2019: Gov Ortom plans defection as rift with Akume deepens
All may not be well in the Benue State chapter of the All Progressives Congress as there are strong indications that Governor Samuel Ortom may likely dump the party anytime soon.
Our correspondent reliably gathered that the decision of the governor to quit might not be unconnected with the alleged plan to stop him from contesting the governorship race in the ruling APC.
It was gathered that the Presidency was not happy with the governor for confronting of the Federal Government on the killings in the state and had reportedly decided to replace him in the forthcoming governorship election.
The plan, according to a source, is said to have been executed at the APC’s top level by a leader of the party in the state, Senator George Akume.
An impeccable source told our correspondent that a one-time House of Representatives member, Mr. Emmanuel Jime, who was denied the ticket of the party in 2015, was being considered to fly the party’s flag in 2019.
The source cited the party’s recent national convention as a pointer to what is to come as T-shirts, posters and customised table water, bearing Jime’s name as well as mobile toilets bearing Jime’s posters for the Benue governorship election flooded the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Akume, whose influence had helped Ortom become governor in 2015, controlled the party structure from ward to state levels in the just concluded congresses.
Ortom had recently told journalists that he came to the party without a structure in 2015, hence he was not bothered about the development.
However, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that Ortom had constituted his campaign team at ward and local government levels comprising the names of his loyalists who were detailed to prepare for any eventuality.
One of the aides to the governor told our correspondent in Makurdi on Friday that members of the campaign team were those earlier pencilled to take control of party structure at ward and local government levels but who were denied.
He added that the same people were to take control of the campaign team which would be used when the governor decides to move.
The source said, “It is true that we don’t want to take any chances because it is clear that the chances of our principal to fly the APC’s flag in the forthcoming election are very slim. It is no longer news that the governor does not control the party’s structure and there was a glaring signal at the national convention in Abuja a few weeks ago where our governor was reduced to a mere spectator.
“His name was not even mentioned for introduction by the master of ceremony. His days in the APC are numbered; he is just waiting for the appropriate time to move. The campaign team we have constituted is in preparation for the plan to move.”
According to the source, the only delay for Ortom’s defection is the uncertainty around the party he is moving to.
“There is no specific party for now. That is why the governor is taking his time. But he is already establishing contact with the Social Democratic Party. Some of his supporters are already in the SDP, while chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party are also prevailing on him to join them.”
When contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Terver Akase, debunked the plans of his principal to defect.
“There may be disagreements between the two leaders, which is natural, but that has been put to rest. The issue of defection is not on the ground at all for now,” Akase said.
Similarly, the state chairman of the party, Abba Yaro, denied the alleged plans of the governor to defect, saying “he is going nowhere.”
When asked of the party’s plan to bring Jime as an alternative to Ortom, the party chairman said, “There is nothing like that. All those things he did at the Eagle Square in Abuja is a way of exercising his freedom. Let him come to Benue and tell us.”punch