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The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom has alleged that the embattled National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, was presently mounting smear campaigns and blackmail against his office and person over his support for the call on him to resign and save the party further crisis.
The Governor made this allegation Sunday when he appeared before the kinsmen of the embattled National Chairman who are members of the PDP, under the auspices of the Jemgbagh PDP Elders Forum comprising leaders from Gboko, Tarka, and Buruku Local Government Areas, LGAs.
According to a statement issued in Makurdi by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor, Nathaniel Ikyur which was made available to Africa Daily News, New York the meeting was at the instance of the Elders who sought to get clarifications on the cold war between the Governor and Dr. Ayu following calls by the G-5 Governors led by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and other notable leaders of the party that the National Chairman should resign.
While giving details of what has now formed the basis of the current crisis, the Governor dispelled insinuations that he was pulling down a Jemgbagh son stressing that he actually rallied support for the election of Senator Ayu against all odds.
He said he was being intimidation and blackmailed over his senatorial ambition because of his stance for justice and fairness and call on Dr. Ayu who is from the same senatorial zone with him, to resign.
Governor Ortom noted that because he was contesting for the Benue North-West Senatorial district seat, he had become a subject of intimidation and blackmail by some Jemgbagh stakeholders as a result of the internal crisis rocking the party with Dr Ayu as the helmsman.
Governor Ortom maintained that ‘power is given by God and no one should blackmail me because of my senatorial ambition. Nobody should think he will intimidate me because of the senate election. If God ordains me to be elected Senator for the Benue North-West Senatorial zone, no amount of blackmail or intimidation can prevent me from winning.’
He recounted that following the post-PDP Presidential convention with emerging internal wranglings, he advised Dr. Ayu to reach out to aggrieved leaders of the party and plead for their understanding over calls for his resignation. “But rather than take my counsel, he chose to take the path of disuniting the party by his actions and utterances.”
The Governor insisted that the National Chairman did not maintain neutrality in handling the affairs leading to the PDP national convention, which produced Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the party.
He stressed that ‘Ayu himself committed to resigning should a northern presidential candidate emerge at the northern caucus of the party at the Bauchi State lodge.’
He wondered why Dr Ayu had now reneged on his promise which he voluntarily made before all the northern leaders of the party.
The Governor told the Jemgbagh stakeholders to also invite Senator Ayu and himself to a meeting so that they could both present their positions on the matter insisting that despite the betrayals, intimidation and blackmail, he would continue to stand for justice for his people.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Jemgbagh PDP Elders Forum, Sam Tsumba assured that the Forum would invite Senator Ayu and Governor Ortom to further find a way to resolve the conflict.