Ortom Undecided About Support for Atiku, Wants Wike Placated

•Seeks meeting between PDP candidate, Rivers governor

•Real reasons Wike lost out on VP nomination

•Fayose explains why Wike won’t support former vice-president’s ambition

Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Emma Okonji, Nosa Alekhuogie in Lagos and Victor Ogunje in  Ado-Ekiti

In what was indicative of cracks within the ranks of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday, said he was still undecided about his support for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, because it was a decision that would be informed by the leading of the spirit.

Ortom, who declared that his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, was badly treated by the party leadership, however, sought the possibility of a meeting between Atiku and Wike, where the issue currently creating a gulf in the party would be addressed completely.

At the same time, a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has also explained why Wike would never support Atiku’s presidential bid, saying doing otherwise would forever haunt the Rivers governor.

Ortom, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governor, who spoke on the Morning Show of ARISE NEWS Channel, said the PDP leaders badly treated Wike by choosing Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as the vice-presidential candidate of PDP, instead of Wike whom 14 out of 17 PDP members, voted for as their preferred choice.

However, multiple  sources familiar with the decision making process leading to the eventual selection, disclosed to THISDAY last night that contrary to widespread believe that there was only one committee where Wike had 14 votes, Atiku actually set up four different committees to advise him on the choice of his vice presidential candidate. The committees according the sources,  included that of Elders of the Party which was made up of the founding fathers of the party; a committee of governors, past and present  and another committee of the National Assembly members.

“Yes, Wike may have succeeded in the committee Ortom talked about but contrary to agreement of non disclosure of their recommendations, the Rivers state governor went ahead to publicise the recommendation which was seen as attempt to tie Atiku’s hands.

But the key reason among others, was feeling among many northern leaders that Wike was anti-north and that it may be too risky to have him as the vice president given what they interpreted to be his anti-northern stance which they believe would strip north of resources. The issue of VAT which Wike championed was cited as example and became a key albatross against him. The aggressive manner he championed the VAT issue ruffled a lot of feathers in the North. Taking away VAT from federal control as you know would be detriment to many Northern States – only two states like Lagos and Rivers would be the greatest beneficiaries. Many northern states would simply go bankrupt. The northern leaders of thought read Wike’s position on this key issue to be anti-north and where therefore not happy with him.”

However, speaking further on the issue, Ortom said the party needed to consult more to appease those, who have been offended by the PDP leaders, adding also that, Nigerians must come together to salvage the country, stressing that he could not glibly declare his support for Atiku’s presidential bid, despite being from the same party except he heard from God.

Explaining why he has held back his support for Atiku, Ortom said, “I was among the 17-member committee set up by Atiku and 14 of us in the committee said the person should be Wike. Unfortunately, Atiku  picked Okowa. That is his wisdom. You cannot ignore decision of a committee you set up yourself and expect people to be happy. For now, I have gone into hibernation.

“I am in hibernation. I am praying. When I finish the prayers and whatever God directs me, I will do. We expect Atiku to do more but we are not seeing that. They should stop that. Atiku should go to him (Wike). Why won’t he ignore their calls. Is that not an insult? Wike is a pillar in the party.

“Currently, Nobody in the party has contributed more for the party to move forward than Wike. If Atiku was not going to honour the decision of the committee, he should have called Wike earlier and informed him. He didn’t do that. You can’t do things anyhow and expect us to be happy.”

On his part, Fayose, in an exclusive telephone interview with an online newspaper, PREMIUM TIMES, recounted how Atiku “promised” to make Wike his running mate after he was declared winner of the PDP presidential primary election.

According to him, Atiku failed to fulfil his promise to Wike, when he settled for the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate.

“Wike never said he wanted to be VP, but when Atiku visited him, he was the one who said, ‘I want you to be my VP’. He said that to Wike. If that then changes, is Wike not supposed to be told? Is he not supposed to know?”

Noting that Atiku had ignored the recommendation of a committee set up by the party to pick his running mate, Fayose said, “PDP set up a committee to recommend a running mate for the candidate and the committee voted and picked Wike, but they didn’t comply with the recommendation of the committee.

“If the party is now a one-man show, we will show them that we can resist it. We are with Wike 100 per cent. When they need Wike’s money and Wike’s support, they will say, ‘Wike is good enough’. Wike has been injured, but we will remain with him. Whatever he does is what we would do; wherever he asks us to go is where we will go.”

Asked what would happen should Wike ask them to support Atiku, Fayose: “Wike will never say we should support Atiku. Wike cannot come out to say he is supporting Atiku. I dare him to say so, because he knows that whatever he says will haunt him forever. If Wike supports Atiku, we will abandon him.”

On whether the plan was to technically support the APC candidate, Bola Tinubu, or his counterpart in the Labour Party, Peter Obi, Fayose said, “This is not about Bola Tinubu or Obi, but this is about our belief that power must come to the south and it is a struggle we must actualise.”

Fayose explained that, “When the June 12 election was cancelled, the presidency was zoned to the southwest to pacify the southwest region. When former President Goodluck Jonathan was over-staying, it was believed that he was already using the northern slot. So, he was opposed and a northern candidate was installed through the APC.

“This time, it is the turn of the south, because Buhari has spent eight years. Why will PDP be insisting that it must again be the turn of the north?”, he added, stating also that he did not care if his actions were perceived as anti-party activity.

“What I am saying is, it is the turn of the South, and if they want to expel me, to hell with them. I am not taking money from anyone to belong to this party. If they want to rock this boat, we will help them to rock it.”

