I Did Not Mastermind Ukum Council Leadership Arrangement,  Mlanga Defends Self

..Says Udende, Biam Lost Out Because Of Poor Performance

Member representing Ukum state Constituency and Chief Whip of the 9th Benue Assembly, Hon. Thomas Mlanga has denied allegations against him that he masterminded the cession of the Ukum Legislative Council Leader to Ngenev bloc against the unanimous decision of PDP stakeholders in the Local Government.
Hon. Mlanga who interacted with newsmen at his residence in Makurdi, the Benue state Capital on Wednesday also spoke on other salient issues including the defection of Hon. Paul Biam and others A the All Progressives Congress, APC, the disservice of Sankera stakeholders under the auspices of ‘Sankera Like Minds’ in trying to achieve peace and unity and many other important issues.
Fielding questions on his alleged involvement in forcefully giving the slot of Legislative Leader to Ngenev, the Chief Whip said,
“I am not masterminding the zoning arrangement, politics has to do with a lot concession. One concedes today and tomorrow it is conceded to another zone. That is politics for you.
“The zoning was made twice, the first one was in Kachina’s house, Our Commissioner, and the Nengev axis pleaded that the leader of the Council should be given to them and the people who were there are the same people who sat at Zaki Biam, they agreed that the zoning arrangement should go to Nengev but after then, the same people who are angry today went ahead and petitioned some issues about that and we decided to go back to Ukum the Headquarters of Sankera, we sat and that time, the issues of zoning to Mbaterem emanated. So, when they said that Mbaterem should bring the leadership of the Council. But Mbaterem could not sit, they did not sit to agree on a particular person and the Nengev axis was totally in protest that the first zoning was for them, why would it be zoned to another place? So there was a clear division there, the first one was Nengev while the second one was Mbaterem. So, Nengev did not agree on it and Mbaterem did not agree either. Then, they had to go for election and the Nengev axis had six Council Wards which they  had their 6 votes per bloc while Mbaterem had only two Council Wards and got only 2 votes. So, they were looking for where they could manoeuvre an addition where Mbaterem could also have their votes from either Torov or Ucha. Nengev were also looking for the same direction either to get votes from Torov or Ucha so that they would continue to add more so that they could win because there was a clear division. Both sides resisted and they were to go for voting and when you are to go into voting, they do vote behind you and the other person. So definitely, the Nengev axis had more advantage than Mbaterem in terms of votes and they were vehement that they were going to vote. Then, they set example on me that when I was coming as a leader of the Council, I was not given zoning by the party. The party asked for another person while the zoning went to another person and that other person was me. So we were two and were fighting for the same post and I got elected when they asked us to go in for election and that was the first instance in 1999. So, this one too was trying to play out in the same way and when I stepped in, I said no, this is not good. Let us harmonize it together, if these people say there is no way that they could change, we have no option but to vote because if you want to go in as a politician at the level of a caucus of the party to suspend them, you will have to suspend up to six or seven Councilors. But how can you suspend 6 or 7 Councilors at a time? It is not good because if you have to use the supremacy of the party, the best option is to suspend them all and if even you want to do that but their people stand strongly behind them, there is just no way they will subject themselves to party suspension. So they voted themselves and we had no option”, Mlanga explained.
Commenting on the role played by Sankera stakeholders popularly known as ‘Sankera Like Minds’ to restore peace and unity in the area, the former Ukum Legislative Leader appreciated their efforts but decried the alleged divisive measures they used in the process. According to the Lawmaker, the stakeholder did not want to recognize senator Suswam as the Political leader of Sankera. Secondly, they went to Sen. George Akume in Makurdi, a man from Jemgbagh to help them achieve peace which in his own view was a mockery of the whole thing and he described it as “a Kangaroo arrangement”.
