Thirteen governorship aspirants on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections in Benue State have kicked against the imminent return of Governor Samuel Ortom to the party.
The governor, a former member of the PDP, hinted last week he may be leaving the ruling APC. He said the party had issued him a ‘red card’.
The governor later told journalists at the All Progressives Congress (APC) secretariat after meeting with the party chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, that he was still in the party.
The aspirants, while addressing a press conference in Abuja, noted they were ”not against the return of defectors but against the return of people with negative values”.
The aspirants under the umbrella of the Forum of Governorship Aspirants, vowed to resist any attempt to disrupt the internal democratic process in the state chapter.
The group said efforts must be intensified to “nip in the bud” what they called the ”plot to shortchange the party’s executive in the state”.
The chairman of the forum, David Ker, said the PDP had promised free and fair primaries, adding that anything short of that would spell doom for it.
“We reiterate that a level playing field for a free, fair and transparent primary election which has been promised us by the Benue State leadership of the PDP remains the only option by which the party could credibly and successfully nominate a governorship candidate in the 2019 governorship election if indeed the party is serious at recapturing power from the present APC-controlled government in the state,” he said.
“While we may not oppose any group or individuals from joining and participating in the affairs of the party in the state, we are strongly opposed to a purported unilateral decision to dissolve the executives of the party at all levels in the state to accommodate or give undue advantage to any group or person angling to join the party.”
One of the aspirants, John Tondu, said the governor, ”has no electoral value to make the PDP the party to beat”.
“The governor of Benue State today is a liability, not an asset. He is not welcome.
“Because of the love we have for the people of Benue State, anything that will cripple our plan to take over the state should not be tolerated,” he said.
Also, Terhemen Tarzoor, the state PDP governorship candidate in the 2015 governorship election said Governor Ortom’s credibility has ”reached an all-time low, having been shown the ‘red card’ by the APC”.
“We are sensitive to the value and character of the people joining the PDP. We won’t sit down and watch people of negative value join the party; someone who has not paid salaries for one year and four months. When a person is chased out of a party, it speaks much about that person and what he represents.”
Other governorship aspirants at the briefing were: Paul Orhii, Gabriel Nyitse, Felix Atume, David Iorhemba, Stephen Hwande, Eugene Aliegba, Tor Iorapuu, Richard Gbawuan, Kenneth Iyo and Simon Anchaver.