By Amos Aar
THE outgoing governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has encouraged members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state not to lose hope as a result of the defeat they suffered in the 2023 general elections.
Governor Ortom gave the encouragement Wednesday as his parting words during the last expanded stakeholders meeting he held with the PDP family at Government House, Makurdi.
Ortom, who lost his senatorial bid and could failed to plant a successor contrary to his intention and efforts, assured PDP faithful of his continued support even after his exit from office on May 29. “After May 29, I will not be here again but I will be there for you,” he assured.
The governor counted God’s enormous blessings upon him in politics having served Nigeria in different capacities including as Guma local government council chairman, Publicity Secretary of National Centre Party of Nigeria (NCPN), State Treasurer of the All Peoples Party (APP), State Secretary and State Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), PDP National Auditor, double Minister and now 2-term governor, saying he was not weakened by his defeat but thankful to God for those key positions he has occupied so far in the society.
Ortom however blamed the failure recorded by the PDP in the last elections to alleged abysmal performance of the federal government under the All Progressives Congress (APC), pointing out corruption and insecurity. According to him, the federal government failed to protect lives and property and turned to fight him for introducing anti-open grazing law meant to quell herders/farmers crisis.
“Earnestly, we are all victims of the maladministration of the federal government”, Ortom bared his mind.
He said it was important to let his party know many things that worked against his administration as an “opposition against federal authorities”, leading to his failure to clear the backlog of pension and salary arrears among other things.
According to him, he was denied a balance of N42 billion bailout fund released to other states that were in the good books of the federal government.
He further disclosed that the FG also offered a grant of N20 billion to states for infrastructural development and to enable states recover from the adverse effect of Covid-19 lockdown which had crippled the Nigerian economy. But he said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) again, refused to release the fund to Benue State. He went on to mention various huge sums of monies the Buhari-led federal government denied him which he claimed has truncated his administration’s developmental efforts.
Governor Ortom debunked speculations that he was going to dump the PDP, saying “I have no reason to do that whatsoever”.
During the meeting, Governor Ortom also assented to 6 bills recently passed by the Benue State House of Assembly.
The bills presented to the Governor by Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Christopher Adaji were: ‘A Law to Provide for the Retirement Age of Teachers in Benue State and other Related Matters’; ‘A Law to Amend the Benue State Polytechnic Law, 2021 and for Connected Purposes’; ‘A Law to Amend the Akawe Torkula Polytechnic Law, 2020 and Connected Purposes’.
Other laws assented to include: ‘A Law to Amend the Akperan Orshi Polytechnic Law, 2020 and for Connected Purposes’; ‘A Law to Amend the College of Education Oju Law, 2021 and for Connected Purposes’ as well as ‘A Law to Amend the College of Education Katsina-Ala Law, 2021 and for Connected Purposes’.
In separate remarks, Ankwagh Amo who spoke for zone A, Dr Mike Mku for zone B and Christian Abah for zone C said, they were encouraged by Ortom’s advice and they will remain united towards reclaiming the leadership of Benue State from the APC either in court or in another election.
In their goodwill messages, PDP Board of Trustees member for North Central, Chief Margaret Icheen who spoke for women, Chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Hon. Mike Uba, for local government chairmen in the state and a representative of youths, Emmanuel Achigbe, were unanimous in their submissions that they would strengthen the PDP in order to deposition the party.