By Aare Abiodun, reporting for Nigerian Concord Newspaper
Despite the peace-making meeting organized in Makurdi by the APC National Working Committee to mend fences between the governor of Benue state, Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia and the stakeholders of the party in the state, the governor has reportedly released a sum of fifty million naira to the state chapter of the Labour Party ahead of the Saturday’s Guma State Constituency bye-election.
Apart from the huge financial support, reliable sources who spoke with Nigerian Concord Newspaper under a condition of anonymity confirmed that the governor also released police security to the candidate of Labour Party in the election, Mr. Peter China.
This followed an open campaign which one of the lawmakers loyal to the governor, Hon. Berger Alfred did in support of the Labour Party candidate, Mr. Peter China
in Guma local government two weeks ago.
Feelers confirmed that the open campaign by Berger cannot be unconnected with Governor Alia’s displeasure with the emergence of Uche Terwase Peter as the candidate of the APC for the bye-election.
Recall that the governor had thrown his weight behind Orwough Maurice as his anointed aspirant prior to the primary election which was conducted last month by the Prof. Kabiru-led Primary Election Committee while the party stakeholders unanimously endorsed Terwase Peter who eventually secured twenty votes to defeat the governor’s endorsed aspirant who got just three votes.
To show his disapproval, Governor Alia immediately after the primaries were conducted issued a press statement where he suspended the exercise, citing Benue’s security challenge as his reason.
The party leaders in the state however descended on the governor for the press release where he announced the suspension of the exercise which they described as “peaceful and transparent”
Prominent among the party stakeholders who is also a member of the National Assembly Caucus, Rt. Hon. Austin Asema Achado PhD issued a statement on his social media page where he queried the governor for locking himself in prayers while the primary election which he suspended was going on.
Achado wrote: “I love my Governor, hence my advice to him two months ago, to sleep/pray in the night and work in the day. The nationwide House of Assembly primary election was scheduled to hold today by 8am. In Benue State, it started about 9am and ended about 10am. Our prayerful Governor was locked up in prayers with his officials till noon. The APC Electoral officials conducted the primary election and left, while our prayerful Governor was praying or sleeping. How do u suspend a process which has been concluded? A process you have no control over”
Despite the governor’s suspension of the exercise, the party forwarded the name of the winner, Uche Terwase to the Independent National Electoral Commission for Saturday’s Guma State Constituency Bye-election.
The People’s Democratic Party in Benue state too forwarded the name of its candidate in the last general election, Mr. Jimin Geoffrey as the party’s candidate for the forthcoming bye-election.
The APC in the state however accused the governor of asking Hon. Berger Alfred and some of his loyalists to do open campaigns in support of the Labour Party candidate.
The party also summoned the Makurdi state Constituency lawmaker to face a Disciplinary Panel over what they called “anti party activities”. Berger Alfred didn’t show up on the two occasions he was invited by the Panel.
Nigerian Concord Newspaper learnt that his unexplained absences before the Disciplinary Panel on the two occasions made the party at the state level to suspend him today, Thursday and as well recommended his total expulsion from the party to the National Working Committee of the All Progressive Congress.
However, this newspaper learnt that Governor Alia is backing the Labour Party candidate to win the election so as to stop the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume from having an upper hand in the State House of Assembly.
In a related development, Mr. Justine Adaka, a Superintendent of Police and Chief Security Officer to Governor Alia today led a team of security personnel to the state secretariat of the APC in Makurdi to disrupt a press conference that was being held by stakeholders of the party from Ogbadibo local government area of Benue state.
The stakeholders of the party from Ogbadibo had gone to the party secretariat in Makurdi to hold a press conference where they voided the Suspension of the party state chairman, Austin Agada by some people who suspended him yesterday on the order of the state governor.
In a video posted on the social media this evening, the security personnel that went with the governor’s CSO disrupted the press conference with gun shots and teargas while the state chairman of the party, Austin Agada and some party loyalists who were present at the press conference were castigating the governor for disturbing the peace of the party in Benue.