The bandwagon effect is a political reality in Benue State.
When the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the presidential election in 2014, therefore, the state became vulnerable and the party won the governorship election despite the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) being in power. There’s a proclivity that this pattern will be maintained in the 2019 election.
The APC, therefore, needs workable strategies, prominent among which is how it chooses the Deputy Governorship candidate in the 2019 election. For ease of selection, a committee is in place to get the most credible and politically amenable.
However, the signpost suggests an adherence to basic principles and ideologies, top among which is the strategic zoning of the position to area of comparative advantage.
In other words, the Deputy Governorship will follow a decision that earns the confidence of the public to galvanize the necessary public support that will translate into victory for the party. Doing this requires a resort to historical context and the application of fairness and equity judging the aspirants who are lined up for the position.
A minimum of ten aspirants all from Benue South senatorial district have shown interest for the position. They are:
- Ado LGA: Hon. Bernard Ochepa and Chief John Ochoga
- Ohimini LGA: Chief Agbo Oga
- Okpokwu LGA: John Ofutu
4.Ogbadibo LGA: Comrade Daniel Onjeh
5.Otukpo LGA : Hon. Nelson Alapa; Hon. Ralph Igbago; Dr. Dickson Ako; Dr. Sam Ode.
Politics in Benue South has been dominated by Otukpo and Ogbadibo since 1999. The Deputy Governorship picked from either of the two Local Government Areas next year will be met with stiff resistance that may result in a protest vote for PDP. For instance, Senator David Mark and the Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu are both from Otukpo while the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe and the Benue APC chairman, Abba Yaro and the APC senatorial candidate, Chief Steven Lawani are from Ogbadibo.These factors connive against the choice of Otukpo and Ogbadibo in the race for Deputy Governorship.
The APC can take advantage of the recent decision of the opposition, PDP to retain Benson Abounu as Deputy Governor and sweep the poll in Benue South. The clamour for change in 2019 is against the choice of PDP but only APC’s decision to pick the Deputy Governor from areas adjudged as marginalized will win the sympathy and support of the people, judging the strong influence of PDP in the area.
Also critical is the political antecedents of the aspirants. Starting with Ralph Igbago, his role in the 2007 Benue governorship election remains an issue Idoma recounts with bitterness and he is at best, a liability.
Agbo Oga is criticized for not impacting on people from the area when he was in the House of Representatives as well as Chief of Staff to the President of the Senate and his followers are only a handful in Ohimini LG. Besides, his political differences with the God father of Ohimini politics, Gen. Lawrence Onoja, makes him a bad choice.
The former student leader, Daniel Onjeh is little known in politics and cannot deliver the votes required to earn the party victory in next year’s extraordinary election. This also applies to Nelson Alapa and John Ofutu. Unlike them, Dickson Ako has a reasonable followership judging his position as Commandant of Nigeria Peace Corps but how this can influence the required votes for APC is in doubt because of his Otukpo Local Government origin. Furthermore, the large image and personality of Ako may rob him of the humility and loyalty demanded of the office and if paired with Governor Jime, the government will be crippled by crisis.
Noteworthy is the fact that all the aspirants except Ochepa, Igbago and Ochoga are Abuja-based. The need for balance with the choice of a ‘home-based’ politician as Deputy Governor for a wide grassroots coverage cannot be over emphasised. On wide grassroots coverage, Ochepa and Ochoga rate higher than the others. However, Ochepa has age advantage, is a bridge builder and has a better national coverage.
The above accounts single Ado out as the most favoured area for the Deputy Governorship position. Of the two aspirants from Ado, the most friendly and humble yet an effective mobilizer who can win the confidence of the greater majority of the people is recommended. Finally, Ado appears to have the sympathy of the zone and remains the most attractive choice.
Issued by Benue APC Patriots