By Sadiq Umar – A former Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, has accused the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC) of plot to deprive the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of participation in the forthcoming Local Government (LG) elections, saying it is meant to pave way for total victory for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state.
Mr. Moro described the alleged plot as a mockery of democracy.
The BSIEC under the leadership of Dr. John Tor Tsuwa, had returned the list of candidates earlier submitted to it by the PDP in Benue state on the ground that it was not signed by State Chairman of the Ali Modu Sheriff’s faction.
A statement by Micheal Jegede said Moro, in an interview in Abuja, wondered why the state electoral body which was supposed to be neutral would be conniving with certain elements in the state to stop other political parties from contesting with APC in the Benue LG polls.
“What is happening in my state in terms of the coming local government election is what I can conveniently characterize as a comedy of errors. The state government announced date for local government election – June 3rd 2017. They set about the processes, announcement, the time-table. All political parties in Benue State set out to abide by the time table.
“My party, the PDP for instance, within the stipulated period of time submitted the list of our councillorship and chairmanship candidates on the 30th of April 2017 as produced from the primaries conducted across the state. All of a sudden (after about two days), from the blues, a group of persons majority of whom are APC members sprang up in the name of faction of PDP. And the State Independent Electoral commission all of a sudden decided that they would no longer accommodate the list of PDP members submitted by the Sir John Ngbede-led PDP executive council in the state,” the statement said.
Adding: “As far as we are concerned we don’t have faction in Benue State. The Appeal Court had ruled in affirming Sheriff as the National Chairman of PDP, that all parties to the dispute must maintain the status quo ante as at 18th of May 2016, meaning that all party executive structures at all levels across the country put in place before that time remains the recognized executives for the party. So, where is the faction coming from in Benue State, when before that 18th of May 2016, ward congress, Local government congress and the state congress were conducted and executives of the party appointed.
“For fear of possible interloping, the PDP in Benue State wrote to the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission forwarding the same Appeal Court judgement to them to note the position of the law on the issue. So, where was another faction coming from? In any case, the bottom line is that all of a sudden the Benue State Electoral Commission made a volte face and decided that it was not going to recognize the PDP list submitted by the executive led by John Ngbede put in place appropriately, legitimately and legally. Rather that they were going to recognize an unknown executive produced without a congress that had no local government party chairmen or executives and ward executives. Anyway, right now we are in the court. The Benue PDP is in court over the matter.”
According to the ex-Minister, “They (BSIEC) claimed to have obtained list from the so-called PDP faction in Benue State. But the funny side of the whole situation is that at the State Independent Electoral Commission in Makurdi now, if you go there, you will find only the list of APC members screened and approved for election by the State Independent electoral Commission. No other political party, not PDP, not even the faction that they agreed they will recognize has any list displayed, not SDP that I am told has candidates, not APGA or Labour Party that I am told has candidates. They have displayed the list of people who are going to contest the election and the list is just made up of only APC members. And so, all the other political parties as at today based on the list that they displayed in Makurdi, none of them will be participating in the election. That is a mockery of our democracy. That is a serious drawback on democracy and democratic process in this country.”
Moro noted that the outright failure of Governor Samuel Ortom to meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people of Benue State after two years in office was the reason why the APC government in the state wants to prevent the PDP as the main opposition party from taking part in the council polls.
Calling on the Benue governor to use the local government elections to test his popularity in the state, he maintained that in a transparent, free and fair contest, the PDP will have a landslide victory over the ruling APC which has done nothing to impress the people in the last two years.
The PDP stalwart further argued that the entire system in the state has collapsed due to Ortom’s cluelessness, ineptitude and inability to offer the needed leadership that would engender good governance.
“That government (Benue State APC government) is in complete disarray. If there is any clueless government in Nigeria today, it is the APC government in Benue State. Only yesterday or today, I learnt my governor granted an interview in reflecting, interacting with journalists over his two years in office to say that Benue State doesn’t have money to execute projects. And he claimed that for the two years even then they have set milestones. I don’t know whether milestone has another meaning by the government in Benue State. But they said they have achieved milestones in various sectors including the execution of seven hundred and forty projects ongoing in Benue State. So, for two years now, Benue State government has embarked on 740 projects, and no single one of them is ready for commissioning.”