The war of guns and knives seem to have moved to the war of powers in Benue State. Groups now loyal to different leaders in the Benue equation are marching on the state’s House of Assembly where impeachments are the latest political password.
The killings by herdsmen seem to have caused angst in the state and caused a shift in political choice away from the ruling party to the former ruling power bloc. As if to align with the new opinion shift in the state, the governor, Samuel Ortom, decamoed from the All Progressive Congress (APC) to the People Democratic Party (PDP), apparently realizing that many voters in the state would not touch thumps anywhere near the party he climbed into power on.
So, according to issiders, instead of wooing the Benue people over to his ruling party, the governor rather ran faster than his supporters to wherever they were running to. The grouse with his former lords in the state was that he said they gave him a red card. The national body intervened to nolify the red card like in Video Assisted Referee (VAR) match, but Ortom refused to see any green card anymore.
Now, his special adviser on media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua, seems to confirm the speculation. It is now clear that the ‘red card’ was the least of the reasons for the escape but a seeming strong desire not to be abandoned by his people on the exodus.
The Governor on Sunday, speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua, mentioned the reasons for his departure, chief among which being the desire of the Benue people to fight against the return of Buhari. Ortom would not want to be against the move of his people and thus acted locally wise.
Agerzua revealed: “Besides, major stakeholders in the state advised Governor Ortom to leave the APC because of the federal government’s alleged complicity in the ongoing killings in the country including Benue state.
“They advised him to change platform so that they can fight against the return of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
“The stakeholder are scared that if Buhari comes back in 2019 the killings would be worst because it is clear that he supports the conquest and occupation agenda of his ethnic group, the Fulanis.
“The people claimed that the APC at the centre is an accomplice because you see key Ministers of the administration, key Ministers of the National security council, like that of Internal Affairs, Defence, IG of Police and the Chief of Army Staff coming out to condemn the anti open grazing law of the state which is a major landmark law because it opposes the Fulani agenda.
“They are using grazing to conquer and occupy. But now both the government of the APC and the party machinery are now trying to change the narrative of the Benue killings to blame the victims instead of the aggressors.
The other reasons include what he called lack of internal democracy within the ranks of the APC in the state. “You have a situation where a powerful individual highjacked every structure of the party and excluded all other stakeholders including senators and members of the National Assembly and key party members,” he stated.
“That is why they are now claiming that he is sponsoring the killings.
“Is it Ortom that is killing in Plateau, Adamawa, Zamfara and other states of the federation? So are you saying that the governors of these states are killing their people? Okay since you know the killers, whoever they may be why not arrest the people involved?
“Why the Benue stakeholder believe that the federal government is complicit in the killings is their failure to arrest the leadership Miyetti Alla Kautal Hore who had earlier issued threats against Benue and eventually executed that same threat even after the matter was reported severally?
“The other reason is Senator George Akume’s inordinate ambition to become senate president that has made him to sacrifice anyone or anybody or even his people to achieve his ambition.
“We gathered that He has been promised the senate presidency and he has sacrificed Ortom and his people. You know he contested the position in 2007 and 2011. His whole life is to become the senate president at the expense of anything and he is satisfied.
“It is that ambition that made him to sacrifices Ortom to the federal powers.
“Another issue is Senator Akume’s antecedents. It was not possible for Ortom to contain Akume. Nobody has been able to keep a lasting relationship with Akume in Benue state, nobody has the capacity. It is impossible to cohabit with Akume politically for long. It is impossible. Ask the likes of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, Terhemba Shija his former campaign Director General.
“Is it Senator Gemade, is it Senator David Mark, is it Gabriel Suswam? Name them.
“Akume talked about Ortom’s non performance, it cannot be that issue because all the people listed here did not have performance issues yet Akume fell out with them.
“If you talk of non perforce it means that Akume has indicted himself because he brought Ortom and then nominated key officials in his cabinet and he asked non of them to resign on account of non performance.
“Everyone know that Ortom became Governor in time of war, what we are going through is a warlike situation where 18 out of 23 local government areas were under siege. It means Ortom is Governor in time war which is a different ball game apart from the economic challenge.
“Apart from that he has recorded major milestones in health, education, security and infrastructure. Lots of projects are being executed in the rural areas. Bridges, roads and electricity. There are about 70 projects ongoing presently across the state.
“Moreover there is a grand conspiracy against Governor Ortom from APC forces from within and outside the state which was uncovered. This is not only against his reelection but against the wishes of the people of the state.
“Another issue is the APC administration’s failure to deliver on its campaign promises of security, economic rejuvenation and fight against corruption.
“They have clearly failed. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, seems to be going after perceived enemies of the government. There no visible federal government presence in Benue, all federal roads are in terrible state. So from all these Ortom saw that his interest and those of the people cannot be protected in the APC so he had to leave.”
MEANWHILE, the fight for the pieces of the mantle has intensified in the former Food Basket of the Nation that may have turned into the Valley of Death. On July 30, 2018, eight lawmakers in the local parliament under the APC served impeachment notice to Ortom. Ortom defected from the APC to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) five days ago while the plot to oust him is reportedly being coordinated by Terkimbi Ikyange who was removed as Speaker of the assembly last week.
The anti-Ortom lawmakers were listed as Adanyi Benjamin, Terhemba Chabo, Benjamin Nungwa, Bem Mngutyo, Adams Okloho, James Okefe and Nick Eworo.
According to Agerzua, the lawmakers who sat in the state’s Assembly complex on Monday gained access to the state assembly complex while the police barricaded further access to the house.
Media reports said the legislators, on Friday, scaled the fence into the assembly but could not enter the chamber. The 22 who are loyal to the governor then converged on the government house to hold plenary.
At the sitting, a six-week suspension was imposed on Ikyange who was accused of allegedly disparaging the house by mobilising security operatives to the assembly.
Now, a detachment of heavily armed policemen have currently shutdown the Benue State House of Assembly denying workers access. It was gathered that youths from Benue state have, in the early hours of Monday, as at 5 am, trooped en masse to block the Benue Assembly complex over what they claimed was plots impeach Ortom.
Now that the matter has moved to the youths, it mat get worse and could deteriorate to clashes with security agencies in a state where the youths have faced security agencies in fierce battles and waged wars with highly armed herdsmen.