The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, on Friday said the party would lose Benue State if it fielded Governor Samuel Ortom in the 2019 elections.
He said that party leaders in the Benue State APC had already given cogent and verifiable reasons for rejecting moves by Ortom to seek a second term in office.
Oshiomhole said apart from his failure to pay salaries, despite receiving billions of naira as bailout from the Federal Government, he was also trying to gain political capital from the Fulani killings in his state.
The APC national chairman made these allegations in an interview with journalists at the APC National Secretariat, Abuja.
He claimed that the governor, prior to his defection, told the party leadership that the state chapter of the APC had given him a “red card” to leave the party because they didn’t want to field him as candidate in the 2019 elections.
Oshiomhole said, “From the point of view of our leaders in Benue State, their position was clear. They believed that fielding Governor Ortom on the APC platform in the 2019 governorship election could only lead to electoral defeat for a number of reasons.
They reminded us that in spite of the allocations accruing to the state and in spite of the bailout, amounting to over N20bn, which they had received in two instalments of N10bn each, and in addition to the huge sums of money that the state collected from the Paris Club Refund, Governor Ortom has not, and is not paying salaries to workers as and when due.”
According to Oshiomhole, the party leaders in the state alleged that some of those who had been arrested over killings were associated with the governor.
He said, “For any man of honour, if an appointee of government is involved in heinous crimes, including killing, that should be enough for a governor to worry.
“Instead, Governor Ortom played up the ethnic dimension of criminality, whereas in truth, some of those who have been killed were not killed by Muslims; they were killed by Christians of Benue State origin, including those he employed.
“So, Ortom’s incapacity to manage it and even his willingness to seek to make political capital of the death of the Benue people is most unfortunate because I believe that even in politics, there should be a level of morality.”
In his response, Ortom, through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akasee, expressed surprise that barely one week after Oshiomhole described the governor as “a star of the APC”, he was now casting aspersions on the governor.
He said, “If Oshiomhole was a man of honour, he would have held on to his words when he described Governor Ortom as a star of the party. Governor Ortom did an amnesty programme, where thousands of youths were disarmed and over 1,000 arms were recovered.
“The same governor cannot turn round and arm youths to kill the people. Benue State has accused the Miyetti Allah group of the killings in Benue, but the APC-led government has not deemed it fit to invite those people for questioning.”