Moves by All Progressives Congress, APC, governors to reconcile Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and President Muhammadu Buhari have derailed, putting the state under political uncertainty as the governor gets set to exit the ruling party.
The governor’s imminent exit got further traction at the weekend when he dissolved the state cabinet and in the process sacked associates of his one-time political patron, Senator George Akume.SAMUEL ORTOM
When the governor dissolved the cabinet, he, however, retained four commissioners, who were known not to be in any way linked to Akume, a former governor of the state who wields immense political influence in the state.
Ortom’s possible exit from the APC has been mostly fuelled by internal feelings of revolt against the APC upon allegations that the federal administration also controlled by the same party had been indifferent in the face of herdsmen attacks on the people of the state.
In a move to stop the apparent defection, Progressives Governors Forum, PGF, had about two months ago, set up a committee to repair the relations between the governor and the President.
The committee is headed by Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State and has the governors of Kaduna and Adamawa states as members.
That move, it seemed, may have failed, following the governor’s shocking move at the weekend with the dissolution of the cabinet.
Sources told Vanguard that the governor could be headed to his former party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, having apparently reached a truce with his predecessor, Mr. Gabriel Suswam.
The truce, Vanguard gathered yesterday, was facilitated by the Tor Tiv, the pre-eminent traditional ruler in the state.
Ortom’s continued presence in the APC, it was gathered, had become politically risky in the light of increasing misgivings by citizens of the state to the opposition by the federal administration to issues pertaining to the face-off between herdsmen and farmers in the state.
PDP’s doors are open to everyone
Governor Ortom’s spokesman, Tahav Agerzua, responding, said yesterday: “Governor Ortom has not announced his movement to another party. If he has to move, it will be made public.”
Despite prospects of an imminent realignment, the PDP was yesterday claiming indifference to the move even as it affirmed that the governor was welcomed to the party.
Publicity Secretary of Benue State chapter of the PDP, Mr. Bemgba Iortyom, said the party was not in talks with Governor Ortom.
He also maintained that the party’s doors were open to welcome the governor if he wished to return back to his former family.
Speaking in a telephone interview yesterday in Makurdi, Iortyom said: “Governor Ortom is not at the moment in talks with us. Those talks about him coming to the PDP are rumours.
“PDP’s doors are open to everyone who wants to join as far as he or she meets the condition precedent. It is not an all comers affairs; there are conditions that make one eligible to be a member of a political party.”
“There are rules that govern every political party. If you abide by or observe those rules, you cannot stop any Nigerian from joining the party.
“Every Nigerian is free to aspire to be a member of the PDP. We cannot conclude that a particular person will not be welcomed in the PDP, that will be against the principles that established the party.
“That will also be a violation of the person’s fundamental human rights as it relates to freedom of association and all that.”
Senator Akume, who collaborated with Ortom to stop Mr. Suswam’s plot to handpick his successor, did not respond to Vanguard’s calls at press time yesterday.