Lawmakers from the APC appeal to Tinubu against Governor Alia’s management of Benue

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On Thursday, the Benue State National Assembly caucus, which is part of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), criticized Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, the governor of the state, harshly.

They said the governor was treating the state government more like a parochial organization.

During a news conference in Abuja, the lawmakers urged President Ahmed Bola Tinubu to intervene swiftly with the governor to prevent him from running the state into disaster.

They claim that if Alia is not promptly reined in, the party’s chances of losing future elections in the state are high.

Senator Titus Zam, who represents Benue North West and is the caucus leader, read aloud the press conference transcript.

He revealed that Senator George Akume, who is serving as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and has been mediating to bring things back to normal, had been informed of the situation multiple times.

We, the undersigned, are elected members of the Benue State National Assembly Caucus representing the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“The caucus has decided to bring the issue of the lack of democratic leadership in Benue State to the attention of Mr. President and other leaders of the APC in Nigeria. We have been watching Governor Hyacinth Alia’s haughty and self-centered behavior for the past six months, and it is our hope that they will intervene immediately to save the APC from complete collapse in Benue State,” they stated.

They went on to say that “from the onset, we have collectively and individually drawn the attention of the leader of the APC in Benue, Sen. Dr. George Akume, Secretary to the Government of the Federation. He has on several occasions pleaded for patience from us in the anticipation of a possible change of attitude from His Excellency Governor Hyacinth Alia, rather than change for the better.”

“Governor Alia’s behavior toward us and the party as a whole has grown increasingly contemptuous, rude, and deceitful. She has grown more confident as a result.

This was only Fr. Alia’s way of reaping what he had not sown. Anyway, you’re probably aware that he faced opposition from more senior party members and had to fight his way out of their clutches—a process that included lawsuits all the way up to Nigeria’s highest court—until he finally won the nomination with the vocal backing of Sen. Dr. George Akume.

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Fr. Alia, who had only joined the APC two months before the governorship primaries, has taken on a messianic role today, attributing the APC’s triumph in Benue State to his alleged popularity rather than the patient and methodical work of the formidable political structure that has installed every governor in the state prior to him.

We need to know why the self-proclaimed popular priest in Benue State did not run for office on the ticket of the APGA, the PDP, or one of the other smaller political parties.

For the benefit of clarity, let us place Governor Alia’s tyrannical and self-centered behavior, as well as his treatment of the Benue APC during his final six months in office, in context.

Among the 32 members of the Benue House of Assembly, 22 are from the APC, while the speaker’s seat was allotted to the Jembagh bloc of the Benue North West Senatorial District—which happens to be the birthplace of the SGF, Sen. Dr. George Akume.

“In order to produce a speaker who was not the desired nominee of the APC, Governor Alia conspired with former PDP governor Gabriel Suswam. Governor Alia began his sinister alliance with the PDP to denigrate and mistreat the legal APC members in Benue State when he convened midnight meetings at Sen. Gabriel Suswam’s residence to rally ten PDP members and seven stubborn APC members to defeat the APC preferred candidate by two votes.

Following the disastrous Speakership election, the party once again chose and distributed the assembly’s top officers, including the Majority Leader, Deputy Majority Leader, Chief Whip, and Deputy Chief Whip. In an unexpected turn of events, the speaker wholeheartedly agreed with the opposition party on all PDP nominations, as endorsed by the state PDP chairman and secretary. However, he rejected the APC’s list and instead accepted the governor’s unilaterally submitted list through his chief of staff.

Experiencing the disappointment at the hands of an administration the Party had worked so hard to install was an embarrassing ordeal for the Party.

Sen. Dr. George Akume, the party’s leader, has consistently advised his followers to pray for Fr. Alia’s success, so even when the party’s members felt wronged, they listened to the governor and his administration and remained faithful.

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At the initial meeting of the stakeholders held in government house, party chairman Comrade Austine Agada publicly knelt down, accepted all the blame (even though he was innocent), and apologised to the governor and party members, pleading with them to put the scandal involving the State Assembly scandal behind them and unite to rescue the party.

“During the meeting, the governor expressed his admiration for the party leader and pledged to consistently collaborate for the benefit of both Benue and the party in a democratic manner.

“Unfortunately, he also broke his vow to consult the party and other important stakeholders in future sensitive decisions, such as the selection of commissioners and local government caretaker committees.

“Once again, His Excellency ignored the zoning arrangements and permutations and proceeded to make his independent choices as he deemed soothing in appointing his commissioners, exercising sole discretion without recourse to the normal tradition of requesting nominations from the local governments.

The party did not stand in his way; in fact, they backed him since he needed trustworthy people to serve on his own State Executive and Security Council.

When governor Alia nominated caretaker committees to run the several local governments, that’s when the party took the biggest beating. At the meeting of the stakeholders, he made it clear that he wanted three people nominated for the roles of caretaker chairman, deputy secretary, and supervisory councillor from each LGA, and that these nominations should be finalized immediately.

When the caretaker council was formed, this was the first time a governor had ever demanded two slots instead of the standard one for each local government. The group eagerly complied with the order, getting together to discuss the matter and then methodically presenting their own lists, all while feeling a relief and a sense of belonging.

“However, the party was taken aback when the nominations were revealed, as 90% of the names did not appear on the list of candidates submitted to the governor per his order.

“The announcement of the caretaker committee was the apex of the noticeably bad relationship between governor Alia and the APC in Benue State. This has angered many party members in the state, and their anger is understandable given all the reasons for the discontent.”

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Governor Hyacinth Alia has shown complete contempt for the members of the National Assembly of the State of Benue (NASS), who were elected on the same APC ticket as him. He has also failed to meet with these individuals since taking office, and he has ignored their repeated attempts to contact him by phone and discuss state politics.

While leading Benue State, he has taken the attitude of a conqueror who doesn’t concern himself with the well-being or prestige of members of the National Assembly. Collaborating with their governors, NASS members in each state are attempting to entice federal development to their home state.

When it comes to Benue State’s growth, Governor Alia does not have a single plan. As of right now, no one in Benue State knows where his administration is headed. His appointments in the state are skewed, favoring members of his own Kunav community, which is indicative of his autocratic leadership.

Consequences of Governor Alia’s autocratic leadership in Benue State: the majority of the state’s APC members, who have been marginalized and left out in the cold, are starting to lose trust in the APC-led government.

Protecting APC from Governor Alia’s autocratic rule is crucial if the party is to be ready for future electoral successes.

The caucus went on to say that “Governor Alia’s street showmanship of non-existent huge support base does not translate to the real political support which only leaders can guarantee.”

In the meantime, Hon. Philip Agbese, who represents the Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency, has also accused the governor of nepotism. Agbese claims that the governor appointed more than 30 important political officers from his immediate family in Vandeikya LGA, while the Idoma speaking people of Benue South were severely underrepresented.

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