Benue Coalition for Democracy has described the Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress for Benue North-West, Titus Zam, an enemy of democracy for calling for the disenfranchisement of Internally Displace Persons, IDPs in the 2023 general elections.
The group in a statement signed by its Coordinator, Aloysius Gbakaan stated that the call is anti-people and insensitive.
The statement reads: “The Benue Coalition for Democracy, read with total dismay the call by Titus Zam, the Benue APC Zone B Senatorial candidate advocating that the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC should not create polling units in Internally Displaced Persons camps, thereby disenfranchising thousands of those affected by herdsmen attacks from participating in next year’s elections.
“We condemn in strong terms such a call which is not only anti-democracy but also anti-people. We least expected such insensitive advocacy to come from someone who is seeking to represent Benue people in the capacity of senator.
“Titus Zam had in the mischievous and ill intentioned advocacy claimed that INEC’s decision to create polling units for Benue people taking refuge in the IDP camps across the state as a result of herdsmen attacks was a strategy to manipulate the polls in favour of the incumbent Governor, Samuel Ortom who is vying for the same seat.
“However, as a pro-democracy organization, we find the former Special Adviser’s comments highly unacceptable and in bad taste especially at a time when the electoral umpire is making conscious efforts to build inclusive electoral processes ahead of the 2023 general election.
“With outing, Zam has proven that he is not a man to be trusted with the people’s votes. His call is selfish, myopic and has the rays of vendetta. He has failed the test of integrity and value for what can benefit those he seeks to represent.
“Benue North West Senatorial District where Zam comes from is the area worst hit by Fulani herders attacks and has the highest number of displaced people in the camps. Ordinarily, a man canvassing for the votes in the area ought to have thought about those who have not accessed their ancestral homes for over five years and have been forced to live with their families in the camps. But he opted for self-infatuated interest.
“What is more shocking to the Benue Coalition for Democracy is that in virtually all local government areas in the Zone B Senatorial district including, Zam’s home Gwer West, marauding attackers have sacked people in nearly all communities with millions of persons taking refuge in IDP camps, yet Zam is bent on seeing that the people are disenfranchised in next year’s polls.
“It is on record that Zam has never visited any of the IDP camps to sympathize with the victims of the attacks or even offer them a few relief materials. He obviously considers the victims as “dead people” waiting for interment. That implies that he doesn’t deserve their votes in next year’s elections.
“He is preoccupied with seeing that Benue IDPs are disenfranchised from exercising their civic obligation of voting in the 2023 elections. He has openly portrayed himself as an enemy of democratic initiatives which take into consideration the vulnerable situation of the IDPs in Benue and elsewhere in the country.
“We note that Zam has apparently shown his disdain for the plight of the IDPs in the state. We therefore call on lovers of democracy and proponents of inclusive institutions to also speak out in condemnation of Zam’s crude and callous advocacy meant to deprive our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters living in the camps of the right to vote.
“Benue voters must know their true enemies in characters such as Titus Zam.
“For us in Benue State, the 2023 elections will be about our survival in the face of intimidation and impunity from invaders. Benue people will only vote for candidates who have the collective interest of the state at heart. The people will reject candidates who are conspiring with our enemies to take over their lands.
“Lastly, we enjoin INEC to proceed with their decision to earmark polling units for Benue IDPs so as not to disenfranchise the people from casting their ballot for leaders of their choice come 2023. The electoral process can only be inclusive when people freely exercise their franchise without any impediment.”