- 13 PDP aspirants negotiate exit to APC
By SUNDAY ODIBASHI
The crisis in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Benue State that erupted with the return of Governor Samuel Ortom from the All Progressives Congress, APC, has gone out of control. National Daily findings indicate that the national leadership of the PDP in Abuja has stalled all opportunities of negotiations and trade offs to accommodate the interests of all party stakeholders in the state. Accordingly, the other 13 governorship aspirants have, in unity, resolved to quit the PDP for the All Progressives Congress, APC, in protest of the imposition of Ortom as consensus candidate by the national Secretariat.
After the former President of the Senate, David Mark, ceded the PDP leadership and handed the party structures to Ortom at a stakeholders meeting in the first week of September in Makurdi, the State Executive was reorganized to pave way for party control by Ortom who appointed his loyalists into the leadership structure of the PDP in Benue State. Subsequently, the PDP leadership conceded the nomination of two of the three delegates expected to be elected from every ward to the state congress to elect the governorship candidate of the party in the state to Ortom, leaving one slot for the rest members of the party. These consents were to accommodate Ortom on his return to the PDP.
Unfortunately, prior to earlier PDP resolution for open primary election, the party leadership in Abuja resolved to impose Ortom as sole candidate of the party in Benue State, insisting on issuing the incumbent governor automatic ticket for the 2019 governorship election in the state.
The 13 PDP governorship aspirants in Benue State had engaged the party leadership in Abuja on consultation since Monday. They had insisted on participating in primary election even if they lose, assuring that they will be satisfied with the process, the outcome not withstanding. But they were told that the decision to issue automatic ticket to Ortom and field him as PDP consensus candidate was made by the PDP National Executive Committee, NEC, and is irreversible. Former Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, was said to have represented the NEC at the consultation meeting in Abuja to convey the position of the NEC.
Indeed, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State was said to have told the 13 aspirants clearly that the party has given the governorship ticket to incumbent Governor Ortm for the 2019 governorship election in Benue State.
Four of the 13 governorship aspirants had withdrawn from the race in protest of the NEC decision.
The other nine aspirants after failure to convince PDP leaders to conduct primary election, resolved to negotiate their exit from the PDP, seeking new alliance with another political party.
National Daily learnt that the nine aspirants have commenced negotiation with the APC in Abuja after the PDP horse trading failed. The negotiation which started on Wednesday continued on Friday and they are expected to reach an agreement this weekend.
The nine PDP aspirants may move as a team to the APC if they get a better deal. They had earlier resolved within themselves to support a particular aspirant at the primary of any political party that absorbs them. Perhaps, this is the danger Ortom and PDP leaders were trying to avert but they threw the governor and the party into deeper danger.