Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue has endorsed Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), ahead of the forthcoming election.

Ortom, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), announced the endorsement on Thursday at a town hall meeting in Makurdi, the state capital.

The governor cited the failure of the PDP and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to cater to Nigerians as the reason for his supporting Obi.

“This is not about party. I am not in Labour Party, but I am working for Peter Obi. Peter Obi will make sure that we sleep with our two eyes closed. These unnecessary killings that are going on in our country will stop,” Ortom said.

“Of the three presidential candidates, Peter Obi has the character and competence to lead Nigeria.

“We must, in this 2023, fashion a new Nigeria; Nigeria that will give the people equity, fairness, and justice.”

Ortom is part of a five-member group of PDP governors known as G-5 that is at loggerheads with the national leadership of the party.

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Meanwhile, sources said Ortom had at a meeting of the G5 governors cited his rift with George Akume, former governor of Benue and the minister of special duties and intergovernmental affairs, as his reason for supporting Obi.

The rift between Ortom and Akume, an APC member, took another dimension in 2021 when the governor accused President Muhammadu Buhari of trying to “Fulanise” the country while reacting to the president’s approval of the recommendations of a committee to review 368 grazing reserves in 25 states.

Kelvins Dzeremo, a political analyst in Benue, told TheCable that Ortom’s endorsement only reflects the crisis in the PDP and would improve the chances of the APC in the state.

“From the political constitution of the PDP, what Ortom has done by endorsing a different presidential candidate amounts to anti-party activity. Now, under the PDP constitution, I know that he can be expelled or suspended from the party for what he has done,” Dzeremo said.

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“Ortom is a candidate of the PDP for a senate seat in Benue. Now he’s running for a national election on the platform of the party which has a presidential candidate. And the election of the presidential candidate of the APC and PDP is the same day that Ortom is running for. I don’t know how he’s going to manage the differences he has created by endorsing another candidate from another party.

“So, the messier he gets, the more advantageous it gets for the APC in Benue, particularly for Akume who he does not even have a relationship with, anyway.

“It doesn’t matter to Akume or anybody in the APC who he endorses or not; the more division, the better for the former governor.”

However, Ortom has since secured a court order preventing the PDP from expelling him from the party.

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