Issues As INEC Declares Governorship Election Inconclusive

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Ortom and Jime

LAGOS – It was a sigh of relief to members of the Benue people when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday evening declared the state’s governorship election inconclusive.

Before the declaration, tension was well heightened, especially among supporters of both Governor Samuel Ortom the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and those of Emmanuel Jime, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

That was understandable as the PDP now controls the reins of power in the state, while APC in Benue is backed by the federal might.

While results of the election trickled in and unconfirmed sources gave indications of that Gov. Ortom had taken early lead, a graveyard silence took over Makurdi and major towns of Nigeria’s food basket state.

This was because with the backlog of salaries and pensions, the civil servants, who make up the bulk of Benue workers had thrown their weight behind Jime, while the grassroots politicians, under the control of the Local Government Chairmen, had been supporting Ortom, who they had pledged allegiance to.

A chat with a cross section of Makurdi residents reveals that people were apprehensive of the future under Governor Ortom who they claim his four-year tenure as governor was believed to have exposed the Benue people to hardship and underdevelopment. Thus, people hoped his tenure would end with a change of government through the ballot box.

A total of 32 candidates vied for the governorship position of Benue State with that of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Emmanuel Jime as Ortom’s closest rival. Thus, because the two parties were the most popular and deeply rooted in the state, the governorship position was rightly adjudged to be between the duo.

Early results from unofficial sources showed that Ortom had more votes than Jime in many of the 23 local government areas of the state before INEC declared the exercise inconclusive.

Thus there was palpable tension in the state when the result published on social media showed that Ortom was coasting home to victory and could secure a re-election that would make him stay in office for another four years.

A pensioner who pleaded anonymity and claimed that survival had been difficult with arrears of pension under the incumbent governor, asked: “How can we survive another four years under Governor Ortom?”

Another commentator, a civil servant, maintained that Ortom had no regard for workers and did not care about workers’ welfare.

He disclosed that workers in the state were still owed five months salary by the Or

tom administration, while local government workers were owed salary for 10 months.

A trader in the Makurdi Modern Market of Igbo background said that the salary crisis in the state crippled business and many traders were forced on relocation to other places.

He disclosed that the re-election of Ortom as governor did not have the support of traders and civil servants because of his antecedent and said that a new government was the expectation of all.

However, Chief Ochi Emmanuel Ode, Chairman, Middle Belt Traditional Council (MBTC) and the Oji Kpururu 1 of Ibilla, a powerful voice in the Benue and politics in the North Central geo-political zone, maintained that whatever people do, they would be subjected to the judgment of posterity.

According to him, “The inconclusiveness of Benue governorship election could not have happened if President Muhammadu Buhari had kept his promise of conducting credible general elections in 2019. He could have called his part men and INEC to order and ask them to release the complete results.

“If it was the APC that was leading, the Benue governorship election would not have been declared inconclusive. Buhari should not pretend that he does not know what is happening.

“But, I call Benue people to remain calm till the run-off election is held. They should keep their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and come out on the election day and speak with their PVCs.

Source: independent.ng