Eight days to the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries, aspirants have intensified their consultations to emerge as party flag bearer during the primaries slated to hold on May 20, 2022.
The Benue chapter publicity secretary of the party, Dan-Morgan Ihomun, in an interview with our correspondent, said that out of the 32 aspirants jostling for the Benue State governorship seat, only 10 are favoured by the recent zoning arrangements of the party.
Recall that APC, in the recent zoning arrangement, had zoned the governorship ticket to the Jechira intermediate which comprised Vandeikya and Konshisha of zone A’ and Zone C, which comprised Idoma and Igede unlike in the Peoples Democratic Party which precisely zoned the seat to Vandeikya and Otukpo.
Though the party’s spokesman said only two aspirants were zoned out of the contest, namely Hon. Terwase Orbunde, the immediate past chief of staff to Governor Samuel Ortom who left PDP to APC, and the former attorney general of the federation, Michael Kaase Aondoakaa SAN.
According to him, “The issue is very simple for those from the local governments that are zoned out of the contest but went ahead to buy forms, as you know the zoning and consensus has to be accepted by all the candidates themselves and in the event that they do not accept the decision of the party, of course they are free to go into the election, if they win fine, it is as simple as that so as it is only Aondoakaa and Orbunde are out of the zoning arrangements.”
The publicity secretary also disclosed that the minister of special duties and intergovernmental affairs, Senator George Akume, has taken his hands off the selection process of the party flag bearer.
“The leader of the party has said clearly that he is not going to be involve in choosing who will fly the flag of the party, he ask the party members to choose a candidate they know will win the election, because the most important thing is who will win,” Ihomun stated.
He further disclosed that so far, 10 aspirants including Engr. Barnabas Gemade, Rev. Fr Hyacinth Iormem Alia, Arc Bernard Yisa, Chief Steven Lawani, Dr. Terlumun Ikya, Hon. Sam Odeh, Hon Mike Kaase Aondoakaa, Hon. Iorwase Hembe, Hon. Terwase Orbunde and ESV Godwin Tyoachimin, adding that the number is still counting since the sale of form is ending on 12th May 2022 at midnight.
However, the way things are going it seems the wind of success is blowing towards five of the aspirants which includes Engr. Barnabas Gemade, Arc Bernard Yisa, Rev Fr. Hyacinth Alia Terlumun Ikya and Chief Steven Lawani.
Some of the party supporters from the Tiv extraction who spoke to our correspondent, including William Terhemen, Maria Chiangi, Samson Iorlumun among others pointed towards Engr. Barnabas Gemade as the aspirant with a lot of experience both at the national, state and local levels to reposition the state in terms of security, agriculture, infrastructure and all it takes to bring back the lost glory of Benue.
Corroborating what the people are saying the former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Engr Barnabas Gemade has said that with his age and wealth of experience in all works of life he is the best person to clinch the number one seat of the state.
This is even as he said age does not make him incapable of holding any political office as claimed by some people.
Gemade who disclosed this during his former declaration of his intention to contest the 2023 Benue Governorship seat on the platform of the APC said abundant evidence and common knowledge indicate that Benue State building efforts have endured obstacles and deficits that can only be addressed by a competent capacity leadership.
According to him, “I will use my influence and diplomatic skills to address prevailing challenges and restore prosperity and viability as an entity and as well rebuild and reconstruct the broken Benue.”
He added that “This will be done by redefining her institutional integrity, geopolitical and economic centrality as a sovereignty beyond mere political rhetoric.”
Gemade also unveiled his working document titled; “Re- engineering A Modern Benue For Prosperity”, before the State Working Committee (SWC) of the party in Makurdi the state capital insisted he was the most qualified for the job.
He noted that he earned and demonstrated character by age, with experience and maturity through varying service opportunities and disposition in his previous assignments.
“I have decided to focus more on re-engineering a failed system with appropriate repairs in order to guarantee sustainable succession in the interest of future emerging generations. I seek your consent as a perfectly sharpened instrument of service whose motives are exceptionally genuine”.
Gemade who is the immediate past Senator representing Benue North East at the National Assembly and favoured by the zoning arrangements of the party also promised to pay priority attention in the areas of Education, Agriculture, Commerce and Industries, Youths sports and Women development, Rural Development, Economic reconstruction and Security so as to raise the financial status of the state.
He is seen as one of the top contenders in the eyes of his supporters and other political observers who say he may fly the party flag at the primaries.
Another gubernatorial hopeful is Arc Bernard Yisa, who is also favoured by the zoning arrangements and has promised mechanised agriculture irrigation farming, quality education, security, skills acquisition for youths and women if elected.
Arc. Yisa who stated this during his sonsultations statewide has promised to make use of the Environment Protection Act to turn around waste making Màkurdi an eyesore into wealth if elected come 2023.
He also said the waste to wealth project will as well generate employment opportunities for the teeming idle youths roaming the streets.
“Aside from other infrastructural development, mechanize farming to ensure that farmers get value for their produce, the waste to wealth project will engage the minds of the youths which will also help in curbing criminality in the State.
“I will also make adequate use of all the rivers the state is blessed with by ensuring all year round farming and as well establish a beach at the River Benue that will serve as a tourist site to increase our Internally Generated Revenue,” Yisa said.
On his part, Dr Terlumun Ikya, another top contender making waves in the politics of the state has also assured the farming population of the state of his zeal to establish agro- processing centers across the 3 senatorial zones to bring back the lost glory of farmers.
Ikya, during his consultations and presentation of his work plan tag:
The Benue Recovery Plan: A different Approach informed that the agro-processing centers established will be equipped to train farmers on improved varieties of crops, new techniques in animal husbandry, usage of inputs and fertilizers as well as introduce demonstration farms in schools.
“As an agrarian state, boosting agriculture would add value to farm produce, create massive employment for youths, and this will in turn tackle insecurity and as well boost the internal generated revenue of the state,” said Ikya.
The APC gubernatorial aspirant stated that basic infrastructure would also be provided in the health, education, sports and other key sectors to reposition Benue from her present socio-economic challenges to an improved economy.
In another development, there was jubilation in Makurdi, following the arrival of Rev. Fr. Hyacinth, with his intent and nomination forms for the 2023 governorship race.
Addressing his supporters at City Bay Park Màkurdi, Rev. Fr Alia, who explained that his tribal native name is Iormem which means, people will rest, stated that Benue pensioners will rest with him as the governor in 2023.
“God has not blessed Benue State with oil, but with fertile soil for farming. I have the capacity to quench hunger, poverty, provide jobs, hospitals, salary payment and unite the Tiv, Idoma, Igede and other interest parties in Benue State.”
The guber hopeful, who said a positive change can only be possible with cooperation, called on people to not only obtain their PVCs, but to come out and vote and defend it.
The Catholic priest also warned his supporters against insulting political opponents, saying “if they go low with insults against me on social media, go high by ignoring them”.
The priest also said: “The poor Benue people have cried and God heard their cry and they will soon be rescued from the shackles of ‘artificial poverty’. Don’t be shy to run away when they come for attack and not be intimidated till victory is achieved.”
He commended leaders of the APC at all levels, urging delegates to consider him worthy to be the party’s flag bearer at the general elections, to tackle the challenges confronting the state.
Chief Stephen Lawani, the immediate past deputy governor of the state is also one among the top contenders, considering that Jechira and Zone C stand a chance of producing the governor come 2023.
Many supporters and political observers are looking out for the humane disposition of Chief Lawani as well as his maturity and wealth of experience to clinch the seat come 2023.
He is regarded as having enormous experience and leverage having served at the highest level in the state, a posture which his supporters say would work in his favour.