2023: Quit campaign order, end to aspirations?

By Mimidoo Kyado & Faith Oche

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom recently placed restriction on all forms of campaigns by his appointees, either for themselves or for others ahead of the 2023 elections.

Reasons, the Governor advanced were that it was too early for any of his appointees to engage in campaigns or political consultations, as the 2023 polls were still two and a half years away. He stated that his administration has the mandate to deliver good governance to the people and does not need distractions.

He warned that any of his appointees who fails to comply with the directive will have to resign and concentrate on campaigning for 2023, as it would amount to a conflict of interests to remain in government and be campaigning for political positions.

Some of the appointees were swift to react.

Terwase Orbunde, Chief of Staff to Governor Ortom  who is eyeing his boss’s seat, immediately suspended his campaign for the Government House in 2023, in compliance with the directive of the governor.

He said, “On Wednesday, February 3, my principal,  Governor, Samuel Ortom of Benue, directed that all his appointees nursing political ambition, to succeed him in 2023 should put such on hold until the appropriate time or resign.

“The governor said that what is needed at the moment is concentration to deliver quality service to the people of the state so as to justify his second term mandate.

Orbunde said that as someone who believed that power comes from God, he had accepted to comply with the directive. “I accept to comply with Ortom’s directive as my principal and leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). “I appreciate the enviable vantage position in which the governor has graciously put me to make inputs into his administration which I have been privileged to make since 2015.

“I wish to utilise the opportunity given to me by stretching my capacities to the fullest at the moment to assist Ortom in his efforts to develop the state until that appropriate time,” he said.

He appealed for understanding and support from those who wished him well in the light of the development

Similarly, Terver Akase, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ortom of Benue State, with equal immediacy, advised those drumming support for him ahead of the 2023 governorship election to stop henceforth.

Akase noted that, what is most important currently is to support his principal to continue to provide good governance to the people of the state. His statement read: ‘Following the directive by my boss, His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom that all his appointees should stop 2023 campaign activities, I hereby, urge all those who have been drumming support for me ahead of the 2023 governorship race, to cease all such campaigns henceforth.

“I commend His Excellency, Governor Ortom for his wisdom in handling the affairs of the state in general and for asking all his appointees to refrain from campaign activities and concentrate on their duties of delivering service to the people who gave him their mandate.

“I pledge to wholeheartedly comply with the Governor’s directive and also pledge my unflinching loyalty to him and sustained commitment to his administration.

“I appeal to everyone who used their hard-earned resources and energy to write and advocate for me despite my not publicly declaring any intention to run for office, to henceforth, cease all such campaigns it stated.”

Similarly vein, the Benue State Commissioner for Education, Professor Dennis Ityavyar equally joined in total compliance to the directive.

Governor Ortom had issued such directives in his first tenure. As disturbing as that would appear to those who are nursing aspirations, the bottom line is that it is apt, most ideal and appropriate.

Needless to say that politics and governance could be related but can never fare well when exercised pari-pasu. For one, politics is partisan but governance must be for all. The tendency to introduce partisan politics in the act of governance has therefore, the propensity to alter fairness and credibility.

By his body language and actions, Ortom wants to prove that there is time for everything. Once politics is over, governance has to take centre stage. And meaningful governance must be all embracing. It is no more a decision for PDP,  APC, APGA, PRP or any other parochial consideration.

A Governor who knows this well, and goes out fully to exercise it for the benefit of the masses means he is well aware of his responsibilities. Ortom must therefore, be commended for giving himself for service to all other than a select few.

Besides, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), has not lifted the ban on politics, therefore, campaigning at this time is illegal and against the rules of the game. This, to also state the fact, indicates that Governor Ortom is deeply in love with his aides and Political appointees and was guiding them aright. By standards, INEC can disqualify anybody in an election if found to have gone against the law. This is either a preventive measure or warning, which, the sage say is arming.

Reacting, Hon Williams Ochonu, former Councillor and Director, Philip Agbese Consultative Council from Apa Local Government Area said the governor is only stating the obvious in the sense that by law and guidelines, the appointees aren’t supposed to campaign now because the election is still very far and that it is the duty of the INEC to mandate political party before campaign. And when the election is near or close, the INEC will now give political parties an opportunity to select  candidates to showcase and campaign for because the campaign actually brings out the ideology and the blue print of the party and the candidate.

He said what people are doing basically is consultation, and he said he’s also doing consultation for his candidate who’s coming out for the House of Representatives come 2023-for Ado, Okpoku and Ogbadibo Federal Constituency (Chief Philip Agbese) which is strictly consultation.

He rightly said until the INEC lifts the ban on campaign,  political appointee ought not to campaign because they are working for the governor who is of PDP, representing everybody. He said if the governor has someone in mind, it doesn’t warrant him to campaign for the candidate, because it is known that the governor is representing the PDP and other political parties, likewise the appointees.

He commended the directive of the governor saying it was for the good of everyone, and that he has taken the best decision.

However, one must accept the fact that political campaign is capital intensive. It is resources involving especially in our environment where the game of politics is seen by the majority as highly lucrative. Time is therefore, of high essence for its practice with commensurate commitment. This is what some of these would-be-aspirants will suffer. And it is unfortunate that as they keep their interests on hold, others who are nursing similar aspirations outside the control of the governor may be having a solo dance campaigning without any element of challenges.

It will be quite unfortunate that some of these aides and appointees, perhaps, for the fact that they are eyeing higher levels where their popularity is insufficient, this directive will definitely affect them adversely. Others may not be having adequate finances to prosecute the demands of an election in which case, deserve the time to go round in appeal for people’s good will and support. The chances for election victory to these would also be waned.

Curiously therefore, it is sufficient to imagine whether the Governor’s directive will nail, delay or nurture to fruition, the lofty ambitions of aides and appointees.


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