A friend of mine who I’m sure is conversant with discussions on social media on the defection of Chief Dr Samuel Ortom from PDP to APC called and asked me whether the former minister was morally justified.
After taking him down memory lane about events leading to the defection I answered that in my opinion he was.
Chief Dr Ortom had resigned his position as Minister of State, Industry, Trade, and Investment to seek the governorship ticket in Benue State on the umbrella of PDP platform where he came third in the primaries and thereafter defected to the broom where he picked it.
Before his entry into the APC that party had five governorship aspirants engaged in a struggle as to who would emerge as flag bearer among them.
In the umbrella there were 20 but only eight ended up at the finishing line with Chief Dr Ortom in the third position.
The PDP had earlier fixed its primaries for 29th November, 2014 before that of the APC which was scheduled for December fourth.
However, the umbrella revised its time table and moved the governorship primaries to eight December foreclosing any chance of any of its losers moving over to the broom which must have concluded the exercise before that date.
Like the Biblical story of Lazarus and the rich man a big chasm had been fixed such that none could cross over from either side to the other.
But that was as far as man was concerned.
Did the former Minister contrive this arrangement? Certainly not.
Flashback to pre primary events.
At a PDP state congress held in Makurdi shortly before the ward congresses of first November this year Governor Gabriel Suswam who holds the reins of the umbrella in Benue State extracted a commitment from gubernatorial aspirants on oath that they would support whosoever emerged as party candidate.
Chief Dr Ortom and one other aspirant refused to take the oath and insisted that they would submit to the decision of the party on the condition that the process was transparent, free, and fair.
It is common knowledge that the PDP ward congresses could be anything but lacking those three elements as the larger percentage of party members were disenfranchised with the deliberate objective of excluding or putting some aspirants including the former Minister at disadvantage.
Chief Dr Ortom and a few other aggrieved members took up the matter with the national leadership of the party to no avail.
At this juncture stakeholders of his governorship project across the state advised him to seek an alternative platform and mandated him to open discussion with other political parties which he did but later retreated when umbrella leaders promised to address his his concerns butthat subsequently never did.
The unprecedented intimidation and inducement of delegates through the pecuniary to vote for an anointed candidate and how the PDP primaries were won and lost has now become history.
In the evening of December ninth stakeholders of the Ortom Governorship Organization met with him and reiterated their earlier suggestion that he should seek an alternative platform having exhausted opportunities in the umbrella.
The groundswell of opinion was that there were only two options: to go with the broom or a virgin platform.
The window in the APC still existed on account of a curious twist of events.
One of the broom’s gubernatorial aspirants had gone to court and obtained an injunction which restrained the party from conducting its primary on the grounds that he had been excluded from the exercise.
The injunction which was later vacated following an order that the aggrieved aspirant be included was followed by a litany of others from some of the other five aspirants on various grounds such that the party stood the risk of not submitting any name for the governorship election within the INEC timetable since the injunctions had made the conduct of the primaries difficult.
Was the former Minister responsible for the injunctions? Not at all.
However, at the time he emerged on the scene everything seemed to be in his favor.
The APC had amended its constitution to provide fertile grounds for new members to contest elections the very day they get into the party.
It had also made room for consensus candidature.
Those conversant with politics know that consensus within a party resides in the realm of major stakeholders with or without aspirants for various elective offices.
If they chose him what wrong did he do? None.
Chief Dr Ortom did not collect the mandate previously give to any other aspirant in the APC. The leaders of the party chose him to fly its flag based on their assessment of his electoral value.
He may not have been a member of the broom but had played politics with most of the stakeholders in that party for decades and they could repose confidence in him.
They know the stuff he is made of even as they also weighed the other aspirants and preffered him.
The political history of the state is replete with a list of politicians who defected from one party to another and won the mandate of the people.
There is therefore nothing shameful, despicable, immortal or ungodly in Chief Dr Ortom’s defection.
It’s a deft political move not a shameful act.