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Benue APC Guber Candidate, Rev. Fr Alia Denies Choosing Ex- Minister As Running Mate

The governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Benue State Reverend Father, Hyacinth Alia has clarified that he has not picked a running mate yet for the 2023 gubernatorial election.

The clarification is coming on the heels of widespread speculations that Dr. Sam Ode, a former Minister of State for Niger Delta had been picked as his running mate.

Kula Tersoo, Head of Media and Publicity, Alia 2023 Gubernatorial Campaign Organization, on a reaction to media reports said, “Parties don’t pick a deputy for the candidate. It is the candidate that picks the deputy. Rev. Fr. Alia is yet to pick and announce his deputy. Once he does that, he will communicate to the public.”

“The position of Deputy Governor has been zoned by the party to Benue South Senatorial District but high-wire political scheming among contestants and party stakeholders have not permitted an early selection. This necessitated the appointment of Isaac Gbihi Vembeh as a placeholder running mate”.

“That appointment, according to a statement issued by Daniel Ihomun, Publicity Secretary, APC, Benue State, was to “allow Alia continue his wider consultation with Leaders of the party, Stakeholders and groups, so as to carry everybody along in the selection process.

“The nominee is submitted to fulfil INEC requirements and beat the deadline for submission of Governorship and Deputy Governorship candidates as required by the Electoral Act. Candidates and political parties, however, have up till August, 2022 to make substitutions and replacements where necessary.”

Last weekend, the APC community in the state was awash with unconfirmed stories of Sam Ode’s nomination, sparking jubilations in his camp and rebuttals from opposing stakeholders in Benue South (Zone C).

The first notable rebuttal came from the APC elders from the zone who reacted to a story published online “purporting the nomination of Dr. Sam Ode as the running mate to the governorship candidate of APC in Benue State, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia.”

“The news credited the purported nomination to a recommendation from the APC elders council referred to as ‘Committee of Wise Men’.

Led by former Senate President, Senator Ameh Ebute, the 14 elders debunked the existence of a properly constituted Benue South Elders Council of the party which had earlier been dissolved by the current state leadership of the party.

They insisted in a statement that “no elder of the party met under any committee of Wise Men or APC Elders’ Council to do any discussion on the choice of running mate to the APC governorship candidate on 21st July, 2022, as claimed in the news.

“That the purported nomination of Dr. Sam Ode as contained in the news is a deliberate attempt by mischief makers to cause tension and disharmony in the party in order to undermine our victory in the coming election.”

This rebuttal was reenforced by reports that Stakeholders from Benue South Senatorial District has called on the National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, to intervene in the matter.

“They based their request for intervention by higher authorities on the need to stop attempts by some powerful leaders of the party in the state at denying Zone C the opportunity to recommend a candidate of their choice.

They claim that rather than allowing Zone C to decide and recommend a suitable candidate, attempts were being made, using Barrister John Ochoga, Senator Jack Tilley-Gyado and Chief Simon Shango (the latter two are Tiv by tribe) to impose a former Minister of State for Niger Delta, Sam Ode, whose mother is of the Tiv lineage as the governorship candidate and State Leader of the party, Senator George Akume.

“Moreover, Ode hails from the same Local Government Area as the incumbent Deputy Governor.”

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