Crisis has hit the Benue State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as party elders are prevailing on Daniel Onjeh, the party’s Benue South senatorial candidate to step down for Chief Mike Onoja, a former Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defence.
Trouble started when party elders converged on Otukpo after Daniel Onjeh’s senatorial re-run declaration, which was held last Saturday. The elders, The Trent gathered from an informed source, were concerned over the dwindling fortunes of Daniel Onjeh in the senatorial race. Onjeh, the party elders argued was no longer sellable, hence the need to step down for a candidate who can match David Mark experience for experience.
“The party elders in Benue South came together in Otukpo on Sunday after last Saturday’s declaration and told Daniel Onjeh that they had settled for Chief Mike Onoja as a more viable candidate based on his wealth of experience. But Onjeh was very furious about the suggestion and insisted he was going to run. After a meeting that lasted for almost 4 hours, the party elders could not convince him to step down for Chief Onoja. The meeting ended in confusion”, the source said.
It will be recalled that Chief Onoja was one of the aspirants for Benue Zone C Senatorial seat on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but stepped down for Senator David Mark who later clinched the party nomination. Chief Onoja later decamped to the APC.
The Benue State chapter of APC, The Trent gathered is still in confusion as plans to sell Onjeh to the people of Idoma have continued to hit the rocks. Onjeh’s declining chances have forced the party to begin to reconsider the option of a new candidate who can face the former President of the Senate, David Mark.
Some observers of Benue South politics who spoke to our reporter say the APC is determined to unseat Senator David Mark, hence the desperation to get him out of the Senate at any cost.
“The APC sees David Mark as the last major threat they have in PDP in the Senate. So if they are able to remove David Mark, it would send a big statement across the polity. That is why the APC is very desperate to remove David Mark”, Gabriel Yogbo, a political analyst told The Trent on Thursday.
Another major factor playing out in Benue South is what one political observer who spoke to The Trentdescribed as the Tiv agenda against Idoma land.
“David Mark has always been a beacon of hope to the Idoma people. He is seen as a threat by Tiv politicians like George Akume. So for them, this election is about weakening the Idomas and further reducing them to a political minority in Benue State. If Tiv politicians like Akume can get a yes man like Daniel Onjeh, then they would have pocketed Idomas for the next couple of years”, the political analyst from Idoma land who did not want to be named said.
As confusion rages in the camp of the Benue State APC over a possible replacement for Daniel Onjeh, the Benue South senatorial re-run has been scheduled by INEC for February 20, 2016.