Battle for senatorial seat: Akume, Laha, Tsumba, Mku set for a ‘showdown’

The political permutations blazing across the length and breadth of Benue North West senatorial district, otherwise known as zone ‘B’, indicate that the 2015 senatorial race may no longer be business as usual given the “timber and caliber” of aspirants who have so far indicated interest, BD SUNDAY investigation has revealed.
The election, though initially officially zoned to the Minda axis of the zone, but with the eventual zoning of the state governorship slot to the same zone by the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Minda people have loaned the seat to their Jemgbagh brothers, comprising Gboko, Buruku and Tarka Local Government Areas, in accordance with the demands of the Tiv tradition, having been requested for by Jemgbagh PDP Elders Forum.

It could be recalled that this is not the first time Zone ‘B’ senate seat will be loaned out between Minda and Jemgbagh.

BD SUNDAY recalls that for eight years of Akume’s administration as governor of Benue State, the senate seat remained in Minda, thus, rotating from JKN Waku to the late Joshua Adagba and later, Fred Orti.

After Akume’s eight years tenure, the senate seat moved to Buruku and the stakeholders in Buruku Local Government Area converged on Buruku, the local government headquarters and went into a marathon deliberation, at the end of which, loaned it to the incumbent Senator George Akume as a mark of honour to a worthy son of Jemgbagh who they said had served the Food Basket State for eight years. Senator Akume used this as his campaign slogan while canvassing for a second term in 2011.

He went round the nooks and crannies of the entire senatorial district telling the people that the seat belonged to Buruku and that he would relinquish the seat only to a Buruku man and no one else. His argument scaled through, thus, culminating in a second term victory against the former protem speaker and member representing Gboko/Tarka Federal Constituency at the National Assembly, Terngu Tsegba from Gboko Local Government Area of the state.

During the campaign, Akume’s supporters accused Tsegba of not respecting zoning having come from the same local government with former senate president, Iyorchia Ayu. To this end, political pundits are strongly of the view that the 2015 Zone ‘B’ race promises to be the mother of all battles in the zone.

A race which its major gladiators include the incumbent Senate Minority Leader, George Akume; former chairman State Primary Education Board (SPEB) now State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Laha Dzever; former governorship aspirant on the ticket of the defunct United People’s Congress (UPC) and a business mogul, Mike Mku, as well as former speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Terseer Tsumba.

BD SUNDAY further gathered that Akume is still banking on the 2011 argument to again win the people’s sympathy, but observers say the argument may not hold water this time around because the people of Buruku that loaned the seat to him (Akume) are demanding for a pay back. So far, Akume is the only aspirant on the ticket of All Progressive’s Congress (APC).

But the former state SPEB chairman Laha Dzever says it is a payback time. He has an intimidating connection across the constituency. First and foremost, he hails from Binev council ward of Buruku Local Government Area where the seat has been officially zoned to, his maternal home is Ipav in Gboko Local Government Area while his paternal home is Yandev also in the same council area.

The business mogul in addition is also married from Masev in Gwer East Local Government Area. He told his supporters recently that in African tradition, a borrower is never at liberty to pay back at his convenience, insisting that rather, it is he whose item was borrowed that detects the terms of payment, including time. He argued that 2015 is payback time for the loan that the Buruku people granted Akume.

He advised the incumbent senator to take the path of honour by not betraying the confidence reposed in him.

Mike Mku, a regular feature in the politics of the state had contested and lost elections gallantly for no fewer than eight times and is very much in the present Zone ‘B’ senate contest. He hails from Gboko where former Iyorchia Ayu comes from.

Political analysts have said the forces that worked against Terngu Tsegba in 2011 may still work against Mku in 2015, but he is banking on the sympathy of the people owing to his many unsuccessful outings in the past to clinch the seat. However he has vowed never to contest election again if he loses the 2015 contest.

Terseer Tsumba, former speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly who also hails from Buruku is 100percent favoured by zoning just as his co-contestant, Laha Dzever.

He lost his second term bid for what the people of his constituency described as his inability to carry his people along. Already, the former speaker has since acknowledged the fact that he indeed abandoned the people that elected him into the Makurdi Assembly and promised to repent if given a second chance.

Tsumba is also counting on the sympathy of the people to represent them in the apex chambers of the National Assembly come 2015.

Source: Barnes Agirigi for Business Day Sunday

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