Why Orbunde lied against Ortom over purpoted N160m campaign loan

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

Facts have emerged on why Mr. Terwase Orbunde, former Chief of Staff to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state, is alledging that the governor borrowed a sum of N160 million from him to fund his governorship ambition in 2015.

According to investigation by Nigerian Concord Newspaper, Orbunde decided to cook up the allegation as a result of his failure to be named the consensus governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in Benue state.

It was gathered that the former Chief of Staff ran to Governor Ortom many times to help him manipulate the decision of stakeholders from the 14 Tiv-speaking local governments to his favour but the governor clearly told him that he would not do anything to influence the decision as he had sworn to be neutral till the consensus governorship candidate would be announced.

Shortly after he was disqualified by zoning arrangement, Orbunde ran to the leader of the All Progressive Congress in Benue state, Senator George Akume, begging him to singlehandedly give the party’s governorship ticket to him so as to face whoever the PDP presents for the 2023 governorship election.

At a meeting with Akume towards the end of last week, Orbunde was told to make a donation of N1 billion to the APC after which some notable governorship aspirants of the party would be asked to step down from the contest.

A source told our reporter that the former Chief of Staff promised to raise N700 million from which the APC governorship aspirants would be reimbursed for all the money they had spent on their individual consultations as well as their financial contributions to the party over the years.

Sources informed this newspaper that Orbunde told Akume that he needs the APC governorship ticket desperately in order to be on the ballot papers in February, 2023.

To show his level of desperation, the former Chief of Staff reportedly put his properties in Abuja for sale, and raised N380 million out of the N700 he promised to donate to the Benue chapter of the APC in exchange of the party’s governorship ticket.

Our source who is sufficiently close to Orbunde said the idea to blackmail Governor Ortom to paying N160 million was part of the desperate moves the former Chief of Staff is making to raise the remaining N320 million he still has to give the Benue APC before the end of this week.

The source who is one of Orbunde’s private aides while serving as Ortom’s Chief of Staff confided in our reporter that the claim that the governor borrowed N160m from his boss, Orbunde, was not true. He added that the former Chief of Staff is in desperate move to raise N700 million he was asked to bring if he wants to get the APC ticket.

Recall that Orbunde had in a letter dated 16th April, 2022 requested that the governor should reimburse him to the tune of N160m which he claimed he “invested” in Ortom’s governorship campaign in All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2014.

According to him, the amount was a proceed of his property in Wuye, Abuja which he allegedly sold at that time; adding that, he would be needing the money to move his family out of the official apartments given to him in Commissioner’s Quarters, Makurdi.

But in his response, Governor Samuel Ortom denied borrowing money from his former Chief of Staff to prosecute his 2015 governorship elections.

Reacting via his reply dated 23rd April, 2022, denied knowledge of any “investment” in his 2015 campaigns to the tune of N160m from his erstwhile Chief of Staff, even though he obliged to offer any kind of help to Orbunde, just as he has always been doing.

“The fact that we worked together in 2014 to realize my Governorship ambition cannot be over-emphasised. However, as the Chief visioner, I was always aware and in control of all the interventions from friends and associates aimed at prosecuting my elections and such were always acknowledged. I really cannot recall when we discussed and you made available or invested the sum of One Hundred and Sixty Million Naira (N160,000,000.00) in my campaign or election in 2015 or at any other time at all.

“As my political ally, if this request is coming from you for assistance, it would be understood and I can always assist as usual to the best of my ability. I am rather surprised that this appeal for reimbursement is coming after seven (7) years of my becoming Governor of Benue State and therefore, I consider same as made in bad faith, to say the least”, Ortom said in his reply.