There are still no pictures of the stunt but all accounts available to Intervention indicates that Senator George Akume basically shut down Makurdi, the Benue State capital on Monday, September 6th, 2021 when he inaugurated his campaign for the office of the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC). His campaign for the office is coming exactly a week from a press conference during which he launched grave allegations against the state governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom. By the logic of the owl as the killer of the child which died in the morning following the shriek of the owl, no Tom, Dick and Harry who links Akume’s allegations against Ortom to his chairmanship ambition may be dismissed.
A long convoy of vehicles as Akume launched the campaign literarily threw Makurdi into a traffic jam rarely experienced in the sparse city compared to mega cities such as Lagos, Kano, Portharcourt, Intervention was told by those who witnessed the event. It was as if Akume was replying the state governor who said in response to the Akume press conference that he should have held the conference in Makurdi, Benue State if he thought he was that popular. Attendees came from all nooks and crannies of Nigeria for the event. It was effectively a test of strength
It remains unclear for now how far the test of strength would go in him clinching the APC’s chairmanship. It is a position that will put him in negotiating advantage within the Nigerian elite formation. How such an advantage will trickle down ‘home’ to Benue State is yet to be articulated. Like most Nigerian politicians, Senator Akume subscribes to no clear ideological position in politics. He was, however, surprisingly against privatisation in 2016 when the Saraki led Senate was debating an attempt to privatise the remaining national assets. It is possible that he would articulate an ideological stance in the course of his campaign for the National Chairmanship of the APC but it won’t be surprising if he doesn’t. Most other politicians don’t stand by any clear ideological consciousness.
The result of the contest at both the national level on the one hand and between Senator Akume and Governor Samuel Ortom at the state level on the other hand will soon become known. That is, should Akume win the National Chairmanship, so much would have been resolved in his favour. He would become a figure to contend with by both those he is in conflict with and those who would not even be allowed the luxury of being indifferent about him.
But, would he win? Although it is understood the position has been zoned to the central Nigerian states otherwise known as the Middle Belt, no one can be sure of what the numerous centres of power in Nigeria are thinking. In his August 30th, 2021 press conference, he attacked Ortom for taking on President Buhari without any respect for that office. And said that relations between Fulani and Tiv ethnic identities were not always strained.
He could be The Presidency’s candidate, meaning that he has already got the job. If that is not the case, then he will not win. Intervention has no idea of Akume’s competitors or whether he is unopposed. The zoning of the National Chairmanship to the Middle Belt would be read as zoning it to the North which means the presidential candidate of the APC will be coming from the South. By current sentiments, it would be interesting to see which politician of Northern Nigerian origin from whichever party would beat an APC presidential candidate of Southern origin in 2023. However, a strong or rooted National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) of Southern Nigerian origin combining with a Northern Nigerian presidential candidate of the party can easily win the 2023 election. In all cases, what has started is peopling the post-Buhari leadership for Nigeria through a process of inclusion and exclusions.