I have read and heard a couple of verbiage against Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State for standing with his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike over perceived injustice against the Rivers state helmsman. I want to categorically say those attacks are mere distractions and clear idle talks.
Let me first of all respond to those who may ask if I am Ortom’s spokesperson. I am not. But as a Benue person who has the right to hold the governor accountable and “call him to order” when I deem it necessary, I also have the right to shield him when missiles are hurled at him for no justifiable reasons, granted I am convinced that he needs protection.
What I am doing here however, is not to protect Ortom or shield him from those attacks which are no doubt, malicious and driven by mischief.
Those who have hinged their arguments on the fact that Governor Ortom was a Local Government Chairman and has generally been in politics before Governor Wike and should not “stand behind” Wike as they call it, simply expose their ignorance about the journey through life where even a teacher becomes a student of those he/she taught previously.
Let’s assume, without conceding though, that Wike has become Ortom’s leader and the Benue State Governor is “following” his opposite number from Rivers. When five governors left the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the All Progressives Congress, APC in 2014, they had a leader. Maybe that move that contributed to the success of the APC at the polls as the then newly created party reaped from the migration didn’t matter.
Even among governors, there are leaders. That is why we hear positions like Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum or Southern Governors’ Forum or Northern Governors’ Forum or Progressives Governors’ Forum and so on. There are always firsts among equals anywhere we go. If not, we should not have one Senator or a Member of the House of Representatives or State Assembly leading other colleagues when they are/were all elected to the hallowed chambers by their people.
You may say I am giving examples that are statutory and/or creations of the law. So let me provide more scenarios which are not creations of the law. How many of us knew the name Bola Tinubu when a certain Major General Muhammadu Buhari was the Head of State in the early 1980s? We all know how that same General Buhari didn’t just stand behind Tinubu, but was also following him around before 2015 elections, for obvious reasons.
Even in Benue state, a certain Dr. Iyorchia Ayu was the Senate President when Samuel Ortom was Chairman of the then newly created Guma Local Government Area. We all know how that same Ayu was following the same Ortom and standing behind him (Ortom) just last year also for reasons we are all familiar with.
Should we talk about one Senator Akume who even worked as an aide to the same Iyorchia Ayu when he (Ayu) was a Minister? Can’t we remember that Dr. Ayu stood behind Akume at some point in his life for political relevance? The cases are legion.
The situation that has led to Ortom standing by Wike is even different. It is no way close to a scenario of a one-time superior becoming subservient to his former student. I am wary of bringing in internal issues of the PDP here. But we are all witnesses to the events that led to the emergence of the top leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP at the centre. Wike was the anchorman of a group of governors that bargained for something. Now they are aggrieved. So if anyone expects the Rivers State governor to step back and let others continue the crusade, then we are living in denial. That is the much I can say about the PDP internal matter.
As for governor Ortom, he has not done anything wrong by standing behind governor Wike who also stood behind him when he (Ortom) wanted to pull the strings in favour of his kinsman, a move that swung the pendulum towards Benue.
Governor Wike has proven that he is a true Benue son and that he is a chieftaincy titleholder in the state. That explains why when Governor Ortom approached him to support a Benue man (Ayu) for the PDP National Chairmanship job, Wike did not hesitate. He went all out to work for Ayu’s emergence.
How soon have some people forgotten how Governor Wike has shown true love to Benue State? He stood with Benue when doing so amounted to being politically incorrect. When the state came under herdsmen attacks and thousands of innocent people (including my village) were forced into IDP camps, Wike roared and warned the perpetrators of evil that Benue must not fall. He followed that up with the donation of 200 million naira to support the Benue State Government to cater for the IDPs. A market was gutted by fire in the state and Wike again sent N50 million to support those affected. That is not someone who will now turn around to witch-hunt a Benue man. What is happening in PDP must be divorced from parochial sentiments and viewed objectively.
Those who are going for Ortom’s jugular due to skewed insinuations that he is supporting those who are against his kinsman are only being clever by half as even governor Wike has not said he is out to go down with Dr. Ayu. The Rivers State Governor and his allies have made it clear that their grievances are towards the party, and not aimed at a single individual.
For the PDP, the five governors that are in the now popular “Wike Group” may seem inconsequential, but it is on record that five, that figure, *FIVE* was largely instrumental to the fall of PDP in 2015. Whatever needs to be done to avoid a repeat of 2015 should be done with the speed of light without much ado.
(Credit: Linus Hagher)
* Linus Hagher is an IDP from Mbagwen in Guma LGA, Benue State.