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Benue to Presidency: Ortom deserves commendation not condemnation

Published by The Nation on Sat, 01 May 2021


By Uja Emmanuel, Makurdi with agency reportThe Benue State Government on Friday said that Governor Samuel Ortom deserved commendation and not condemnation in his handling of the crisis in the state.The government was reacting to a statement issued bythe Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, on Thursday expressing disappointment and sadness that the governor was blaming President Muhammadu Buhari for the killings in the state.Shehu, in the statement, said Buhari was pained by the killings but sad that that the governor would blame the attacks on the President.The presidential spokesman also said Buhari expressed disappointment and sadness to hear Samuel Ortom, the governor of Benue State, make a litany of accusations against his person and his government following the recent unfortunate incidents in the state.Shehu added that no responsible government takes pleasure in such events as the killing of the military and that of innocent citizens taking refuge in an internally displaced peoples camp.Read Also;Buhari sad over attacks by OrtomIt added: The lives of fellow citizens should not be desecrated by deploying them in political diatribe which unfortunately appeared to be the intent of the string of emotional attacks and blame laid at the doors of the President for those killings by Governor Ortom.However, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Ortom, Terver Akase, in a statement he signed on behalf of the governor yesterday, stated that President Buhari could not have authorised Shehus statement, saying that what Governor Ortom deserved was commendation and not condemnation.He also described Shehus statement as reckless and insensitive.Akases statement reads: We read the statement signed by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in which he said President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed his disappointment and sadness to hear Samuel Ortom, the Governor of Benue State make a litany of accusations against his person and his government following the recent unfortunate incidents in the state.Shehu was referring to Governor Ortoms clarion call on the President to act decisively and in an unbiased manner to end the spate of killings by Fulani herdsmen in Benue and other parts of the country.We are convinced that Mr President was not aware that his aide Shehu made such a statement on his behalf. It is clear that the media aide didnt speak for the President in the said statement. President Buhari wouldnt have given approval for such a reckless and insensitive press release.What is wrong with Governor Ortoms call on the President to address the nation, convene a national security summit and declare a state of emergency on security, following the spate of killings taking place in Benue andthe remaining states of the federation'Governor Ortom is not the only one who is worried by the worsening security situation in the country and has called on the President to rise to his responsibilities by declaring a state of emergency on security and convening a summit to address the numerous security challenges bedeviling the nation.Many other Nigerians of good conscience have at different times made similar calls. What the Governor therefore deserves is commendation and not condemnation.If Garba Shehu claims that the President is disappointed in the Benue State Governor for speaking against the sustained attacks on his people, we wonder how he feels about the killings in North East, North West, South East, South West and other parts of the North Central. Are those killings occurring as a result of the comments of governors of the affected states'It is shocking that Shehu would make a statement regarding an attack evidently carried out by Fulani herdsmen and there wont be a single sentence of reproach directed at the violent Fulani herders. Such a deliberate omission smacks of complicity and tacit support for the killer herders.Shehu is aware that Governor Ortom has on several occasions raised the alarm against the activities of rampaging herdsmen whose sole aim is to take over the ancestral lands of Benue people and other Nigerians.The Governor has written letters to the Federal Government and made other spirited efforts to have the government at the centre take preventive measures against further attacks on Benue communities.The Federal Government has repeatedly ignored such patriotic calls, insisting rather that cattle routes of the 1950s be re-opened to grant easy passage to the pastoralists and their animals.The posture of the Federal Government has made many Nigerians to conclude that it is complicit and its inaction has emboldened the armed herdsmen to cause greater havoc across the country.The President is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The job of a governor is to support security agencies to perform their duties, and this Governor Ortom has done efficiently to the admiration of many Nigerians.When President Buhari gave a shoot on sight order to security agencies against persons bearing AK-47, Governor Ortom was one of the first to support the presidential directive.Minister of Defence came out a few weeks later to counter the Presidents order and we expected a reaction from the Presidency, but till this minute, no such reaction has been heard.What Garba Shehu ought to know is that Governor Ortom has no personal grudge against the President. The Governor is only being patriotic by calling for justice, equity, fairness and above all the rule of law.He expects the President to be the leader of every Nigerian and treat all as his people.
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