ORTOM: Benue people speak on defection, Buhari’s 2019 chances

 Image result for ORTOM: Benue people speak on defection, Buhari’s 2019 chances
 Finally, after much persuasion from majority of the stakeholders in the state, Governor Samuel Ortom midweek took a rather bold political step by defecting from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, after months of protracted face-off with the leader of the party in the state. Suffice it to state here that the governor’s defection did not come as a huge surprise to pundits who have been following developments in the state, particularly since the beginning of the year when the killing spree by herdsmen in parts of the state took a worrisome dimension leading to the gruesome murder of over 500 innocent villagers in close to 18 of the 23 local government areas of the state. Gov. Ortom of Benue State The overwhelmed governor and people of the state had no option but to cry out against the pogrom which saw blood of innocent
children, women including the pregnant and the elderly spewing from all nooks and crannies of the state. Indeed from the beginning of the year, aside the Agatu genocide, Benue never experienced such horrifying indiscriminate and brutal attacks which all boiled down to the quest for the Benue valley by marauding herdsmen. The killings came on the heels of the Benue open grazing prohibition law that came into effect last November 1 which herdsmen through the leadership of their various socio-cultural organizations at several fora vowed to vehemently resist. And on the new year day, the unimaginable happened, the revolt by herdsmen commenced and Benue became a killing field. While the people and their leaders cried and wailed for help and assistance from the federal government to quell the crisis, those whose responsibilities it were to check the killings rather looked the other way. Regrettably, human lives in the state were treated like a filthy rag that was meant for the gutters. The people daily buried their dead while many till date remained unaccounted for. Benue bled, the people sobbed and the federal government turned a deaf ear to their convulsive gasps. In fact, the defence minister attributed the killings to anti-grazing law and in what appeared to be justification of the killings he asked what they wanted the herdsmen to do if their routes were blocked. President Buhari visited the state and begged the Benue people to “accommodate your brothers” in reference to the herdsmen. In their litany of woes and the adamant refusal of the federal government to heed their cries the people themselves demanded for a mass burial of the over 73 persons killed in the new year day massacre in Guma and Logo local government areas of the state to attract international attention to their plight. The Ortom led administration was left with no option but to conceded to the demand of the people and a mass burial was organized for the identified victims of that massacre on January 11, which obviously did not go down well with the powerful forces in Abuja. That event and the subsequent outburst by the people and government of the state over series of killings that followed, in several communities marked the beginning of the end of Governor Ortom’s romance and political journey with the All Progressives Congress, APC, controlled federal government and powerful forces in Abuja. In fact, it was reliably gathered that on several occasions, the Governor was cautioned by these forces to keep quiet over the killings but he chose to keep crying even when these forces on several instances tried to justify the massacre in the Benue valley which the Defence Minister   Brig. Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (Rtd) blamed on the grazing law and blockage of cattle routes in the country. Dan-Ali outburst left the people with the conviction that the APC controlled federal government was complicit in their killings and continuous neglect. At a particular instance the governor said “I was told to stop talking and crying but how can I stop crying when my people are being killed on a daily basis? “I obviously cannot stop shouting and crying until the killings are stopped and my people get Justice, anything short of that will not stop me from crying out.” Curiously, from that point Governor Ortom fell out of favour with the APC led federal government and a desperate search for his replacement as the gubernatorial flag bearer of the APC in the coming general elections commenced but luckily the governor got wind of the plot and also put machinery in motion to outsmart his persecutors. And finally, Governor Ortom pulled a surprise, he dumped the the APC and pitched tent with his former party the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, less than 24 hours after 37 House of Representatives members and 14 senators defected from the ruling party. His action left his former party rattled. A critical look at the chances of Governor Ortom picking the governorship ticket of his new party and emerging victorious at the general election and the implication of the convulsion of the APC on the chances of President Muhammadu Buhari still having a firm grip on the north and the expected votes from the zone clearly showed that the APC has run into troubled waters that could eventually trigger its Waterloo if its leadership fail to make hey while the sun shines and that is if that window is still open. In his reaction, a former Minister of State for Education, Prof. Jetty Agada said, as regards Ortom’s chances in PDP, if you saw the way that man has actually stood his ground against the killings in our state you will know that it will give him advantage in any party he joins. “On President Buhari still having a grip on the North, the fact is that there is a way that man handles his political matters. It seems to me that he looks at himself as the only person who knows everything, while he looks at others as people who do not know what they are doing. “If not, right from the time people started talking of these defections, at least some measures would have been taken to avert them, but most of the time he was behaving as if it does not concern him, it was the same kind of behavior he put up when they were electing the leadership of the National Assembly earlier in the life of his administration. “He thinks because people were saying he is a man of integrity he does not think there is the need to do more to be able to maintain that integrity.” On his part, the Convener of the Middle Belt Movement for Justice and Peace, MBMJP, Joe Bukka said “if you recall, when we spoke some weeks back I told you that Governor Ortom cannot actualize a second term in office on the platform of APC if he remained in that party. “I strongly feel that his defection was the right move because majority of Benue people had urged him to do so and they cannot, at this time, abandon a man who gave his all, risking his life and office to stand for his people. “If Benue people fail to stand for Ortom at this critical time it will mean an aberration to fight in defence of your people. On the chances of President Buhari still having a firm grip on the North after the defections, Bukka said, “unfortunately, the inability of the President to shed his military mentality has become his albatross. “Nigerians believed in him but he has lost it all, more Nigerians are poorer today as compared to when he assumed office. Herdsmen have continually threatened the cooperate unity of this country and he chose to remain mute. “The fact is that the North Central will not be for him, his support base in the far North is currently divided and even the entire South is pained by the look warm attitude of the presidency to herdsmen killings across the country. In fact it will take more than a miracle to have Buhari win another term in office. Also speaking, a former Youth Leader of the APC in Benue South District and former Special Assistant to Governor Ortom on Youth Mobilization and Integration, Anthony Adah who resigned his position last September said the APC had failed Nigerians. “It will interest you to know that I resigned from the APC last September 25th., not because of my former boss Governor Ortom but because of the failure of the APC. “And as regards what is happening now, based on the cases of defections in the National Assembly, it will certainly affect Buhari negatively. “The reason it would affect him is before now, we thought that Buhari was a saint. Buhari was packaged and sold to us and we innocently believed in what was sold to us. “Even his northern brothers didn’t know exactly the kind of person he was especially this new generation who are not as old as those of us who knew him as a military dictator. “Now before he emerged, we all keyed into the packaging and felt that he was the messiah but today, even the northerners are aware that he is running a bad government. “Buhari is the reason APC will fail in 2019. The whole of Nigeria is aware that Buhari is a fluke. As it concerns Benue, there is no way any Benue man can vote Buhari. Look at our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers who have lost their lives all in the quest to acquire land for grazing. “And as it concerns Governor Ortom, he has come out to tell us the reasons he has been failing the state. As far as I’m concerned, we have some months to put him under probation to see whether he is telling us the truth or not. “If Governor Ortom does the needful as it stands today, we will see truly that the man did not tell us lies and that he was under duress. “And if in the next couple of months he is able to correct his shortcomings we will then know that the man was not lying and as such we will give him a soft landing in 2019 and support him to victory.”



Related Post