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Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has distanced himself from those calling for the removal of Iyorchia Ayu as the national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Ortom made his position on the issue clear in a statement issued by Nathaniel Ikyur, his Chief Press Secretary, maintaining that he has confidence in Ayu’s ability to lead the party to victory in next year’s general election.
The governor’s statement was in reaction to the allegations by Jemgbagh Development Association, Abuja that he was plotting the downfall of his fellow Benue man, Ayu.
Ortom’s statement goes in contrast to that of his ally, Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers, who leads a section of the PDP to which the Benue governor belongs to.
Since the fallout following the election of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the party ahead of Wike in May, Wike’s group has been insistent with their call for Ayu’s resignation as a condition for supporting Atiku in the presidential election.
Ayu in his statement said he worked tirelessly, alongside other prominent Benue citizens, to ensure that Ayu was elected “as the national chairman of our great party even against all odds”.
“The governor could not, therefore, turn around to work against him to be removed from office,” he said.
The statement further read, “Governor Ortom vouched for the integrity and capacity of Dr Iyorchia Ayu to lead and rebuild the PDP to victory and rescue Nigeria from the misrule of the APC maladministration. That is why Ayu was returned unopposed by the northern caucus of the party and got elected as the national chairman of the PDP at the party’s convention.
“Where was Jemgbagh Development Association, when Governor Ortom galvanised support from across the leaders of the party to make Dr. Ayu PDP’s National Chairman? What was their contribution to that project that they now want to use clannish stance to blackmail the governor?
“This amorphous and emergency Jemgbagh Development Association, Abuja, which has never been heard of before, is now masquerading as the voice of Jemgbagh to embark on campaign of calumny against Governor Ortom, who has worked selflessly for the people of Benue State.
“Governor Ortom is more Jemgbagh than most of the people claiming it now. This is fact, because he has done more for Jemgbagh, both in terms of appointments and projects executed as well as patronage in the area, than even one of the Jemgbagh sons, who was governor. Besides, Governor Ortom has consistently worked for the unity of Benue State and will never stand in the way of any of her citizens, either here in the state or in the diaspora
“For those, who claimed to be leaders of this Jemgbagh Development Association, Abuja, we urge them to be truly developmental in their drive to build cohesion among the people and attract real development to their area rather than engaging in mischief or blackmail.”