Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State day failed to honour the invitation by the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for a meeting to reconcile him with his erstwhile godfather, Senator George Akume.
Akume was, however, at the meeting presided over by the party’s Deputy National Chairman, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, who expressed hope that a solution would still be found to the crisis in spite of Ortom’s absence.
A close political associate of the governor said in Abuja that the governor was technically no longer a member of the APC and that many of his followers did not see the need for the meeting.
“I think Governor Samuel Ortom has made up his mind; he is technically no longer a member of APC; and many of his huge followers don’t see the need for the meeting; that is why he failed to attend the party’s invitation on Tuesday. Those who value him, politically, are already talking to him,’’ the source stated.
A hint of where Ortom might be headed appeared Tuesday as his posters with the crest of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) surfaced on the streets of Makurdi, the state capital.
The party had summoned the two key players in intra-party feud in Benue State between the governor and the senator to try to resolve their differences.
While Shuaibu met with Akume behind closed doors for two hours, the governor was said to have stayed back in Makurdi because he felt nothing positive would come out of the discussion.
At the end of the meeting, Akume was escorted to his car by Shuaibu without uttering a word on what transpired between them.
When accosted by journalists, as he was about to enter his car, Akume said he would come back Wednesday for another round of reconciliatory meeting.
However, Shuaibu who has been drafted to explore means of arresting the situation in the state said the meeting went well.
He said that the party would not sit by and allow such dispute to tear its members in Benue State apart.
According to a source at Tuesday’s meeting with Akume, the party demanded to know what led to the governor’s action and whether indeed, there was an attempt to shut the state governor out of the party as he claimed.
The source said that some measures of success had been achieved, adding that there would be further reconciliatory talks with the actors in the dispute.
He said that the governor asked to be excused from Thursday’s meeting to enable him attend to other crucial engagements.
The governor was said to have called the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to inform him that he would not attend the meeting, as he was already engaged for another meeting.
Ortom’s Posters with PDP Crest Flood Makurdi
Despite the declaration by Ortom that he was yet to decide on the party he would join after dumping the APC on Monday, his posters bearing PDP logo Tuesday flooded the state capital.
The posters have adorned most streets, roads and roundabouts in the state.
Top government sources disclosed that the governor was in top negotiation with leaders of the PDP to rejoin it.
According to a member of the PDP in the state, Mr. Ejimbi Oloja, he said the governor had made subtle contact with the leadership of the party in Abuja and Benue State.
“He has made contacts with the National Chairman of PDP, Chief Uche Secondus, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State and a host of others who have assured him that the party will welcome him,” he said.
He further disclosed that Ortom was advised to reconcile with the leaders of the party in the state, including former Senate President David Mark and former governor of the state, Mr. Gabriel Suswam.
He has since reconciled with the two and it has been said that they are favourable to giving the party ticket to the embattled governor.
However, according to another source, Ortom’s return to the PDP and getting the party ticket could be a tough task for him.
He said most of the plethora of aspirants already busting for the party ticket are not disposed to handing the party ticket to the governor.
Some of them have even threatened to dump the party if such arrangement is allowed.