Intrigues over search for Ortom’s successor
The search for a successor to Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has begun with each of the three senatorial districts in the state, claiming that it is their turn to produce next governor.
Already, aspirants from different political parties have started to lobby critical stakeholders to support their ambitions.
Interestingly, most of these contenders hail from either Kwande or Jechira intermediate bloc of Benue Northeast Senatorial District, popularly referred to as Zone A.
Since the creation of Benue State in 1976 and return of democratic governance in 1979, the Kwande bloc was the first to produce governor, the late Aper Aku, who was inaugurated as the first democratic governor of the state. He served his first term of four years but his second tenure was truncated by the military in 1983.
Also in the third republic, the Jechira bloc in the same zone A produced the late Reverend Father Moses Orshio Adasu, whose tenure was also cut short by the military.
In this dispensation, Senator George Akume from Zone B governed the state for eight years before Gabriel Suswam from the Sankera divide of Zone A succeeded him. He completed his two terms in office before the lot fell on the incumbent Governor, Samuel Ortom from Minda axis of Benue Zone B.
The thinking in the political circle is that since the governorship slot has been rotating among the five ruling houses of Tiv nation, it should again, start anew from Kwande where the game ended midway before moving to its current direction.
But there are intrigues and opposition against Kwande bloc producing the next governor because Tor-Tiv is from that axis of the state.
Irked by such unfounded postulation that a, ‘’rat cannot own two tails,” a political analyst in the state, Joseph Akaazua dismissed the argument, saying that traditional tools are never considered in sharing political positions.
He cited several instances to buttress his argument. According to him, “In Guma, apart from having the former Tor Tiv, Alfred Akase Torkuma, the current governor won election and became governor”, adding that Tor Lobi is Nongov, from Nzorov ward, same as the governor.
He also stated that Ter Guma is Nongov and Nzorov ward too, even as he noted that the current local council chairman is Nongov and still from Nzorov council ward like the governor and others.
He said, “No one denied the Nzorov ward the chairmanship because they have the governor or Tor LOBI or Ter Guma,” he stressed.
Another instance according to Akaazua, “In Vandeikya local council, the Tor Jechira, Ter Kunav and the local government chairman are from Tiev council ward and heaven did not fall.”
He explained that the Tiv political leader, the late Joseph Saawuan Tarka was a Senator while his son Mbakorkaa was at the same time a member of the House of Representatives.
To demonstrate the seriousness of their claim to the office of the Governor come 2023, Kwande have gone ahead to parade a unmber of aspirants including; Dr Paul Orkuma, Wayo Ubwa, Chief Roberts Orya, Dr Paul Orhii, Barrister Chille Igbawua, Engr Terver Atsar, Hon. Terwase Orbunde, Engr Tertsea Gbisheh and Isaiah Pevnor.
However, politicians that are canvassing for Jechira to produce the next governor are of the opinion that it will be unfair to allow Kwande to occupy the traditional seat of Tor Tiv through Prof. James Ortese Ayatse and also occupy the office of Governor in 2023.
Their argument is premised on the alleged statement by Sen. Dr Joseph Tarka in 1979 that “a rat cannot have two tails”.
Senator Tarka, who made the political statement to enable him go to the Senate after losing out at the Presidential primaries in Lagos against Alhaji Shehu Shagari did not respect that statement, when he “forced” his son Mbakorkar on the Jemgbagh people as their representative at the lower chambers of the National Assembly,” an analyst said.
A political analyst, Hon. Oryina Iorvaa told The Guardian that the alleged postulation by Tarka could not find any expression in his own Local Government Area at a point when Akume emerged as Benue State governor with his elder brother HRH Indyer Akume presiding over the Tarka traditional institution and younger brother Hon. Akoom Akume Dajoh, superintending as council chairman.
Hon. Iorvaa has described the argument from that Kwande cannot occupy both the traditional office of Tor Tiv and governorship as “baseless”.
Meanwhile, another political group, Benue Rebirth Movement from the Benue South Senatorial District, populated by the Idoma and Igede speaking nations has begun intense campaign for power shift to Zone C, which has never produced governor since the creation of Benue State in 1979.
Led by Major Gen. Morgan Ogbole (Rtd), the movement has visited prominent traditional rulers and opinion leaders in the Tiv speaking local councils to press forward their demand for power shift in the spirit of brotherhood, justice, equity and fair play.
In the meantime, they expressed support for the Benue State Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu and Dr Patrick Ogbu, aspirants in Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while Hon. Sam Odeh and Dr Dickson Akoh hold sway in the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Now that the die is cast, it is left to be seen, where the pendulum will swing but the intrigues appear interesting as days and events unfold.