HEMBADOON ORSAR writes on the feelings and reactions of some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial aspirants after party leaders in the state handed over the party structures to governor Samuel Ortom.
The leadership of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State last Tuesday met and officially handed over the party structure to the Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom. The move was instructive as it has established Ortom as the leader of the party in the state.
This happened at the party’s expanded Caucus meeting held at the new Banquet hall of Government House Makurdi. The event was attended by party big wigs including former Senate President, Senator David Mark, his predecessor, Senator Iyorcha Ayu, former PDP national chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade and immediate past governor, Gabriel Suswam.
Ortom had last month returned the PDP after he fell out with the leadership of his former party, All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. Specifically, his battle with the Senator George Akume, his benefactor in the APC, had climaxed in moves to impeach the governor which went awry. Ortom however fought back by backing the removal of the Speaker of the House of Assembly.
However speaking at the event which handed over party structure to Ortom, the state PDP chairman, John Ngbede, said the party has resolved to work in unity with all members, irrespective of old and new, and warned party chairmen at the local governments and ward levels to desist henceforth from denying people of membership right in the party, adding that all members should be given equal rights and a level playing field to operate.
In his remark, senator representing Benue South Senatorial district, Senator David Mark, applauded the state leadership of the party, for a harmonised meeting to bring every member together as well as making some amendments to accommodate those that are coming into the party.
While pleading with members to sustain the unity in the party for a larger picture, Mark averred that no sacrifice will be too much for members to make, in ensuring that PDP wins its positions at the national and state levels.
He disclosed that the party leadership has formed an integration committee which will be working 24 hours to ensure proper harmonisation at the local governments and ward levels to avoid division and discrimination.
Also speaking, immediate past Governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam, announced that certain party positions including the party secretary, organising secretary among others have been allocated to the governor so as to accommodate his interest.
Suswam also stated that the governor has purchased forms for all the ad hoc ward delegates and that major stakeholders would participate in the selection process.
Accepting the mandate, Ortom expressed appreciation to the leaders and the state executive committee for the confidence reposed in him, adding that to whom much is given, much is also expected.
Ortom solicited support from all, for sustained unity, and assured all his fellow PDP aspirants a level playing ground to thrive.
However, barely hours after Ortom assumed leadership of the party in the state, some party faithfuls revolted. The protest is against the backdrop of fears that he will naturally get the party’s ticket ahead of 2019.
The governorship aspirant of the PDP in 2015, Prince Terhemen Tarzoor, protested the emergence of Ortom as the leader of the party even though he announced his decision to withdraw from the governorship race under the platform of the party.
Tarzoor, a former speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly who announced the decision at a news conference held at his residence in Makurdi, said in as much as he respects the elders of the party, the decision taken is not binding on him, adding that “I am not in consonance with the decision but rather in variance with it.”
He continued, “I am calling on all my supporters to be calm and wait for the outcome of my consultative decision, because the decision taken by the elders of the party is not binding on me, in as much as I respect them I also have my rights.”
He added “I rescinded the decision to contest in PDP for the governorship having known that I have done an analysis of my strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to life in the struggle to emancipate the state from shackles of poverty.
“I think I deserve the opportunity to serve Benue people, but if God says it is not the right time, I know I can not do otherwise. Today, I am speaking to you as a man of honour to tell you that yes, the time has come to tell Benue people that Tarzoor has paid his dues, contributed immensely to the party, and as such I am not leaving the party but have withdrawn for my governorship ambition under PDP, till further notice.
“I have resigned, withdrawn from the race to contest from the governorship election having consulted with critical stakeholders, I am no longer pushing further with my decision to run the governorship and I am not holding anybody in mind to say I’m angry or my interest is at variance with the interest of anybody.
“This is a party that grew me up to where I am today. I cannot be angry and unhappy with the party that saw me through till date, but l can still make my case to say that if the party that l have also given my all and contributed significantly to impacting on Benue people, has seen that Tarzoor, with all his services cannot be valuable and cannot be considered as a party faithful here in the PDP then, l have my cross to carry.
“I am not carrying this cross alone because I have so many who are helping me carry the cross. It is not about Tazoor but Benue project, and if it is about Benue project, We must reason together and move Benue to greater heights”, he said.
