Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, in this interview, speaks on state of the nation and defection of PDP governors to All Progressives Congress, APC, among other issues.
Some governors elected on the platform of your party have defected to All Progressives Congress, APC. Don’t you think the development will affect the chances of PDP in 2023?
I have been in this game since 1982 which is about 40 years now. You always see this type of drama. Some people are afraid of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. That is why they are defecting to APC. Recall that a former Chairman of APC once said that if you defect to APC, your sins are forgiven. The PDP has refused to offer that kind of kangaroo forgiveness of sins. But I have always told people to do the right thing. Some are running away from the PDP because they are afraid of prosecution. That is why they are running away from the PDP to APC.
But we must all realise that there is no hiding place for any criminal or thief. The eye service you see happening around, when the day of reckoning comes, nobody will stop the authorities from fishing out whoever has committed a crime in this country. That is why I have always said that prevention is better than cure. I have resolved that I will better go back to my village as a farmer than get myself involved in anything that is questionable. That is also why I try as much as possible to be decent in the handling of the finances and other things of government. So, we are not disturbed. You will see what will happen in 2023.
I may not be a prophet, but I might be near it. So there is no cause for alarm. This is a democracy, people are free to associate with anyone they want but I can tell you that PDP is waxing stronger. The reason we are constantly holding PDP Governors’ Forum meeting is to reposition the party. We want to be able to offer Nigerians good leadership. I believe in the saying that if you have not eaten the soup of another mother, you will think your mother is the best cook in the world. But now Nigerians have tested APC and the basis for comparison are there.
State of the nation
What was the exchange rate when the APC took over? What was the security situation when the APC took over the governance of the country in 2015? What was the economic status of this country, employment rates, state of education and all sectors when they took over in 2015?
What is the situation today? If somebody sits down to analyse what used to be and where we are now, I don’t know what you will score the APC. I am sure it will be below average. They have not performed at all. And I am praying every day that we can surmount our current challenges as a nation. Remember that God cannot just come and turn things around. It behooves us to do it. I believe in Nigeria.
Recently you were in Rivers State. You later traveled to Delta State. Today, you are coming from Oyo State. Is there any political undertone in these trips?
There is nothing like political undertones in my movement. Recall that the governor of Sokoto State was in Benue to commission my projects. You also recall that Governor Wike was here to commission projects. The governor of Enugu as well as His Excellency in Nasarawa, who was represented by his Commissioner, came here to commission projects. More projects are coming up and I will also be inviting more of my colleagues to come and commission the projects. It is a good idea because it enables us to go around and interact. It helps us to understand each other better and see how we can provide good governance to our people.
You know that the governors elected on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are the only ones commissioning projects.
Many people say you intend to reshuffle your cabinet. How true is it?
You just acknowledged that it is only a rumour. At the appropriate time, it would happen. For now, I am comfortable with my cabinet.
Several groups from different parts of the state have been wooing you to consider their axis when picking your successor…
I have always said that power belongs to God as stated in John 3 verse 27 which says a man can receive nothing except it is given to him from above. I believe that at the appropriate time God will bring the right person to succeed me. For now, people are jostling. I have told those in my cabinet who are interested to desist from all forms of campaign activities. If they want to continue, they should resign or wait till the end of this year. It is too early now and it will constitute a distraction for me because I am committed to ensuring that I provide dividends of democracy for the people of the state.
2023 is fast approaching. What are your plans?
I don’t want to be that dog that took a bone across the river and, upon seeing a big reflection of the bone on the water, decided to dump the bone he had for the bone on the water. Nigerians and indeed Benue people have been good to me. I have held positions at the local government level, state, and federal. Now, I am concentrating more on finishing well and strong.