In Igede land, the issue that occupies public space; that attracts most reaction today is that of where the next House of Representatives member should come from.
The views espoused so far bother on the desirability or otherwise of giving room for Oju to produce the next member and or of Obi to have a go thereby maintaining the status quo.
The fact is that this debate is healthy, it is in line with democratic practices that call for robust debates which is why in some democracies, aspirants, in intra-party competitions are provided space for debate while candidates, when it is inter-party competition, are allowed a space in a common hall to real out their plans for the people.
This way, the electorates are given the opportunity to carry out personal assessment as well as carry out due diligence on candidates to enable them exercise their franchise based on informed knowledge of contestants.
The debate here, however is two-pronged: those that are angling for Aspirants not minding where they come from and those routing for places of origin of Aspirants not minding their quality. This two is part of democracy.
While it is true that these two sides of the debate should not attract condemnation, it is equally very important to put serious thoughts to practices elsewhere with a view to taking a cue from what obtains there to guide internal decisions. That way, you don’t act in isolation but in synch with global best practices as after all, as they say, the world is now a global village.
It is worthy at this juncture to note that, the dominant political parties in the state are the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
This is also true in Igede land where the two parties are the most visible, most dominant and most veritable platforms for ascendancy to positions of leadership.
These two platforms are coming up with a novel idea that completely defiles practices at the return of democratic governance. In the early days of this nascent democracy, there was strict adherence to the issue of zoning. All elective offices were through zoning or nothing else.
But as our democracy matures, as it takes roots and deeply deepened, there is gradually shifting emphasis from “chop I chop politics” to making other considerations such as quality of a candidate, ability to deliver the goods (competence), etc to guide actions of political parties and electorates as well.
Time, issues as enumerated above and internal policies of political parties in competition are always allowed to shape political decision of political parties. In other words, political decisions are products of environmental factors.
Political decisions in Benue State with regards to choice of candidates are gradually being guided by factors other than strict adherence to zoning and right so because of the peculiarity of the coming election year.
Whereas in 2015, the tsunamic nature of politics then that led to alignment, re-alignments and unprecedented movement and voting patterns brought about results that defiled all permutations. However, that cannot be true in the coming election year as incumbents are firmly on ground and therefore would work assiduously for the benefits of their political parties.
This could be what political leaders see in other constituencies in the state and are therefore taking decisions that would better the lots of their parties. Thus, in many constituencies across the state, issue of ability to deliver is brought to bear on choice of candidates instead of other considerations.
The import of this can be seen from the fact that as pointed above, the times we are in are not normal ones.
Thus, in Gboko/Tarka federal constituency, Rt. Hon. John Dyek is being featured even though he is going for a third term in the National Assembly. Rt. Hon. Dyek and Rt. Hon. Chabo who is also going for a third term are from the same village. The APC aims to win and do it convincingly and so took this decision.
In Apa/Agatu federal constituency, Rt. Hon. Agidanyi had three terms between 1999 and 2011 in the Federal House of Representatives.
It was in 2011 that Rt. Hon. Adanu Antenu came in and had two terms now going for third term. The argument is for it to go to Agatu but it is being agreed to be maintained in Apa for a third term to hold in order to equal the slot Agatu had.
In Apa/Agatu for instance, because Antenu is coming under PDP, Omale Omale is being sponsored by APC to contest the seat with him.
In Gwer/Gwer-West, it is third term of Gwer as both parties are producing candidates from the place.
Makurdi/Guma federal constituency is having similar experience, even though the Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, is from Guma, the House of Representatives candidate for the constituency is also from there. Same goes for Ukum/Logo where Ukum is producing candidate for a record third term.
The fact still remains that, as practiced world over, abnormal issues require unusual measures to solve them. That is why the PDP may be right in conceding the seat to Obi to produce its candidate for the next election.
In the same vein, APC should weigh the options carefully, analyze the facts on ground and cede its slot to Obi; it should also field its candidate from Obi local government area too.
The need to do this is to prop up a candidate that has a wide appeal, which is loved and cherished and seen to have the general good of the people at heart. That way, the fortunes of the party can be greatly enhanced.
*Igiri-West is Editor in Chief of The SEAL Magazine and wrote in from Makurdi, Benue state