Leader of the G5 governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Samuel Ortom of Benue State, has accused Southern governors in the party of causing the collapse of the zoning principle in the main opposition party.
Conversely, he has hailed their counterparts in the All Progressives Congress (APC) for taking a decision to move the presidency to the South and standing by it.
Speaking in an interview with reporters on Thursday, he accused the Southern governors of chickening out after they had reached a decision to move the presidency to the region after eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari from the North.
However, he exonerated the PDP governors from the North who he said were too few to have changed the situation.
Speaking on the ongoing stance of the G5, he declared: “So, we are committed to issues of integrity, issues of fairness, equity, and justice. It is not new to anybody for me in particular, the governor in the north. When the southern governors met and said that, look for equity, fairness and justice, the presidency should go to the south, eight years of President Buhari. It is just natural fair, that it will go to the south.”
The Benue governor also insisted that the G5 is not in a dilemma over the choice of presidential candidate in the coming election, noting that if the national leadership of the party fails to bring the group back on board, the aggrieved state chief executives will align with presidential candidates they like at the coming election.
Ortom hinted that even if the problem with the G5 is resolved, he has a personal problem with the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who he accused of abandoning the people of Benue State when they were under the siege by armed Fulani herdsmen.
He said: “So, you can see that what is happening, my colleagues in G5, we all PDP members are most of us are contesting the election, except our chairman, Governor Wike. Am the leader but we have a chairman, who is not contesting elections, that is very passionate about the issues.
“But you see, I must say that I’m disappointed with some of PDP Southern Governors who chickened out, who sold out and chose to do something else. In the APC, all the governors in the north, have a majority. How many of us here in the north are PDP? We are just four. myself, Tambuwal, Bauchi and Governor of Taraba. But you see APC, I must commend them for fighting for equity, fairness and justice because they considered that the presidency should go to the south.
“Because mind you, Nigeria is a country with multiple ethnic groups, multiple religions, and multiple sentiments that at all times, we must be sensitive to ensure that we harness and try to marry all these things so that we live together. You know. And so, the APC governors came and said look, this thing should go to the south.
“During the convention, there were aspirants from the North. But even the northern delegates of the APC voted against them, those ones in the North, that look, we have said this thing should go to the south, this is how it should be.
“So, I’m really disappointed as you see me because for me when the Southern governors met and say, Look, we demand that presidency should go to us in the South, I came out the following day and added my voice and said yes, what they have said is true, let us do it. So, these are issues.
“That notwithstanding, arising from the convention that did not favour my candidate, Governor Nysom Wike, whom I thought was the best material for the presidency in this country, one zoning, in our party, the party appreciate zoning.
“There should be zoning. And the outcome, according to them did not…but there were issues that we were concerned needed to be addressed. This was not addressed. And we put it before the leadership and the leadership turned a blind eye and n abandoned it. We made efforts even on our own.
“As an elder, amongst the G5 and leader of the G5, I had admonished that we must tread with caution. Let’s give the leadership of the party opportunity to address these issues that we’re raising.
“So, there are many ways of killing the rat, am a Tiv man and I eat rats. Whether you set the trap, you can catch the rat. If you dig the hole you can catch a rat? If you pursue the rat around as you see, as you see it, you can get it to kill.
“So, there are many ways if you have the proactive leadership, a leadership that is humble. But when you treat people like they call us that ‘they are children.’ I mean, a man is 62, how is he a child? A man at 50, how is he a child? But none of us are less than 40 years. We are leaders in our own right. Our people elected us. You can’t just sit in Abuja and make this kind of a thing.
“So, no efforts by the leadership of our party have been able to address the issues that we are raising. They have not been able to adopt methods that will pacify and placate the G5, you know. This is not right. So, on the G5, that is where we are.
“Apart from the G5, I’ve had personal issues with the presidential candidate of our party. He has turned a blind eye to the sufferings and the plight of the people who elected me. I have cried for more than six years about the carnage, the frustration I have, and the terrorist activities of Fulani herdsmen, only for our candidate to go to Kaduna and say that he says a Fulani man, so, I should not complain when they are killing my people. I mean, this is unfair to me.
“So, for me, there are options in politics. I can decide to sit back and also turn a blind eye and not do anything at all. I can decide on the day of voting to go and vote for somebody I think can bring succour to me and my people. I can do that.
“So, but we have to be strategic. It’s not that we’re not stuck. We know what to do. In the end, if the leadership or party is not able to come out with strategies that also help to bring us back into the fold, we can decide to say okay, let everybody go and do the election according to the election. So, that is it.”
Governor Ortom stressed that the G5 had hoped that the PDP leadership would take advantage of the opportunity to resolve the grievances raised by the group in a give-and-take manner.
He regretted that instead, the party leaders have remained obstinate, arrogant and with the belief that they had won the election already.
Ortom argued: “I think we are on course as far as I’m concerned with our group. As faithful party men, we have given enough time. And we are told that the failed leadership at the national level will take advantage of the opportunity we have given them to address those issues.
“There are many ways of addressing issues even when you are not able to meet the demands of a group or individuals, you will find a way of meeting. And I will quote President Babangida who said a little to the left, a little to the right.’ And then you find the meeting place.
“Where people decide to be arrogant, where they decide to be mischievous and do things as if the other person does not exist and try to do some things with impunity, as if they have won the election, and they don’t need any other person, it becomes a problem.
“But an election cannot be won when the ballot is not cast. Because I know, as a veteran politician of over 40 years, most of these key actors you see today in politics, when it comes to the School of Politics, they are my subjects. They are my boys. I can lecture them, I saw them coming up and I participated in grooming them to be where they are today. I’ve been there since 1982. You know.
“The good thing about someone like me is that I started from the grassroots and I built myself from that level and I have gotten to where I am today.
“So, arrogance, impunity, mischief, will not really help matters. One will expect humility, it is said that you stoop down to conquer even if you want to make it. So, above all, politics is a game of interests.”
In Benue State’s gubernatorial election, he maintained that the candidate of the PDP, Titus Uba, emerged after an extensive period of consultation.
He stressed the need for continuity to enhance the development of ideas also put in place.
The governor stated: “As you see all of us at the national level state level, and even me going around in the manner that I have done within this period that you’re here, is because I’m also interested in something.
“When I’m contesting the election, and I want somebody that is familiar with the program that I’ve been doing to win the election. So that there will be continuity.
“You know, the government is a continuum. It is not just ‘soldier come soldier go.’ It doesn’t add much value when it happens like that. But if there is a development plan, that people are ready to follow it to the end, it will make more sense and it will add more value.
“So, politics is a game of interest. I’m interested. So, I cannot fold my hands and see somebody rubbish me. You can be older, you can be richer than me, you can be above me, but when it comes to this game, we are masters of the game. We played it. We have cases where we lost the election, we have this is where we won, but the ones we won are more than the ones that we lost.”