Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has hailed his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom for backing the return of power to the southern region of Nigeria at the expense of his senatorial ambition.
Wike spoke on Tuesday during the commissioning of the Government Secondary School Kpor in the Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Ortom is one of the aggrieved governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who, in the buildup to the 2023 general elections, demanded that presidency rotate to the southern part of the country from the north. Other G5 governors are Wike, Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
In the build-up to the February 25 presidential election, Ortom worked against the ambition of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar on the ground that he is a northerner. Ortom publicly declared support for Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP). The outgoing governor was also not on good terms with the then party’s National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, despite being from Benue State.
Ortom ran for the Benue North-West Senatorial seat on the PDP platform but lost to his former aide, Titus Zam, of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Also, the PDP lost the March 18 governorship election to the APC in Benue.
Speaking on Tuesday, Wike said Ortom is the real winner of the polls despite his double defeat at the governorship and senatorial polls in Benue.
Wike thanked Ortom for backing the power shift to the south, adding that his decision made some critics gang up against the Benue governor.
Describing Ortom as a brother, Wike explained that posterity will be kind to him and assured Ortom that the people of Rivers State will always be with him.
“You may think you have lost, but you didn’t lose, you are the winner,” Wike said.
“Let me thank you for standing firm that the presidency should go to the South, you paid for it but history will be with you.
“When the time came for people to stand up, for Nigeria to be united, you came out and said ‘Yes, I’m from this zone yet for equity and fairness, it will be for the unity of this country if the presidency is zoned to the South’.
“We will be wherever you are, we will give you every support that you require from Rivers State. Because of your fight, people stood up and fought you. Yes, you lost your Senate, but you made it clear in leadership. God will continue to bless, and guide you.”