BENUE: EMERITUS GOVERNOR AKUME CALLING THE SHOTS FOR ORTOM

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EVEN without the immediate past governor of Benue State Mr Gabriel Suswam’s influence in the appointments made so far by his successor, it will be an over statement to hastily conclude that the political godfatherism is not at work in the state now.

The reason for this is not far-fetched. It is a clear case of transition of government from one political party to another in the state; and in this case, from the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress, (APC).

But as Suswam’s influence in the new government in terms of appointment is yet to be seen for now, that of Suswam’s predecessor and former APC senate minority leader, Senator George Akume is obvious in the government of the Dr Sam Ortom.

Akume’s political strength at the 7th Senate as Minority Leader became stronger as he resisted all pressure mounted on him to dump APC and rejoin the PDP by the powers-that-be. He stood his ground in the APC, and built the political structure that brought victory to Samuel Ortom as governor of the state, after Ortom was denied governorship ticket by the PDP.

Senator Akume’s hands are being perceived in the appointments made by Governor Ortom since he assumed office. In the appointments made so far, many of the appointees are Akume’s strong allies with a few coming from Ortom. For instance, Sen. Akume is said to be behind the appointment of the Head of Service, Mr. Adaikwu Iweata, Special Adviser on Security, Col. Edwin Jando (rtd) as well the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security, Captain Joshua Imanche (rtd). In that category, only the Adviser on Media and ICT, Mr. Tahav Agerzua and the Chief of Staff, Mr. Terwase Orbunde that were the governor’s direct candidates.

On the list of 13 Commissioners just confirmed by the state Assembly, nine are said to have come from Sen. Akume, while only four nominees are said to have come from the governor and his deputy. Thos from Akume are Mr. Emmanuel Manger, Dr. Tersoor Kpelai, Engr. Nicholas Wende, Barr. John Otokpa Onoja, Dr. Mrs. Cecilia Ojobo, Mr. Lawrence Ekpo Onoja, Barr. Mrs. Mwuese Mnyim, Mr Sekaav Iortyom and David Olofu.

The Commissioners coming from the governor are said to be only four persons among whom are Barr. Michael Gusa, Mr. James Anbua, Mr. Odeh Ageh and Prof. Dennis Ityavyar.

The development has generated concern among the people of the state. The Middle Belt Update learnt that if the trend continues, it may cause political rift between the governor and Akume. Meanwhile, the people are not happy with the way Akume is recycling his allies in the present government.

Worried by the overbearing influence of Akume in the appointments in the state, the state Chairman of Conference of Nigeria Political Parties in the state, (CNPP) Engr. Baba Agan advised Ortom to be wary of he is influencing the appointments.

The CNPP boss further said if Ortom is not allowed to operate independently by appointing people he trust into his government, the resultant effect on the state in the area of corruption will be worst than what happened during the reign of PDP in the state.

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