- Accuses president of stoking crisis in Benue to declare emergency
- Says Buhari should answer to questions raised and not attack
- Alleges President’s spokesman was high on negative substances
- President, not Benue gov spreading division, hate, PDP posits
The last may not have been heard in the brickbats between the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, and the Senior Special Assistant as the governor, yesterday, said the language often employed by him in engaging people has exposed the quality of the leadership he represents.
Ortom said he was not oblivious of plans by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to stoke crisis in the state just so it could declare a state of emergency, all because he would not change his position on the anti-open grazing law.
He, however, called on the Garba to let President Buhari respond to some of the critical national questions raised during his recent interview with the Channels Television as against the resort to personality attacks, adding that the author of the statement, Mallam Shehu Garba, must have been high on negative substances.
Ortom noted that he read the statement, which was supposed to be the presidency’s response to the issues he raised, bordering largely on the worsening security situation across the country, but that the tone showed the quality of Presidency Nigeria currently has, because “they abandoned the message and went for the messenger.”
In the same stroke, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said against the resort to shifting blame, the Buhari Presidency was the one responsible for spreading division and hatred among Nigerians and not Ortom, as claimed in the Garba statement.
According to Ortom’s statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Terver Akase, it stated, “To describe as ‘undistinguished’, the career of a man, who has held many key positions at the state and national levels, proves that those, who penned the piece were under the influence of some negative substances.
“For the information of Garba Shehu and his cohorts, Governor Ortom rose to become a Local Government Chairman, State Publicity Secretary of National Centre Party of Nigeria; State Treasurer of All People’s Party, State Secretary as well as State Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, National Auditor of PDP, Minister of the Federal Republic and now a two-term Governor.
‘The governor spoke the minds of most Nigerians on specific areas of failure of the Presidency and its complicity in the heinous crimes committed against citizens by armed Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists. Instead of taking the governor on those points, Shehu went chasing vain and mundane matters in a desperate attempt to malign the governor”, the statement stated.
The governor also demand an apology from the Presidency for accusing him of stirring ethnic tensions and calling for genocide, saying the Presidency has never hidden its hatred for Ortom, and that its latest outing only confirmed that fact.
“We are aware of the presidency’s plot to cause crisis in Benue and make the state ungovernable and declare a state of emergency. Whenever each of their plans fails as it happened with the impeachment attempt on the Governor before the 2019 elections, they resort to cheap blackmail.
‘They accuse Governor Ortom of making a law to chase Fulani out of Benue, a claim that lacks substance and only goes to prove that they have not read the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state. They can’t justify their narrative that Governor Ortom hates Fulani, when some of his appointees are Fulani.
“The Presidency must realise that no amount of blackmail and media attack can discourage the governor from speaking against the injustice and pain the present government has caused Nigerians. No amount of sponsored smear campaigns against the governor can force him to repeal the law on open grazing of cattle in Benue State.
“We advise the Presidency to focus on ending the killing of innocent Nigerians, fix the economy as it promised and stop the stinking corruption under their watch.
“They can’t run away from their responsibility. They were brought to power to serve the country not to oppress the people and suppress their freedom of speech. They are on record to have publicly promised during their campaigns before the 2015 elections that they would respect the rights and freedoms of Nigerians if elected. Sadly, what the people of this country have got from the current government is the opposite of that promise.
“Governor Ortom stands by his words that this is not the first time a Fulani man is President of Nigeria, and also that it is the first time the country has been divided on ethnic lines with lopsided appointments in promotion and celebration of nepotism, marginalisation and open repugnance of other Nigerians. At no time in the history of this country have impunity, blatant disregard for laws, sectarian as well as ethnic differences, been fueled by the government as we now see.
“The agenda of the present administration is to Islamise and Fulanise the nation like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Professor Kunle Olawunmi and other patriotic Nigerians have rightly said.”
He urged the good people of Nigeria to call the Presidency to order before it destroys Nigeria, saying, “If nothing is done fast to avert the impending disaster, armed herders, bandits and other terrorists will one day take over Aso Rock Villa and those occupying the Villa at the moment will willingly surrender to them and flee from the country.
“No day passes without reports of herdsmen and other terrorists killing defenseless Nigerians in parts of the country. The number of displaced people has risen to millions, yet, the Presidency wants everyone to remain silent while the country burns.
“Governor Samuel Ortom will not keep mute! Let it be on record that while the Presidency deliberately destroyed Nigeria, someone spoke against the evil.”
The statement, which claimed the governor believed in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr, ended by citing one of King’s famous quotes: “If peace means accepting second class citizenship, I don’t want it. If peace means keeping my mouth shut in the midst of injustice and evil, I don’t want it. If peace means being complacently adjusted to a deadening status-quo, I don’t want peace. If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated and segregated, I don’t want peace.”
On its part, the PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, recalled how the Buhari Presidency has been planting seeds of discord in the country with hate language, divisive tendencies and unconcealed nepotism, to the extent that our nation has become widely divided along all fault lines.
The PDP said Nigerians have not forgotten how President Buhari, ahead of the 2011 general election, declared that “if what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood”.
In addition, the PDP also said Nigerians could recall how the President tagged those he believed did not vote for him; how he described citizens as “dot in a circle,” as well as the hate language that attracted sanctions by Twitter.
“It is rather alarming that instead of taking steps to address the killings in Benue state as well as the worsening insecurity, carnages, banditry, terrorism and imminent humanitarian crisis in the country, the Buhari Presidency is thinking of Rwandan Genocide while exposing its deep-seated detestation for Governor Ortom.
“Governor Ortom is a highly principled and forthright leader, who is loved not only in Benue, but also across the nation. The PDP urges Nigerians to hold the Buhari Presidency responsible should any harm come to him or his family members.
“As a party, the PDP demands that the Buhari Presidency should come clean on its handling of insecurity in the country. This is particularly against the backdrop of its manifest failure to battle and rout out terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and marauders that have taken over our highways, forests, pillaging communities and killing Nigerians on daily basis,” the PDP said.
The PDP said under Buhari’s lethargic regime, bandits and terrorists have become so emboldened that they now attack military formations, including the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), where they killed and kidnapped officers for ransom.
It therefore called on Buhari to rein in his aides, wake up from his slumber and decisively address the worsening insecurity in the country under his watch.