The defection of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has sparked mixed reactions from the leadership of both parties.
Governor Ortom announced his departure from the APC and his return to the PDP on Wednesday at the Government House in Makurdi, the state capital.
Hours later, the APC described the governor’s exit from their fold as “somewhat surprising”.
The party recalled that their National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had made efforts to address some of the grievances raised by Ortom pertaining to the local politics in his state.
They, however, stated that they have not lost hope on the governor, as they were optimistic that talking to him might make him reconsider his decision.
In a statement, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi, said, “The party reiterates its earlier position that it respects the rights of every citizen to choose their political affiliation but expresses hope that those who have left the party will rescind their decisions.
“Even with this development, we don’t think it is too late for reconciliation. We have to continue to talk. As long as people keep their minds open and have the courage to put the real issues on the table, reconciliation is still possible.
“We once again call on members across the country to remain calm as the Party leadership continues to work hard to position the party strongly for the next general elections.”
On the other hand, the PDP welcomed the governor and commended him for showing patriotic courage and boldness in the period of what they described as ‘brazen dictatorship’.
They claimed that his return to their party confirmed that the APC government does not have the welfare of Nigerians at heart.
“PDP recalls that the Buhari-led Federal Government has failed in its basic responsibility of protecting life, property, territorial integrity of our nation,” the opposition party said in a statement by their National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.
The PDP hailed Governor Ortom for standing firm by the people of Benue and assured him of his dues and rights as a member of the party.
They noted that the return of the governor to the PDP was a reflection of his people’s desires which they said confirmed the purported rejection of the APC government by Nigerians.
The party consequently urged all its members in the APC to follow the step of the Benue Governor and return home to salvage the nation.
Governor Ortom had raised concerns over the affairs of the APC in Benue and said that he had been given a red card, a situation which prompted the intervention of the national leadership of the ruling party.
Following a series of discussions, the governor was due to attend a reconciliatory meeting with the APC leaders in Abuja on July 25, to resolve the issue.
He was, however, unable to attend the meeting as a group of youths blocked the entrance of the Government House in a protest, calling for Ortom’s resignation from the APC.
The governor consequently met with local government chairmen and councillors during which he officially declared that he had dumped the APC for the PDP.
“I have formally resigned from the All Progressives Congress (APC). With your support and a blank cheque that I have been given to nominate a party, we can now fight justice, equity, and fairness for the people of Benue State.
“Let me formally announce to you that I’m now going to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),” Governor Orton said after he was prevented from attending the APC meeting.