Benue APC falls apart as Akume, Alia power tussle worsens


In this piece, JOHN CHARLES examines the intrigues surrounding the internal crisis rocking the ruling All Progressives Congress in Benue State

Last week, the Benue State Governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, inaugurated a new state working committee of the All Progressives Congress headed by an acting chairman, Benjamin Omakolo.

The Benue State APC has been in crisis following the sacking of state Chairman, Austin Agada, by his Ehaje council ward and a subsequent court order restraining him from parading himself as the party chair.

This led to the appointment of Omakolo as acting chairman by the state executive committee headed by Governor Alia.

But this could not last longer following the order of the state’s Chief Judge, Justice Maurice Ikpampese, who vacated the earlier court order and ordered that the party revert to status quo ante until the case which was assigned to a new judge is disposed of.

Rather than allowing the court to dispense of the case, the state government pressed on to push for the recognition of the Omakolo’s-led faction.

First, a factional secretariat was opened at the instance of the state government along Kashim Ibrahim Way, close to the Government House in Makurdi, a few kilometres away from the original party secretariat also in the capital city.

Omakolo featured in all the state functions, both within and outside the state, except those organised by the APC national secretariat.

As the crisis festered, the APC National Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Gadunje, and the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shetima had on several occasions appealed to the warring factions to sheathe their swords and embrace peace.

Penultimate week, the national secretariat of the party, took another step and asked all party members to withdraw all cases in court as a prelude to resolving the internal crisis that had engulfed the party in the state.

The Agada-led working committee, through the state APC Legal Adviser, Alyebo Mathew, in compliance with the directive of the national secretariat filed a notice of withdrawal on March 25, 2024, on a case filed by the chairman and was consequently struck out by Justice T.A. Kume last Wednesday.

It was learnt that the Omakolo case at the Appeal Court challenging the decision of the Chief Judge of the state is still pending in court.

The state’s assistant Publicity Secretary in the Omakolo-led team, Adah Inas confirmed that the case had not yet withdrawn and may not be withdrawn until the national secretariat does the needful.

The needful, Inas said, “There is a petition before the national secretariat about  Agada’s anti-party activities which led to his suspension, and till date, the national secretariat is yet to attend to the petition.

“So, the case at the Appeal Court is there, the national secretariat knows what to do, let them attend to the petition first, then we will know the step to follow.’’

He added that with the suspension of Agada, there was a need to fill the vacuum created because nature abhors vacuums, hence, the emergence of Omakolo as the acting chairman.

Recall that the state governor, Rev Fr Alia represented by his Chief of Staff, Paul Biam, inaugurated a new state working committee led by Omakolo.

Biam, while inaugurating the Omakolo-led team, had said, “There can’t be two governors in the state. We have only one leader of the party who is the governor. Let nobody make any mistake. Let us agree that while we were doing it at the back door, it has come to fruition. It’s a deliberate act to change the state executive committee of the party, there is no faction.”

It’s rather unfortunate to state that the one solid APC in the state is gradually sliding into pieces due to what some analysts ascribed to a leadership tussle between the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, and Governor Alia.

While the party structure chaired by Agada is solidly behind the SGF, the cabinet members in collaboration with other politicians have thrown their weight behind the governor.

The APC Benue South Senatorial District Chairman, Rev Pinot Ogbaji, during a press conference recently in Makurdi, shed more light on the reasons for the crisis.

Ogbaji traced the genesis of the internal crisis in the party to the election of the speaker of the state assembly. He accused the governor of jettisoning the ideas and pieces of advice of the party leaders whom he said worked tirelessly for his victory.

He said, “Governor Alia seems to have more confidence in patronising people outside APC, the majority of whom had opposed him tenaciously during the electioneering periods and voting days than his party men and women who ideally should have a cordial working relationship with him.

“We wish to state that the crisis rocking our party is not an Alia versus Akume fight, neither is it an Alia versus Agada fight.

“This is purely a fight for the survival and recognition of the party that has provided a convenient platform for his emergence as the Governor of Benue State.’’

Ogbaji also said, “You would recall that the shaky relationship between the governor, Rev. Fr. Alia and-his party, (APC) started in June 2023, during the inauguration of the state Assembly where the governor had preference for a candidate for the position of Speaker.

“But he could not confer with the leadership of the party, rather he allowed the party to painstakingly sit, zone the position and anointed a candidate that was not his choice.

“The end result was an embarrassing situation where stalwarts of the party were enmeshed in a shameful altercation that lowered them and the party in the chamber of the Benue State House of Assembly. Punch


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