Some interest groups in the Igede axis of Zone C in Benue State have worked hard in the last few years to promote powershift and or balance of power as a political solution to the underdevelopment problems or perceived marginalization of their people in the state.
To realise that, one of the leading proponents of balance of power, IGEDE KAHA, following the enthronement of opposition governorship, has described its agitation for equitable power sharing formulae as a solution to the marginalization of the Igede people especially the Oju LGA, as a philosophy that would cement the cordial relationship of the ethnics in the state, saying it is an idea whose time has come, while demanding SSG position for Oju LGA.
Ego Ogbu, on behalf of the interest group writes to the leaders of the APC and particularly the governor-elect, Samuel Ortom:
“On behalf of the entire Igede nation, we wish to heartily congratulate our leader- Distinguished Senator George Akume, our Governor-elect-Dr. Samuel Ortom, Deputy-Governor elect Engr. Benson Abounu, and Senator Barnabas Gemade, on their respective victories in 2015 general elections.
“We also congratulate the leaders, officials, members, as well as teeming supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the deserved victory of their party in the just concluded polls. In the same vein, we wish to place on record our commendation of all progressives, volunteers, canvassers and the entire Benue electorate for their individual and collective roles in pulling down the reins of misery, deprivation and impunity, and ushering in a new dawn in Benue State. We appreciate the patriotic gestures of the Benue electorate that saw them defying the elements, waiting patiently in the queues to cast their votes and defending the votes to ensure that they count.
“Surely, clearly and unequivocally, our people have spoken. They have freely given their mandate and entrusted your party with their destinies. On their own volition, they have chosen to make a clean break with the mess of the past sixteen years and to bring about the much-desired change and hope for a brighter future.
“By this noble action, our people have also demonstrated their utmost confidence in your party and its leaders. Judging from the pedigree and the track-records of the leaders of your party, it is our belief that this confidence is well-placed and will be duly justified in the days ahead.
“When the people preferred your party at the polls, they were consciously making a choice for security, freedom, shared prosperity and of course fairness and justice. The victory of your party at the polls therefore offers a veritable opportunity to assuage this collective hunger by correcting the injustices of the past so as to achieve harmony amongst the peoples of our dear State.
“It is against this backdrop, that we wish to hereby demand that the position of Secretary to the State government in the incoming administration be reserved for Oju Local Government Area.
“This demand which is intended to help redress the marginalization of people of the the Local Government since 1999, is predicated on the following grounds
Oju Local Government Area is one of the three old LGA’s in zone C’ out of which the six newer LGA’s were carved. However, since the return of democracy in 1999, the LGA has remained marginalized as it is yet to benefit from any high-profile political appointment beyond that of Commissioner.
In 1999 when the position of Deputy-Governor was ceded to the Igede axis, it went to Obi Local Government (in the person of Late Chief Ogiri Ajene) who held the position for 8 years.At the end of the Akume administration in 2007, the Deputy-Governorship position went to the old Okpokwu axis and it was expected that the position of SSG will be zoned to Oju but this was not to be as the Suswam administration displayed unprecedented and unparalleled disdain and contempt for Igede people. In that dispensation, all the high-profile appointments went to the Idoma-speaking axis. These include -Deputy-Governor (Chief Stephen Lawani), Secretary to the State Government (Late Audu Achigili and Dr. David Salifu), Deputy-speaker (Hon. Stephen Omneje). This was in addition to Federal positions such as that of Senate (Senate President David Mark), Minister (Abba Moro), Party Chairman (Dr. Agbo Emmanuel) and three Ambassadors (two career, one appointive). By this stance and posture, the Igede people were clearly told by the outgoing administration that they had no stake in the Benue project in spite of the massive support given to the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) then.This ugly development left a bitter taste in the mouths of our people that needs to be redressed.
In the incoming dispensation, the Benue south senatorial position as well as that of Deputy-Governor of the State (held by Senator David Mark and Engr. Benson Abounu respectively) has already gone to the Idoma-speaking axis and it is only fair and just that the SSG slot is zoned to the Igede-speaking axis.
Within the Igede axis, the position should rightly go to Oju Local Government Area given that Obi LGA has held the position of Deputy-Governor for eight years and are presently in custody of the Oju/Obi House of Representatives seat.
Oju Local Government Area is renowned as the hotbed of progressive politics in zone C’ and has remained consistent in its support for the All Progressives Congress and the legacy political parties before it (the ACN & the CPC).It is on record that in the 2011 general elections, the candidates of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) for the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly (Barr. Jacob Ajene and Hon. Adoga Onah respectively) all won in the Local Government Area.
It is also an incontrovertible fact that Oju Local Government Area also gave the party’s gubernatorial candidate (Prof. Stephen Ugba) the highest number of votes from zone C’.
In the just concluded elections, The presidential candidate of the APC – General Muhammadu Buhari not only won convincingly in the Local Government Area, but the LGA was the only one in zone C’ to have delivered in the presidential elections when it mattered most.
Similarly, in the gubernatorial polls, Oju Local Government Area massively voted for the APC candidate-Dr. Samuel Ortom who won with a margin of over 6,000 votes- once again the highest in Zone C’.It is therefore an indisputable fact that Oju is the home of the All Progressives Congress in zone C’ and this unique position and performance of the people of the Local Government Area need to be recognized and reciprocated.
As we look forward to the realization of the Benue of our dreams in which no section or segment is oppressed or marginalized, It is our considered view that ceding the Secretary to the State Government position to Igede people will help achieve ethnic balance within the State power firmament. It will also be a good starting point towards achieving mutual trust as well as commitment towards the realization of policy goals and objectives of the incoming administration.
In the light of the foregoing, we call on leaders of your great party to favourably consider and accede to this popular demand of our people. We call on you to ensure that the subsequent distribution of all other political appointments are similarly done in a fair and equitable manner.
We are confident that the leaders of your great party has all it takes to rise to the occasion and see to it that justice is not only done, but seen to be manifestly done in these matters.
Once more, we reiterate our unalloyed loyalty to the incoming Federal administration of General Muhammadu Buhari and Dr. Samuel Ortom in Benue State.
“Accept the assurance of our continued support and cooperation.