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Benue: Uneasy calm reigns in the House

BY PETER DURU

THE last State House of Assembly election in Benue State could well go for a political tsunami given that notable players in the Assembly lost their positions in dramatic fashion that left political pundits amazed.

Undoubtedly, the biggest loser in the election was the immediate past Speaker of the House, Mr. Tersee Tsumba of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, who lost his Buruku constituency seat to Mr. Atugu Gbileve of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN.

The ACN victory in Buruku was also replicated in seven other constituencies of Kwande West, Gboko East and West, Kyan, Ushongo, Makurdi South and Tarka.

However, the PDP dominance in Benue State was confirmed with the party’s victory in 20 of the 28 State constituencies.

The PDP won in Kwande West, Makurdi North, Guma, Katsina_Ala East and West, Gwer East and West, Konshisha, Ukum,Otukpo/Akpa, Ohimini, Logo, Ado, Okpokwu, Obi, Ogbadibo, Agatu, Apa, Adoka/Ugboju and Tiev Vandeikya constituencies.

Besides the former Speaker, prominent members of the immediate past House were among the estimated 80% of the members of the former House who lost their seats.

Female politicians also staged a comeback to the House by securing three seats with two of the seats going to Thereza Ujege  of Konshisha and Hembadoon Amena, Katsina_Ala constituencies; while Dorothy Mato of the ACN snatched the Kyan seat from the former majority leader David Mwar in the process.
The outcome of the election also opened up a new vista in the political configuration of the state leading to the re_zoning of offices and positions.

Surviving members

With the former Speaker ousted the lot for speaker fell on the only two surviving members of the PDP from the Benue North West zone, Mr. Terhemen Tarzoo of Makurdi North and David Iorhember of Guma State Constituency.

Tarzoo was eventually chosen after much horse trading while Dr. Steven Onmeje of Ado State constituency, the only survivor among the notable legislators from the Benue South zone emerged as Deputy Speaker.

With the growing animosity between the PDP and ACN across Benue, the PDP members would definitely leave nothing to chance in order not to erode the present dominance of the party in the affairs of the House and the state.

That notwithstanding, the Benue State Seventh Assembly, like those before it, is expected to work in tandem with the executive arm with little or no friction just as the sixth Assembly before it.

Key members
Prominent among the members is the newly elected Speaker, Tarzoo a two term member of the House who was Chief Whip in the immediate past assembly.

A loyal member of the ruling PDP and vocal member of the last Assembly, Tarzoo is expected to bring his experience to bear in leading the House.

His recent distribution of positions among members brought to the fore his in_depth knowledge of the internal politics of the House.

However, Tarzoo’s reign is bound to face distractions from the ongoing
petition against his election at the Benue State Legislative Houses

Elections Petition Tribunal.
His victory at the last election in his Makurdi North constituency was achieved by a slim margin of 146 votes over his ACN rival.

The deputy Speaker, Dr. Onmeje is the only surviving legislator of Idoma extraction from the immediate past Sixth Assembly and was a former ANPP legislator who decamped to the PDP midway in the last Assembly.

Onmeje’s eloquence in contributions to issues on the floor of the House stands him out during debates.
Barr. Iorhemba who was a contender for the office of Speaker is another outstanding member. Iorhemba who represents Guma State Constituency in the House is renowned for his finesse, eloquence and calm disposition to matters brought before the House. His vast knowledge of virtually all issues tabled for discussion in the Assembly stand him out as a man that would greatly influence decisions on any issued tabled before the Assembly.

Mr. Paul Biam representing Ukum constituency is the Majority leader of the House. A former legislative aide to Governor Suswam, the newly elected lawmaker has in the last few weeks exhibited much knowledge in the act of legislation.

Though new on the job, Biam who has suddenly become the toast of the House, commands a lot of respect from majority of his colleagues given that he has exhibited dexterity in his newly assigned portfolio.
Barr James Ochojila also of the PDP is a force to be reckoned with in the Seventh Assembly. A former member of the ANPP, he who decamped to the PDP in order to assert his relevance and influence in mainstream politics of the House and state.

An astute politician, Ochojila represents Ohimini constituency in the Assembly and has over the years influenced major decisions in the House with his incisive contributions to issues on the floor of the House.

The lawmaker’s wealth of experience is an added advantage to the Seventh Assembly and his calm disposition remains one of his greatest weapons of disarming fellow legislators.

Atugu Gbileve of the Action Congress of Nigeria ACN, is relatively unknown in the legislative business.
He represents Buruku constituency and the singular fact that he dethroned former Speaker Tsumba at the last election simply implies that he is a man to watch since observers of unfolding events in the House believe he could provide the rallying platform for seven other opposition members of the ACN block in the House.


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