BY PETER DURU, Makurdi
Few days ago, the 24th of November to be precise, the much anticipated local government elections was held in Benue state after the palpable tension that virtually enveloped the entire political landscape of the state in the days preceding the election.
The reason for this was not far fetched given the deep animosity and rivalry between the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and the leading opposition Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, which ignonimously gained ascendancy and peaked at the heat of the 2011 general elections in the state.
But one major feature of this particular election was the outright dominance of the ruling PDP leading to the party’s landslide victory in the 23 local government areas that make up state.
That overwhelming victory is still in contention especially by top notchers of the opposition parties in the state who were humbled and outrightly humiliated by the outcome of the poll.
Their outburst was understandable, they had hoped that the impressive showing of the party at the last gubernatorial election would be replicated at the local government polls 19 months after the gubernatorial election was held across the country.
Maybe that accounted for lackadaisical approach the opposition parties adopted all through the campaigns preceding the local election in the state which turned out a huge and unfortunate misjudgment that they paid dearly for given their overall poor showing.
The opposition completely lost focus, while the ruling PDP and its vociferous supporters were busy criss- crossing the entire state, trying to convince the people of the state on the impart of the people aligning themselves with the mainstream politics of the present day Nigeria. The opposition parties went to sleep hoping and believing in miracles that was never activated by any form of action.
Perhaps they took the people for granted and that undoubtedly was their greatest undoing considering the manner members of the party left in droves to the ruling party in well organized decamping ceremonies held across the state few months to the poll.
That signal alone should have spurred members of the opposition to galvanize their political machines and re-strategise and embark on issues-based campaigns in order to torpedo the well oiled political arsenal of the ruling party.
But their failure to embark on the political inevitable culminated in the worst political disaster and humiliation ever suffered by the opposition in the history ofBenue’s political voyage.
Aside the numerous leading members of the opposition parties finding new haven in the ruling PDP in the days preceding the election, the ACN painfully and delinquently lost one of its leading pillars and head cornerstone, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, to the welcome embrace of the ruling party in the state.
Unarguably, the Dr. Ayu’s decision to abandon opposition politics for the PDP was the death blow that completely shattered and semblance of strength that was left in opposition especially the ACN which he helped to establish its dominance in an area known as Jemgbagh political axis where he and Senator George Akume held sway politically.
But today, that alliance has crumbled and the people have formed a formidable force around Dr. Ayu while the people of Tarka local government where Senator Akume hails from mobilized an insurrection against the Akume dynasty and in protest over the imposition of the candidature of the widow of his late brother as the chairmanship candidate of the ACN at that election.
The protest and mass decamping of notable leaders of the party that trailed that decision of the Senate Minority leader was a clear indication that he had lost grip of his support base and that the party was in disarray and lacking the needed capacity to confront the ruling party in an election.
It was therefore not in doubt that the ruling party was in firm control due to the shear negligence of the opposition and the inability of the proponent of opposition politics in the state to consolidate on the inroads they made in the state at the last general elections.
So, when the Chairman of BSIEC announced the overall results of the local government election on the 26th of November which gave the PDP an unassailable victory at the polls, majority of the people of the state did not raise eyebrow given all that transpired within and without the blocks of the various political parties.
Although the State Chairman of the ACN, Comrade Abba Yaro in a statement insisted that the party had rejected the result of the council poll in its entirety he was quick to describe the outcome of the election as a rape on democracy.
”The result as released by BSIEC is definitely unacceptable by our party, its a mockery of the entire process and a rape on democracy”, Yara said.
But in his reaction to the outcome of the election, the Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Solomon Wombo described the out come of the process as a true reflection of the wishes of theBenueelectorates.
”We were not expecting anything less because in the build up to the election the PDP embarked on aggressive people oriented campaigns while the opposition parties only stood-by and watched”.
”They never campaigned, all they did was to encourage political violence and thuggery but the people of the state are now wiser and cannot be taken for a ride anymore and that accounted for the resounding victory the PDP recorded at the end of the election”.
”I however encourage anyone who has issues with the outcome of the election to approach the local government election petition tribunal for adjudication in the matter rather than take to violence”, Wombo added.