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Benue PDP Chairmanship Race: Group Makes Case For Old Oju As Jonah Ogbaji Indicates Interest

A support group under the umbrella of Benue PDP Rural Campaign Network founded since 2019 has called on the people of the state to zone the state chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to Oju/Obi federal constituency for the purpose of equity and fairness.

Speaking on behalf of the group at a meeting held in Makurdi on Tuesday, former supervisory councilor for revenue, Makurdi local government council, Hon. Celestine Jato, disclosed that since the creation of Benue state in 1976, no Igede person has ever been a minister or senator, adding that nobody from the entire zone C otherwise known as Benue South senatorial district has been governor.

“This is the reason why Igede is in full support of any peaceful and sincere movement such as the Benue Rebirth Movement (BRM) for power rotation among the three senatorial districts in Benue state and among the sub-zones in each senatorial district”, he said.

Jato who explained that the Benue South is comprised of old Otukpo (zone A), old Okpokwu (zone B) and old Oju (zone C) expressed concern at the power sharing formula within the Benue South senatorial district since 1999 which indicated that old Otukpo has enjoyed ministerial position 3 times, old Okpokwu 2 times while old Oju has zero.

Apart from the position of deputy governor which old Oju benefited for two terms between 1999 and 2007, Jato revealed that they have never produced a senator and Secretary to the State Government (SSG), pointing out that only old Otukpo and old Okpokwu have benefited those positions even severally.

“From now on, we advocate and strongly recommend that this type of lopsidedness, injustice, neglect and marginalization should stop. It is the turn of old Oju to produce PDP state chairman because they have never produced one before”, Jato who hails from Benue zone B said.

In separate goodwill messages, the immediate past chairman of councilors forum, Makurdi local government council, Hon. Bobby Uper, zone B youth leader, Hon. James Igbahee, that of zonal coordinator for zone A, Hon. Solomon Shaahendan, ex- adviser to former Makurdi local government council chairman, Hon. Mrs Grace Gbergula, had one voice that the state PDP chairmanship be zoned to the old Oju with full support to enable them clinch it because they have never occupied the position since the creation of Benue state.

Also speaking during the meeting, one of the PDP state chairmanship aspirants, Dr Jonah Ogbaji who said he has been a bonafide member of the party since the return of interrupted democracy in 1999 and hails from old Oju informed that he was jostling for the seat to contribute his quota in repositioning the PDP to be able to reclaim its stolen mandate so as to continue to develop the country.

Ogbaji who advised against gross marginalization of some sections of the people particularly in Benue state for the party to achieve success once again said, Nigerians have suffered enough under “a gang up” that overthrew PDP unnecessarily and it’s time for the umbrella party to save the nation from total collapse.

On why he decided to join the race, Dr Ogbaji said he has garnered wealth of experience over the years having represented PDP in seven states of the North Central and he performed well, adding that as a security expert, he will suggest good policies to the government in power to overcome the current security challenges.

He argued that the PDP “is the only party with national colour” that when they were in power at both the national and at the State level, they performed wonderfully well, lamenting that the PDP was removed from power through a gang up, not for the development of the country but for the political parties.

“If a particular political party is performing well, and non performance want to push them out of power, I have never heard where you change a winning team. When a team is winning, you don’t change it, you allow them to continue to win but that was not the case for PDP. There was a gang up by political parties with the sole agenda of removing PDP from power, there was no single agenda for the development of Nigeria as a nation. The strong agenda that was available was how to remove PDP from power and off course, if five political parties come together, PDP as a party had no chance. So, it was an agenda for the political parties not for the development of Nigeria. That was how PDP left power and we have allowed the gangup to operate the government at the national level and even at the state level clearly. We have seen their performance over the years. The blind could see the suffering that every Nigerian is going through, the deaf could hear audibly of the suffering Nigerians and therefore, people are clamouring for the return of democracy that was exemplified by PDP as a party. I have been a living witness and I thank God I’m still alive.

