Crisis looms over choice of Alia's running mate

Say they will abandon APC if running mate is picked from outside the list

Crisis looms over choice of Alia's running mate

The All Progressives Congress (APC) Stakeholders in Benue South Senatorial District (Zone C) have recommended nine names to Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, the APC Governorship candidate and the state party leadership from which to pick one as Alia's running mate.

The list is accompanied with a caveat that should anyone be picked from outside the list, zone C would distance itself from the party during the Governorship election scheduled for February next year.

This was the outcome of a meeting of the Stakeholders which took place on Saturday at Otukpo which was attended by five representatives and the party chairman from each Local Government Area of Zone C.

The names that made the list are,  Dickson Akor from Otukpo, Chief Agbo Oga from Ohimini, Hon Nelson Alapa from Otukpo, Hon Austin Oleho, Hon Bernard Ochepa, Mr Elaigwu Suleiman,  Mr  Benjamin Abuh Omakolo, Amb  Mohammed Abdul from Agatu. Douglas Ogor from Obi.

Inside sources told that the names were arrived at after presentations from the local Governments and aspirants. reliably gathered that the Zonal leadership of the party had gone ahead to  submit the name of Dr. Sam Ode, former Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs for adoption by the candidate as his running mate without appropriate consultation with the stakeholders which drew wild reactions.

One of such reactions was from a chieftain of the party, Alhaji Usman Abubakar Dan'maisanu aka Young Alhaji who beckoned on the National and state leadership of the APC to quickly come to the rescue of the Benue South chapter of the party.      

In a dreaded and illustrative manner, the political leader positioned four coffins at the entrance of his Otukpo residence to demonstrate to the world how the Benue South chapter of the party is headed for "Golgotha" especially as the 2023 elections draw closer .

The Benue APC stalwart insisted that unless a drastic step is taken to rescue the party, the APC in Benue South would be dead and buried before the 2023 General election. 

He insisted that the position of the deputy governor must go to the local government that has not benefited from it for equity and Justice to prevail.      

It would be recalled that the social media was inundated with claims and counterclaims about Sam Ode's selection as Alia's running mate. While Rev. Pinot Ogbaji, the State  Zonal Vice Chairman (ZoneC) formally recognized  Same Ode as the chosen running mate by sending a written congratulatory message, 14 elders of the party from the Zone, led by Senator Ameh Ebute, former Senate President, issued a statement denouncing the authenticity of the reported selection. They said they were not consulted and that they would not accept the choice of running mate which does not benefit from the input of Zone C stakeholders.

This state of confusion necessitated clarification by Alia's media aide, Kula Tersoo, in response to enquiries by, that the APC Governorship candidate had not yet picked his running mate. He said his principal would announce his running mate whenever he picks one.

But the clarification did not settle the matter. An insider in Sam Ode's camp insisted that reports of his selection were not idle speculations or false rumour and that his name would be announced at the appropriate time by the candidate or the party.

It was at this point, sources told, that the state leadership asked the elders to call a meeting of Zone C stakeholders to recommend names for adoption. They swung into action by meeting in Abuja mid-last week where modalities for Saturday's stakeholders' meeting at Otukpo were worked out.

However, when word got out about the scheduled meeting, Rev. Ogbaji, the Zonal Vice Chairman, issued a statement declaring the proposed meeting unauthorized and called on party members not to attend. 

It is not clear to what extent the Zonal Chairman's boycott order was complied with. However, an APC member who tried to explain the absence of the name of any Deputy Governorship contender on the list of seven when he  suggested that it be as a result of the order from the Zonal Vice Chairman who is the highest APC official from the area.

What is certain for now, however, is that the matter of selection of the APC Governorship running mate remains unsettled, probably until the Governorship candidate announces his choice.