By Justus B. Obekpah
The controversial judicial affirmation of the electoral outrage which has thrown up Mr. Ortom as a “re-elected” governor notwithstanding, Iyorchia Ayu’s congratulatory effusions and outright falsehoods (on Facebook) about the state of Benue today do deserve to be systematically deconstructed and confined to the dustbin of ignominy where they rightly belong. If unchallenged, such falsehoods and dangerous illusions being peddled by invested interests imbued with less-than-honourable intentions have the potential of muddying the waters and thereby acting as obstacles to the much needed repositioning of Benue State post-Ortom.
No doubt in a desperate and self-serving search for political relevance, Dr. Ayu has thrown caution to the wind with his particularly objectionable statement that the Benue people, hapless victims of the governor and his PDP confederacy and whose sovereign will to freely elect their representatives was so atrociously thwarted in the heavily rigged 2019 polls, did mysteriously accord mythical overwhelming support to Governor Ortom.
It is common knowledge in Benue that the massively rigged 2019 polls were executed under a deeply troubling cover of extensive vote buying, wanton thuggery and general violence largely unleashed against the APC and its supporters, with the compromised INEC and the various security agencies looking the other way. Not a few believe that a compromised segment of the judiciary must bear the final responsibility for helping Ortom get away with the electoral robbery he and his party committed in the last elections.
Significantly also, the post-election period has not witnessed any serious diminution of the violence and mayhem targeting APC members, to the extent that these days, what one is sadly witnessing is the precarious peace of the grave yard and not accolades in the direction of the under-performing Ortom and his PDP as wrongly claimed by Ayu.
A writer on Benue politics recently remarked, rather succinctly, that under the incompetent Samuel Ortom, governance has been reduced to a mindless sinecure consisting in the primitive and criminal accumulation of our common patrimony by the man, his family members and a pathetic cast of his bumbling and sleazy acolytes. That is why Dr. Ayu’s rather strange call on the governor to implement the report of a soi-disant Transition Committee of which he (Ayu ) was the chairman must be seen as both unfortunate and tragi-comic. In his single-minded obsession with securing the Augean stables in Makurdi, Ortom has, in a knee-jerk manner, consistently rebuffed pragmatic and expert counsel intended to make a marked difference in the area of governance.
Now, Ayu knows very well that Ortom is not only an unmitigated disaster as far as the management of the state’s affairs is concerned but also one that is incapable of undergoing an epiphany. That is to say that the governor ‘s profligacy-infested mindset as well as his lack of will and capacity to work for the common good are incorrigible.
The Transition Committee assignment was and remains for Ortom and his adjuncts in the Dr. Ayu ilk essentially a boondoggle – a piece of work of little or no value intended to give one the impression of being busy or useful. It is assumed that the Iyorchia Ayu boondoggle is a highly remunerating one, hence the distracting, sycophantic and noxious noises around the Kanshio debacle.
It requires emphasizing that in the bid to divert attention away from the many failures and general misrule of the under-achieving governor , the latter and his associates have always resorted to the divisive but misguided narrative that the APC opposition is a party that is aiding and abetting the alleged agenda by the Fulani to kill the Benue people and take their lands. Thus, what many perceive as mainly a law and order issue is sadly politicized and given a brazenly partisan tone of rabid ethno-religious bigotry and bashing. This is worrisomely the pedestrian level of revisionist claptrap where Ortom and the likes of Ayu would want us to operate. Benue State clearly deserves better.
Historically, members of the ethnic groups forming the core of the social fabric of Benue State have been accommodating of Nigeria’s diversity and have gone to the extent of making the ultimate sacrifice to maintain the country’s unity. They have no apologies to make to anybody regarding this patriotic stance. At the same time, they will not tolerate any provocations from within or without aimed at diverting them from the path of leadership and shared citizenship by example. Importantly also, it needs mentioning that there is consensus in Benue State that the integrity of ancestral lands cannot be the subject of negotiation or blackmail in whatever guise.
Ayu’s recent Facebook outburst in what is tantamount to cynical support for the current mess and administrative abdication in Benue State should be seen as the ultimate challenge on the part of our people to urgently get down to serious work in the bid to salvage the situation. The stakes are no doubt high and only a purposeful and determined masses-based leadership will get us to the desired destination.
Justus B. Obekpah is a Public Affairs Analyst.