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Exclusive Interview: Why the APC lost in Benue State –Hon Nelson Alapa

Blames party leadership in the state over lack of cohesion

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The 2019 general elections have come and gone but the ripples and thrills still remain. Benue which was captured by the broom revolution of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, returned back to its old fold the People’s Democratic Party PDP with the exit of Governor Samuel Ortom and the ruling All Progressives Congress APC could not take it back in the just concluded polls even after a rerun.

In this exclusive interview, Hon Nelson Alapa a founding member of the APC and former member of the Federal House of Representatives explains why the APC had a very terrible outing in the state and speaks on other salient issues.

Exerpts

What is the background of your political career like?

My political background is clear and I am an ideological politician who came into politics with an ideology. And what is this ideology? Dividends of democracy. This is why I pitched with ideologists who have the passion to bring democratic dividends to the people in the grassroots. To achieve the real essence of democracy. That’s my view, that why I am in politics. I am not one of those politicians known for jumping ships. I came into the house of representatives under the ANPP then ACN and now APC so I am a consistent politician. In this regard, you will agree with me that my views on issues definitely will be different and obviously positive. I make bold to say that I am the first registered APC member in Benue State and indeed the entire North Central region. We were four in number when APC was found. As far as APC is concerned, I come first before any other person.

What is your assessment on the just concluded elections?

On the issue of the just concluded elections, we must approach it by appreciating those who made bold sacrifices, they gave us their maximum support that should have given us optimal result. We cannot review the last elections especially in Benue State without appreciating the roles of the National leader of the party Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who gave all the necessary support for a successful election as well as the Buhari Support Organisation as well as the president muhammadu buhari, and the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomole who anchored all the support that actually trickled down to Benue State.

But unfortunately, we got to a point when we started losing our collective fortunes in Benue State when the likes of Prof. Saror would have to leave the party, when the likes of Gemade, Akagegeh and other big names would have a reason to leave the party. This is when our political fortunes were lost.

What could be responsible for all these?

Above all, even the Governor, Samuel Ortom who is the hub of the fortune at the time. Does the Governor have any reason to leave the party? For me, there was no reason why the Governor should have left. But the Governor could not put up with the over bearing attitude of the leadership of the party in the state. For the Governor of a state to leave a party, obviously there are stories and testimonies he has to tell. But leadership must work towards bring all of us together if not, there was no reason for all these great personalities to have left the party. Look at how we lost the likes of Orker Jev who is now a Senator, look at Chief Mike Okibe from Benue South it’s important we enumerate all these. The leadership never allowed team spirit to thrive because of their own selfish interest. This is what has led us into this quagmire.

Be that as it may, despite the short comings, we went into elections without cohesion, primaries were held at the various levels in the state and there was no point where a reconciliatory approach was adopted. No reconciliation. The leadership of the party was more of a regimented system where whatever is said is what happens. Imposition of candidates against the peoples will and so on.

You have a Governorship election where about 7 aspirants came with a whooping sum of over 25 million naira as fees for purchase of forms to aspire. It ended up in consensus. Well, nothing may be wrong with that because it is allowed in the constitution but the style in arriving at a candidate that is worrisome.

If we arrive at a consensus, I expect that there should be a coordinated meeting to reconcile aggrieved members to be appeased. This approach was not considered at all. Everyone was left on their own. No forum where we all sit down to talk to ourselves to exchange understanding and agreement to move forward for the greater goal of the party which would have doused a lot of tension because that is key in achieving victory. We were even lucky that Mr. President demonstrated an immense love for Benue state. You saw the pattern of rioting. You will also agree that in spite of all the challenges, Benue State voted massively for APC except in some of the areas where rigging took place. But of course in Benue South, where the people are committed to a common cause, we demonstrated our love for the president. The honourable minister of agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh also demonstrated capacity. We spoke in one voice.

Talking about leadership failure in the state, who are you actually referring to? To the chairman, Abba Yaro or Senator George Akume?

When we talk about party leadership in the state, of course, we are referring to Senator George Akume. If all arms of the party under his leadership have all these short comings, obviously he takes responsibility for whatever has happened. You must also note that the imposition of candidates brought about a colossal loss for the party. Imagine Benue State that is known to be a state of the APC, we have only one seat.

When we talk about party leadership in the state, of course, we are referring to Senator George Akume. If all arms of the party under his leadership have all these short comings, obviously he takes responsibility for whatever has happened. You must also note that the imposition of candidates brought about a colossal loss for the party. Imagine Benue State that is known to be a state of the APC, we have only one seat.

Many have actually blamed the bad outing of the APC in Benue state on you. How do you vindicate yourself from this allegations?

You see, everybody has a right to their own opinion. Me as Hon. Nelson Alapa, A National Officer of this party, I ordinarily should have been considered in every step before, during and after the elections. But I can tell you without fear of contradiction that, I have not been taken into account in the build-up of the elections. No body consulted me at the state level. Even when resources were made available. Even the Honourable Minister Chief Audu Ogbeh was sidelined. He was not carried along. Whatever I did for the success of the party was out of my personal resources. So if anyone wants to blame me for the failures of the party, it is highly unfortunate. In my zone, we won the presidential and Governorship elections. Check out the results. In my local Government for instance, we won with a wide margin. The records are there to exonerate me to have done my best.

Your constituency particularly Otukpo has had serious security lapses. I am refering to the issue of cultism we have seen the action of the Local Government Chairman, George Alli but statesmen have remained silent

Look, I condemn the menace of cultism in the strongest possible terms, at every forum I appear, I have not kept quiet over this. I also commend the Chairman of the Local Government George Alli for his proactive role in stemming the tide. What we are experiencing especially in Otukpo and its environs is quite unfortunate. I consider as alien to our culture in Idoma Land. Minors inventing a strange way of life we have never heard of. The police must be commended for their role in apprehending some culprits but they need to do more in order to restore the peace and tranquility to the area. Parents at this point must also ensure their wards keep the right company. At the level of the family good morals must be inculcated to these children. We cannot continue to live in fear. More intelligent approach in curbing these menace must be adopted. Parents must know what their children are up to.

Read also Osinbajo shuns Atiku, takes TraderMoni scheme to Anambra

Do you think President Buhari deserve this victory?

Of course, Nigerians have spoken, and they have spoken loud and clear. President Muhammadu Buhari has proven overtime to be the best thing that has happened to Nigeria. But again, I am one of those proponents that believe President Buhari did not take into cognizance the sacrifices of those who labored for the success of his elections. Now that he is about to make new appointments into his cabinet, he must look at those who have sacrificed immensely for him. Those in line with his vision, with the passion to seeing a new Nigeria.

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