By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Makurdi, Benue State capital, stood still last Monday when Governor Samuel Ortom and his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, flagged off the campaigns ahead of the 2019 polls.
The occasion, which commenced with a rousing welcome for the governor from Abuja at the Agan toll gate, was a sight to behold.
The mammoth crowd led Ortom through the major streets of Makurdi in wild celebration while many tried to catch a glimpse of the man the people now refer to as the ‘Defender of the Benue people’ amid what many have come to refer as the crazy killings by herdsmen in the state.
The procession ended at the IBB Square where speakers took turns to harp on the import of having the PDP in power at the federal and state levels after the forthcoming elections to usher the country into an era of sustainable development and improved standard of living.
Addressing the rally, a former Senate President, David Mark, charged the people of Benue to demonstrate their love for the governor who stood with them at the peak of killings by armed herdsmen by giving him another term in office while voting massively for PDP candidates at the state and federal levels.
“It is time to say thank you to Governor Ortom with our votes because he has defended the people in the past three years. Let us reciprocate the gesture by voting him back to office and all PDP candidates in the election”, Mark said.
On his part, another former Senate President Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, who recalled “the glorious PDP days when Nigerians enjoyed dividends of democracy when prices of goods and services were at the reach of the ordinary man”, urged the people to return the good days by voting massively for PDP candidates in the elections.
Also speaking, Benue South senatorial candidate of the PDP and a former Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, observed that the people fared better under the PDP and asked Benue to stand firmly behind the governor and all PDP candidates at the polls.
The Benue South-West senatorial candidate, Mr. Oker Jev, cautioned the people against the antics of the APC but vote massively for Ortom who gave his all to defend the state and PDP candidates at all levels.
Former Governor Gabriel Suswam, who also addressed the mammoth crowd, said the APC-led Federal Government had shown clearly that it could not protect lives and property.
Suswam said, “In the election, what you have on the ballot is not APC, PDP or any party. It is the survival of our people. It is not about me, it is not about Ortom. It is about the survival of Benue and Nigerians so we must all vote PDP.”
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Benue State Chairman of the PDP, Sir John Ngbede, urged the people to embark on grassroots mobilization for Ortom.
“Governor Ortom is a candidate who has done well and demonstrated that he can be trusted and will lead the party to victory,” Ngbede said.
In his speech, Ortom pleaded with the people of the state to remain resolute in their voting pattern by keeping Benue in the hands of the PDP.
He said, “Let us vote to keep our home for us and for our children; let us unite with one voice and reject all manoeuvres aimed at putting Benue in the hands of individuals with questionable motives who are already changing the narratives of the Benue killings.”
The governor, who recounted his achievements in office, described the PDP as a political platform that gave birth to modern Nigeria.
He said, “Once again, thank you for the confidence you have in me. I was voted on the platform of the APC because my party refused to allow the will of God and voice of the people to prevail.
“But people who are meant to be together will always find their way back. They may take a few detours, but are never lost. I stand here today under the platform of the party that is a pathway; the party that has created and given birth to modern Nigeria.
“This party has repented, apologized and has been rebranded. PDP is a principled and disciplined party that is ready to change the change.
“As the Chairman of PDP Campaign in North Central States, I appeal to all of you to support our presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Let us all support him and his running mate so that they can bring Nigeria back to work.”
Convener of the Middle Movement for Justice and Peace, MBMJP, Comrade Joe Bukka, who spoke after the rally, said the choice was for Nigerians to make between an APC led government that has “proved incompetent to resolve Nigeria’s problems and a tested party like the PDP that placed the country on the path of sustainable growth and development in 16 years”.
“I have always told you that Governor Ortom unarguably remains a big voice for Benue and indeed the Middle Belt in present day Nigeria, even his opponents know it.
“His rejoining the PDP has provided him and the political gladiators in the state and indeed the geopolitical zone an iron cast platform to relaunch their political stake in this country and also give the ordinary man a stake in the country”.