Ortom Joins PDP, Tambuwal May Follow Suit Today
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday formally joined the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after dumping the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). LEADERSHIP gathered that there was confusion in Makurdi, the Benue state capital, as youths under the auspices of coalition of Benue Youths comprising 40 groups, besieged the entrance of Government House where they compeled him to announce his return to the PDP. The governor had declared last week that he was leaving APC because the platform on which he was elected had given him a red card and that he is currently a freeman waiting for any party that would admit him into its fold. Four days after, Ortom observed that it was Senator George Akume that gave him red card and not the national leadership of the APC. Following news that he has formally joined the PDP, the national leadership of the APC yesterday cried foul, describing the governor’s action as “somewhat surprising.” In a statement signed by the national publicity secretary of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC said it was surprised that despite assurances given to Governor Ortom and his expression of satisfaction, he defected all the same. The party recalled efforts made by its national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to address some of the grievances raised by the Benue State governor pertaining to the local politics in Benue State. The statement made available to LEADERSHIP noted: “The Governor had left the meeting saying he was satisfied with the assurances given by Party leaders. We are still working on giving effect to the resolutions from the meeting. Therefore, we are somewhat surprised by Governor Ortom’s decision. “The Party reiterates its earlier position that it respects the rights of every citizen to chose their political affiliation but expresses hopes that those who have left the Party will rescind their decisions. “Even with this development, we don’t think it is too late for reconciliation. We have to continue to talk. As long as people keep their minds open and have the courage to put the real issues on the table, reconciliation is still possible”. The APC called on its members across the country to remain calm, saying the party’s leadership continues to work hard to position the Party strongly for the next general elections. Prior to his declaration yesterday, Governor Ortom was scheduled to attend a meeting with the APC national leadership in Abuja but was prevented by the angry youths who insisted that he must leave APC or face the risk of being voted out in 2019. As he was leaving Government House, Makurdi for the trip, the governor met the youths in their large numbers, carrying placards with the following inscriptions: “Ortom don’t go back to APC”, “We don’t have land to donate for ranching”, “APC is Miyetti party”, “Our farms are not for cows”, You must leave APC”, “Ortom is our party” and “2019: On Ortom we stand.” The group spokesmen, Terrence Kuanum and Pastor Dave Ogbole, advised the governor not to make the trip to hold further discussions with the APC leadership but should rather look for an alternative platform. They insisted that for the governor to attend the APC meeting, it was better for his convoy to crush them. Our correspondent observed that the angry youths ordered that the APC flag be removed from the governor’s official car immediately, to which the governor’s driver complied. Governor Ortom however pleaded with the youths to allow him attend the meeting, assuring that their interest would be protected. But all persuasive skills applied by the governor proved futile and he had no choice than to make a u-turn back to his office with his entourage. Governor Ortom yesterday finally resigned his membership from the APC to formally join the PDP. Ortom who had returned to his office at the Benue Peoples House formally resigned his membership of the APC during his meeting with all the elected chairmen and 276 Councilors of the 23 local government areas of the state. The governor who said he is too young to retire from politics explained that his decision to leave the party was based on the travails he has been passing through recently.He said, “l have consulted with the stakeholders and leaders of all the 276 council wards of the state who unanimously endorsed my decision to leave APC to another platform. Most of them lamented that my stay in APC has expired. “Even at the State Assembly, I consulted with members, especially those in APC and out of the 17 members of APC, 10 have agreed to join me wherever l go”. He noted that the interest of the Benue people who elected him was not protected in the APC, hence his decision to defect. The governor insisted that the APC has given him a red card that left outside the pitch looking for an alternative platform. Ortom lamented that he faced a lot of travails in the APC, adding that aggression from the other side (referring to Senator George Akume’s camp) in form of falsehood peddled against him made him to leave the party. He said, “I have formally resigned from the APC. I have written a letter of resignation (which he held up). I am no longer a member of the APC from today. I will go to my ward and submit the resignation letter. So far, 10 out of 17 APC Assembly members have agreed to join me in the PDP”. Later in an interview with journalists, Governor Ortom regretted that the APC in Benue has been hijacked by one man who is dictating for the party, stating that such act is unacceptable to him. He praised the leadership of the PDP for rebranding the party through several reforms that have been undertaken to ensure that Democratic tenets are observed in the party. “I am coming back to a familiar terrain. I have been state chairman of the party for one year, secretary for seven years and national auditor. So everyone in the leadership of the party, both at the state and national levels, is known to me. I intend to consult widely with other aspirants most of whom are my brothers. I do not have issues with them resisting my coming back to the party, and I think we are stronger together,” Ortom said.Reacting to this development, the state PDP publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, said he was glad that the party has become a viable party that everyone is trooping in to aspire for various elective positions.He said although he was not formally notified of the governor’s defection to PDP, he saw it on social media. 