Home » Op-ed: Benue’s feeling for the APC is palpable

Op-ed: Benue’s feeling for the APC is palpable

0 comment 5 minutes read
IMG 20230126 212348

Is’haq Modibbo Kawu


We flew into the hot and humid afternoon of Makurdi to an airport reception as electric as could be expected for a rally in Benue State. They’ve always done things differently in Benue. It is not for nothing that this state was named after Nigeria’s second river. The majestic flow of the Benue courses through Makurdi; and while it enthrals with the accompanying humidity, it generously waters the land too. That’s why the Tiv, the major ethnic group here, are very successful farmers. Benue yams have fed Northern Nigeria for a very long time, just like the lush greenery has been coveted by generations of the Fulbe, as fodder for herds of cattle.

The Vice Presidential Candidate, Kashim Shettima, was received by the Benue party leader, Senator George Akume, the party’s Governorship candidate, Rev. Fr. Dr. Hyacinth Alia, the running mate, Hon. Sam Ode, and the party nomenclatura in Benue State. The cultural troupe danced Swange with the energy and gusto, long associated with this land. Benue was indeed ready for the APC Presidential/Governorship Campaign Rally.

The landscape from the airport to the Makurdi Stadium was festooned with colourful banners, while the people put up a display of genuine enthusiasm, that has roots in the very unique political relationships, that have their roots in the First Republic. That was why I said that they’ve always done things differently in Benue State. The Benue Province was always a different, often very difficult part of the old Northern Region. The British found pacification of this part of the North very difficult. The imposition of taxation and an effort to incorporate Benue into the colonial enterprise was resisted by the valiant Benue people for a very long time!

When politics came, after the tumultuous events of the Second World War, ex-Servicemen of the Benue became some of the early spokespersons for the rights of the people of the Benue Province. The United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC), led by the inimitable Joseph Sarwan Tarka, became the vehicle of conveyance of the aspirations of the people of the Benue. J.S. Tarka built alliances with Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group (AG) that turned out to be a clincher.

Political organisation took a major filip in the Benue, and the radical turn in politics in Northern Nigeria, had three strong pillars: Malam Aminu Kano’s NEPU; Tarka’s UMBC and of course, Ibrahim Imam’s Borno Youth Movement (BYM). When Ibrahim Imam faced a political current that threatened to swamp his political ambition, he was given a platform to go to parliament, from Benue Province. Such was the dynamism of the politics of the 1960s in Nigeria!

This historical excursion is very necessary because it is the main platform for the success of the rally here in Makurdi. The Benue people genuinely warmed up to the APC Presidential Candidate, Bola Tinubu and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, because they are successors to the old political alliances, which helped to define the unique certainties of the Benue Province of old, and it’s successor, the Benue State of today. But man does not live by history alone!

There are extant issues about governance in the present, which reinforces the acceptability of the APC in today’s Benue. The past eight years, under Governor Samuel Ortom, have largely been unfair to the people of the state. Basic services have suffered; pensions are owed; so-called democracy dividends are in short supply, while the governor has played the dangerous game of setting communities apart in his obsessive rantings and punitive actions against the Fulbe

After eight years of difficulties and unfulfilled dreams, the Benue is looking in a new direction. They want a change for the better in their lives. The Benue APC selected a Reverend Father, Hyacinth Alia, as its Governorship Candidate, and paired him with a scion of one of the well-known families of the Benue, Sam Ode. It is a truly inspired pair. Benue once elected Rev Father Moses Adasu, so it is not out of political sync in Benue. This works well with the APC presidential pair of Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima.

The Makurdi Stadium had a very enthusiastic crowd of mainly young people who wanted to see their heroes. The music was simply irresistible and all who came from afar, enjoyed the vibrancy of tunes and the energy generated. Tinubu seized the moment to promise students loans and education. He also promised to bring succour to Internally Displaced People, who are a consequence of the divisive politics that has been central to life here in Benue, especially in the years of Governor Ortom. Tinubu also gave short shrift to the opposition PDP: the sixteen billion dollar expended for power supply, which didn’t give Nigerians electricity, especially.

History has cultivated the political soil in Benue, and Tinubu and Kashim only arrived to harvest! And harvest, they seemed poised to, by the time Nigeria goes to the polls on February 25th, 2023. If what we have seen and experienced is to go by, then Benue State is in the bag for the APC. The feeling here in Benue has been genuinely palpable.

Makurdi, Thursday, January 26th, 2023.

 Dr. Is’haq Modibbo Kawu is Assistant Director in the Public Affairs Directorate of the APC Presidential Campaign Council.

You may also like

Leave a Comment