APC shocked over Samuel Ortom’s defection to PDP
APC National Publicity Secretary Bolaji Abdullah said: “The governor had left the (reconciliatory) meeting saying he was satisfied with the assurances given by party leaders. We are still working on giving effect to the resolutions from the meeting. Therefore, we are somewhat surprised by Governor Ortom’s decision.
“The party reiterates its earlier position that it respects the rights of every citizen to chose their political affiliation but expresses hope that those who have left the party will rescind their decisions.
“Even with this development, we don’t think it is too late for reconciliation. We have to continue to talk.
As long as people keep their minds open and have the courage to put the real issues on the table, reconciliation is still possible.
“We once again call on members across the country to remain calm as the party leadership continues to work hard to position the party strongly for the next general elections.”
A wave of defection in the National Assembly on Tuesday robbed the party of 14 senators and 37 members of the federal House of Representatives.
In what seemed a desperate move to stop the revolt, President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly held a meeting last night with all APC senators.
Ortom last week had declared that the APC handed him a “red card”, prompting the party’s national chairman Adams Oshiomhole to engage the governor in peace overtures.
But as he left Government House for Abuja yesterday to honour another leg of the peace parley, his convoy was blocked by hundreds of placard-carrying youths protesting his continued romance with the ruling party.
The youths, led by one Dave Ogbole, swore the governor must abort the mission or run over them.
They threatened that if he attended the meeting, he would be voted out in next year’s general election.
Ortom’s plea for passage and promise to consider their interests were rebuffed. He conceded, turned around and returned to base. Shortly after, he announced his defection.
At a meeting with the state’s 13 local government chairmen and 276 councilors in Makurdi, he said: “I have formally resigned from APC to PDP and have presented my letter of resignation to the party chairman of my ward.
The chairman and other officers of my ward also indicated their interest to join me in my new party. I am too young to retire from politics.
“I was in PDP and I discovered that my interest was not protected. That was why I left the party.
Now, I am in APC and I discovered to my dismay that my interest and that of my people are not being protected in the APC. The party has been hijacked and is being robbed by one man who is behaving like a dictator.
“But now that the PDP is rebranded and a lot of reforms are going on to ensure that the true tenets of democracy are observed, I feel that if I return to the party I will be able to add value to my people.
I intend to consult widely with other aspirants, most of whom are my brothers.
I do not have issues with them resisting my coming back to the party. The more the merrier. And I think we are stronger together.”
Ortom regretted that aggression against him persisted despite efforts by the national body of the APC to broker peace between him and some party members in the state.
He expressed dismay at alleged smear campaigns against him by the same people that endorsed him for a second term during the state’s party congress.
“I was the one that advised them to allow other people to contest for governorship with me, in line with the tenets of democracy.
They said they endorsed me because I performed creditably.
I wonder why the same crop of people are now criticising my administration.”
In separate remarks, the leader of the Councilors’ Forum, Tom Hanmaikyur and chairman, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Anthony Shawon, pledged on behalf of their colleagues to follow the governor to any party he picks.
They also promised to support the actualisation of his political dreams.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu meanwhile has opened up on one of the events that preceded Tuesday’s mass defection.
He had been invited to the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for questioning over alleged charges.
“I agreed to follow them but they were not eager to let me answer the invitation,” he told reporters.
According to him, the action was a ploy to keep him away from presiding over the widely anticipated defection.
Senate President Bukola Saraki was also stopped from honouring a police invitation but managed to evade the blockade.
He described the incident as a “decline in our democracy” and a “dangerous development”.
Also, the PDP and Social Democratic Party (SDP) have jointly criticised the current APC administration, saying Buhari is a common enemy who must be unseated in 2019.
SDP’s spokesperson Princess Goldba Tolofari told her PDP counterpart Kola Ologbondiyan when she paid a courtesy visit: “They (APC) are not democrats.
That is why things are deteriorating and we cannot watch and see things going the way they are.”
Ologbodinyan said the mission to rescue Nigeria was already on. He welcomed Ortom to the PDP and urged others to follow suit.
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