March 08, (THEWILL) – In this piece, GEORGE MARTINS examines the chances and hurdles against various Governorship candidates in the March 11 polls.
Various political parties in Benue state have conducted their primaries, in which governorship standard bearers have been nominated amidst protest and litigations.
At the moment, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is featuring Titus Uba, the current Speaker of the State House of Assembly; Revd Fr Hyacinth Alia is flying the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket; Prof. Bem Angwe of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Mr Joseph Waya is of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Herman Hembe of Labour Party (LP), James Mede of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Dr Mathias Oyigeya of Accord Party (AP), among others.
In the foregoing, it thus appear the fight is between the ruling PDP and the opposition APC in the state. The entry of Fr Alia into the race seemingly constitute a clog into the progress of the PDP in Benue state. The PDP, which won 10 out of the 11 Federal House of Representatives, 3 senators and over 20 out of 30 members of the State Houses of assembly in the 2015 general elections.
However, in the February 25, 2023 presidential and national assembly elections, APC was able to upturn the table against the PDP. It won 2 out of 3 Senate seats and 10 out of 11 House of Representatives seats and equally delivered Benue to the APC presidential candidate, Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
This development has sent shivers to the political development of the state in recent times. To onlookers, the APC has cashed in on regular payment of salaries, pension arrears and other sundry matters to campaign against the PDP government of Samuel Ortom.
Rt Hon. Titus Uba: (PDP)
He is an Engineer, who was elected into the Benue State House of assembly for Kyan State constituency from Vandeikya local Government area on the platform of the PDP from 2019 and reelected in 2015. He is currently serving as the Speaker for six years. He is accused of leading a rubber stamp assembly that approves debts for the executive amounting to billions of Naira.
Uba is said not to be eloquent in public speech, coupled with his current health challenge, have made people to be wary about his ability to carryout administrative work of a governor. His emergence at the governorship primary, which was alleged to have been manoeuvred by the PDP leadership in the state, made his co-contestants to play anti-party activity behind the scene.
Fr Hyacinth Alia: (APC)
He was a priest of Catholic faith for over 32 years. His healing masses for over the years have endeared christians of different faith to him. He started the work at Saint George Catholic Church, Koti Yough, Vandeikya local Government area.
He was later transferred to Saint Theresa Catholic Church, High Level, Makurdi, in the Catholic diocese of Makurdi, where he continued with his healing mission. Fr Alia was later sent on higher studies, where he bagged a Ph.D from the United States of America before returning to Nigeria. His emergence as the Governorship flag bearer of the APC stirred up litigation, but was resolved by the Apex Court in his favour. Many candidates that scaled through in the February 11 general elections were said to have ridden on Alia’s back to victory. He is the man Benue people, APC, seems to be banking upon to clinch the March 25 Governorship position in the state.
Professor Bem Angwe: (NNPP)
He is a Professor of Law and immediate past Executive Secretary of National Human Right Commission. His party, NNPP, is relatively unknown in the state. It did not make any impact in the just concluded presidential and national assembly elections in the state.
Rt Hon. Herman Hembe: (LP)
He is a lawyer and member representing Jechira Federal constituency, three times. He was first elected on the platform of the PDP, APC and now in Labour Party. He is on ground, but does not have the financial muzzle to foot the bill across the state.
James Bemgbator Mede: (SDP)
He is a 2005 graduate of Mass Communication at the Benue State University, Makurdi; an activist. Although SDP is not new in Benue State having produced the second civilian governor, Revd Fr Moses Orshio Adasu. Mede who comes from same axis with Fr Alia is seen by many as a huge joker in the race. He may spring surprise in the game.
At the moment, Revd Fr Alia is rounding up what APC tagged as “Mega Rally” in Oturkpo, Gboko and Katsina-Ala where some PDP and other political party members have defected to APC including former speaker of Benue State House of assembly, Barr Dave Iorhemba (PDP) former Deputy Speaker, Alhaji Sule Audu (PDP).
In a similar vain, the PDP Governorship candidate, Rt Hon Titus Uba, is not leaving anything to chance. He featured on Radio Benue, where he called on Benue people to see him as the best bet for the state in terms of experience and exposure. He is now in Sankera axis to drive support to his advantage ahead Saturday polls in the state.