By Peter Duru & Omeiza Ajayi
Makurdi —Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, yesterday, bade goodbye to All Progressives Congress, APC, saying the party had given him the red card over his insistence on implementing the open grazing law enacted to check the spate of attacks on the citizenry by alleged herdsmen.
The governor’s vow to remain with his people, irrespective of the dictates of party interest, was immediately countered by National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who said the party did not push out the governor as he alleged.
The governor has, however, not given indication of his next political party, though there were signals that he could pitch his tent with his former political party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
He said his decision was premised on the fact that the ruling party gave him “a red card” for standing and speaking the truth on matters that directly affected the people of the state, promising to always stand for the truth and his people.
The governor, who made this known during the inauguration of his new Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Jerome Torshimbe, in Makurdi, said: “That is the more reason we all need to come together as a people and not allow political party or ethnicity divide us.
“Many people have been asking that after dedicating the state to God we are still facing challenges, but I know that the God that saw the Israelites pass through the wilderness, and took them to the promised land will also see us through our difficult times.
“I know one thing, all these challenges that we see today, we shall see them no more. All that we are required to do is not to begin to be wayward in our conduct but to move to the righteous side of God. Once we do that, things will work out for our good.
“Looking at what is happening to us, sometimes I am tempted to think that we are dying like people who do not have God.
“But we must choose the path of working with God, obeying and serving him. If we do that and ensure that His values get into our hearts and we work with Him, development will be inevitable. Let us work and encourage those things that can develop us.
“As for party, I have been given red card and I’m outside the pitch. So, if I have been given 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, then I will tell the Benue people that I’m joining another football club. I’m a child of destiny and it’s only God that will decide what I will be.”
We didn’t push him out — APC
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja shortly after a meeting of the APC National Working Committee, NWC, National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, said the governor had on several occasions promised that he would not leave the ruling party except he was pushed out.
“I know that Governor Ortom is a very senior member of the party and he has said so repeatedly in print and has said to me one-on-one that he will not leave the APC unless he was pushed out.
“I have, since I assumed chairmanship of this party, along with my colleagues in the NWC, and I know for a fact that we have not shut out any governor and certainly not Governor Ortom. And in these days of social media, I will not be responding on the basis of rumours and unverified reports,” he said.