On his stand that it was the turn of Southern Nigeria to produce the successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, Fayose’s controversial Tweet has, however, been widely taken as wholesome denouncing of Atiku, insisting that it was the turn of the South to produce the next president after the expiration of two terms of eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari in the spirit of equity, fairness and justice.

The former governor, who disclosed this via his verified twitter handle, Gov@Ayo Fayose, argued that section 3(c) of the PDP constitution provided for a rotational presidency.

He tweeted: “The PDP Constitution provides for a rotational Presidency. Section 3(c) provides that the party shall pursue its aims & objectives by ‘adhering to the policy of the rotation & zoning of party & public elective offices in pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness.

“The current President of Nigeria is a 2-term Northern Presidency, thus implying that it MUST be a Southern Presidency in 2023 or NOTHING.  Awa ‘South’ lo kan’. Nigerians should await details soon.”

Fayose, who didn’t mention the party and candidate he would be supporting in the 2023 election among the array of presidential candidates from the South, urged Nigerians to await the detail soon.

When contacted, Atiku’s spokesperson, Paul Ibe, said his principal and the party would continue to appeal to aggrieved persons within their fold to embrace dialogue.

“Because the bigger challenge is winning the election, kicking out the APC and stopping them from the many years of impoverishing our people. It is normal for our people to be aggrieved but the PDP has a way of resolving issues like this and that will be done and we all shall be happy,” he said.

Ortom: FG Complicit in Nigeria’s Security Challenge, Tacitly Backing Criminal Herdsmen

Meanwhile, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday, returned to the trenches, with a salvo of accusations against the federal government for its alleged caginess in the face of worsening insecurity in the country.

Ortom accused the federal government of complicity in the country’s security challenge, saying it was giving tacit support to criminal Fulani herdsmen.

He said the felonious herders had been terrorising Nigeria on purpose to gain illegal control over the country.

Ortom condemned the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for complacency in the midst of serious security challenges, even as he said he had proof to back up his claims, maintaining that the federal government was unwilling to address security challenges in the country.

The governor insisted that the federal government could put an end to insecurity across Nigeria if it wanted to, noting that, he was worried about the hidden agenda of some Fulani people, who were conniving with foreign Fulani elements from countries like Cameroon, Niger Republic, Chad, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Senegal, to terrorise and forcefully take over and control Nigeria.

He advised Nigerians to rise up against such illegal control to avoid being slaves in their own land.

He stated, “I will continue to speak against the insecurity and killings in Nigeria perpetrated by the Fulani herdsmen, because I do not want to be a salve in Nigeria, my country. I will rather die than being a slave in my own country. We are in a country, where propaganda and deceit are flying all over, instigated by the federal government, which is already dividing the country.”

Ortom said he had resorted to prayer to seek the face of God for divine intervention in the state of insecurity across Nigeria.

According to him, “I have consistently accused the federal government of being complacent in the face of insecurity in the country and I have proofs to show to the entire world that the federal government is complicit. With the level of insecurity in Benue State and in other states of the country, nobody is free in the country.

“As a governor, they have even attempted to assassinate me over a year ago and up till today, not a culprit has been brought to book. Even those that were arrested have long been released and these are Fulani herdsmen. The person currently being prosecuted is my cousin, who is a fisherman, who knows nothing about the attempted assassination of my life.

“This is the situation we have found ourselves. The day that the federal government wants to put an end to Fulani killings in Benue State and other states, it will do so, but the government is not willing to stop the killings across the country.”

Ortom said he had suggested a security summit for the country, where people would give security reports from their various states, to enable the federal government take a holistic view of the situation and come up with a lasting solution, but the federal government had refused to call such summit.

He said, “What I am telling Nigerians is the truth, and if anyone thinks otherwise, let the person come out to prove me wrong. I still insist that the federal government is complicit in our insecurity challenges and I stand by my position because I have proofs, and I am ready to provide documents to support my position about the federal government in the area of insecurity in Nigeria.”

Ortom said the insecurity perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen affected states across the country.

He explained, “In Zamfara State, the Fulani people have taken over the land; in Kaduna State, where the majority of the people are Christians, the Fulani people have taken over the state. In the South-east, South-west, Middle Belt, killings are rampant and there is insecurity all over the country.”

He quoted former President Olusegun Obasanjo as saying that the Buhari government was bent on Islamising and Fulanising Nigeria, stressing that this is their hidden agenda, and as a people, Nigerians must take Obasanjo very seriously.

“Some of us have chosen to say the truth and we must stand by the truth, even if it means sacrificing our lives for the truth, so that tomorrow can say well of us,” Ortom said.

On the alleged failure of his government to pay salaries of workers in Benue State, Ortom said the news that he owed salaries of workers was an attempt by the federal government to blackmail him because of his vocal stance against insecurity in Nigeria.

Ortom stated, “In other states of the federation, the federal government is offering financial bailout, but has refused to do so in Benue State, simply because the federal government is not happy with me.

“Two weeks ago, I applied to the bank for loan to pay the over N70 billion salary arrears that I inherited, but the federal government refused to allow my state to get the loan, because I am not in their camp. I have been paying salaries and if the bank had given me the money that I requested, I would have cleared the salary arrears by now.”

He explained that the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of his state had gone down because of insecurity, noting that farmers have fled their farmlands for fear of the Fulani herdsmen, who were terrorising them.

However, Ortom acknowledged that most Fulani were good people and some of them were his friends and in his government. But he insisted that he was against the Fulani, who were working with their foreign tribesmen to forcefully control Nigeria.

Ortom also spoke on the governorship tussle in Benue State between the Tiv and the Idoma, saying anyone from any of the two major tribes of the state can become governor of the state through dialogue, negotiation, and understanding, and not force.

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