– Accuses ruling party of giving him red card
– Taraba gov: Come over to PDP
– Talks about exit mere rumour – Oshiomhole
Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
In a dramatic twist, Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom has announced his exit from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), ahead of the 2019 general polls.
He made the revelation at the Banquet Hall of Government House in Makurdi, the state capital, yesterday, when he swore in his newly-appointed Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Jerome Torshimbe.
The governor was more dramatic when he announced that the APC had given him the red card.
“As for party, I’ve been given the red card and I’m now outside the pitch. So, if I have been given the red card and I’m standing outside, that means I’m a free man.”
This confirmed weeks of insinuations that he is moving to another party following speculations that the party had shopped for another candidate to replace him in 2019, amid recent rift with the APC leader in the state, Senator George Akume.
The governor did not disclose the party he is heading to. “I don’t know what will happen next, but I’m waiting. If others approach me, then, I will tell the Benue people that I’m joining another football club.”
But in a swift response, the Governor of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku, has offered Ortom a place under the umbrella of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking on a television programme, yesterday, Ishaku said: “If he says he doesn’t have a party, he can come to us (PDP). We would give him one.”
Although it is not certain if Ortom would take the bait, he, however, urged the people to remain united.
Let party or ethnicity not divide us. I’m a child of destiny and it’s only God that will decide what I will be. These challenges that we see today, we shall see them no more. All that we are required to do is not to begin to be wayward in our conduct but to move to the righteous side of God. Once we do that, things will work out for our good.”
However, National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday, dismissed his reported from as mere rumour. According to him, the party has not shut its doors to any governor elected on it platform.
Responding to a question, after a meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC), Oshiomhole said Ortom had assured him on several occasions that he would not leave the party, pointing out that if he had actually left, the party would need to study the situation before formally reacting to it.
He said: “I know that governor Ortom is a very senior member of the party and he has said so repeatedly in print and has said to me one on one basis that he will not leave the APC unless he was pushed out.
“I have since assumed chairmanship of this party along with my colleagues in the NWC and I know of a fact that we have not shut out any governor and certainly not governor Ortom.
“In these days of social media, I will not be responding on the basis of rumour and unverified reports. In fact, talking about unconfirmed sources, on Saturday, I was in Lagos to honour an appointment that had been booked for over the past six months and I felt obliged to honour that appointment and yet some of these merchants of untruth and fabricators of fake news posted all sorts of stories including one of which I was being interviewed in Ekiti.
“I was only there on Monday to address labour leaders and on Tuesday, to participate in the grand finale of the campaigns of which Mr. President was there and I left Ekiti that same day on the same aircraft as Mr. President.”
Oshiomhole also called on Nigerians to come together with the same vigour they fought the Boko Haram insurgency to be able to defeat the menace of herdsmen killings rather than attaching ethnic and religious sentiments to the killings.
He told the security agents to wake up to their responsibilities as no one will be satisfied with making explanations or try to explain away why we cannot secure human lives especially of a Nigerian citizen within the borders of Nigeria.