Ortom vs Jime: APC, PDP in ‘rat race’ to Benue People’s House [ANALYSIS]
Ameh Comrade Godwin
March. 08, 2019
As electorate in Benue State storm polling booths across the 23 Local Government Areas of the State on Saturday to decide who will pilot the affairs of the state for another four years, DAILY POST’s Ameh Comrade Godwin and looks at the likely events that would determine the ‘rat race’ to the ‘Benue People’s House.’
It is a known fact that the Saturday, March 9, 2019 gubernatorial election in Benue State is between incumbent Governor Samuel Ortom of the Peoples Democratic Party,PDP, and Emmanuel Jime of the All Progressives Congress,APC.
Before the February 23 presidential election, DAILY POST had predicted that Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party would have a smooth ride in the food basket state.
As predicted, Atiku won, but not as smooth as expected due to the heavy presence of the federal might in the state.
Tomorrow, history might repeat itself but the aftermath remains unpredictable.
Ortom: The ‘Civilian General’ against the Federal Might
Since his defection from the All Progressives Congress, APC, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in July 2018 following the crash of his relationship with his estranged political leader, George Akume, Ortom has become a major point of target of, ‘Abuja Political Lords,’ but the governor has consistently avowed his commitment to a progressive Benue. Despite his self-will, there are other obstacles back home generated by local politicians that have remained another source of drawback his re-election bid. We shall, however, save this for the last in this analysis.
Following the successful passage of the anti-open grazing law in December 2017, the people of the state conferred on him the titles of Civilian General and the Defender of Benue Valley. This was, however, the beginning of his endless fight with the federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari who is also a herdsman. Analysts are of the opinion that Ortom’s decision was directly against the usual body language of President Muhammadu Buhari who has refused to take a glaring position on the issue of herdsmen invasion of the Benue valley or any other part of the country.
The trouble got to its ‘crescendo’ when the Benue governor sought the sympathy of the global community in a mass burial organized to bid farewell to the over 73 persons killed by herdsmen in the State. Many were of the notion that burial was a direct incitement of the people against the Buhari-led Federal Government and equally a bad campaign for the expected block vote for Mr President from the North Central. And it appears the Federal Government has vowed to push the people’s governor out of power for fearlessly standing with the people in their trying times.
Despite his soured relationship with the federal government, Ortom has insisted that he has no regrets appending his signature to the controversial bill and other actions taken at the peak of the crisis.
“Over 200 people, who would have been in school are currently at home, while about 500, 000 IDPs are scattered across various camps in the state. Some died while running away from death and I remember very well that when the Sharia Law was enacted in Zamfara State, Benue indigenes that were not comfortable with the law relocated to their state. How can we achieve development in the midst of lawlessness?” Ortom had replied his critics over the signing of the bill into law.
Though his actions have pitched him against the federal government, it has, however, endeared him to the heart of the people who believe he saved them from bloodthirsty herdsmen. Ortom in Benue is seen as a fearless and selfless political figure who has gallantly protected the people against an alleged plot to take over Benue land. Many believe that the situation would have been worse today if the governor had danced to the rhythm of the ‘drum’ by the Federal government and other chieftains of the APC from the State.
Consequently, Ortom would be literarily going into the race with four people to contend with; viz. Jime, Akume, federal government and security forces.
But it appears the people are his last hope.
Already, report had it that the federal government had deployed nine commissioners of police and heavy security to the state ahead of the elections.
The governor had urged his supporters to be law-abiding despite the heavy security presence before, during and after the polls.
He said, “Our ambition as politicians is not worth the blood of anybody. For me, I would rather lose than win my election by violence because it is absolutely unnecessary to spill blood for any office because power belongs to God only.”
Analysts believe that out of the 23 local government area, Ortom might sweep sixteen while his opponent might take the remaining seven.
Among the local government that may overwhelmingly vote for Ortom are: Ado, Ogbadibo, Okpokwu, Obi, Oju, Apa, Buruku, Gboko, Guma, Logo, Makurdi, Otukpo, Gwer East, Gwer West, Ushongo and Vandeikya.
Jime and his hope on federal might, godfather
Many Benue natives believe that Emmanuel Jime, a former federal lawmaker representing Makurdi/Guma is just an extension of Akume’s political dynasty.
One of the major odds against this soft-spoken federal government appointee is his move to excise Idoma and Igede from Benue the valley during his days at the green chamber. This move is counting against him in Benue South.
Also, his leaning on Akume, who has since lost the favour of the people of Benue, might not help his ambition.
He would get bloc votes from Agatu, Katsina-Ala, Konshisha, Kwande, Ohimini, Tarka and Ukum but might not be enough to take him to the Benue People’s House.
Akume’s factor: His last bite for political relevance
After losing his senatorial seat to Oker Jev of the Peoples Democratic Party on February 23, former governor of the state, Geroge Akume may come all out on Saturday to redeem his battered political image.
Many had thought Akume would win his fourth term ticket on the platter of gold considering his political strength and connection.
Alas! He lost his political structure following his alleged comment that Benue people were behind the herdsmen killings in the State. While some may agree with Akume’s position, many Benue people have frowned at his position, alleging that the former governor had by the statement displayed an extreme form of selfishness, having, fortunately, found himself favoured by the Federal Government.
Akume, who is the chairman, senate committee on Army has been fingered in the massive deployment of army into the state ahead of the polls.
The Suswam factor
Hon. Gabriel Suswam is undoubtedly one of the best governors Benue people have ever had. This is solely responsible for his growing popularity even after he exited the Government House. Consequently, his support for the incumbent Governor will likely be an added advantage to his re-election bid.
In Benue, is going to be a clash of Civilian General and the Abuja Lords.
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