2019: Will Benue’s Three Senators Retire?

Senator David Mark
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As the race for various elective positions for next year’s general elections gather momentum, there have been strategies, mudslinging and outright attacks on each other by the political class, mostly those vying for political offices. It is not out of place. It is expected.

While the recently conducted primaries for some of the major political parties did not favour some big names in the National Assembly, the House of Representatives in particular, where most members were unable to secure their various parties’ ticket. With the development, most of them decamped while others remained put, with their fate hanging in the balance. And to say the polity in all the states is hit up by these is only stating the obvious.

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In next year’s polls, some aspirants will retire or be forced to retire.

Another arm of the National Assembly that will surely witness intrigues and surprises is the Red Chambers, the Senate, as most of its members may be new entrants with just a handful of old members. Some of its present members will retire or be forced to retire. One State that will definitely pull a shocker for her senatorial districts is Benue.

Benue like other states of the federation parade three senators. They include the immediate past President of the Senate and incumbent Senator, David Mark, Former Governor George Akume and Former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Barnabas Gemade. The trio represents Benue South, Benue North West and Benue North East respectively.

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While Senator David Mark has bowed out of the Senatorial race for next year after close to 19 years in the Senate, Senators George Akume and Barnabas are still in the race, with very fierce contenders to slug it out with.

With Senator David Mark honourably retiring from the race, thus paving way for new and ex entrants for the battle of the soul of Benue South. The contenders for the seat are Comrade Abba Moro (PDP), Chief Steven Lawani(APC), and Chief Mike Onoja (SDP). The Stage is now set for these fine gentlemen to battle it out at the polls. One Flag bearer, according to public opinion and goodwill of the people that is likely to win that election is Comrade Abba Moro of the PDP. The reason for this, the opinion says is because of the Comrade’s impacts on the people mostly at the grassroots. This include his lofty strides as council Boss of Okpokwu local government, Benue ALGON Chairman and his position as the immediate past Minister of Interior. He is reputed to be a loyal and staunch ally of the political godfather of Benue and Benue South in particular, Senator David Mark who still has an unimaginable influence on the senatorial district.
Chief Steven Lawani is the immediate past Deputy Governor of the State. He is a money bag and the Flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He is also reputed to have a lot of political weight, but not much with the people. His eight years tenure as the number two man in the state saw little or no development to his immediate Otukpa Community in Ogbadibo local government, let alone Benue South. Chief Mike Onoja, a former Federal Permanent Secretary and a money bag is a bit influential politically, but not much to enjoy the overwhelming support of the people. This is because public opinion sees him as an inconsistent politician, always flying from one political party to another, which doesn’t make a good leader.

For Benue North West senatorial district, the major Contenders are incumbent Senator and Former Governor George Akume of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Member representing Buruku Federal Constituency, Orker Jev of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). While the outcome of the election may be easily predictable to favour Senator George Akume because of his vast political tentacles in the entire Benue, political however is a game of surprises. Orker Jev may just take the day bearing in mind that he is the PDP flag bearer, same as the Governor, Samuel Ortom, who enjoys the overwhelming support of the Governor. Also being that the trio of Ortom, Akume and Jev come from the same senatorial district (Benue North West), the Buruku Federal Lawmaker may just emerge victorious, because if the Governor has succeeded in getting the full support of his people, then it is uncertain that with that support and his incumbency power, the Tarka Born Politician may be forced to retire in next year’s polls. For one, Senator Akume’s public romance and staunch support for President Buhari who the generality of the people sees as an enemy of the state, and his (Akume) recent diatribes on the Benue killings by Fulani herdsmen, alleging that the people are killing themselves and not Fulani, are very big minuses to Akume’s chances of winning. His alleged non performance in the district is another stumbling block.

Benue North East Senatorial district election may turn out to be the fiercest the state may witness. This is because of the cream of contenders in the race. The Contenders include former Governor Gabriel Suswam, incumbent, Barnabas Gemade, Joseph Akaagerger and Mimi Orubibi. Their political parties are PDP, SDP, APGA and APC respectively. However, all eyes are set on just two Flagbearers : Gabriel Suswam and Barnabas Gemade. This is because, Suswam as a former Governor now enjoys the overwhelming support of both the elders, youths and even the Governor, as against 2015 general elections, when he lost to Senator Gemade.
Again Suswam is reputed to be the best Governor the State has produced since 1999 and his legacies are still a testament for him. He is also a grassroots Politician, who always carry the youths along as well as visionary, courageous and a fine Politician. He is also known to be very smart in outplaying opponents.
Incumbent Senator Barnabas Gemade is not also a Politician that can easily be pushed over and defeated. However, nothing is impossible in politics. He is a renowned Politician with years of experience and commands a lot of respect, mostly from Benue elders. He is also a very grounded Politician. His political deficiency is his politics of inconsistency, always jumping from one to another. He was once the National Chairman of the PDP, but decamped to the APC after the primaries of the PDP in 2014 and again back to it in August this year, and when it was obvious he won’t be able to secure the party’s ticket, jumped over to the Social Democratic Party (SDP). this according to many does not make a good leader. A Political Analyst, Micheal Fanen opines “A Politician who changes his party at the slightest sight of danger can never make a good leader. A good leader stand in the time of battle and fights to the end. Even if he is defeated he would have won the hearts of his people as one who can be trusted. Who knows, an opportunity may come up tomorrow and he will be asked to take it ”
Another minus likely to work against him is his alleged non performance for the betterment of his constituency.

With the elections in less than three months away and David Mark’s retiring honourably, can the Duo of Akume and Gemade be forced to retire? Only time will tell.

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Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the writer and does not represent the views of The Whistler.

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