The seeming grouse between Hon. Emmanuel Jime and Sen. JKN Waku, against the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Benue state has continued to linger despite efforts by chieftains of the party both at national and state levels to resolve the crisis. Though the misunderstanding between Hon. Emmanuel Jime and leadership of the party in the state was said to have started during the party’s ward congress, about the manner it was conducted, nobody anticipated that the crisis would degenerate to the present condition. The conflict between the two APC heavy weights and their party stemmed from the way the serving Governor Samuel Ortom had emerged as candidate of the party.
Though both seemed not to have a problem with Governor Samuel Ortom as a person, they expressed their displeasure at the way the party leadership carried out the process, which produced him as a candidate. They claimed there was no consensus in nominating the governorship candidate as alleged by the party, insisting that if there were a consensus, it would have come among the aspirants and not from somebody who was not part of that contest. It could be noted that the party’s governorship primary contest was supposed to have been held on December 4, but it was shifted to December 5, because of an injunction brought on that day by Professor Steve Ugbah, restraining the conduct of the primaries.
When the court injunction was vacated and primary was supposed to hold again on December 11, key chieftains of the party allegedly frustrated the process, to scheme the legitimate contestants out of the race. One of the contestants Sen. JKN Waku, was even reported to have said that the gimmick was to delay the primaries having known that by 12 midnight of that day, the time frame would have elapsed. He also said that after contesting and failing governorship primary election of the PDP, Ortom who he noted was not one of the aspirants in the APC, was brought in through the back door and his name sent to the INEC as the party’s consensus candidate.
Angered by the situation, four aspirants who contested the election on the platform of the party approached an Abuja High Court and filed a case against the party and its leadership praying the withdrawal of Ortom as candidate insisting that they be allowed to participate in the primaries or process of choosing a consensus candidate. The case, ‘Prof Steve Ugbah and three others vs State APC Chairman, Abba Yaro and three others,’ filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja witnessed several dramatic twists. Two plaintiffs Chief Akange Audu, and Chief Mike Iordye who were also governorship aspirants in APC had declared in court that their signatures had been forged in the document, which purported that they had adopted Rt Hon Jime as the consensus candidate. Chief Iordye also requested the Court’s permission to withdraw from the case and was obliged while Chief Audu asked to be joined as a party, which was also granted.
One of the plaintiffs, Professor Steve Ugbah became the Director General of the Ortom/ Abounu Governorship Campaign Organization and successfully prosecuted the campaign, though there was allegedly no indication that he withdrew from the case. However, Jime and Waku vowed to continue with the case until justice was delivered. But as seeming as the case might be, pundits felt there was another factor that came into playthe Iharev Agenda. Both Sen. Waku and Emmanuel Jime are from Iharev section of MINDA and their game plan was for an Iharev man to emerge governor. It was the same thing that played in the PDP and gave rise to the emergence of Hon. Terhemen Tarzoor as candidate of that party. MINDA comprises Masev, Iharev and Nongov, but Iharev form majority and usually use their strength to negotiate positions in their favour; this was the same thing they wanted.
They had thought that if an Iharev man was candidate from both PDP and APC they would have had a better chance of producing governor. This unfortunately was not so as the APC, which was the major opposition party in the state was not shopping to favour ethnicity but a credible candidate that would deliver the state to the party. This was why they went for Ortom whose popularity cut across the entire state and party lines despite the fact that he was from a minority group even among the MINDA people. The decision of the party though did not go well with some of the aspirants and they faulted the process and manner governor Ortom, was brought in. But it boosted the party chances and produced the desired result.
This did not, however, changed the decision of some of the aspirants like Waku and Jime and they insisted that they would pursue their case to its logical conclusion. They felt all the aspirants would have been involved in the process of choosing a consensus candidate by coming together, sitting down to nominate one of their own or take permission from the national secretariat to extend the date for the primary election.
Some were even angry that having committed funds and suffered for the party for some time they would have been accorded some respect by leadership of the party in the state. Though President Buhari was said to have intervened in the case and asked the aggrieved parties and leadership of the APC in the state to settle the case out of court, there was still some sort of disagreement over the issue. This seeming disagreement was what many people felt caused the suspension of both Hon. Jime and Senator Waku along with others.
