Members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State have accused two of its governorship aspirants, Sen. Barnabas Gemade and Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) of working against the interest of the party.
The state chapter of the party had adopted direct primaries which the governorship congress held on May 27, 2022.
The election produced a suspended Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia as the winner.
Not satisfied with the result, Aondoakaa and Gemade asked the APC Appeal Committee to nullify the exercise to avoid the agony of not fielding a candidate in the 2023 governorship election in the state.
Speaking with SaharaReporters, a chieftain of the party accused the PDP of also approaching the court to seek the non-recognition of Alia as the Benue APC candidate.
“With the contest now reduced to the Speaker of the Benue state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Titus Uba, who emerged as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Rev. Father Dr Hyacinth Alia, the stage is now set for a clash of Titans.
“While our party seems prepared to test its popularity at the polls, the PDP has locked its focus on a shortcut to victory. Imagine, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Rt. Hon. Titus Uba and PDP yesterday approached the Federal High Court, seeking among others, a perpetual injunction restraining the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Rev. Father Hyacinth Alia as the governorship candidate of the party in the 2023 governorship election.
“What’s their business with APC? Unfortunately, they are planning to use Aondoakaa and Gemade as witnesses against their own party.”
Another party member said, “Jittery over the sweeping influence of the candidate of the APC in the 2023 Benue state governorship election, Rev. Father Hyacinth Alia, and in a desperate bid to ensure he produces his successor, Benue state governor, Dr Samuel Ortom of the PDP have begun a clandestine meeting with some aggrieved APC governorship aspirants, such as the former national chairman of PDP, Senator Barnabas Gemade, ex-Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Chief Mike Andoakaa and some amenable officials of INEC to ensure that the APC in Benue state does not present any governorship candidate in the state come 2023.
“When the party leadership probed to ascertain the authenticity of the claim, we were told that Ortom is worried over the widespread popularity of Rev Father Hyacinth Alia, which has led to the ‘Yes Father’ slogan dominating the media space in the state since the suspended catholic priest’s emergence as the governorship candidate of APC in Benue state. Remember Gemade was a former PDP National Chairman while Andoakaa served as Minister under PDP as well, so the governor joining forces with them isn’t a surprise to us.
“The Governor is very disturbed by the growing popularity of Alia and feels the most appropriate way to save him and the PDP from being defeated in 2023 is to tackle Alia from the roots. As I said earlier, the APC leadership is fully aware that the governor is in touch with these aggrieved aspirants and the agenda is simple, to ensure that Alia’s candidacy doesn’t fly. They are working on many options to achieve that as we speak.”
The member of the state working committee of the APC added, “The initial plan was to sponsor Senator Barnabas Gemade, Mike Andoakaa, Prof. Shija and any other willing aspirant who lost in the primaries to challenge the election in court and ensure that the candidacy of Alia is nullified.
“But the governor wasn’t happy with the slow pace in the APC aspirants approaching the courts for legal redress, this necessitated the activation of a plan B by the governor, which is to approach a court through the PDP and its 2023 governorship aspirant, Hon. Titus Uba, to challenge the outcome of the APC governorship primaries in the state. Like every other politician, the governor wishes to produce his successor.”
When SaharaReporters called Nathaniel Ikyur, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ortom, he neither answered nor returned the calls.
A text message also sent to his mobile line was not replied to at the time of this report.