By Peter Duru, Makurdi
As the controversy trailing the purported exit of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state from the All Progressives Congress, APC, continue to gain grounds, the Governor has described the state chapter of the party as a one man show.
The Governor made the assertion Friday in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, CPS, Terver Akase in reaction to statement credited to the APC in Benue State in which it claimed that the party raised issues of governance with Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, following which he gave himself red card.
Ortom in his reaction to the statement was quoted as saying that the statement credited to the party was an exhibition of hypocrisy of the highest order.
Part of the statement read, “It is on record that APC in Benue State has on many occasions, passed vote of confidence on Governor Ortom as a result of his performance.
“During the State Congress of the party at Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi, it adopted the Governor as its consensus candidate. Again, the party publicly said its decision was based on the sterling stewardship of Governor Ortom within the last three years. But being the true democrat that he is, the Governor decided that other aspirants be also allowed to vie for the governorship seat to deepen internal democracy in the party.
“We challenge APC in Benue State to bring out facts to back their claim that they had faulted the performance of the Governor. We equally challenge the party to make public evidence regarding their claims that bailout funds and Paris Club refund were diverted.
“While Governor Ortom appreciates the platform which APC gave him to offer service to the people of Benue State, it is regrettable that the same party has now turned to demonize him for obvious selfish reasons.
“Governor Ortom has encouraged regular caucus and other stakeholders’ meetings at which he constantly gives briefings about the security and financial challenges in the state. He also gets feedback and input at such meetings.
“His successful conduct of the local government elections which APC candidates overwhelmingly won chairmanship and councillorship positions throughout the state is proof of the popularity of his administration.
“There has really been no need for the party to raise governance issues with Governor Ortom because he gives the leaders and the state working committee regular briefings at meetings and platforms mentioned above.
“Besides, the Governor announces to the people of the state receipts of monies and expenditures. He equally gave the people of the state information about the bailout, Paris Club refunds and all other federal government interventions and explained how they could not meet all the final obligations with respect to payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions.
“The claim by the APC that such matters were raised at the last State Congress or at a secret forum is therefore not tenable, misleading and insincere. The APC State Congress was conducted in the public domain and issues of governance were not raised at the meeting.
“It may also be necessary to point out that the last State Congress was not convened for the purpose of endorsing or electing the Governor, Senators and other representatives in the state or National Assembly. It is therefore absurd for anyone to make heavy wind out of an endorsement that has no legal backing and cannot be relied upon.
“At no time did Governor Ortom ever mention that the APC in Benue State gave him a red card. He stated categorically that it was the leader of the party who said at several fora that he had given him red card and the Governor made efforts to resolve the matter within the structure of the party at the state level before going public.
“That APC in the state has issued the statement as if it is the leader of the party or as if they are one and the same, underscores Governor Ortom’s concern that the party structure in the state is out to satisfy the whims and caprices of one individual.
“It is now clear that APC in Benue State has opted to mortgage the interest of the people of the state. The party’s unprovoked attack on Governor Ortom points to where its interest lies.
“More ridiculous is the fact that APC has become a one man show in Benue State. It should be on record that the attacks on Governor are coming now because he couldn’t meet some inordinate personal ambitions and interests of those who want to perpetually shortchange the people.
“The media attack on Governor Ortom by the state chapter of APC is the beginning of the smear campaign about which we alerted Benue people and other Nigerians. More of such disparaging statements should be expected in the days to come.
“However, no amount of intimidation or personal attacks can make the Governor to abandon the people of Benue State. He has chosen to stand with the people and won’t be distracted now or in the future.”