PDP in distress, says Ortom
This is not the best of times for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom admitted yesterday.
“I will not say that all is well with our party,” the governor said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Nathaniel Ikyu.
Ortom took a swipe at the PDP leadership for acting rather too late to resolve the rift between presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike.
He believes the failure to apply the existing internal conflict resolution mechanism to resolve the dispute over the continued stay in office of Dr. Iyorchia Ayu as PDP National Chairman created camps within the opposition party.
He blamed the lingering crisis on what he called the dithering of the leadership.
The Rivers governor rejected last Thursday’s resignation of the party’s Board of Trustee (BoT) chairman, Senator Walid Jibrin, as a condition for reconciliation with Atiku and the PDP.
On September 7, the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) passed a confidence vote in Ayu, a move that seemed to have foreclosed Ayu’s resignation.
But Wike declared the confidence vote cannot save Ayu, saying there would be no reconciliation until the party chairman resigns.
Chiding the PDP leadership for lack of a speedy reconciliation mechanism, Ortom, one of the allies loyal to the Rivers governor, said the party waited for the crisis to fester before taking steps to resolve it.
The governor observed that the PDP ignored its existing internal conflict resolution mechanism, which he said, the party leaders ought to have deployed to resolve the crisis long before the situation degenerated.
He said: “There are certain internal mechanisms that should apply to conflict resolution within the party.
“Some of these instruments should have been deployed long ago.”
Ortom urged further dialogue between the Atiku and Wike camps, adding that discussions were still ongoing among various stakeholders to resolve the crisis.
“Discussions are going at different levels away from the public eye, to ensure unity and oneness of purpose in the PDP, with eyes on 2023.
“I am very interested in ensuring that we discuss. I want us to have a win-win situation so that people will feel they have been carried along.”
Ortom said regardless of its present challenges, the PDP will reinvent itself in good time to defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 election.
He said the camp of the Rivers State governor was still open to discussions, adding that there were substantive issues to be thrashed out within the PDP.
Expressing optimism that the PDP will “cross the Rubicon”, Ortom however, said all was not well with the party at the moment.
He said: “I will not say that all is well with our party. The good thing is that we recognise the issues and we have generated dialogue in various ways.
“Engagement is what I have always encouraged. Everybody cannot be winning all the time.”
The governor stressed the need for the opposition party to unite ahead of the 2023 election to be in good stead to defeat the APC, stating that it remained a viable alternative.
He described the performance of the ruling party in the past seven years as “dismal and abysmal”.
According to him, the PDP now enjoys an overwhelming majority in the Benue House of Assembly.
He also explained that the blockage of access informed his media attacks on President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said: “We applied for a bailout of N42 Billion from the Federal Government to enable us to offset longstanding arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities.
“Some of these people scrambled to the State House to tell the President not to release the funds even after approval so that we will not take the credit for solving the age-long problem. This is the kind of mean-spirited attitude APC is inflicting on our people.”
The governor accused some unnamed APC leaders of denying him access to President Buhari for almost two years now.
He said that was the reason he has been channelling his messages to President Buhari through the media, although he would have preferred discussing with the President one-on-one.
“It is the very same people who have ensured my inaccessibility to the President. I said it before. It is now almost two years since I last saw the President. If I had access to him, I will prefer a one-on-one exchange with him.
“Since that is not possible, I go to the press. I must talk, I must express myself. I am holding this office in trust for several million people of Benue State. I am not here of my own volition.”