The annulment of the former Senate President’s election reawakens the sharp ethnic divide in Benue State.
By Peter Duru
Benue South Senatorial district is currently in a political frenzy following the recent nullification of the victory of Senator David Mark at the 2015 National Assembly elections over alleged irregularities.
The Appellate Court took particular note that the result was announced while the election was still ongoing.
However, speaking shortly after the judgement in a telephone interview with Vanguard, the returning officer of that election, Prof. Latif Tiamiyu debunked the claim.
Prof. Tiamiyu said “the result was announced after the collation of the results from the nine local government areas of the district were completed. Anything suggesting the contrary is unfounded and untrue.” he said.
Meantime, since the annulment of that election there have been series of underground political scheming by different political blocs and interests all in a bid to rally support for the contending parties.
Today the feelings among the people is that the coming rerun election will be a straight fight between the Idomas of Benue south and the dominant Tivs in the North East and West.
This development is ostensibly triggered by the general belief among the people of Benue South that Onjeh who is a close confidant of Senator George Akume is also being sponsored by Akume.
Though Onjeh had tried to explain away the insinuation, unfolding events keep pointing at the fact that he lacked the financial muscle to wrestle the seat from Senator Mark without the support of political godfathers.
Only recently, the state Deputy Governor and close confidant of Senator Akume who also served as a Commissioner under Akume as governor, Engr. Benson Abounu, urged Idomas to shun Senator Mark and vote for Onjeh in order to stay in the mainstream politics of the state.
The Deputy Governor explained that in the past Mark had warned the people against opposition, and wondered why he was telling the people to now go back to the opposition.
He therefore urged the people to support Comrade Onjeh massively in the rerun election.
There is however no gainsaying that the coming election has completely pitched the minority Idomas against the Tiv and this was further heightened by a recent statement by elder statesman and PDP, stalwart, Chief Abu King Shuluwa.
Shuluwa in his remark in an interview cautioned against external interference in the rerun election warning politicians from the Benue North East and West to steer clear of the election in the area in order not to generate bad blood in the state.
The elder statesman noted that the people of Benue south district had the exclusive right to decide on who would represent them at the National Assembly and wondered why Tiv politicians were scrambling to interfere in the area.
He said, “PDP will win Benue South zone, not minding that my Tiv brothers from the other two zones, who have no stake in the area are jittery about David Mark particularly.
Speaking recently at a grand reception hosted for him by the people of the senatorial zone, Senator David Mark also cautioned external forces and interests to steer clear of the forthcoming election or be ready to face resistance from his people.
Form of manipulation
Mark also warned that the people would not also accept any form of manipulation of the process.
Mark who spoke at the palace of the Ochi’ Idoma, Elias Ikoyi Obekpa, in Otukpo, said he had taken the nullification of his victory by the appellate court in good faith and was ready for the rerun.
The former Senate President said, “it’s the Idomas who will vote on the day of the election, no one can impose anyone on us. No one outside Idoma land can manipulate or impose a candidate on my people in my life time. It will never happen.
While the electorates await the announcement of the date of the poll, the Media Director in the David Mark campaign organisation, Chief Adakole Elijiah told Vanguard in a telephone interview that, “from what we are seeing at the moment, the coming election will finally mark the end of the enslavement of the Idomas in Benue state.”