National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said Friday that Benue State that the exit of Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, from the party was a blessing in disguise to the APC, saying his three and half years as governor in the stage was a waste as he had no single project to show for the mandate given to him by the party.
Addressing a news conference at the party secretariat, Comrade Oshiomhole said even though the party leadership had attempted to wade into the conflict between the governor and leaders of the party in Benue State, he could not successfully defend the weighty allegation leveled against him by the leaders of the party in the state.
He said that at the instance of the Governor, the National leadership of the party had arranged another meeting to bring north Gov. Ortom and party leaders in the state to a round table with the meeting scheduled to hold on Wednesday, July 24 only for the governor to turn governance to “nollywood”.
Oshiomhole said “Within the last 48 hours we have watched the unfolding events in Benue State particularly the decision of Gov, Ortom to leave the party. Ordinarily, we would not have responded having already responded to the decision by the Publicity Secretary.
“As you all recall, Gov. Ortom had said that the APC in Benue State gave him red card to leave our party and that they will not field him in the governorship election in 2018 and that because the door had been shut against him, he had no choice than to leave. Without going into investigations, we invited him to speak to us on the issues and we also invited our party leaders in Benue State to also brief us on what the issues were.
“From the point of view of our leaders in Benue State, their position was clear that field Gov. Ortom On APC platform in 2019 can only lead to electoral defeat for a number of reasons.
“They reminded us that inspite of the allocation accruing to Benue State, the bail our fund amount to over N20 billion and the huge sums of money collected from the Paris club refund, he was not paying salaries to Benue workers, including teachers, local government employees and civil servants. He owes some of the as much as 12months salaries.
“So, the entire economy of Benue State that survives on civil servants salaries is to that effect compromised. What is not obvious is that those who live on rents paid by civil servants cannot collect their rents with which to survive, thereby having effect on the commercial live of the people. This explains a vicious circle of poverty in Benue State that has been deepened under Gov. Ortom.
“The second is that Gov. Ortom has complicated, by his own actions, and poor judgment the security situation in the state. They draw our attention to the fact that some of those that have been arrested as a result of the killings are people who have been associated with him, including people in his employment, especially a guy known to have been involved in Boko Haram whom he recruited to manage what they called forest guard.
“These people have been arrested and are in police custody. If an appointee of a Governor is involved in a heinous crime, including killing that will be enough for a governor to worry about. Instead, he played up the ethnic dimension of criminality, even though some of those killed were killed not by Muslims, but Christian of Benue State origin, including those he employed.
“These people have been in police custody, so, his attempt to explain away criminality by playing the ethnic card is unhelpful to what he should as governor to manage the situation better. After all, those in Benue State have always been there and his predecessors, including Suswam had found ways to manage these diversities. So, Ortom’s incapacity to manage it and even seek to make political capital of the death of Benue people is unfortunate.
“It is important that Nigerians understand that the condemnable killings of two Reverend Fathers and some Christians in a church, those who have confessed to these crimes include people who have worked with Gov. Ortom an these killings were done few weeks after one of them was extremely critical during his sermon about the governance of the state and the style of governance of the Governor.
“His price obviously was to pay with his dear life and not a few thought that the governor would celebrate that. I am not about to suggest that Gov, Ortom might have asked anybody to go and kill anyone, but that some of those involved in these killings are Benue State originated are Christians.
“That is not to deny that some herdsmen have also been involved in the killings. But the responsibility of any government is not to seek to manipulate this, but to confront it.
“There was also the fact that for three and half years that he has been in office, he cannot point to any concrete project that he has carried out. He cannot point to any major project that has been completed.
“When we asked him these questions and allegations that why the Vice President and the President has visited other states to Commission projects, in Benue, they have only paid condolence visit. It is okay to lament the absence of federal presence, but what is the excuse for the absence of state projects in the state.
“His argument is that he has diverted a lot of the resources to security issue. That raises the issue. Can you be spending N22 billion on security and the people are increasingly insecure? So if you accept that he spent money on security, it meant that he realizes that he has a responsibility to secure life and not pass the bulk.
“So, I felt scandalized watching him saying he had to leave the APC because he did not feel secure. To be honest, I am relieved as National Chairman and the leadership of our party in Benue State are relieved that he has returned to where he came from.
“So, we now have a clean platform to search for a credible Benue citizen that can provide the kind of leadership that the Benue State deserve and not one who seek to make political capital out of human graves and celebrating the death of his own people.
“As a party, we condemn any life that has been wasted by criminals and we accept that government responsibility is to protect live and property. But I condemn anyone of us who seek to make political capital out of these killings because we have shared responsibility to protect their lives regardless of their religion or location. So, we are re lived that Ortom has returned.
“When you look at it, he got our ticket on a platter of gold because he was never a participant in the building process of the party. He became a candidate by accident. The lesson to learn is that never again should people become candidates by accident.”
On the allegation that he was being victimized for refusing to share state resources with the party leaders in the state, Oshiomhole said “If a governor confessed that he shared government money to party leaders, is that the reasons he will be re-elected?
“Then if he has shared the government money with party leaders then the party leaders should try to keep in in office by guarantee him the ticket since he shared the money with them. If on the other hand he claimed that he refused to share the money, good therefore what have you done with the money?
“You couldn’t pay the workers salaries with the money you refused to share, have you built more roads for the people of Benue state? What have you accomplished with this bailout fund and the Paris fund?
“So let me assure that what I do promised, and please mark my word each time I speak, those negotiable and verifiable grievances we would address. And I said we won’t deny somebody ticket on account of a conflict between him and any other person if he is at home with his people, even yesterday I emphasized that.
“When people say automatic ticket, does it guarantee automatic victory when people are against you? I said so. Because we didn’t give you departure ticket, so how are we going to gice you a return ticket?
“So, I couldn’t assure gov Ortom that we will overrule the posution of our members and leaders in Benue state that come 2019 we will give him ticket. I wanted to simply cross chect with him in the allegations made against him and he was to come by Wednesday that is why he organised that drama.
“And that tells you the quality of reasoning, with all due respect to Governor Ortom, how can you reduce governance to Nollywood, saying hen I wanted to go to Abuja to meet with the National Working Committee but my people have blocked the road that I will not go. When has it become a case that when a governor want to travel it is on the radio that he is travelling and this is the purpose.”