent governor, whom rather than rally round him to succeed are now, frustrating his goodwill. I will post the whole results of polling units controlled by Ugondo/Tyoshin in Makurdi local government to show how they lack the moral justification to continue to blackmail the Isherev people.
To our leader, distinguished Senator George Akume. I admire what you have done to the Ihyarev people of Guma and Makurdi over the years. I advise you to keep this relationship going and the best way to do this now is not allowing Chief Audu and Adanyi to mislead you into taking side with selfish policies in Makurdi Local Government. I say this because, when Adanyi was reminded of the governors directive that those who accepted Caretaker committee chairmen were automatically disqualified from contesting, he is said to have restored that he does not take directives from the governor but from the leader of the party in the state.
To be continued….
Tarnongo, a public affairs commentator writes from Agan, Makurdi.