The Presidency has claimed that the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, was responsible for the continuous killings across the state by inciting farmers against herders leading to the chaotic situation rocking that part of the country.
The president also cast doubts on the ability of Ortom to effectively administrate any geographical location across the country, saying through his public utterances, it was crystal clear that the governor was unfit to rule his state.
Aside from his alleged fitness status, the presidency noted that the governor was short of political principle, adding that his movement across political parties was a testament to the assertion.
According to the presidency, Governor Samuel Ortom has few political principles. We can see this from the fact that he has changed political parties five times during his undistinguished career.
“In an attempt to boost his sinking political fortunes, Ortom takes the cheapest and lowest route possible by playing on ethnic themes – and in doing so knowingly causes deaths of innocent Nigerians by inciting farmers against herders, and Christians against Muslims,” the presidency said in a statement by President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on Wednesday.
Continuing, the presidency added: “These are not the actions of a man who should be trusted with running public services or holding public office. For the governor of a major state in Nigeria to be politically driven by ethnic hatred is a stain on our country.”
Reacting to recent comments from the governor, the presidency alleged that Ortom take decisions based on his conviction and present sitaution without considering national interest, saying “every time he feels the wind may be blowing in a certain direction, he follows it.”
“Unfortunately, for the good citizens of Benue State, the most dangerous direction he blows in today is that of sectarianism and ethnicity. Specifically, Ortom stirs up hatred by targeting one single ethnic group in Nigeria – using language reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide. As was the case in Rwanda where the then Hutu leaders of the country incited their countrymen against each other, claiming there was a “secret Tutsi agenda” over the Hutu, Ortom claims there is a “secret Fulanization agenda” over other ethnic groups in his state and in Nigeria. This is a copy of the language of Hutu Power – which falsely, and intentionally, accused the Rwandan Tutsi of plans to dominate the country.
“This wicked talk is aimed at giving cover to his so-called “policy” on the Ranches Establishment Law – which in reality is purely an act of denial of the law – intended to withhold rights and freedoms from one ethnic group alone, whilst inciting race hatred against them amongst all others.
“These are not the actions of a man who should be trusted with running public services or holding public office. For the governor of a major state in Nigeria to be politically driven by ethnic hatred is a stain on our country. The good, and fair-minded people of Benue State deserve more than this, and we look forward to the next elections when they have an opportunity to restore its greatness,” the statement added.
It would be recalled that Ortom had during an interview on a popular Television talk show yesterday, alleged that the presidency hbanned him from having discussions with the president, saying my requests for discussion on issues of national security have been turned down without reason.
He added that the only medium he could express his displeasure against the President’s policies including the approval on open grazing routes was through the Nigerian media. The governor stressed that the barrier placed against his visit would not prevent him from either commending the president when his policies were for the people and criticise him when his decisions were not right and could further disintegrate Nigeria.
He noted that one of the policies he would not accept from the president was the approval for open grazing with the review of 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country. He described the president’s approval for open grazing in 2021 as taking the country back to when Nigeria’s populating was about 100 million, adding the lands are not increasing but the population does and I am sad that we are still embracing an old strategy.
According to him, I am happy that the northern governors are also not in support of open grazing rather they backed ranches, and they have made it known but it is obvious that the President has a Fulanization agenda and that has been exposed with the open grazing policy.
The president’s directive followed his approval of the recommendations of a committee chaired by the Chief of Staff to the president, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari. Among others, the committee had recommended the collection of field data collection on 368 Grazing Reserves across 25 states to assess encroachment and encroachers, stakeholder engagements, and sensitization.
The committee also recommended the production of maps and geo-mapping, tagging of sites, analysis of findings, and report preparations as well as design appropriate communication on grazing reserves and operations. The number of the grazing reserves and states was deduced from considerations of existing security concerns and other pre-existing socio-economic conditions.