Abuja / Makurdi – Following Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State’s recent “red card” comment, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC), on Thursday assured that Ortom was going nowhere, and asked the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to look elsewhere.
Oshiomhole made the assurance after a marathon meeting of the leadership of the APC with Ortom on Thursday, in Abuja.
He said the party would deploy everything in its arsenal to ensure that the house it had built in Benue did not collapse.
“I have assured the governor that APC does not have a red card in our cupboard, so we can’t give what we don’t have and we recognised that in several states there could be legitimate legal issues, there could be agreement, disagreement, some contestation, and this we are familiar with.
“These are the evidence of the fact that we are a free democratic party and when leaders have disagreements, our responsibility is to help them to find a common ground and the issues in Benue are not so fundamental that we cannot resolve.
“We have said confidently that we would resolve them, and Senator Akume is a much-respected leader of the party, a former governor, he will recognise the need for peace, and we have what it takes to make peace.
“In Benue, we are going for a win-win solution. Governor Ortom is not going anywhere; he is a very prominent member of our party,” Oshiomhole said.
He added: “We appreciate his leadership in Benue and we will do everything possible to help those who have issues to have those issues resolved.
“Anything we would do, we would do; the only thing we’d not accept is anybody leaving the house that we have built together, that we are committed to and I think the government’s statement is clear.
“For PDP that is deceiving people, they must know that only people without honour will vomit in the morning and in the afternoon they convert it to lunch.
“People like Ortom who have honour cannot leave PDP just three and a half years ago, with his eyes open and then later there are some tensions in his master bedroom, and he is thinking of returning to deceiving people. That cannot be an option.
“He is a man of honour and he knows that one should look for one step if you want to take the second step to concentrate the first step, that’s the way to go.
“Be assured that PDP can go and do whatever they do, it won’t change the mind of those who are convinced about building the future.
“It would not be without contestation, it will be based on the understanding that we can have contestation, but we have the qualities required to resolve issues.
“In Benue, those would be deployed and I’m sure Governor Ortom would be happy, Senator Akume would be happy, much more importantly, the great people of Benue State would be happy, not just our party members, because they want to consolidate what works and not to go back to a broken vehicle.”
Earlier, Governor Ortom said his recent “red card” comment had not in any way diminished his loyalty to the All Progressives Congress (APC), and that he was still a member and flag bearer of the APC in the state.
He said Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the APC National Chairman, had intervened in the political rift between him and Senator Akume, which he likened to a “red card”, and expressed the hope that the peace effort initiated at the national level would yield a sustainable result.
While declaring his disposition towards a peaceful resolution of the faceoff with Akume, the governor maintained that the matter was not concluded.
He said, “I was given a “red card” by a senator who is the leader of the captive in Benue State, and I took it as I was serious enough to make myself available.
“But the leadership of the party told me that the decision of the party at the national level was superior to any individual, and I think that is good enough.
“We have spoken to him, he has spoken to me, stakeholders are going to be spoken to, and that is where I belong.
“We have not concluded the matter; it is an ongoing process because I have always stood for peace and I always want peace to prevail.
“I appreciate the intervention and I hope that we would be able to resolve the matter of differences, and this is the funny thing about politics.
“I am here in APC, a member of APC, I am still flying the flag of APC and I only said I was given a “red card”, that I’ve been corrected by the national leadership of the party.”
The governor announced on Monday that the APC in Benue State had issued him a red card, thus spinning off a series of events that culminated in the summons by the APC leadership.
We Didn’t Issue Ortom ‘Red Card’ – Benue APC
Meanwhile, Benue State chapter of the APC has denied issuing the state governor, Samuel Ortom, a red card.
The party said it only demanded good governance and accountability from the governor, and that his inability to be accountable may have informed his decision to leave the party.
But, in a swift reaction, Ortom advised the people of the state to beware of smear campaigns against his person.
He said the campaign of calumny against him would only serve to strengthen his resolve to stand by the majority of the people of the state.
In a statement issued to newsmen in Makurdi on Thursday, Peterhot Apeh, the APC Director of Publicity in the state, said the demands placed on Ortom to account for certain funds led to his decision to leave the party.
He explained further that the APC had earlier anointed Ortom, alongside Senator George Akume, during the state congress of the party and wondered why he should turn around and say he was asked to quit the party.
Apeh observed that it was following the demands for the governor to account for monies the state got since inception of the Ortom administration, including the bailout funds and Paris Club refund, that Ortom hurriedly threw in the towel and left the party.
“These demands (for accountability) became necessary due to the fact that despite several interventions by the Federal Government in form of bailouts, Paris Club refunds, budgetary supports, coupled with the huge borrowings by his administration, among others, the state is still clouded with huge salary arrears.
“These include unpaid pensions of retired civil servants, huge deficits of basic infrastructure, and porous security situation bedevilling the state.
“It is consequent upon these that, as a party, we demanded explanations on the handling of affairs, especially issues bordering on security in the state.”
Commenting further on the statement credited to Ortom, Apeh added: “We wish to state categorically that the Benue State chapter of the APC has not, at any point, given a red card to Gov. Samuel Ortom or any other member of the party.
“‘Rather, the party, at its last state congress in Makurdi, endorsed the governor and leader of the party in the state, Senator George Akume, for another term in office.”
He stressed, “We (APC) are grossly embarrassed that these issues raised with the governor in confidence for the purpose of repositioning governance to better the lot of Benue people and position the party on the path of victory ahead of the 2019 general elections, were brought to the open.”
Responding to the allegations raised against him by the APC, Governor Ortom advised the people of the state to beware of smear campaigns targeted against his person.
In a statement by Terver Akase, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ortom, the governor fingered some politicians in Benue and Abuja for being architects of the smear campaigns.
He said: “It has become necessary to alert the people of Benue State and other Nigerians about further plans by some persons to launch smear campaigns against Governor Samuel Ortom on various conventional and social media platforms.
“These plans are part of a grand conspiracy between some politicians in Benue State, with their collaborators in Abuja, part of which was uncovered and exposed recently.
“The organised attacks, which will be based on blatant falsehood, are aimed at damaging the good and towering reputation of the governor to the political advantage of the selfish individuals.
“Those behind the plot, whose objectives include perpetual subjugation in all spheres, are not comfortable with the courageous stand of Governor Ortom on major issues in favour of the majority of Benue people. They have therefore chosen to demonise him.”
Ortom assured the people of the state that the fresh plans would fail, just like others before it, adding that he has no skeleton in his cupboard.
While stating that the campaign of calumny would only strengthen his resolve to stand by the people, Ortom said the campaign to tarnish his image would not distract him from delivering on the mandate of the people as well as pursuing justice and right causes.
“As the anthem of the state says, ‘Though the giants may be on their way to hinder, God will surely give us victory,” he added.