“The people bragging themselves as the Like Minds were not able to bring the people of Sankera together to chat a way forward for the development and peace of that area. The move was made under the leadership of our senator, Gabriel Suswam but what they are doing now is to use that Political language of Sankera Like Minds to deny him leadership because their moves are different from the agenda of Sankera in the past three or four weeks to bring peace in the area. There is no where a leader will not be connected and in Sankera, we have our leader who is our former Governor and now a Senator (Gabriel Suswam) and he will continue to be our leader. But I think that the move was a good one, so they should continue with it and I believe Suswam will never relent. What he knows is to maintain peace,
“I was told that in the past two or four days, Sankera Like Minds came to former Governor George Akume because of peace in Sankera, they came down to Makurdi and began to look for peace in Makurdi from another leadership because that person is not from Sankera. If we want peace from ourselves, we will coverge ourselves together so that we will look for peace, not from somebody else”, the Chief Whip opined.
When asked whether the recent defections from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to other Political parties especially the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Sankera will affect them (the PDP) in 2023 elections, Hon. Mlanga said the former House of Representatives member for Sankera, Barr Emmanuel Udende, was not a PDP member for many years because he defected to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, long ago. But Paul Biam a former Majority leader of the state Assembly has rather not been sincere and faithful to PDP after enjoying many privileges of the umbrella party.
“Udende is not our PDP member in our Constituency, Udende is a member of APGA and he brought APGA in Ukum for him to use and do whatever he wanted to do. So he Decamped to that APGA since… I think for over two years. So if people are saying that he has decamped from PDP to APC, then it is wrong version and I don’t agree with that. The only person that I can agree with is Paul Biam who was a member of the PDP, but because of his manner like I was saying that I don’t understand how they want to manage their relation into the party they belong to, if you are not given position in your party, it doesn’t mean that you will decamp to any Political party, you have to be faithful to your party. If you decided to do that, tomorrow you will also do it to the party which you have defected to. So Biam was a member of the PDP yes, he was elected twice and was given a lot of concessions in PDP, but today, he thinks that the election which made Richard Gbande a House of Representatives member, he was not satisfied with the way Gbande came in. So based on that, up till now, he is still aggrieved with that kind of concession. I believe that he is not being sincere to any Political party that he will now move to. Do whatever thing that you can do for him, but if it does not come to his position or his own desire, he will quit. I think that what he is doing is not a social interaction but a personal interaction with whatever he wants to do.
“But as I was saying, Udende is not our member of PDP so we can never bring him into decamping from PDP to APC. So then, he was there but we won election in PDP, all the elections that were conducted, he was not part of it but we won elections in PDP. All the elections that were conducted, he was not part of it, Ashaver was not part of it and most of those crop of politicians who followed them to decamp were not part of it except Paul Biam. I think what they are trying to do is to promote their position so that people will think they are somewhere “, he reasoned.
The former Aide to Ex-Governor Suswam however expressed confidence that  Biam’s defection will not in anyway affect PDP in 2023 elections because they too have been decamping prominent people from other parties to PDP and people have lost confidence in both Biam and Udende because of their alleged abysmal performance.
” PDP will win in 2023 because we have built the grassroot people and were duly elected and they are still looking up to us. Most youths will go there to laugh at them, people are angry at what they are doing. If you look at the gallery where they stand before decamping, watch the ceremony and see how many of them who were using broom that came in within the nuclear gallery to ask, are these people who are decamping? You cannot see most of them. Most people who gather around, do go there to envisage what they think they are doing so that they will come back and talk because they lost out.
“For eight years that Udende had been at the House of Representatives, he did nothing, you can never see anything that you can point your hand that he did. Paul Biam had been in the State Assembly for eight years but he did not do anything even in his home town, Zaki Biam.
” So people are mocking them for what they are doing. Sometimes when a mad man goes to market and is dancing, people begin to follow him not because he is moving, there are some things he will be doing and people will be laughing. They are following him not because they like him but it is because of what he is doing. So, I don’t see anything about what they are doing, ” the Chief Whip said.
When contacted through online chat for his reaction, Rt. Hon. Biam declined comments.
He said, “Sorry for now i don’t wish to make any comment on all the issues raised”.
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