Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has called for a meeting of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders and council chairmanship aspirants for discussions bothering on resolving issues of zoning and peaceful conduct in the forthcoming local government elections in the state.
Benue State Independent Electoral Election (BSIEC) has fixed 29 and 30 January, 2020 for the local government area council elections in the state.
It is believed that Gov. Ortom is calling for the meeting scheduled for Saturday to resolve all the pending issues of zoning in the state, particularly in all the council areas of Benue Zone C on which the governor had received various petitions from the affected communities/wards and subsequently instituted a peace committee.
Ogbadibo Local Government Area of the state is one of the councils where disagreement in zoning has raised high tension of crisis among the people of Owukpa community.
The zoning disagreement among the PDP members in the community arose from the refusal of the caretaker chairman, Honourable Prince Onuh to step down from the chairmanship race for the people of Itabono Ward 1 that are next on line to produce the Council chairmanship aspirant from the community in the natural flow of an existing zoning pattern.
A committee to look into the disagreement had earlier been instituted at the instance of the listening Governor who has been emphasising on absolute respect for zoning in the coming council elections but its report is yet to be made public.
Ogbadibo people in general and the people of Owukpa, in particular, are known in the state for peaceful and law-abiding co-existence. The three unique communities that make up the local government (Otukpa, Owukpa and Orokam) practice a non-negotiable zoning arrangement and the same is being upheld even in the forthcoming council elections. This is why the council chairmanship slot has been zoned to Owukpa at the council level.
It is revealed that the most heated disagreement on zoning is coming from the community where the current local government PDP chairman, Honourable Vincent Amuche is coming from and more interesting is that the caretaker chairman, Hon. Onuh is also Amuche’s brother in-law though both are from different districts in the community. Perhaps, the relationship between the two actors is what is making the issue worse because the community has perceived a strong collaboration between the two politicians.
Now that the Governor is giving another opportunity to resolve the issue of zoning before the poll, the next questions are: 1. Will the council PDP chairman, Hon. Vincent Amuche who would speak for Ogbadibo and Owukpa, speaks in favour of zoning in Owukpa considering his relationship with the caretaker chairman? 2. Will the elders/stakeholders from the community who could stand for the truth be invited for this dialogue without bias? 3. What will happen to Owukpa cultural and political structure and its peaceful co-existence if the truth is upturned and the existing zoning structure destroyed?
People of Owukpa and Ogbadibo are also aware how the caretaker chairman has influenced some key party stakeholders to suppress the zoning order by placing them on a monthly stipend. The next question is, 4. If such people are being invited for the meeting, would they be able to stand up for the interest of Owukpa people and zoning when they are direct beneficiaries of the caretaker’s political move and interest?
Otukpa and Orokam have done justice to the peace process in the local government by relinquishing the chairmanship to Owukpa according to the existing zoning arrangement. It is hoped that Hon. Amuche and his in-law would also sustain and promote the peaceful co-existence of Owukpa people by relinquishing the Ogbadibo chairmanship slot to Itabono Ward 1.
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