By Peter Duru, Makurdi

The last few weeks has witnessed an upbeat in political activities  ahead of the June 3  local government elections in  Benue State.

The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have  taken over the political space to outdo each other as they canvass for support from the electorate.

On its part, Benue State Independent Electoral Commission, BESIEC, has  set machinery in motion to ensure that the elections are hold without hitches.

The parties have held their  primaries to select  candidates for the elections.

Pius Nyager…speaks for the Sheriff group and Bemgba Iortyom…spokesperson for the Makarfi faction

Though the primaries of the PDP and APC did not go without bickerings, the ruling APC has been making  efforts to resolve the crises that emanated from the exercise.

The party set up an appeal committee headed by Deputy Governor Benson Abounu to adjudicate in  disputes that arose from the conduct of its primaries.

But the PDP  seems in disarray and the major challenge confronting the party in the state  is the dispute that has engulfed its national leadership.

The crisis has crept into the Benue State chapter of the PDP with  the party factionalized into the John Ngbede-led state executive committee with allegiance to Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Executive Committee and the Dan Ale faction which has ties to the Appeal Court-recognized Senator Modu Sheriff national executive.

Both factions conducted separate primaries to pick  candidates for the polls  thereby setting the stage for the ruling party to coast home to victory without any form of  challenge.

What this portends is that the June 3   local government elections  in Benue may become a walkover for the ruling APC and its candidates who, though also have had their own fair share of internal wrangling, have  been able to surmount the challenge.

Speaking on the development, the state Publicity Secretary of the Makarfi faction of the PDP, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom, claimed his group is the legitimate faction, alleging that the Dan Ale group was not in existence but a creation of the ruling party to cause confusion.

On his part, the acting Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, Mr. Alfred Berger urged the opposition party to seek ways of resolving its  crisis rather than point accusing fingers at the ruling APC.

“There is no doubt that the APC is on ground in Benue. The people are openly supporting the transparent manner the Governor Samuel Ortom-led government is running government unlike what obtained in the past”, Berger stated.

“Today, labour leaders in the state have been involved in all financial transactions in the state and they are all in the know of what comes into the state and how it is expended. That has never happened in the state before now.

“Despite the financial challenges facing the government, the state government has been able to deliver development projects to the people and everyone is happy.

“Moreover in a short time the outstanding salaries of workers in the state would be cleared because the governor has declared an emergency on salary payments. These are some of the things that have endeared the government to the people and they are  willing to support the APC government any day.

“So the allegation that we are instigating crisis in their party is wicked, unfounded, baseless and unacceptable. Of what benefit will that be to a party that is popular amongst the generality of the people of Benue State”.

Speaking recently on the crisis raging in the PDP and the dilemma  faced by BESIEC over which faction of the party to recognize, the Chairman of the electoral body, Dr. John Tswua, explained that the commission was consulting relevant agencies in a bid to resolve the logjam.

Tswua said, “The Commission received a mail from the John Ngbede-led state exco claiming that they are the authentic PDP because they emerged through a congress and I also have a letter from the Sheriff faction signed by the National Chairman stating that they do not recognize that faction.

“The two contending parties attacked the judgement of the courts over the matter. That is the dilemma we have found ourselves over the PDP issue.

“But to get out of these, we have sent the judgement for interpretation because we want to do what is legal, and we do not want to dabble into the internal issues of the parties.”

While the contending parties in PDP resorted to hurling bricks at each other, the BESIEC, last week, came out with a resolution recognizing the Dan Ale faction after the Commission said it had consulted with relevant agencies on the matter.

In a statement, the Chairman of the Commission explained that the decision was premised on legal advice and those from the Inspector General of Police. The Commission advised the party stakeholders to comply accordingly.

Reacting to the decision of BESIEC, the Publicity Secretary of the recognized faction, Mr. Plus Nyager, lauded the Commission for its position on the matter

Nyager said, “BESIEC is a creation of the law and it cannot act outside the law.

“Moreover, Chapter 8(50)(1) of the PDP Constitution specifically states that the national secretariat of the party has the powers to send list of its candidates for election to an electoral umpire at any level of contest in the country.

“BESIEC is only obeying the position of the law and the court ruling which recognized Senator Modu Sheriff-led national executive which we belong to as the authentic leadership of the PDP and anything to the contrary would have been in contravention of the law.”

In his reaction, the state Deputy Chairman of the Makarfi-led faction, Dr. Tertim Ayargwer, said the decision of the umpire body was totally unacceptable.

“We are going to challenge that decision in court, the decision of BESIEC IS unacceptable and contrary to the position of the law on the matter,” Ayargwer maintained.

Regrettably, while the PDP is enmeshed in the lingering internal dispute, which has left majority of its supporters and sympathizers in despair, the ruling APC has preoccupied itself with resolving differences within its ranks with a view to achieving a clean sweep of the  June 3 polls.


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