In another development, a frontline aspirant of the PDP in Benue State, Dr. Tivlumun Nyitse, cautioned that the decision of leaders of the party to hand over its structures to Governor Samuel Ortom can lead to apathy amongst members.
Dr. Nyitse who gave this warning while speaking with newsmen at his residence in Makurdi, after he purchased governorship nomination and interest form, noted that the action is not in the interest of the party.
“Those who have been in the party should not be made to suffer for those who just came back. This is against natural justice and could lead to apathy amongst members.
“For me, let there be some element of consideration to uphold the survival of the party. Let what will enhance the survival of the party be done. You do not need to have anybody in the party structure to contest any position.
“ The governor is the leader of the party in the State. To put people in the party structure is undemocratic and not in the interest of the party. Those persons were duly elected,” he fumed.
The ex-permanent secretary in the Government House, under the past administration regretted the manner through which elders of the party handled the issue, maintaining that they (aspirants) have worked hard for the party for so long and should not be disenfranchised.
“This is going to be problematic. Elders of the party did not meet with the aspirants before arriving at this decision. We visited Suswam and Ayu to express our fears and they did nothing. I do not know if other aspirants were consulted but I was not. I do not think the intention is to serve the party. What is happening could be likened to the case of taking a dead person to be certified by a doctor’, he said.
Dr. Nyitse lamented over stagnation and decadence in the State especially in the area of infrastructural development, promising to focus on security, welfare and infrastructural development.
Also reacting another PDP gubernatorial hopeful in Benue State, Dr Stephen Terungwa Hwande, reiterated his determination to clinch the Governorship slot in 2019, in spite of the ensuing confusion by desperate and failed politicians.
Hwande who was reacting to the recent developments in the PDP where external forces and elites conspire, he alleged, are working against the popular will within the party, awakening money politics and impunity in the PDP to influence favour for the governor who recently defected from the ruling APC.
The gubernatorial hopeful said the governor has failed in all his campaign promises, including nonpayment of salaries and pensions, completion of existing projects amongst others.
He emphasised that the character for performance resides with the individual and not the platform, promising that current happenings have rather re-enforced his mission to rescue Benue, which is a contract with the Benue people across political party divide.
Hwande who is a consultant Gynaecologist further explained that, his quest for Governorship is borne out of his genuine passion as an IVF specialist, practical professional and an unconditional philanthropist, through which, God has used him as an instrument to touch many.
He re-affirmed his popular support that is beyond partisan boundaries and promised to engage the electorates in his issue-based campaigns to be unveiled soon.
He said his taking a shot at the governorship, was itself an extended platform of service that will benefit the people of the state, noting that, his ambition was the climax of a carrier of service with excellence and the experience to solve Benue problems with a more defined approach.
He called on all Benue sons and daughters to support him in prayers as he once again engages critical stakeholders in the Benue Arise Project in another round of consultations after which he will announce his next political decision.
But in his reaction, President Tiv Youths Organisation, Timothy Hembaor, described the handing over of PDP structure to the governor as a welcomed development, which will bring unity in the party and Benue people.
According to him, the handing over of the party structure to the governor,has demonstrated a clear difference between the leadership of the APC which is a one man party compare to the collective decision of PDP where every voice is heard and put into cognisance.
However, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, is undettered as he has since submitted his nomination by his senior special assistant on special duties, Abraham kwanghngu.
He said he is not afraid to contest against other aspirants, he declared that he is not thinking of automatic ticket even though he enjoys “a right of first refusal” as incumbent governor and leader of the party in the state.
kwanghngu however explained that nobody can play god over the return bid of the governor in 2019.
He said “we saw what happened in Benue State where all the major stakeholders came and gave their backing to him. We saw all the leaders of the party like Sen Barnabas Gemade, Sen Iyorcha Ayu, Sen David Mark gave the whole leadership of the governor.
“It is not about akume but about the Benue people. Whoever assisted him to win we appreciate him but he is not god. Several people are being killed and many hide their faces in Aso Rock but this is one Governor that spoke up. He stayed with the people so we will go into the election with the people. We will not stand with god father.”
Dismissing claims that the governor has not done any thing in the state, the special assistant said only politicians living outside Benue State are raising issues about the salary payment and none performance by his administration.