By Akoko J. Smith
With the stormy debate from analysts and different interest groups as regards who wears the crown in the 2019 House of Representative election for Oju/Obi federal constituency, one is compelled to delve into a predictive analysis of how the pendulum is likely to swing. So far, there are four recognizably serious candidates: Barr Etukwu Ona and Comrade Ben Obega from Oju and Hon. Odukelaho Nick Eworo and Hon. Samson Okwu from Obi. Over the years, ascension to the seat has been regulated by zoning formula, not now that the system has been jaundiced with unbecoming complications. This makes the poll survival of the fittest and elimination of the weak. It also explains the ‘whys’ on the sudden emergence of candidates from the four quarters of Igede without restrictions. Since none may back down for the other, the pertinent question therefore, is: What is each candidate’s chance of coasting home with victory or capering off the race in ignominy?
Suffice to start with, Etukwu Ona is a legal practitioner and a political juggernaut with wild acceptance in Oju (judging from the 2015 general election). He shall be wrestling with Obega whom James Ibechi recently sold to the public via his blog as tight contender from Oju and Eworo and Okwu from Obi. Seeing he dealt Okwu a heavy blow in the poll in 2015 and nearly sent him sprawling, indications are that he shall be a strong force come 2019.
If however, the Oju people concede the slot to Obi for guessable reasons, then we shall see everyone wave the duo and root fiercely for Eworo and Okwu.
Reminder: the general notion in Igede politics today evidently revolves round the ability to project the interest of Igede; the ability to attract government’s attention to the menacingly bedraggled living condition of the people which of course is inseparable from oral language competence. This, coupled with Eworo’s fight for equality between Tiv, Idoma and Igede has unarguably given him an edge over Okwu, his closest opponent.
The latter’s affinity with Idoma and David Mark particularly, aside his allegedly banking on the size of his pocket for perpetuity has been a source of worry to many – he is vying for third term.
Recently, Eworo’s political activities seem to be progressing at a startling pace with awards of excellence from diverse institutions – Ikemba of Igede and State Legislator of the Year (2017) inter alia. While skeptics often ascribe all of these achievements to sheer propaganda, it could be gleaned from observations that his commitment to human development has endeared him much to those who advocate such.
Besides, when one thinks of the meaning of propaganda – which is deliberately spreading of insidious information – and the institution Eworo represents, then the group becomes easier to disagree with.
Known as ‘The Lion’, Okwu is respected among the Igede people. Save his consistent incongruent riding to power on the wings of money politics and his quest for the replay of Libyan and Zimbabwean scenes, he has got the reputation of having empowered a handful of people with skits in his home town_Adum East. His abeyant skill acquisition institute and moribund Adum–Adiko road also add to that – although only the dilapidated structures and the stray pebbles by the side of the road in question are left to tell the tale of a good done people.
The probing question therefore, is about how many people among the teaming Igede youth have got employment by virtue of his position as Chairman, Committee on Air force.
Moreover, if the eyebrows raised against monetary politics in Igede holds sway in the anticipated season, things may take an unfortunate turn which means Eworo swimming with the tide and negotiating his way in style.
*J. Smith is a commentator on public affairs and based in Makurdi, Benue state.