Who’ll Help Tell Gemade, Aondoakaa, Uba That Times Have Changed; By Ben Atonko

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Gemade, left, Aondoaka, right.

THE race to Government House, Makurdi, Benue State, has been heartrending at the same time so funny.

It is heart-breaking because some persons who call themselves political heavyweights have a vested interest in the polity and have embarked upon a rather backbreaking task to clinch the state’s topmost job. These people won’t hearken to wise counsel.

“They indulge in different acts just to run down the APC candidate. They have filed processes in courts challenging the process and outcome of the primary election. They claim that the election was conducted without a register and that Fr. Alia is not a member of APC. Some, in their crass propaganda, even claim that no election took place. In fact, they are out to cause a loss for their party in the election.”

The race is also funny because some of the contestants are more interested in playing out-of-the-way tactics than going through the well-known process.

Normally, aspirants work to win the hearts of the electorate. In Benue State, however, they want to win by political intrigues, machinations, subterfuge and stratagem – completely without regard for the wishes of the people.

Rev. Fr. Alia

Notable among these cunning politicians are Senator Barnabas Gemade, Chief Michael Aondoakaa and Rt. Hon. Titus Uba (who is taking in tow by a certain grandmaster).

These people have greatly changed the course of electioneering in Benue State. By the Nigerian constitution, political parties lead their followers in the electoral process.

Strangely, party walls have collapsed in Benue State such that the battle for the seat of governor is between one man and the rest. That one man is Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia (PhD), the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the 2023 election. His entry into the race has pitched him against both his APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members. Rather than being a battle between APC and PDP, it is Fr. Alia vs the rest. The ruling PDP in Benue State is more interested in the candidacy of the APC than its own.

PDP is not interested in selling its candidate, Rt. Hon. Titus Uba, to the electorate. One cannot say when Uba gathered the Benue State electorate to tell them why he is interested in being governor.

He did not even emerge through a primary election. His party honchos handpicked and foisted him on the electorate as a candidate.

No APC member has said anything about it. Yet every day, the umbrella people keep shouting that APC, which underwent the rigours of a direct primary election for that matter, has no candidate for the governorship election.

Curiously, APC members especially those who lost in the primary election that was fairly, orderly and transparently done, are working in cahoots with PDP, pulling the strings to discredit the candidate of APC.

They indulge in different acts just to run down the APC candidate. They have filed processes in courts challenging the process and outcome of the primary election. They claim that the election was conducted without a register and that Fr. Alia is not a member of APC. Some, in their crass propaganda, even claim that no election took place. In fact, they are out to cause a loss for their party in the election.

The PDP government has as well devoted its entire propaganda apparatus to denigrating the APC candidate. Daily, they publish, especially in the social media acerbic disparaging and defamatory commentaries to the person of Fr. Alia.

The wall that normally exists between the major contending political parties has collapsed in Benue State, reducing the battle to between Fr. Alia and others.

Now, how can these elements become kings without recourse to the people they intend to lord over? How can they ascend power when they are not prepared to go through the popular and regimented electoral process? When has calumny or slur become the sole yardstick and strategy for acquiring power?

“Gemade and Aondoakaa should have done same if they know they are with the people. You cannot stay away from the people, at the same time expect them to give you power. You can only rise to power by fraud if you look down on and neglect the power owners. It is irresponsible, unpatriotic, ungodly, tyrannical, criminal, reprehensible and of no use winning power by lucre or deceit. The electorate in Benue State are wise and will never fall to the shenanigans of the crooked, agitated and disgruntled politicians again.”

The major question, therefore, is why would people who should be role models in the society descend this low? These people have exhibited what is common with people who have narcissistic personality disorder.

In their seminal theoretical paper in 2011, Dambrun & Ricard talk about a self-centrism bias. That is an exaggerated sense of importance given to the self. According to Dr Dan Neuharth, “People with narcissistic personality disorder lack a healthy emotional core. They are driven by a moment-to-moment monitoring of their worth.”

Many people of this kind who have wiggled their ways into positions of power are causing hell to the people. Is this what we have at hand in Benue State?

By their acts, Fr. Alia is made even more popular every day. Their ways have aroused the curiosity of many who ordinarily take no interest to ask: “What’s it in there that makes these political juggernauts so desperate and crazy?” They are apparently swimming against the tide but they know not or simply refuse to know.

They have not gathered even 100 electorates to say what they have for Benue State. Conversely, Fr. Alia has been holding meetings within and outside Benue State to explain his mission to Government House. He is constantly mobbed by crowds wherever he is spotted.

Wherever he speaks, he wins followership. His power of speech is so strong that it could sway even those who held to their own unfavourable opinion about him with great obstinacy.

Gemade and Aondoakaa should have done same if they know they are with the people. You cannot stay away from the people, at the same time expect them to give you power. You can only rise to power by fraud if you look down on and neglect the power owners. It is irresponsible, unpatriotic, ungodly, tyrannical, criminal, reprehensible and of no use winning power by lucre or deceit. The electorate in Benue State are wise and will never fall to the shenanigans of the crooked, agitated and disgruntled politicians again.

It is however important to acknowledge a few APC members for their sportsmanship after the primary election. Two aspirants who lost the election, the gentlemanly and urbane Sam Ode and Bernard Yisa have sent congratulatory messages to the winner. By this act, they have demonstrated respect for their opponent and so have distinguished themselves as well.

We must go past politicking with bad blood. What should be at the centre are character and popularity of those seeking to rule the people.

Of course, these elements are of the PDP stock. They are good at stifling the electoral process and suppressing the people’s will. They are not out to serve the people and they take pleasure in ballot theft with careless abandon. They do not believe in winning fairly. Even as Nigeria no longer condones electoral mago-mago, they are still stuck in the old and discarded PDP game of “even if you win, you won’t be declared winner”.

The Benue State electorate have rejected ballot buyers – the so-called “money bags”. Yet they wallow, fantasise and dream in the brutish yesteryears of PDP. Can someone tell them that times have changed?

Atonko, a journalist, writes from Abuja.

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