The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said it was stunned by the defection of Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
APC National Publicity Secretary Bolaji Abdullah said: “The governor had left the (reconciliatory) meeting saying he was satisfied with the assurances given by party leaders. We are still working on giving effect to the resolutions from the meeting. Therefore, we are somewhat surprised by Governor Ortom’s decision.
“The party reiterates its earlier position that it respects the rights of every citizen to chose their political affiliation but expresses hope that those who have left the party will rescind their decisions.
“Even with this development, we don’t think it is too late for reconciliation. We have to continue to talk.
As long as people keep their minds open and have the courage to put the real issues on the table, reconciliation is still possible.
“We once again call on members across the country to remain calm as the party leadership continues to work hard to position the party strongly for the next general elections.”
A wave of defection in the National Assembly on Tuesday robbed the party of 14 senators and 37 members of the federal House of Representatives.
In what seemed a desperate move to stop the revolt, President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly held a meeting last night with all APC senators.
Ortom last week had declared that the APC handed him a “red card”, prompting the party’s national chairman Adams Oshiomhole to engage the governor in peace overtures.
But as he left Government House for Abuja yesterday to honour another leg of the peace parley, his convoy was blocked by hundreds of placard-carrying youths protesting his continued romance with the ruling party.
The youths, led by one Dave Ogbole, swore the governor must abort the mission or run over them.
They threatened that if he attended the meeting, he would be voted out in next year’s general election.
Ortom’s plea for passage and promise to consider their interests were rebuffed. He conceded, turned around and returned to base. Shortly after, he announced his defection.