Peoples Democratic Party governorship aspirant in Benue State and Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Dr. Samuel Ortom rounded up consultations on his aspiration with traditional rulers and
PDP stakeholders across the state after which he spoke with journalists on the experiences from his tour and other issues. Excepts:-
What kind of reception and responses did you get from the people you consulted?
First of all I want to thank the Almighty God for granting me the ability and capacity and also the grace to go around the entire Benue state in the course of my consultation. The reception I received in all the zones were really overwhelming. I underrated the good will that I have with people until I went to these places. I am overwhelmed and I am really grateful to Almighty God for counting me worthy to be a Benue son and the tremendous goodwill that I have generated with the people. The Bible says that a man can receive nothing except it is given to him from above. So I believe that if God has not granted me the grace to be able to generate this goodwill, I wouldn’t have had it. There were instances that when the people spoke and tried to trace my history and what I am to them, I wept because it really touched my heart. I can begin to see that even before getting nominated and getting elected into the office, I can see the magnitude of the confidence that the people have in me and I can continue to pray that by the grace of God; if I am eventually chosen by God through the people. God should also give me the grace not to disappoint them because I can see that there is so much confidence that I have generated with the people. And I can only pray that God would help me.
Looking at the faces of politicians that you consulted, did you see reality in what they were saying?
Of course, it is true that if you ask all the aspirants they will tell you that everywhere they go, they are overwhelmingly received. But as an experienced politician, we have our own ways of getting back to know whether those people are saying the truth or not. I can see a lot of sincerity to a certain level and very high degree of commitment from the people. One thing that was notable in all the places that I went was the quality and caliber of people that came to receive me. I have testimonies of people coming to tell me that look, this man that is here today or this woman that is here, for the past so many years, we have not seen him come out for a political gathering and his presence here alone shows that you are God-sent; you are ordained by God to take-over the mantle of leadership in the state. For us experienced politicians you don’t just stop at that, you still go back and ask because what people tell you in your face, they may go back and be saying a different thing. It is generally believed that the average politician is a liar, he doesn’t say the truth, but this is what I seek to change. That is why I’m saying that as Governor I will seek to rule with the fear of God which will usher in transparency, equity, justice, fairness, humility, selflessness, accountability, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace and unity. Once you have these in place, I can assure you that Benue State will develop in an unprecedented manner because everybody will be working together towards achieving one goal and that is what we need – to be united to do it. I always tell people that for us in this world God has made it in a manner that everyone on the face of the earth has a unique talent that God has endowed him or her with. But this unique talent does not mean you have monopoly of doing everything. I don’t claim to have monopoly of knowledge. I need you and you need me, so life is complimentary and we must support ourselves. So if we come together with diverse talents that God has endowed us with then we’re able to harness them and put them together and I can assure you, the result will be wonderful.
How will the PDP manage the influx of people into the party from the APC?
I want to say that good leadership is very important. On this note I want to commend the Governor of Benue State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon Gabriel Suswam, who is our leader, and also appreciate him for creating an enabling platform for the APC to collapse and for members of that party to join the PDP. What I know about my Governor is that he is level headed and is also ready to provide a platform that is transparent, a platform that is anchored on truthfulness, a platform that is anchored on fairness and that is what the people need. I know that everybody knows the truth and wants the truth just like the Bible says that you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. If you anchor everything on truthfulness, when you are fair, when you are transparent, when you ensure that there is equity and fairness like the Governor is doing; providing a level playing field for every aspiring person to come in and feel that yes I’m part of this then there will be no problem. As long as the Governor continues to give us a leadership that he is giving us by ensuring that we have a platform that enables everyone to perform without being short-changed, without feeling sidelined or cheated, things will work out. And I believe that the Governor has the capacity to do that. So managing the gains will be anchored on the fear of God and true leadership and fairness and that will make everything easy thereby allowing democracy to prevail. The whole thing is about allowing the people to decide; democracy is about the people, at least, majority of the people. Even where there
are disagreements, once majority of the people say yes, this is what we want, it is allowed to prevail because it is a free world.
Democracy is about freedom, about freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of deciding who you want and we must allow it to play out. Where it is not manipulated things will work out and I trust that our Governor has the capacity, he has demonstrated it before and even in this gubernatorial contest. You can see that even though this is an election that will produce somebody who is going to take over from him, he has allowed everybody to participate until the people decide. Consequently he has maintained that he as the Governor will not sit alone and decide who will take over from him but that the people will have to decide. And as long as that is done there will be no problem because that is the best way to do it. In an undeveloped state such as ours we don’t need crisis that will encourage people to wage wars against one another. We need to put Benue State first. We should be thinking of what we can do, everybody must be thinking of what he or she can do to improve the lives of our people – how we will bring development to the people. We need to partner with one another and where we cannot do it we will call on the person who has the capacity to assist us. Once we put Benue State first, things will naturally flow and everybody will be happy.
Some aspirants have expressed desire to partner with one another,
what’s your reaction?
I think there’s no problem at all. I have been in this game for a very long time. All these people, I know them, they’re my friends, we have personal contact and we’ve been talking and we believe that everybody has the right to express himself, to associate, to contest or to aspire as the case may be. Everybody is free to do that. The former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mike Aondoakaa, SAN, who sent a representative to my occasion in Adikpo, we are friends and we are always saying that we have Benue State at heart and he believes that if it is not me, it should be him and vice versa. I think that is fair enough. The same thing also applies to the Vandeikya people. They told me that yes, if the Tiv people have conceded that for now the governorship should come from Minda axis, they will unanimously support me and that I should support them if the majority says it’s the turn of Jechira. I’m happy that the Tiv people have conceded that the governorship should come to the Minda axis, that’s a welcome development. I’m aware that other people from Minda are also aspiring and that is also a welcome development. We’ll continue to dialogue, that’s what democracy and its beauty is all about. I know also that in the Zone C axis too we have our brothers there who are contesting and they’re free to do that. But above all, I want to say that John 3: 27 says a man can receive nothing except it is given to him from above. I believe that at the end of the day whosoever that God ordains that should be there, we will not fight. I don’t believe in violence in getting to any position. After all, from where I’m coming from, from the lowest ebb in my life to where I am today, it has been without fights. So if God wants me to be Governor, I shouldn’t be fighting anyone and that is what I’ve told my supporters. You don’t need to insult anyone, you don’t need to fight, you don’t need to tear down anybody’s publicity material. You don’t need to go about casting aspersions on people. All that you need to do is kneel down and pray as well as appeal to the people to support us. At the end of the day we need all to come on board so that we don’t need to be at logger heads with one another because of election. What is important is not even the nomination, what is the ultimate is the election itself. You can win nomination in any party but what is important is whether you can win the election. So, I feel that we should continue working together in the manner that we are doing. Again, that is why I want to commend the Governor of Benue State for providing us a peaceful platform and constantly advising us that even as aspirants, we should be dialoguing, we should be talking together knowing full well that at the end of the day, only one person would be nominated and then the election will come in. When you are nominated, you need everybody to come on board and work with you. So it is a welcome development and I am happy that there is no violence; throughout my consultation in the state, I have not noticed any violence or people attacking me or my people attacking others. So it is a good thing. I have been going around with a long convoy during my consultations and I know it caused some form of nuisance to some people who met on us on the way trying to get to their destination. I want to apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused to such people. I actually tried trimming it but sometimes it was impossible. Even where people parked their cars and joined buses, the buses became filled and people had to come with their cars thus constituting the long convoy. I am sorry if I offended anyone in the course of the tour.