A gale of defections has continued to hit the All Progressives Congress (APC) with the governor of Benue State, Dr. Samuel Ortom decamping to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday.
Ortom’s defection comes barely 48 hours after 51 APC federal lawmakers dumped the party, with a chunk moving to the PDP.
The governor announced his return to the PDP during a meeting with elected local government chairmen and councilors Wednesday at the Government House Makurdi, hours after protesting youths barred him from traveling to Abuja to attend the APC reconciliation meeting.
He said that after various consultations from his party, he was advised to look for another party, noting that his stay at the APC had expired.
“I have formally resigned from the 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)”.
The announcement brings to an end months of speculation that the governor will return to the PDP as a result of his disagreement with leaders of the APC in Benue and at the national level.
It would be recalled that had recently said he was yet to decide which party he would align with as the ruling APC had sent him packing from its fold.
As for party, I have been given a red card and I’m outside the pitch. So, if I have been given a red card and I’m standing outside, I’m a free man.
“So, I don’t know what will happen next but I’m waiting. If others approach me I will tell the Benue people that I’m joining another football club. I’m a child of destiny and it’s only a God that will decide what I will be,” he said.
Ortom, who was the national auditor of the PDP and served as minister of state for industry, trade and investment as well as acting minister of aviation during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan decamped to APC ahead the 2015 elections.
The governor was among the three APC governors rumoured to be planning to leave the party, with the other two being governors Abdulfattah Ahmed Aminu Tambuwal of Kwara and Sokoto states respectively.
Meanwhile, the APC described Ortom’s exit as “somewhat surprising.”
The party’s spokesman, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi, who stated this when the news of the governor’s defection broke the door was still open for reconciliation, provided disputants approach the table with open minds.
He recalled efforts made by the national chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole to address some of the grievances raised by the Benue State Governor pertaining to the local politics in Benue State.
“The governor had left the meeting saying he was satisfied with the assurances given by Party leaders. We are still working on giving effect to the resolutions from the meeting. Therefore, we are somewhat surprised by Governor Ortom’s decision.
“The party reiterates its earlier position that it respects the rights of every citizen to choose their political affiliation but expresses hopes 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.
“The party once again calls 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,” he said.