“Now, in Benue state here which had been a home of PDP for several years, we have had our internal problems. For democracy to thrive successfully, people must have a sense of belonging, people must have a sense of participation in the practice of democracy. But if you look inward and carefully too, there are sections of Benue State that have been grossly marginalized”, Ogbaji said.

He appreciated the Benue PDP Rural Campaign Network from Benue zones A B which constitute the Tiv speaking area for exposing the lopsidedness of the distribution of the positions that were taken to zone C and spoke further on why he threw his heart in the ring.

“For you from zone A and zone B to come out boldly this afternoon to say that you are going to practice equity, you are going to practice fairness, I’m so impressed. This move is particularly important at this particular point in our life. PDP is down and for us to climb up again, we need to wear a gown of equity to show that we are going to treat each other fairly so that each person with his own talent will be able to bring it to the table and vow for the success of the party. By so doing, PDP has already campaigned for their coming back. I will call it a triumphant come back of PDP to power because of what they have done in the past.

“As for me, I’m desirous of standing for the chairman of PDP, Benue state. I’m not saying this because I have come from Oju/Obim federal constituency. I have represented this party in seven states of the federation of the North Central zone in the past and we performed well to the satisfaction of all leaders and I have also participated in many activities for PDP to move the party forward both in crisis and peace time and I’m also aware of the strength and weaknesses of this party. So, I’m convinced as an individual and especially coming from Oju federal constituency that has never been chairman of a major political party in the state. I’m very serious and very determined. I cannot do it alone. I can only do it with your support”, Ogbaji solicited.

Commenting on the security situation in Benue state and Nigeria in general, the Doctor of Security and Strategic Studies said the security situation in the country at the moment is very bad, it is at a deplorable state, pointing out that the main function of any government is to protect the life and the property of its citizens but where such is not guaranteed, it shows that the government has failed.

“When a government is unable to protect the life and property of the citizens, they are failing in their constitutional responsibility. Right from the last two governments, we have had a very steady deteriorating security situation in Nigeria. If I pick a particular one; kidnapping, banditry, cattle rustling and so on. These are emerging new security challenges that we have. We are unable to respond, we are unable to take predictive steps to avoid certain things from happening in this country.

“The issue of oil exploration in Southern Nigeria would have been tackled and perhaps kidnapping would not have infected the rest of this country. The oil explorers did not take into consideration that the people living around these areas are fishermen and if they are going to explore oil, oil will destroy their trade and therefore they needed to make provisions on their engagement. They didn’t do this. So, while oil was going on, the villagers and residents of those places were busy kidnapping workers in order to make a living. So, kidnapping became a trade, kidnapping infected the rest of this country and we are now having challenge to deal with that problem that has even engulfed our security system.

“So, given an opportunity, I’m an insider and I know the root cause of some of these security issues and I will bring suggestions that the government in power will implement to alleviate the suffering of our people on account of the security challenges that we have”, the PDP Chairmanship aspirant promised.

He discouraged the politics of eliminating people to come to power, saying lives should rather be protected in order to increase the population of people because that is what democracy stands for.

“For any government that is looking for leadership, they must be looking at people who have conscience and bring on board human sensitive programs.

“When we embark on the politics of desperation where you can even eliminate people to come to power, when you finish people, whom do you rule? We should be able to have policies that will increase the number of people so that we can now have people that we can govern and there will be a clear reflection of democracy. Democracy is about number. If you kill them all before you come to power, then, you are killing the essence of democratic tenets. So, it should be people oriented all the way; in our policies, in our implementation, in our evaluation and in the protection of our people”, Ogbaji advised.

In a vote of thanks, Personal Assistant to Dr Ogbaji on Media, Mr Awo Whiskeys, commended members of the Benue PDP Rural Campaign Network for advocating the zoning of the state chairmanship of the party to old Oju and solicited them to sustain the support until their aim was be achieved.

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