Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on Tuesday appeared to withdraw his support for the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.
Mr Ortom accused the PDP candidate of dishonoring him as Governor and working against the interest of Benue residents.
His comments came after a group of elder statesmen in Benue, Minda Leaders of Thoughts, also withdrew their support for Atiku over alleged hate speech and profiling of Benue people.
Mr Ortom appeared to have been incensed over Atiku’s comments on the recent killings by suspected herdsmen in Benue state.
He accused Atiku of working with Miyetti Allah, a herdsmen group with a militant arm.
“It was not correct for a presidential candidate who is seeking to rule the people to say that kind of thing,” Mr Ortom said on Tuesday at the Chapel of Grace, Government House, Makurdi.
“It was very wrong. And it would appear that he doesn’t even reference me and consider me to be a Governor of my state.”
Mr Ortom also said Mr Atiku had sidelined him in selecting his presidential campaign team.
“I am not in his campaign team,” Ortom said. “The people they appointed there, no consent from me. So I’ll remain on my own. But I’m waiting; when the election comes, we shall vote the election according to the election.”
‘Ortom Is wrong’
Reacting to Ortom’s comment on Channels Television’s Politics Today, a member of the PDP presidential campaign team, Dele Momodu, faulted the Benue Governor.
“To label him an agent of Miyetti-Allah, that’s wrong,” Momodu said. “He can say anything about Atiku Abubakar, but to call him an agent of Miyetti Allah, I disagree vehemently with that.
“If you don’t want to support a man . . . it’s very easy to give a dog a bad name, in order to hang it. But it is wrong to disparage a man who has served his country meritoriously, who has done everything he could for every part of his country . . . but because you are playing politics, because you disagree with him, then you use such weighty words against him, well there’s always another time.
“I am telling you that even Governor Wike, who is supposed to be the angriest among them, because he participated in our primaries, he has not used such words against Atiku Abubakar.”
Mr Ortom is one of several PDP Governors who have decided not to actively support Atiku’s 2023 presidency bid.
Others include Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State.
Apparently led by Mr Wike, the group of Governors have called for the replacement of the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, with a Southerner.
They claim Ayu, a northerner, promised to resign if the PDP ticket goes to a northerner.
However, Mr Ayu has indicated he will not step down, at least until after the elections in February.