PDP Crisis: Ortom in Double-speak, Says He Won’t Abandon Wike

George Okoh in Makurdi and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

 Less than 24 hours after Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom dismissed insinuations that he was in support of the removal of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, the governor yesterday denied a statement he issued on the matter, vowing not to abandon his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike but was curiously silent on Ayu.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, shortly after presiding over the Benue North-West Senatorial district PDP caucus meeting held at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi, Ortom insisted that Wike was not treated fairly by the party.

The Jemgbagh Development Association had on Monday accused the governor of being involved in the moves to oust Ayu, a fellow Benue man, an allegation he (Ortom) denied in a statement that was issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur.

Ortom had in the statement said it was impossible for him to advocate the removal of someone (Ayu) he helped to appoint and because he believed  he had  ability to rebuild and lead the party to victory in next year’s general election. He had also stated that it was an open secret that he worked tirelessly, alongside other prominent Benue citizens, to ensure that Ayu was elected “as the national chairman of our great party even against all odds.”

“The governor could not, therefore, turn around to work against him to be removed from office,” the statement added.

Clearly, the Monday’s statement by Ortom was in contrast to the position of members of his group in the PDP led by Wike, that had said their irreducible minimum condition for peace to reign in the PDP was for Ayu to quit as PDP National Chairman.

However, embarrassed by the position he took in the earlier statement, Ortom yesterday made U-turn, saying he won’t abandon Wike. This, therefore means that members of the Jemgbagh Development Association were right to have accused him of plotting with his friends in the PDP to remove his kinsman.

However, in his clarification yesterday, the Benue State governor was curiously silent on the key issue, which is whether Ayu should go or not. Rather he concentrated on how his Rivers State counterpart wasn’t treated fairly and did not comment on the demand for Ayu’s sack.

Ortom’s latest statement amounts to speaking on both sides of  the mouth in an attempt  to eat his cake and have it.

Speaking yesterday, Ortom said: “I just came back from London this morning with Wike and I still maintain my stand on what I said. I have not moved away from there.

“I still sympathise with Wike for the injustices meted out on him and our group.”

The governor further stated that, “The party leadership has not been fair to Governor Wike based on the activities that took place during the convention and after the convention.

“They have not been able to adequately deploy the internal conflict resolution mechanism of the party to resolve those issues.

“I still sympathise and stand with Wike and let the leadership of the party at the national level do the right thing. It is not too late to do so,” he said.

According to Ortom, “Politics is about interest, and where your interest is not protected, you have the right to protest” stressing that “We remain committed to the PDP but still want the right thing to be done, so that everybody will be carried along.”

While noting that it was not late to resolve the issues, Ortom further pointed out that with the interface he had with the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party, he hopes that issues would be properly addressed.

“The issue in contention about the national Chairman, the BOT, was here some few days ago and we deliberated on the matter. They sought to know what my feeling was about the crisis and I told them the truth as far I am concerned.

“I gave them my recommendations and I hope that justice will be done so that our party will gain its position to take over power in 2023,” he said.

The governor maintained that despite the crisis rocking the party at the national level, Benue State does not have any problem, stressing that, “from bottom to top, we are good to go, as far as our party is concerned. I am working for our candidates.”

Ortom insisted that he cannot work against PDP but he would support every candidate, emphasising however, “that does not mean I am not aggrieved, Wike is aggrieved and I am aggrieved too.”

On the outcome of the caucus meeting, the governor said after due consultations, a Benue North-West Senatorial campaign team for the Senate seat would be constituted, pointing out that it would be integrated into the main campaign council of PDP in Benue State.

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