The governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, says he will not succumb to intimidation or blackmail just because of his senatorial ambition. He also insisted that he will never trade the interest of the state to gain political power.
Governor Ortom spoke during an enlarged meeting with Jemgbagh PDP Elders Forum comprising Gboko, Tarka and Buruku Local Government Areas held on Sunday at the Gboko residence of Hon Mike Mku.
The meeting was at the instance of the Jemgbagh PDP Elders Forum, which sought clarifications on the cold war between the governor and the PDP national chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, following calls by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, that the national chairman should resign.
Giving details of what snowballed into the current crises, Gov Ortom dispelled insinuations that he is pulling down a Jemgbagh son. Rather, he explained how he rallied support for the election of Senator Ayu against all odds.
He said he would never succumb to blackmail and keep silent in the face of injustice perpetrated by the PDP under Senator Ayu’s leadership.
Already, some pseudo-groups claiming to be speaking on behalf of the Jemgbagh political bloc have been stoking public blackmail against the governor whom they accused of working against the interest of Ayu, Ortom’s chief press secretary Nathaniel Ikyur said.
The governor took time to explain his role in the emergence of the PDP national chairman, Senator Ayu, and his position on the travails the chairman is facing over calls for his resignation.
Governor Ortom maintained that power is given by God and ‘no one should blackmail me because of my senatorial ambition. Nobody should think he will intimidate me because of the Senate election’.
According to him, “If God ordains me to be elected senator for the Benue North-West Senatorial zone, no amount of blackmail or intimidation could prevent me from winning.”
The governor told the Jemgbagh PDP Elders that Senator Ayu who is also from the Jemgbagh political bloc has mounted a smear campaign and blackmail against his person and office when he met members of the Board of Trustees of the PDP.
Governor Ortom noted that since he is contesting for the Benue North-West Senatorial district seat, he has become a subject of intimidation and blackmail by some Jemgbagh stakeholders as a result of the internal crisis rocking the party with Ayu as the helmsman.
He said following the post-PDP presidential convention with emerging internal wranglings, he advised Senator Ayu to reach out to aggrieved leaders of the party and plead for their understanding over calls for his resignation.
Rather than take his counsel, Governor Ortom lamented that Senator Ayu chose to take the ignoble path of disuniting the party by his actions and utterances.
The governor insisted that Ayu did not maintain neutrality in handling the affairs leading to the PDP national convention, which produced Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the party.
He stressed that, “Ayu himself committed to resigning should a northern presidential candidate emerge at the northern caucus at the Bauchi State lodge.”
The governor wondered why Senator Ayu is now reneging on his promise, which he voluntarily made before all the northern leaders of the party.
He said contrary to speculations that he is working at cross purposes with Ayu, he had actively rallied support from his PDP governors’ colleagues and other critical stakeholders for the emergence of the national chairman with the interest of the state, especially to place Benue in national politics.
The governor told the Jemgbagh stakeholders to also invite Senator Ayu and himself to a meeting so that they could both present their positions on the matter.
He insisted that despite the betrayals, intimidation and blackmail, he would continue to stand for justice for his people.
The chairman of the Jemgbagh PDP Elders Forum, Barrister Sam Tsumba, said the Forum would invite Senator Ayu and Governor Ortom to further find a way to resolve the conflict.
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