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Benue 2019: Ortom, Akume, Gemade battle for supremacy

The current political scenario in Benue State can best be described as tense. It is going to be a clash of the titans as the three most popular political parties in Benue State have begun plans to take over the state in 2019. They are doing everything within their power to outwit one another, for political victory.
The three political parties are the All Progressives Congress (APC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP). These parties are controlled by equally powerful politicians who are masters in the game. So, 2019 promises to be very exciting in Benue.
The APC has Senator George Akume as the hunch man, the PDP is Governor Samuel Ortom, and Senator Gemade, since his defection to SDP months ago, has proven to be the leader and all these political parties are ready for election and assuring their supporters that they will come out victorious in all elections especially the governorship poll.
It is no longer news that these leaders will be testing their popularity on the field in the coming days, they all have supporters and loyal politicians across the state and their political parties will be fielding aspirants in all elections in Benue State.
It has been observed that these leaders are not new in the game and they all have what it takes to deliver their respective political parties in next year’s general election. While Gemade and Akume had led different political parties to victory in the state before now, this will be the first time the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, will be leading PDP into election.
Our investigation shows that in 1999, when the country returned to civil rule, Gemade was instrumental in the formation of the PDP in the country and Benue, and having served as a National chairman of the defunct CNC in the Abacha era, he moved his structure to the PDP and they won election in the state where Akume became the governor and leader.
Little did Benue people know that Akume would be a force to reckon with in politics. By 2003, he had dislodged Gemade in the state leadership of the party by changing all his structures from state secretariat to ward level.
Even as the National chairman of PDP back then, Gemade had little influence in the state despite the fact that he was celebrated at the national level.
He was later changed and replaced by another Benue indigene, Audu Ogbeh, with the support of Akume. Akume’s hold on Benue politics was proven in 2011 in a political dispute with Governor Gabriel Suswam, where he still won his senatorial seat with the state House of Assembly, and two federal House of Representatives seats.
The wind of change, which came during that period, was more of a movement and in 2015 however, when the incumbent Governor Ortom and Senator Gemade had issues with getting nominations in PDP, they defected to APC and teamed up with Akume. At the end of the day, APC won almost all the elections in the state with Ortom as governor and Gemade as senator.
The three politicians have all assisted each other in winning elections in the state in one way or the other, but the story is different now.
This time around, these politicians will be leading different political parties to elections and nobody will for now be relying on another except things change later. While Senator Akume has done it in ACN and APC in the past and will be trying to do it again, Senator Gemade will be working for SDP’s victory and his popularity will be tested. As for Governor Ortom, one will believe that his scorecard will be used. As a first time leader of a party in the state, the governor will also prove to be the master of the game by delivering the state to PDP in 2019, after all, he has served as chairman of a local government, party secretary, Minister of the Federal Republic and now governor; so he cannot be said to be a push over.
As the trio battle for supremacy of who controls the state leadership in 2019, they all need to present good candidates and manifestos to the public to gain support; after all, elections are decided by the electorate.


Benjamin Agesan, Makurdi

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