The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Wednesday, said his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, and others who backed Wike for the Peoples Democratic Party vice-presidential ticket slot deserve a detailed explanation from the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
This is even as he also said he had resorted to fast and prayers to seek God’s direction after the emergence of Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as the running mate to Atiku ahead of Wike.
Ortom, who said this during an interview on Arise TV on Wednesday morning, said it was surprising that Atiku could jettison the recommendation of 14 out of 17 members of the committees that recommended Wike as his running mate.
Otorm also accused the Federal Government of crippling the state financially, hence its inability to pay outstanding salary arrears.
He said because the federal government has deployed Fulani militants to attack farming communities in Benue, and with at least 1.5 million locals in internally displaced peoples camp, the state now lacks enough internally generated revenue to support itself.
He said his attempts to seek loan to offset the backlog of salaries owed the state’s civil servants, were blocked by the federal government which he claims hates him for exposing their alleged atrocities.
But, Atiku had after announcing Okowa as his running mate clarified that he picked the Delta governor because he had the qualities to be a President, adding that he “is a President-in-waiting.”
His word:, “In arriving at the decision, I held wide consultations with various stakeholders in our party including our governors, the national working committee, board of trustees, and other leaders to seek their inputs and their wisdom.”
“In these consultations, I made clear that my running mate would have the potential to succeed me at a moment’s notice, that is, a president-in-waiting.
“In other words, the person must have the qualities to be President. The person must have an appreciation of the deep rot which our country has been put into by the rudderless APC (All Progressives Congress) government; understands the great suffering that most of our people are going through and the urgency of relieving them of that suffering; understands the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.”
Reacting to Atiku’s choice of Okowa on Wednesday, the governor said Wike deserved his current vacation in Turkey after what he went through.
He said though Okowa was not a bad choice, he believed Wike was the right man for the job owing to his character, capacity and intellect.
He said, “My friend Wike deserves the vacation after what he has gone through. Some of us believe he (Wike) has the capacity and Charisma to lift this country from bottom to top compared to what has been happening. We have been taken from the top in 2015 to the bottom since this present administration came into power.
“Some of us believe that Wike has the capacity but Nigerians or let me say the PDP people did not give him the opportunity. Some of us rooted for him. I was amongst the 17-member committee that was set up by the candidate himself and the party and some of us said that for the vice presidency of the party, we needed Wike to be the vice president so that he can bridge the gap.
“We (the committee) said it does not matter whether he supported the presidential candidate or not, all we are looking for is unity and how we can make things work. Unfortunately, it was said that it is Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who is also a PDP member. And that is the wisdom of the presidential candidate.
“Some of us have resorted back to prayers because I am really confused. I felt that Wike would have been the vice-presidential candidate of the party after losing the presidential ticket to Atiku. He was the second person to Atiku and Wike has the charisma.
“All of us have our weak spots. Wike can be ‘something something’, but when it comes to mobilisation, impact, value addition and reaching out, and making sure that the party works, Wike is an instrument. Wike is somebody who stood for the party and makes sure that things work.
“So, for some of us, we believe in him but unfortunately, it was somebody else and it doesn’t matter because the party is supreme. But for some of us, now I have resorted to prayers and if you haven’t seen me in Turkey, it is because I am praying.
“I have resorted to prayers: Lord God, where do we go from here? Where is our country going and what is our problem? I tell you as a Christian, that I believe that power belongs to God. John 3:27 says “A man can receive nothing except it is given to him from above”. If God says it is Atiku and if God says it is whoever, that is all.”
When asked if he supports Atiku, he said, “I told you I am praying. I have gone into hibernation and I am fasting and praying. So, in the end, if God directs me to support Atiku, why should I not do it? After all, he is my party man.
“But I am waiting for him (Atiku) because there are more things he is expected to do. I expected him to reach out to Wike who came second and he denied him the popular view of PDP members. 14 out of 17 members say that Wike should be the VP but in his wisdom, he chose Governor Okowa. Governor Okowa is a nice man and my friend and I have no problem with him. But if we are in a democratic era, and 14 people out of 17 said that it should be Wike, and he (Atiku) in his wisdom gave it to Okowa, I expect more explanation, I expect him to talk to Wike first, I expect him to even reach out to some of us so that together we can work as a party.
“But the bottom line for me is that I have gone into hibernation and I am praying and at the end, whatever God directs me, I can assure you that I will do it.”
The governor continues to blame the Federal Government of sympathizing with the terrorists wrecking havoc on Nigerians.
For the umpteenth times, Ortom reiterated the claim that the federal government is not innocent of the atrocities being committed by the terrorists whose objective he said is to appropriate Nigeria as a land for all the Fulani people in Africa.
Ortom said the banditry in Zamfara, Kaduna and his home state, Benue, enjoys the blessings of the federal government. He said the aim is to dispossess the indigenous landholders and replace them with Fulani occupiers.
Hear him: “There was an attempted assasination on me and the people arrested were released, while innocent people, including my cousin and a Jukun fisherman are being prosecuted. That is their stock in trade.”
He added: “Go to Zamfara and see where the Fulani people are taking over lands of the native Hausa people. Is it in Kaduna where the Fulani people are taking over the lands of the indigenous Christian community?