The battle raging between Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State and Senator Barnabas Gemade over the ticket to represent the people of Benue South-east senatorial district continued unabated on Sunday with Suswam declaring that serving senators were blackmailing President Goodluck Jonathan in their desperate bid to secure automatic tickets back to the National Assembly in 2015.
This came as the senator representing Kogi Central senatorial district in the National Assembly, Senator Nurudden Abatemi-Uman, said the report
that President Jonathan had promised automatic senatorial tickets to 40 incumbent senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was false.
Suswam, who reacted to media reports that the president had conceded automatic tickets to the serving PDP senators ahead of the 2015 elections, said his senatorial aspiration had been ordained by God and would not be stopped by anybody.
He spoke at Agbeede Gaav in Konshisha Local Government Area of the state, the home town of Senator Barnabas Gemade, where his childhood friend, Mr. Julius Atorough, built blocks of classrooms for his community and also donated seven branded Sport Utility Vehicle SUV’s cars to his campaign organisation.
Suswam noted that “elections into the senate are won through the ballot and not by any arrangement, senators should stop blackmailing the president and seek their
reelection through the ballot box.
On the assertion that returning the PDP senators would better enhance the act of law making, the governor said he had better experience as a federal lawmaker representing Ukum- Logo-Kastisna/Ala federal constituency, between 1999 and 2007.
“The fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, our constituents are in the better position to determined weather anyone had performed well and deserved to continue in office and not through blackmail as it is being done at the moment.”
In his speech, Atorough, while paying tribute to his late mother, said Suswam had performed well hence should be encouraged to serve the people of his constituency who had unanimously endorsed him.
In his speech, Dr. Mathias Byuan who contested against Gemade in 2011, but was asked to step down, stated that the people of Benue North east senatorial district had unanimously adopted the governor as their sole candidate and there was no going back on the matter.
“Let all those who are interested in election go through the ballot as stipulated by the PDP constitution and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Does it mean that if anyone performed poorly at the National Assembly, and his constituents decide to replace him, he would resorts to blackmailed? It is certainly not an acceptable norm,” Byuan added.
Meanwhile, Abatemi-Uman, who spoke with journalists in Abuja, said no deal of such occurred, noting that Jonathan did not concede automatic tickets to 40 out of 72 PDP senators to return to the Senate in 2015.
Abatemi-Usman further stressed that the report of a “harmonised” list of automatic ticket holders was misleading and not true.
According to him, the source who fed journalists with what he described as erroneous report, was a known senator who had been creating a false impression of being close to the national leadership of PDP, as well as the presidency.
“My colleague should be careful as he is becoming known as the purveyor of dubious information. I was at the meeting from the beginning to the end and at no point was any list of senators drafted.
“It is unfortunate that a fellow senator would peddle such rumours and that respected national newspapers would publish the report without checking the facts.”
“What our national chairman did after some senators had spoken their minds was to look at the situation in each state, and he said where there are issues, they will be resolved amicably. If there
was any such list, my name definitely would have been included because the chairman said he is not aware that I am having any problem in Kogi Central while speaking on the situation in Kogi State.
“The chairman said the problem in Kogi West would be resolved. That was the manner in which the chairman went through all the states. Neither he, nor the president at any time mentioned names of senators to be granted automatic tickets.
“It seems my colleague behind the purported report is being mischievous in spreading this story and the public should disregard his claims,” the senator concluded.