By James Ibechi
(Editorial Director, jamesibechi.com)
As each day progresses to the 2019 elections, tempers are rising and the political spectrum is recovering from atrophy. The public is weighing options among a multitude of candidates for elective positions as the electoral umpire, INEC prepares for the most credible election in Nigeria’s political history.
In Benue State, the people of Oju and Obi are faced with an uphill task as six candidates contest for House of Representatives.
The incumbent, Samson Okwu, is of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and is seeking a third appearance in the Green Chamber, an ambition, Nick Eworo of the All Progressives Congress, APC and immediate past Deputy Majority Leader of the Benue State House of Assembly is prepared to thwart with his own victory at the next year’s poll.
Joined with Eworo is Ogbole Isegbe of the Social Democratic Party, SDP. The three candidates are from Obi LGA which produced the deputy governor in 1999.
The crux of the matter is that the people of Oju LGA are peeved by the seeming political domination of Obi since 1999 and are agitating to change the game in their own favour next year.
The Oju people are counting on two-time state legislator and former commissioner, Egbiri Idaah of the African Democratic Congress, ADC to do this with a victory at the poll next year. Other candidates from Oju LGA that are in the race are David Ogewu of APGA and Benson Obega of the Labour Party, each one hoping to coast to victory with the population advantage of Oju.
Analysts believe that the 2019 election is peculiar and more than a population advantage or affluence will be required for victory.
They argue that an increasing voters awareness has redefined the public into a politically virile nature and what was the basis for victory for Okwu in the past would fail this time around.
For instance, Eworo, in a recent chat noted that Igede, the people of Oju and Obi, lack quantity, therefore, they deserve quality. If this was the mind of Igede people which is likely to be the watchword in 2019, then Eworo will breast the tape ahead of other candidates in the race.
He is undeniably the “Mr. Fix it” of Igede as his joining partisan politics in 2007 has brought landmark achievements to the entire Igede people.
Apart from physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges Eworo has provided for his immediate Obi state constituency, he has thrown his ‘massive’ weight behind all affairs of Igede people more than any politician dead or alive and hardly can any his of competitors beat him at the poll.
Indeed, many Igede endorse Eworo as the most credible among the six candidates bidding for the position.
However, the controversy surrounding zoning as it is may be a distraction to Eworo and if the way Oju people are demanding the return of the slot to them after Okwu’s second term is rigidly applied, Eworo would need the gods to intervene for him.
As a matter of equity and fairness, truth is since the return of the country to democracy in 1999, Oju people have occupied the seat for 12 years whereas Obi are in their eight and have one more term of four years to go it to level up to Oju.
Despite this fact, Oju people are saying that zoning is in their favour and if this argument is founded on fairness, candidates for the House of Representatives from Obi stand a slim chance, especially, as apostles of zoning who are more in number than its critics, are unyielding.
In this case, Idaah may be the person to beat at the poll due to his soaring popularity in Oju which is not as wide spread as that of Eworo both Oju and Obi hold in high regards.
Another trouble for Eworo may be ‘cash’ and its influence in politics. In the recent past, money became the game changer in Igede politics and Eworo may need to go the extra mile to undo Okwu or Ogewu who are believed to have the deepest pocket among the six candidates in the race.
But should the election ordinarily be about the highest bidder?
Also, Okwu’s party, PDP, has a strong base in Oju and Obi and APC and other parties will need to work to break through the PDP bulwark.
The recent defection of the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom from APC to PDP is a mine field the party will gain from and Okwu is prepared to take advantage at the 2019 poll.
His lack lustre performance in the lower chamber of parliament in the last eight years is counted as waste the entire Igede people want halted and his loss may be predictable.
The recent political heist in Benue State brought Ortom and Eworo into different parties and the former may use his position against the latter.
Barring unforeseen situation, however, Eworo, the man in the eyes of most people is headed to victory but cannot relent but double his effort because in politics, it is not over until it is over.