By Sylvester Ugwuanyi
A Nigerian Times report has it that there’s been tension in Benue State since the Senate President, David Mark was endorsed as sole candidate for the Zone ‘C’ senatorial ticket.
This is as some members of the of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the aegis of PDP elders from Zone C and association of former Councilors from the zone led by a former permanent secretary, Ministry of Defense, Mike Onoja; a popular grassroots politician in the state, Chief Obande Obeya; the Senate President’s arch opponent, General Lawrence Onoja, are all vehemently opposing the endorsement.
It would be recalled that not too long after the endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan by the National working Committee, a group of PDP members from the zone led by the Interior Minister, Abba Moro; the party Chairman in the state, Emmanuel Agbo; a former Minister of state for Education, Professor Jerry Agada, stormed Abuja with the sole intent of endorsing Senator Mark for another term.
It was learnt that the move ruffled some feathers in the state especially within the rank of aspirants from the zone vying for the same seat.
Those against Mark’s continued stay in the Senate rose from a meeting of the PDP stakeholders in Otukpo last week, from where it was reported that the group sent its representations to Alhaji Adamu Muazu, the PDP National Chairman, in Abuja.
A source told Nigerian Times that the delegation led by Chief Obeya met a stiff resistance from the Senate President but later had its way, which led to the statement issued by the National secretariat of the party, barring state officials from endorsing aspirants.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Olisa Metu, had in the statement last week, said while it cannot stop individuals, groups or communities from endorsing persons of their choice, elected party official at state, local government and ward levels must not be involved in such. The statement added that such officials must continue to act as unbiased umpires in the nomination process.
“For the avoidance of doubt, only the National Executive Committee (NEC), as an organ of the party can officially endorse a candidate under the PDP constitution. All party officials at all level are expected to be guided by this,” he said.
It was said that the protests which greeted his endorsement had jolted Senator Mark, leading him to immediately express his feeling to the National Chairman, Muazu.
Informed sources at the meeting between the Senate President and Muazu, quoted Muazu asking the Senate President if he is afraid to contest knowing that he (Muazu) contested for the Senate as a sitting governor and lost.
While the other Eight local Government Areas which constitute Benue South Senatorial District feel David Mark’s Otukpo Local Government Area have had its fair share, some people from Otukpo local government who craved anonymity feel his fourteen years in the Senate has only benefited his immediate family and few cronies.