December 13, 2022
The scene was the Makurdi Airport and the dramatis personae were three Peoples Democratic (PDP) governors – Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta).
Ortom, whose mission was to receive the leader of the Group of Five (G-5) aggrieved governors, was the first to arrive at the airport to receive Wike, who was billed to inaugurate the Geographic Information Service Centre built in Makurdi by the Ortom administration.
The aircraft that conveyed Okowa touched down shortly after. He had arrived to await Atiku for a convoy ride to Nasarawa for a scheduled presidential campaign.
Okowa is running mate on the PDP presidential ticket with Atiku.
Then came Ortom, whose mission was to receive the leader of the G-5.
Those at the airport took Ortom’s presence for the return of peace to the PDP, thinking that he was there to welcome the presidential candidate of the party.
Alighting from the plane, Okowa and Ortom exchanged pleasantries.
But the Benue governor was heard asking Okowa: “So, you people will come to my state without telling me?”
A moment later, Ortom swiftly moved towards a landing jet to receive the person on board. The person turned out to be his guest – Wike.
The duo hopped into a waiting vehicle and zoomed off.
About 20 minutes later, Atiku, alongside the PDP national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, and other members of the presidential campaign council, arrived at Makurdi Airport.
He was only received by Okowa and other PDP chieftains.
But, there was a twist to the Makurdi Airport drama as aides to the PDP presidential running mate said it was actually the Delta governor that avoided his Rivers counterpart.
top aide, who did not want to his name in print, said: “When Ortom arrived at the airport, he met Okowa who had just landed in Makurdi.
“The two governors exchanged banters and Okowa told Ortom that he and other, were waiting for the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku, whose flight was being expected to land anytime soon.
“That was when Ortom pointed it out to Okowa that it was against protocol for the Delta governor and Atiku to enter his state without the courtesy of informing him.
“While the two governors were still discussing, another aircraft carrying Governor Wike arrived and Governor Ortom left for the tarmac to receive the Rivers governor.
“Governor Okowa, who was in one of the cars parked at the airport waiting for Atiku’s arrival, did not come out to exchange greetings with Governor Wike, even though he saw him coming out of the airport with Ortom.
“It was apparent that Okowa deliberately avoided Wike for whatever reasons.”
Inaugurating the N6.5 billion Benue Geographic Information Service Centre, Wike said the project will substantially reduce land administration-related problems in the state.
He said: “With BENGIS, cases of missing files are things of the past, as it will also impact more on the state’s internally generated revenue. Ortom is a man of taste and quality, given the completion of this project.”
Wike called on the people of Benue North West senatorial zone to vote for Ortom, whom he described as a man of quality and integrity that fights injustice and marginalisation.
Ortom noted that since the commencement of the BENGIS project, the land digitisation initiative has greatly improved urban planning, infrastructure development, environmental management and encouraged private investment.
“With the commissioning of the historic project today, we have achieved the International Best Practice in land administration in the state. I am optimistic that this project will attract the World Bank’s Grant of $2.5 million through SFTAS programme to be applied for developmental projects in the state,” he said.