Wike, Four Other PDP Governors Still Blowing Hot

George Okoh writes about the recent meeting of the aggrieved five Peoples Democratic Party governors in Makurdi and their resolve to ensure that justice and equity prevail in the opposition party

In the series of top level meetings of the five aggrieved Governors of the People Democratic Party(PDP) known as the G-5, the governors namely Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Nyesom Wike of Rivers state recently visited their colleague, Samuel Ortom of Benue state in Makurdi.

Although their coming was announced by the  Benue State government as a visit to inaugurate some projects in the state but observers of political happenings believe the visit was for the purpose of the G-5 governors to take a firm and final position on whether or not to support the  Presidential flag bearer of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The governors spent two days in an atmosphere that was well charged following disagreement between Ortom and the National Chairman of the party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu.

The disagreement has polarized the party in the state with many members of the party are in full support of the Atiku/Ayu position in the party even as the governor clearly stated he was not going to support Atiku.

Those supporting Atiku are doing so clandestinely for fear of victimization, said a member of the PDP who did not want his name mentioned.

According to him, members of the party have decided to stick to the Atiku ticket and will not change their minds no matter what the governor does.

He said: “Ayu and Atiku represent the PDP family and we will not abandon them at this time that the election is very close by, the governor may feel aggrieved over what happened to his friend, Wike at the primary of the party but he just has to move on and work in the interest of the party”.

While hosting the G-5 governors to a dinner a day before the main event, Ortom gave reasons why he would not support Atiku saying he would not support a candidate who saw nothing wrong in the killing of innocent Benue people by armed Fulani herdsmen.

Ortom lamented the recent killing of 18 persons in Guma, his local government area, where a young man in his 20s had his eyes plucked out and another had his hand chopped off by armed herdsmen as subliminal message to him, demanding the abrogation of the Benue grazing law.

According to him: “My people are being killed and you want me to be quiet; you want me to be slave to a Fulani. It’s better I die. Anybody supporting Atiku in Benue is an enemy of the state.

“Some are threatening, my tenure ends in May and you can do whatever you want if you think you have the powers. I have written my will. When I gave it to my wife, she cried all night. If I die at 62, it will not be new. Many of my mates had gone long time ago and If I die today, I will be fulfilled but let it be on record that I die resisting the invasion and killing of my people.

“I will never support a Fulani man to become president. If there is another person, who is ready to work with me and ensure the security of my people, I will work with him”.

On his relationship with Wike, he said, “Many have wondered why I have chosen to swim with Wike. Many have wondered why I have chosen to walk with him in the mid of storms and threats and also fire and brimstone. Many have wondered, but I still remember that this is the man, who stood with us during our trying moments.

“He came out and did not fear the threats about federal might and what have you. I will stand with him and I remain with him, because I am not a betrayer. When I was attacked by the Fulani terrorists. Wike came out and told Nigerians that if you kill Ortom, you have killed Nigeria.

“He was very firm in condemning that attack. So, we appreciate him. Here is a man that did not keep quiet, when Benue State was in turmoil and Benue State was in travails, when Benue State was under siege and challenged by the same Fulani herdsmen.

“When Benue was under siege, he donated N250 million and he subsequently spent over N700 million to support the state to tackle the humanitarian crisis occasioned by the unwarranted attacks. He did not stop at that. He convinced Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State to also assist the state and he donated N200 million to us,” he said.

According to him, when two markets in the state were burnt, Wike donated N200 million each. “Is he not a worthy friend? He is a worthy friend and we are working together to liberate the country.”

For the party, Ortom said  “PDP in Benue state has no problems. By the grace of God, we have been winning our elections and we will win again.”

In his remarks, Wike said the G-5 Governors of the PDP, which he christened the ‘Integrity Governors’ were on a mission to rescue Nigeria, and not seeking personal aggrandisement or fight anybody but only asking for the right things to be done.

