Senator George Akume’s political lesson – By Atom Lim

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Sen. Akume’s defeat at last Saturday’s polls by Hon. Orker Jev is a huge personal lesson in politics, especially Tiv politics.

In the build up to the 2007 election and the end of his second term as Governor, Akume hatched a plot to go to the Senate like many of his colleagues at the time did.

Akume’s plan for the Senate faced a small hurdle – the senatorial seat was to be zoned to Buruku Local Government and to the Tombu people in particular. Akume was not from Buruku let alone Tombu. He was a Mbakor man from Tarka Local Government, the smallest LG in Zone B Senatorial Zone and the least qualified to enjoy the sharing formula of the zone at the time. Regardless of this fact, Akume by virtue of his position as two-term Governor who had consolidated power by being overly generous to all and sundry with state funds, was without doubt the most powerful politician in Zone B. His political interest needed to be protected.

To deal with this challenge to his interest, Akume struck a deal with some Jemgbagh leaders at the time to exploit the ‘loan’ principle in Tiv politics.

My late father, Dr. Simon Lim, was co-opted into this plot by Akume and his political Godfather at the time, Iorchia Ayu, and some others.

It was a simple political plan; Akume would compensate influential Tombu sons like my late father and Dr. Laha Dzever, the then powerful SUBEB chairman, with political positions in exchange for being ‘loaned’ the Senate seat.

That is how my father, a Tombu Mbaya man, who had become inactive in politics was brought back to be given the PDP House of Representatives ticket for Buruku Federal Constituency with a landslide victory at the primaries. And Dr. Laha Dzever, a Tombu Mbalagh man, was to be compensated with another position which I will not expose here.

To be fair to those who hatched this plot, they did everything to ensure my father won. They bought the form, funded the campaigns, etc. In fact, my father campaigned by proxy but won. Winning was made easier by the fact that people had sympathy for my father who had done so much for communities in Buruku. Also his reputation preceded him but to be honest, he did not put in the work expected of a politician to win the PDP nomination at the time. It was handed to him. But a few elements in Buruku who were close to Akume did not like the turn of events. They began to conspire and pressure Akume arguing that my father was too old to go to the House of Reps. A younger, savy politician like Dave Orshi, it was argued, was more desirable.

The opportunity to remove my father from the ballot came when Ayu and Akume’s political alliance broke down as a result of the former moving with Atiku to the Action Congress and the latter being too afraid of Obasanjo to join them.

My father was photographed having drinks with Ayu and that evening, Akume substituted his candidature with an unknown younger man called Orker Jev. Yes, the same Orker Jev who yesterday beat Akume by over 42, 000 votes to clinch the Senate seat for Zone B.

I have watched the political relationship between Akume and Orker Jev over the years and the outcome of this election has taught me a lesson that in politics, that thing called luck can just be as strategy.

In 2007, Orker emerged out of sheer luck. In 2019, he has been elected Senator out of sheer luck. If Akume did not give Ortom red card, Orker might not have won. That is not to say Orker is not strong in his own right. He is. But he would not have gotten those G-Votes (Guma, Gwer West, Gwer East, Gboko) that are so critical to win in Zone B. So, again, fate smiles on Orker Jev.

Congrats, Senator.

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