by James Oche
It is a notorious fact known to even sucklings that Engr. Benson Abounu was never the choice of Governor Ortom to become his deputy. He was imposed on Ortom in a moment of vulnerability when Ortom was desperate for a platform to contest the gubernatorial election having lost in the PDP’s primaries. In fact, it was Chief George Akume, through the Agency of Chief Nelson Alapa that made Engr. Benson Abounu, the deputy governorship candidate of the APC with the hope that when he gets into power, he could stand as a bulwark for Idoma land.
But just what are we getting from him?
When Abounu was faced with the question of the SSG, that nexus through which the power of governance flows; Abounu quickly assented to the wishes of Akume. In a bid to pull a wool over our people’s eyes, he raised the spectre of the Head of Service as a replacement for our long-held position of the SSG which was always a trade off for the position of the speaker for our people. Unfortunately for him, our eyes were open to the reality that Mr Iwanta Adaikwu, being the most senior civil servant was simply shoved into a position he merited. It was never a political appointment but a civil service one. We gained nothing. We lost all. Senator David Mark would never have stood for this. He would have had none of it. Thus, in the first test of leadership he failed woefully.
July 2015, at an expanded caucus of the APC, at the Government House, Markudi, brought to the fore how ineffectual, Engr. Abounu could be. When faced with the disquiet the seizure of the SSG position from the Zone is causing, Abounu’s real boss, Akume, made the argument that the position was only taken from Zone C and given to Zone B that gave 100% to the APC.
Engr. Abounu acquiesced to that absurd argument. It was even accentuated by Comrade Dan Onjeh who sought to use the same methodology to channel every appointment to his Orokam at the expense of other parts of the Zone. It was a dance of shame. There was none to speak for Zone C. They simply have no gravitas to do it.
Does it surprise anyone that when Ortom, the anti-Idoma Governor raised the spectre of constituting a committee to fight the marginalization of the Tiv in the Federal Sphere, neither Abounu’s nor Onjeh’s voice was heard? They were completely nowhere to be found. It was the ruckus raised by an Idoma activist, Mrs. Josephine Akioyamen and the retired Police Commissioner of Lagos, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav that made the Governor backtrack on that divisive tendency.
In truth, the Governor means business. He desires to finish off Zone C at the behest of his master, Akume. It wasn’t just a spectre. It was real. The Governor then proceeded by making sure none of the projects in the first six months of his administration was allocated to Zone C. As a subterfuge, they gave us the feint of paying the contractors for the Otobi waterworks. Sure enough, the water flowed for one week and stopped and never to flow again. Sure enough, Ortom touted such a ruse as a performance to the applause of the Deputy Governor.
Then he did his amnesty program and cut off Zone C entirely. It was as if we were not part of Benue State. It was as if there was no marauding herdsmen attack on the people of Zone C. The Deputy Governor was even made the Chairman of the Amnesty Committee. Like a Zombie, he set about mopping up the weapons in Zone A and B, while forgetting his home base of Zone C. It was only extended to Zone C after it had ended in the two other zones and it was a clever political turn to seem caring about the security of Zone C to shore up Daniel Onjeh’s chances in the Senatorial re-run. The people of Zone C saw clearly through that ruse. Ortom has severally visited the IDP camps in his Zones but has he visited Zone C? Has his deputy done so too?
His xenophobic design on us became louder when it became time to reconstitute agencies of government. No person of Zone C was appointed to head any board. They were made to serve as minions to the Tiv. The governor became more brazen to the extent that in constituting the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the Local Government Service Commission (LGSC), he appointed Chief John Ochoga, as the one token Zone C person into the JSC and none at all to the LGSC. It took the intervention of a protege of Senator David Mark, the inimitable Hon Joseph Ojobo, the member representing Ogbadibo State Constituency, who raised a constitutional objection to that nomination to compel Governor Ortom to add Mr. Ijachi into the mix. Engr. Abounu and Dan Onjeh was asleep as has become usual with them when issues of marginalization of Zone C crops up.
Now our children are being systematically denied admission into BSU. Akume and his puppet governor, want to slow down the competitive edge of Zone C. Out of an admission of 3000 students this year, only 150 Idoma students were given admission. No one has heard the deputy governor or Daniel Onjeh raising up their voices to decry this injustice that is being done to our people before very eyes in a government in which Engr. Abounu is a principal participant.
It is like this because Engr. Abounu is, by and large, a village boy. He only exerts pressures when he is in Zone C who have for the first time since the advent of this democratic dispensation found themselves rudderless within the APC. Now, the deputy governor is beginning to see Idoma land as his fiefdom with total subservience to his lord and master, Akume. With him, I see no ray of light anywhere. It is darkness.
Abounu should first look at the mirror, next time he wants to raise his voice against his betters. Especially against someone who cracked his palm nut for him. Senator David Mark raised him out of total obscurity to dizzying heights. He should learn to respect the man who against all odds brought projects that are worth more an aggregate of a 100 Billion Naira into Idoma land. He should be ashamed of himself that under his watch and in a government controlled by his party, our university of medical sciences was cancelled with not a pip heard from him. He should keep quiet when real men, the real leaders of Idoma land debate the future of the land. He should do what he does better, dance ogi rin ya to Akume’s drum beat.
James Oche is the National Coordinator, Door to Door, David Mark Campaign Organisation. He tweets from @markdball2015.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.