Former Governor of Benue state, Samuel Ortom, says former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2023 general election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is angry with him because of his membership of the G-5 Integrity Group, his insistence on a southern president and the enactment of the grazing law in Benue state, among others.
The former Governor in a statement issued Wednesday in Makurdi by his media aide, Terver Akase, was reacting to a recent statement credited to a Special Assistant on Public Communication to the PDP presidential candidate, Mr. Phrank Shaibu, who allegedly lambasted members of the G-5 group for working against the victory of the PDP Presidential candidate in the election.
In the statement, Mr. Shaibu had alleged that the G-5 governors were only seeking relevance, appointments, and protection from prosecution stressing that the decision of the G-5 governors not to support Atiku had nothing to do with patriotism.
Debunking the claim, Mr. Akase said: “We read a statement credited to the former Vice President and 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, claiming that the immediate past Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom and his colleagues in the G-5 worked against him during the last election but have ongoing corruption cases at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and are being protected by President Bola Tinubu.
“We are not sure that the Special Assistant on Public Communication to the PDP presidential candidate got his consent before making the statement; because if he did, he would have refrained from blaming the G-5 for his loss at the polls.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar ought to be worried more that he has gone into history as the first presidential candidate of a leading political party to be rejected by key stakeholders including five sitting Governors and many other members of his party.
“The question that should bother him is, why did the G-5 and other members of the Integrity Group reject his candidacy? The group stood for justice, equity and fairness that the 2023 presidency must go to the southern part of the country and Nigerians saw the indisputable facts contained in the position of the Integrity Group and voted for a presidential candidate from the south.
“Atiku is angry because Governor Ortom and his colleagues in the G-5 refused to be used by him as ‘Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs)’ to circumvent and thwart the resolve of Nigerians to produce a President from the southern region.
“Another reason for Atiku’s attack on Chief Ortom is the former Benue State Governor’s boldness to speak truth to his face and rebuke him for making unstatesmanlike comments regarding the killing of Benue people by Fulani herdsmen. Atiku is on record to have expressed bitterness towards Ortom for daring to enact a law to prohibit open grazing of livestock in the state.
“The former Vice President’s diatribe against Chief Ortom can therefore be understood as the manifestation of frustration for losing the 2023 election. His failure to humble himself and unite the PDP, opting to remain haughty even when the signals were clear that he was heading for defeat summarized his performance in the last election.”
“Atiku lacks the moral ground to accuse anyone else of corruption. The words of his erstwhile principal, the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo have remained indelible and incontrovertible.”
The statement referred to the book, ‘My Watch’ by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on pages 191-192 to buttress ex-Governor Ortom’s perception of the former Vice President.
According to Akase, “the role of anti-graft agencies is to investigate allegations of corruption. Whenever they invite someone, such a person has to honour the invitation. As a man who believes in the rule of law, Chief Ortom willingly visited EFCC when the Commission sought clarifications on the actions of his administration.
“We urge Nigerians to disregard the allegation by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar against the former Benue State Governor as it is unfounded and tantamount to cheap blackmail.”