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Ushahemba Nongu: Benue Guber: Ortom keeping to his word

The ongoing process to ensure a rancor-free emergence of a gubernatorial candidate of the People Democratic Party, PDP in Benue State for 2023 general election has been an inclusive, open and transparent exercise largely facilitated by the party’s leader in the State, Governor Samuel Ortom in active collaboration with some critical partisan and even nonpartisan stakeholders.

From the outset of deliberations, Governor Ortom has been emphatic in resonance with the party leadership that options will be explored for a PDP guber candidate to emerge through consensus, stating pointedly however, that “Where we are unable to settle for a consensus candidate, aspirants will be allowed to go into the primaries to test their popularity,” a position Ortom has remained consistent with all this while.

In the deliberations to adopt a consensus governorship aspirant, from the Tiv extraction of the State for instance, the stakeholders’ decision to settle for the Speaker, Benue State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Titus Uba was a unanimous position after far-reaching discussion. This writer knows reliably that all the stakeholders who were present at the meeting held on Sunday, April 17, 2022 spoke in one accord.

It started with the people of Vandeikya who said it’s Uba. The entire Jechira bloc (Konshisha and Vandeikya) said it’s Uba. Chairmen of the 14 local government areas in Tivland also said it’s Uba. The G-14 political class itself said it’s Uba. Benue State House of Assembly Members said it’s Uba. The House of Representatives caucus in the Tiv speaking area said it’s Uba. Senators of Zones A and B said it’s Uba. And above all, his fellow governorship aspirants from Kwande and Jechira also unanimously said it’s Titus Uba. This has never happened before in Benue State!

Governor Ortom has clearly shown commendable foresight and leadership direction for the party by ensuring that the process leading up to the gubernatorial primaries is peaceful and devoid of rancor. The early commencement of the deliberations in this regard has proven to be result-oriented.

Addressing the enlarged caucus meeting of the PDP on Sunday, May 15, 2022 at the new Banquet Hall of the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi, Governor Ortom again assured all aspirants of fairness and transparency in the scheduled party primaries to elect candidates for the various elective positions in the general election.

The Governor unambiguously declared that in compliance with the amended Electoral Law, 2022, all aspirants who obtained nomination and expression of interest forms and have been screened are free to participate in the primaries. He reiterated his firm position of not having an anointed candidate for any of the positions.

Of course, it has been alleged in some quarters that Ortom has a preferred governorship candidate. This writer disagrees strongly with this unfounded allegation as Ortom’s position has been clearly established long before now that the party will choose its governorship candidate.

It should not be forgotten that some of Governor Ortom’s close and trusted aides including, his then Chief of Staff, Terwase Orbunde, Commissioner for Education, Prof Dennis Ityavyar, Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase amongst others had resigned to pursue their governorship ambitions.

Evidently, were the Governor to anoint a governorship candidate for the party, he would have naturally chosen amongst those who served and worked closely with him, yet he didn’t do so, a clear indication that he had no vested interest and is committed to keeping his word.

Governor Ortom has at no time proven himself a coward in politics, neither is he known for double-standard. He is known for his courageous and uncompromising stance on issues. It is glaring that around the country, most incumbent governors often unilaterally dictate who succeeds them. Ortom as a courageous and firm leader that he is, would be bullish on the political turf if he actually intended to anoint who would succeed him. He wouldn’t be dribbling the people or hiding his tongue in the cheek to sell them a dummy.

At several fora, Governor Ortom has reaffirmed his readiness to support and work with candidates that will emerge at the primaries, with a strong message that the victory of the PDP in the 2023 polls remain his topmost priority. His actions are in consonance with his words.

All PDP aspirants for the various elective positions beginning from the Governorship, Senate, House of Representatives as well as the House of Assembly collectively owe the party and its leadership the obligation to submit themselves to the forthcoming primaries where it is hoped that candidates will emerge.

Governor Ortom, himself an aspirant for the Benue North-West Senatorial district seat, is fully committed to submitting himself to the party’s internal democratic processes, an indication that the days of imposing candidates on the populace are over and the PDP would coast to victory come 2023.

*Nongu, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media writes from Makurdi

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