From George Okoh in Makurdi
Despite the peaceful conduct of the ward and local government congresses of the All Progressive Congress in Benue State, there is uneasy calm in the party over the outcome of the congresses.
According to a source within the party, Governor Samuel Ortom and other leader’s of the party, including the Minister of Agriculture Mr Audu Ogbe and Senator Barnabas Gemade, lost out in their bids to control some of the delegates in the state.
This followed the decision of the leader of the party in the state and former governor, Senator George Akume, that all executive members from the ward, local government and state be retained for the sake of continuity.
Akumeâ€™s directive is said to be the decision of the zonal executive of the party in the North Central, which is contrary to the directive of the National Executive Council of the party, which called for elective congress.
The decision has not gone down well with some of the leaders of the party who, from finding, are making moves to either dump the party or make alternative arrangement to checkmate Akume’s firm grip on the party organ in the state.
Worst hit is the state governor who, it was gathered, completely lost out in the battle to control the party.
He was allegedly told to shelve any plan to install his loyal followers,with a promise that the governorship ticket of the party will still be handed over to him.
The governor was said to have been told in clear terms that the current organ of the party in the state masterminded his emergence in 2015 and as such he had no power to make any change.
Ortom was said to have made futile attempts to at least have a sense of belonging by making some changes on the list.
The governor however reluctantly announced to some members of the party that since the leader wanted the situation his way, every other stakeholder should comply.
This led to the affirmation and endorsement of all the former executives at the ward and local government levels.
In most of the venues for the congresses in the state, the turnout was poor and the name were already written for affirmation, said a source.
The source said forms were not sold to party members who wanted to vie for offices.
The decision by Akume was grouchily accepted by the other leaders of the party who are still making moves to checkmate Akume in Abuja.
Fearing that Akume may want to have total grip of the organ of the party, more than 250 major stakeholders of the party in Benue quickly reaffirmed their support for the re-election of Governor Ortom and pledged to stand by him.
They also promised to mobilise grassroots support for the governor throughout the state.
They made the declaration in a communique after a meeting of leaders of associations, non-governmental organisations, groups and political stalwarts held at the Smile View Hotel in Makurdi.
Member of the National Assembly representing Katsina-Ala/Ukum/Logo constituency, Emmanuel Udende, and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Mkar, Professor Nancy Agber, signed for the Benue North East while former Makurdi local government chairman, Godwin Donko, and former Vice Chancellor of the Benue State University, Professor Akase Sorkaa, signed for the North West District.
Signatories for the Benue South are member of the House of Representatives for the Okpokwu/Ado/Ogbadibo constituency, Saleh Hassan, and former Minister of the Niger Delta, Sam Ode.
The delegates reaffirmed their confidence in Governor Ortom’s leadership, particularly by putting his life and political future at risk for the people of the state, and pledged support for his re-election.
They expressed their continued support for his position on ranching and noted his vindication at various levels.
The stakeholders noted that Governor Ortom was tackling security and economic challenges, which they said were not his creation, with commitment, transparency and fairness.
They noted the directive of APC National Executive Committee for elective congresses and that of the North Central Zonal leadership that the former party executives be retained at all levels.
Governor Ortom, represented by Udende, appealed to all APC members to remain calm and united.