Shortly after his victory at the Peoples Democratic Party governorship primary election, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue spoke on his emergence as the party’s flag-bearer, the prospects of his victory in the forthcoming 2019 general elections and godfatherism in Benue politics.
How does it feel to emerge the candidate of your party the PDP despite initial fears that you might not get the ticket?
Like our slogan goes, ‘In God We Trust’ and I have always said, as stated in the Bible in John 3:17, a man receives nothing except it is given to him from above. So for me, I am with the Benue people and Benue people are with me. My policies are very popular amongst the people. And of course I have chosen to work with the people. What I want is what the people want and that is why I’m confident. In all my policies and programmes the people are with me and I have nothing to hide.
I have ensured that I am transparent in all I do, I am leading with the fear of God. Issues of fairness, equity, justice, accountability, transparency and trying to bring the people together are paramount to my administration. You always see me in Benue unity cap because with it I pass a message to the people that we are greater when in unity. I am encouraged by the way Benue people have always responded to me anytime I call them irrespective of party affiliation. I deeply appreciate Benue people for their show of love to me.
Some aspirants stepped down for you before the commencement of the primary election, how did the party leadership achieve that?
As they said when announcing their decision to step down, our leaders jointly spoke to us and they decided that it was appropriate for me to continue as a serving governor. No doubt they are also qualified to vie for the position. But in their magnanimity, they decided that since the constitution allows me two terms, they agreed that I should be supported to complete my two terms. I appreciate them.
For me, my victory is for all of us, we shall all work together because it is their desire to add value to the development of Benue state, so their ideas will also be extended to me. I will drive it while they support, this will assure that a greater Benue state is achieved. I also commend the delegates for re-electing me as the party’s candidate, I will ensure unity among party members for the progress of PDP.
I also urge our party men and women who lost in the various primaries to support the party’s candidates that won so as to ensure our victory in the 2019 general elections. Politics is about victories and defeats which is the beauty of democracy and it allows us ample time to build and consolidate on our previous achievements in order to prepare for tomorrow. So in actual sense, in this contest, no one is a winner or loser but we are all bounded by the victory and defeat of our fellow party men and women which propels us to greater heights and successes in future.
So having this at the back of my mind, I will ensure that I carry all the aspirants along for the growth and development of the state for the future generations to benefit and feel the impact of our administration.
I also commend our stakeholders, elders and members of the party both at the state and national levels for their overwhelming support and I want to state that we must all join hands to place the state on a pedestal of sustainable growth and development.
I must state that Benue state has had enough of security challenges, economic challenges and anti social vices, I have invited my fellow contestants to be part of what I am doing now, during the electioneering campaigns and after the elections to transform the state to the dreams of our founding fathers. I will continually carry all stakeholders along in tackling the insecurity challenges in the state in order to ensure safety of the lives and property of our people.
I must state that no doubt my sojourn in the APC was a terrible experience. In that environment it was difficult for me to exhibit my leadership qualities. Today, I am back to where I truly belong. I am now free from the encumbrances of political god fatherism that almost ran our state aground.
No doubt my victory here today marks the end of god fatherism in Benue state. Like I said sometime past, I am not prepared to be a political god father to anyone since I lack the powers to ascribe such a position to myself because no one gets anything except it is given to him by God. So why should a man created by God resort to playing god. With God on my side, like I have always quoted the Bible, greater is the end of a thing than the beginning. That is my driving force. We have had our challenges from a biting recession to herdsmen killing which threw spanners in the works of our development efforts but I know one thing and I can assure Benue people that at the end of my tenure in 2023 Benue will be greater and our people will have every cause to celebrate my administration.
As 2019 beckons, what do you think are your chances, what are the prospects of the PDP in Benue state?
For me, it is not about what I will get for myself, it is what the Benue people will get. Their desire is top most in my heart, their desire supersedes whatever personal interest that I have. And so at all times I am at home with the Benue people.
I have spoken to the Christians and Moslems in the state, I have also spoken to the traditional rulers and the civil servants of our state. They appreciate the fact that all the security and economic challenges were not created by our administration. And they know that it is not the fault of my administration and I appreciate them for reading between the lines. They are all cooperating and working with me. I have spoken to all stakeholders and they too are in tune with me and they need me to continue to be able to stabilize the state and address the various challenges that we have in order to place the state on a pedestal of sustainable development.
Benue people know where our problems are coming from and they are willing to resist anyone that the architects of our problems would want to use to further aggravate the condition of our people.
I am in the PDP today because it is a party that has rebranded after apologizing to Nigerians, that is humility, that is a complete departure from what is obtainable in our country. It was a party that held this country together despite its perceived flaws, which is not peculiar to the party and gave us a buoyant economy where the prices of goods and services were affordable and at the reach of the common man.
But all that achievements were eroded by what we have today as a government. So Nigerians would want a re-enactment of those glorious days and that is why I have no doubt that come 2019 PDP will emerge victorious because we have tasted both sides and we have seen that the difference is clear.