He said it was incumbent on anyone, who entered into an agreement to respect it, saying, “All we are asking for is inclusivity, justice, equity and fairness in the PDP. The way we are, people are trying to see how they can break us, but they cannot. We are bonded to save Nigeria.

“These are governors, who can come out and tell you black is black, yes is yes, because leadership is about integrity and anyone, who does not show integrity should not be trusted. And anyone who does not respect agreements, when he does not have power, you cannot expect him to respect an agreement, when he has power.”

The Rivers state governor described Ortom “as a good man” and charged the people of the state to support him, noting that he had stood and given his all for his people.

Also speaking, Governor Ikpeazu, who expressed deep worry over the continuous killing of Benue people by herdsmen militia said “the issue at stake today is about us in Benue choosing life over death and we have seen the efforts that Governor Ortom has made to cry about our plight here in Benue state.

“Anybody who takes us away from our farms wants to take our lives away. Therefore, I will ask and urge the people of Benue state to follow Ortom. Follow him wey know road. Don’t follow somebody ‘wey no know road’.

“I believe that Ortom is the Moses that will take Benue to the promised land. The candidates of the PDP will lead the way to take Benue out of Egypt. My prayer is that Benue people will be wise and follow all our National Assembly candidates”.

In his speech at the event, the former Governor of Benue State and  Senator Representing Benue North East, Gabriel Suswam, called on the agrieved  G-5 governors to find solution to some of the lingering problems the party is going through at the moment or it will consume the party.

He said the party has some internal problems that may consume the entire party and called on the G-5 governors to help find solutions to the crises.

His words: “We have our internal problems but I believe that you people are great Nigerians who should solve the problems that we have. I don’t think the problem should be allowed to consume all of us”.

He lauded Ortom for keeping the party together saying Benue people are waiting for PDP.

Also speaking on the crises, a former Director, Election Management, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Campaign Organization, Prof Iyorwuese Hagher said the gathering of eminent personalities at the flag off of campaign in Benue state was a sign that the party is indivisible and ready to clinch power come 2023 elections.

He described the mammoth crowd at the IBB square as unprecedented in quantity and quality.

According to him, the gathering of the National chairman of the party, Dr lyorchia Ayu who was represented by his deputy, Ambassador Umar Damagum and five PDP governors, Nyesom Wike, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, Okezie Ikpeazu, Seyi Makinde and the host, Samuel Ortom, added special spice to the colourful flag-off.

He said the event has brought down the false heat generated on the PDP political crises, a sign that the party is strong and cannot be broken.

“The speakers were down-to-earth, friendly and cohesive. With a flag-off like yesterday, the PDP is ready to clinch victory in all the elections next year, from the election of president Atiku Abubakar to the last member of the state assembly in Benue State.

“The Benue campaign Flag-off is significant proof that the PDP is big and strong enough to absolve internal shocks and contrarian forces without breaking apart.

“The five governors’ assurance of PDP victory in Benue and in all their states has proven that the PDP is not divided but dynamic,” Hagher added.

He noted that Governor Ortom has demonstrated a firm grasp of the Benue grassroots contrary to the impression the public has of Ortom as pulling down the PDP house.

 While insisting that Ortom must be understood as a pillar of presidential democratic ideals which is characterized by freedom of expression, he said “there is a flawless synergy between Ortom, Ayu, Suswam, David Mark, Abba Moro, Orker Jev and all other PDP structures in the state.

“He is a master at political histrionics and even his supposed tirades against the PDP flag bearer are merely designed to bring the former vice-president down to earth.

“Ortom has been campaigning for an active presidency who ought to be less a Fulani irredentist like Buhari and more of a Pan-Nigerian President in whose political veins, flow Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo, Tiv and other bloods.

“The Benue flag-off was also a window of how subtle diplomacy and mature politics can resolve and untangle complicated political knots like the Wike Saga.

“Ortom and Wike are indeed the best vote catchers for the PDP and Atiku presidential elections when the chips are down and the votes tallied next year.

“In Benue, the PDP can hammer again on the nail to the APC coffin by latching on the collective failure of all APC leaders.

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