Though other members of the party with similar issues were suspended along with Jime and Waku, pundits felt it was done to disabuse minds of members of the public from thinking that it was targeted at the duo of Jime and Waku. Sen. JKN Waku, Emmanuel Jime, Mrs Dorothy Mato, Justice Bokon Utsaha among others, were those that were affected by the suspension which the leadership of the party alleged was as a result of their involvement in anti-party activities. However, pundits regarded as ill timed and unnecessary the suspension, most especially as it was believed that it was based on legal actions taken against the party by the affected members to addressed some issues of irregularities that resulted from the primaries of the party.
They thought it was an attempt by the party to muzzle the aggrieved candidates and prevent them from seeking redress to their problems. They suggested that it was more proper for the party to allow for internal democracy, allow aggrieved members free hand to pursue their legal rights or sought alternative means to resolve the problem peacefully.
The suspension also generated a lot of comments and could have resulted to a serious crisis in the party if withdrawal was not later affected. Leadership of the party at the national Secretariat, it was learnt, had held several meetings over the issue and advised the party leadership in the state to return home and resolve the issue particularly with Hon. Jime and Sen. Waku. Shortly after the suspension was lifted, Governor Samuel Ortom, visited the Tiv paramount ruler, Tor Tiv (iv), HRH Chief Alfred Akawe Torkula, and allegation emerged in some quarters that he appealed to the traditional ruler to wade into the issue. However, much was not heard of what the monarch did to resolve the issue. Rumour in some quarters had it that the Tor Tiv had attempted to mediate over the issue but the aggrieved parties were adamant insisting their cases must be heard.
It has even been alleged that Hon. Jime may have been thinking of out of court settlement to respect President Buhari and yet he is secretly working together with the PDP candidate Terhemen Tarzoor to ensure the removal of Governor Ortom from office. Just as Jime and Senator Waku are in court against their party contesting the process that brought in the state governor, Terhemen Tarzoor also has taken Dr. Ortom before the Governorship Elections Petitions Tribunal, alleging that there was no valid candidate in the APC, praying that the Tribunal should declare him governor.
With the cases by Hon. Emmanuel Jime and Senator Waku on one hand and Terhemen Tarzoor on the other hand, there seems to be serious pressure on the governor and pundits are of the view that if the ruling party and the governor do not tread with caution and seek for quick ways of handling the situation, APC may loose the Benue number one seat. As it is now, it is not certain whether Jime has the interest to withdraw the case from court or not to pave way for out of court settlement. It remains to be seen how all these play out but this has caused a lot of public anxiety and confusion as most people feel the issue should be settled sooner than later to allow the state move forward as there are more pressing issues to be resolved.
Mr. Amos Iorger a graduate of political science, from Benue state university says “I have been following this case, though some of us supported governor Samuel Ortom while he was in PDP as aspirant and when he was made candidate of APC I faulted the way he was brought in. “Most of us had lost hope in the previous administration and hoped Ortom as a man of God would bring succour to the people but because of the way he came in, there are several cases against him and we are afraid he may be removed in an embarrassing way.” ‘We are praying to God to grant him victory in all the cases so that he will fulfill the promises he made for a better Benue state.”
But Sekav Tartenger, a Makurdi based businessman, said, “We are worried that the same thing that happened to Suswam will still repeat itself to Ortom. For more than three years Suswam had battled in court because of numerous cases against him, and the result was poverty in the state. Resources that were supposed to be used for development of the state were alleged to have been diverted in fighting the case, businesses crumbled, payment of workers salary became a problem and projects that could have positively touched the lives of the people were abandoned. This was not what we bargained for, we want our state to develop, but with these cases by Jime, Sen. Waku and Tarzoor against APC and governor Ortom, I don’t know what is going to happen to Benue state.” That said, the coming week will determine where the state goes with the Waku-Jime-Ortom case.
-John Shiaondo, Makurdi captures reason behind the difficulty in resolving lingering crisis with the state APC, started by the duo of Senator Joseph Waku and Emmanuel Jime