Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to focus on ending the increasing killings of innocent Nigerians instead of “using his foot soldiers” to attack him for saying the truth.
Ortom told journalists in Makurdi that the statement released by the Presidency in response to his (Ortom) recent interview on Channels Television lacked substance.
He said he spoke the minds of many Nigerians on specific areas of failure of the presidency.
“The tone of the said statement shows the quality of Presidency Nigeria currently has. They abandoned the message and went for the messenger.”
“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.
“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,” he said.
The governor added that, “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.”
He alleged that the presidency is complicit in the heinous crimes committed against citizens by terrorists, stressing that, instead of taking him (Governor) on those points, Shehu went chasing vain and mundane matters in a desperate attempt to malign him.
“We demand an apology from the Presidency for accusing Governor Ortom of stirring ethnic tensions and calling for genocide. The Presidency has never hidden its hatred for the Governor and its latest outing only confirms 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 Fulanis 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 Fulanis 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.
“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, marginalization 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,” he added.