13 PDP gubernatorial aspirants in the state, at a press conference in Abuja, had said they would not accept Governor Ortom to join them in the governorship race should the governor decamp to the PDP. But, in a swift reaction, the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and ICTs, Tahav Agerzua, said even though the governor was ready to decamp, he does not need the permission of aspirants to join the PDP. His Return Courageous, Will Of The People – PDP Meanwhile, the PDP yesterday described the return of Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, back to its fold as a bold and courageous step towards salvaging the nation. The party added that the return of Governor Ortom is a reflection of his people’s desire, which, according to the party, further confirms the rejection of the Buhari-led APC administration by Nigerians. A statement by the national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, noted that the return of the governor to PDP confirms the fact that President Buhari- led administration and the APC do not have the welfare of Nigerians at heart, “as they have continually offer flimsy excuses over the mindless killings that have caused untold sorrows across the country, particularly, Benue State.” PDP said that the Buhari-led federal government has failed in its basic responsibility of protecting lives, property and territorial integrity of the nation. The statement reads: “The party also recalls how the APC-led Buhari administration, would rather plead for the accomodation of persons whom have been repeatedly fingered as being responsible for heinous killings in the Benue valley rather than take decisive and concrete actions to preserve lives of Nigerians. “The PDP however hails the Governor for standing firm by the people of Benue State and refusing to mortgage their welfare to a government that has consistently demonstrated cluelessness. We urge the governor to be rest assured that he will be accorded his dues and rights as a member of the PDP”. Tambuwal May Follow Suit Today Meanwhile, there were strong indications yesterday in the seat of the caliphate that Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, may defect to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today. LEADERSHIP gathered from the state secretary of PDP, Kabiru Aliyu, that the governor has indicated interest to defect to the party. Kabiru further disclosed that he was not aware of today as the defection date as no formal arrangement has been made in the state to receive Tambuwal. He said, “I am aware there is the move by him to come to the party, but I don’t know if it’s tomorrow (today). We have never met to discuss that. The truth however is that he is coming into the party. “He has shown his intention. He has been discussing with the national leadership of the party. But here at the state level, we have not had an arrangement on the day we are going to receive him. “Perhaps, he would declare there in Abuja, but he will surely come to the office and buy the party’s registration card. We have not made arrangement in respect of that. That is where the state chapter will come in when he formally enters into the party by subscribing to our membership card”. But when contacted, the Director-general on media to the governor, Abu Shakara, denied knowledge of Tambuwal’s planned defection. He said, “Confirmation can only come from Aminu Waziri Tambuwal himself, which he will give either way in due course.” It however became more pronounced yesterday as politicians gathered in cluster, discussing in hush tones, Tambuwal’s planned defection to PDP. Those who spoke to LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity gave diverse reasons for the expected defection of governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. While some spoke in favour of the governor’s defection, others were against the move. Those who were in favour of the move said the state has benefited nothing unique in terms of federal government’s project to justify the unimaginable vote their former governor and now Senator, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, pulled for Buhari in 2015 as the Northwest coordinator of Buhari’s campaign. They equally maintained that, rather than keeping to some of the campaign promises made to the state, the opposite was the case on the part of the presidency. Those who think otherwise argued that lack of adequate federal presence in the state should not be a good reason to defect since this is just the first term of President Buhari. PMB, APC Senators Meet Over Defections Meanwhile, president Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, met with some APC senators who are members of Parliamentary Support Group at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. The senators were on a solidarity visit to the president and used the opportunity to express their loyalty to the president. The meeting is coming a day after 15 Senators of the APC dumped the party for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and African Democratic Congress, ADC. Senators present at the meeting include; Adamu Aleiro, Bala Ibn Na-Allah, Aliyu Wamako, Ibrahim Gobir, Kabiru Marafa, Abu Ibrahim, Kabiru Gaya, Barau Jibrin, Abdullahi Gumel, Shehu Sani, Ahmed Lawan . Others are Ali Ndume, Abubakar Kyari, Baba Kaka Garbai, Aliyu Abdullahi, David Umaru, , Abdullahi Adamu, George Akume, Francis Alimekhina, Andrew Uchendu, Magnus Abe, Ovie Omo-Agege, John Enoh, Nelson Effiong, Andy Uba, Sunny Ugboji, Hope Uzodinma, Ben Uwajimogu. “Yusuf Yusuf, Oluremi Tinubu, Gbenga Ashafa, Solomon Adeola, Tayo Alasoadura,, Soji Akanbi, Ajayi Boroface, Yele Omogunwa, Fatima Rasaki, Olanrewaju Tejuoso, Yahaya Abdullahi. ‘2014 Confab Report Will End Indiscriminate Defection’ Following the gale of mass defections from the All Progressives Congress to the opposition PDP and other political patties, one of the outspoken labour leaders and member of the national confab, Comrade Issa Aremu has tasked all stakeholders in Nigerian democratic project to urgently revisit the conclusions of 2014 National Confab with respect to carpet crossing. Comrade Aremu, in a statement, said mass cross carpeting of some legislators from the ruling APC to PDP and other political parties calls for what he termed “quality control” of the nation’s political process. Comrade Aremu who recently declared his intention to contest for the governorship position in Kwara State in 2019 said it is a sad commentary that 20 years after the democratic process, Nigeria parades “quantitative” politicians as distinct from “qualitative” politicians. He added that increasingly, politicians “lack clear principles, cheaply stand for nothing but fall for anything that leads to power”. He regretted that political parties have sadly become “hired vehicles with which some politicians move from pillars to posts in a desperate move to be in office for power and money rather than for public service. “Defections, shameless carpet crossing and non-issue based statements have become the order of the day. The electorate are increasingly confused as they are made to be in a party in the morning, ask to move to another party in the afternoon and at night defect to another party”, Aremu added. Comrade Aremu who was a labour delegate to the 2014 confab called for a revisit of the resolution of the Confab which says that section 68 (g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) should be further amended to indicate that “any elected official, executive or legislative, who carpet-cross, regardless of the reasons for such, shall automatically forfeit their seat”. Comrade Aremu said it is time Nigeria produced “politicians with staying power and discourage butterfly politicians who move from one nest to another in search of political honey.” He decried the absence of political ideology, which he said was undermining Nigerian democracy, adding that “no political party should be so-called or ascribed an opposition status if it lacks alternative implementable policy ideas on security, re-electrification of the country, re-industrialisation, insecurity, unemployment, wage and pension payments. “In 2019, electorate should judge candidates and parties by the quality of its programmes and ideology not the quantity of their bribes, rice and beans”, he noted.