The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, have engaged each other in what could be described as fierce political verbal war over the state of affairs in their respective states. The two governors have been elected on different political platforms.
The faceoff between the two governors triggered off during the just concluded mega rally for the conduct of the national and state assembly rerun elections at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt, which attracted APC stalwarts including Governor Ortom in solidarity with their party’s candidates.
Ortom’s speech, urging Rivers State eligible voters to vote for APC candidates landed him in trouble with his counterpart who reportedly fired salvoes at him as he dared Ortom for ‘invading’ his territory tocampaign against his government even when he (Ortom) failed to pay salaries to civil servants in the past five months and urging him to fix the rot in his state first.
Benue State Governor, it was gathered, had, while speaking, allegedly made some sweeping statements which the Rivers Governor found unpalatable, thus, prompting a swift reaction by the governor (Wike) who alleged that “the Benue Governor made a ‘busy-body trip to Rivers, abandoning all the rots he has created in Benue.”
He, therefore, advised Ortom to go back to his state and clear the backlogs of salary arrears, even as he accused Ortom of borrowing heavily and using bailout funds to execute private businesses.
Wike, who spoke on television, said: “Is it that one that cannot pay his workers’ salaries for almost one year? The one that Fulani herdsmen have almost finished his people and he cannot do anything? Do you want to be like Benue?” he asked the indigenes.
Wike accused Ortom for failing to contain the perennial Fulani herdsmen attacks on his people and other insurgents, who are killing people like flies. But the visibly angry Ortom, in return, fired back saying he has no apology for Wike insisting that what he said at the rally was the whole truth.
Ortom, in a reaction through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase yesterday said, Wike’s ranting on the television as misplaced aggression in the face of impending defeat of his party in the rerun polls. “Governor Samuel Ortom has no personal problem with Governor Nyelsom Wike of Rivers State and won’t be dragged into a media war.
What the Benue State Governor said at the mega rally in Port Harcourt was the truth. All Nigerians know that PDP is in shambles at the moment and its several factions have left the people confused regarding who is a member of which faction of the party.
I consider Wike’s rant last night on TV as misplaced aggression in the face of impending defeat of his party in the re-run polls”. “The present Benue State Government does not owe 10 months salaries. Despite the dwindling finances, Benue has a backlog of only four months and in the last seven months; workers of the state have been receiving uninterrupted wages every month.
So, Governor Wike needs to crosscheck his facts. The problem of non-payment of salaries is a nationwide one, as 33 states can’t pay salaries now as and when due. We are aware that even some oil producing states, which receive 13 per cent revenue derivation, are not left out of the situation”.