We read a press statement credited to the Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Benue State, Dr. Tsetim Ayargwer, and State Secretary of the party, Mr Tertsea Gbiseh, in which the duo challenged Governor Samuel Ortom’s dissolution and reconstitution of the Benue State Independent Electoral Commission, BSIEC.
The statement is filled with blatant falsehood and misrepresentations hence the need to put the records straight.
The same law that set up the state electoral body and prescribed a specific tenure for the chairman and members also makes provision for the Governor to dissolve and reconstitute it if he receives approval from two-third members of the State Assembly.
Before he took the actions, Governor Ortom first wrote to the Assembly and received overwhelming approval from the House which has many PDP members, with not even one dissenting member.
He therefore, received the support of the entire House.
The allegation that the newly appointed Chairman of the Commission, Dr John Tsuwa, was a card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, is a blatant lie. The standard is that he who alleges must also prove. The signatories of the statement tendered no proof ostensibly because there is none.
Dr Tsuwa was until his appointment a senior lecturer at the Benue State University. For him to be an APC member, he had to register either in the ward where he was born or in that where he resides. It is an incontrovertible fact that the chairman’s name can neither be found in the party’s register in Mbagbera, Vandeikya local government area, where he hails, nor that of Fiidi in Makurdi where he resides.
That his appointment at BSU was irregular is another lie. Dr Tsuwa’s appointment letter was duly signed by Mr. William Mozeh, the Registrar at the time of his appointment. He rose through the ranks to the position from which he was appointed chairman.
The greatest fabrication and falsehood in that statement of infamy is the disclosure that Dr Tsuwa was agent for Senator Barnabas Gemade in last year’s election. Nothing could be further from the truth. The agent in that election for Senator Gemade was Mr. Thomas Anajav, now a Senior Special Assistant to the Governor.
For emphasis, the new BSIEC chairman was not a returning officer for any candidate at any election last year. Records from the Independent National Electoral Commission are available for verification.
From the foregoing, there is little need to spend more on the tissue of lies. Yet, there might be need to state that the Nigerian Constitution guarantees freedom of association and as such a citizen has the right to belong to a political party and to also willingly resign such membership.
The signatories admitted that a member of the commission had resigned APC membership months before her appointment. This clearly indicated that she was not a member of the party at the time of her appointment.
The PDP got accustomed to the pattern of political patronage in favour of their members as we saw in the last dispensation and therefore assume that the present APC administration will follow their example even when that was not the case.
We enjoin the opposition in Benue State to always back their claims with verifiable facts. That way, democracy can better be deepened.
In dissolving and reconstituting BSIEC, Governor Ortom acted within the ambits of the law.
It will be in the interest of political parties to prepare for council polls rather than dissipating energy on press statements riddled with falsehood.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor.