Presidency asked to address issues raised by Ortom on national security

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

The Presidency under the Muhamadu Buhari-led administration has been urged to address issues raised by the governor of Benue state, Mr. Samuel Ortom, on national security rather than trying to change the narrative.

A statement issues this morning by the League of Unique Friends Association, LUFA, stated this.

The press statement is below:

We are constrained to react to the recent statement issued by Malam Garba Shehu, Presidential spokesman against Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State. The press release titled: ‘Statement Concerning Governor Samuel Ortom, The Governor of Benue State’ was widely circulated on 25th August, 2021. The statement is full of viciousness, maliciousness, deceit, vitriol, inconsistencies, and illogical blabberings, which is a product of a confused and mischievous mind desperate to please his principal and to show that he is doing his Presidential spokesman’s job.

We wish to enlighten Shehu Garba that changing of political platforms is based not only on principles, but also influenced by several factors. Such factors include lack of justice, fairness, transparency, and political interests. Governor Ortom’s political career is defined by his positive disposition and God-centred approach to governance and the wish of his people. As such, his change of political platforms has always been decided by the people. May we remind Malam Shehu that his former and current Bosses have also changed political parties several times.

Garba Shehu should know that Governor Ortom is not fanning the embers of sectarianism and ethnicity as falsely peddled by him. The Governor believes in the unity of Nigeria and has infact, canvassed this position at several fora. Mallam Shehu’s narrative that Governor Ortom is inciting farmers against herders and Christians against Muslims is, therefore, false, baseless, and mendacious. We vehemently and completely reject his false and mischievous narratives against our amiable Governor and negligence of the collosal humanitarian as well as development crises unleashed on the people of Benue State by the Fulani herdsmen. Mallam Shehu should rather advise his principal to address the humanitarin and development crises occasioned by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State and Nigeria at large and stop his desperate attempt to twist facts and misinform unsuspecting members of the public.

Nonetheless, we know that Nigerians know the truth and they accept the fact that Governor Ortom is speaking for millions of voiceless Nigerians who have continued to bear the brunt of economic hardship, banditry, insurgency, kidnappings and other violent crimes due to the failure of Federal Government, which Mallam Shehu is shamelessly part of.

Let it be known to Shehu and his mischievious cronies that Governor Ortom has never and will never stir up hatred against any ethnic nationality. The Governor is simply drawing attention to the heinous attacks and killings of his people by armed Fulani herdsmen in their ancestral lands while the government at the centre appears complicit, incapable or unwilling to protect them. And Malam Garba Shehu obviously suffering from delusion and manifesting the symptoms of amnesia fails to remember that former President Olusegun Obasanjo first alerted the nation of a secret Fulanisation agenda by the Federal Government. It is also on record that the Fulani Nationality Movement (Miyetti Allah Cauta Hore) has been aggressive about this agenda and the members have not hidden their desire to conquer the rest of the country for the Fulani nation. Their statements are well publicized on the social and mainstream media.

It is against the backdrop of all the evils, wicked machinations, injustices, and impunities of the Federal Government as shown in the lopsided appointments into key offices in favour of the President’s ethnic and religious group, among many others that Governor Ortom, like many other well-meaning Nigerians and opinion leaders are complaining about. The appointments in the security sector are a case in point. These make other ethnic groups feel excluded and alienated from the scheme of things in the country. Governor Ortom has every right to cry out against lack of justice, fairness, and equity; values which form the pillars of his own administration in Benue State.

We, therefore, call on Garba Shehu to desist from the unfortunate route he has taken to heat up the polity by making reference to the sad episode of the Rwandan genocide and his desperate and ill-conceived, but grossly unsuccessful attempt to equate Ortom’s stance on the insecurity situation to the events that led to the avoidable Rwandan crisis. Governor Ortom’s patriotic call on the Federal Government to address the ravaging insecurity in the land, his continuous galvanization of national attention on the invasion of rural farming communities of Benue by armed Fulani militia, his refusal to surrender his people’s land to Fulani invaders as well as the enactment of the Prohibition of Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law all represent the action of a true leader genuinely concerned about the well-being and peace of his people as well as the unity and economic growth and prosperity of the country.

Governor Ortom does not hate the Fulani as a tribe. He is only against armed Fulani militia on a mission to take over the land of his people. Infact, he has many Fulani friends and has also appointed some of them into key positions in his government in the spirit of unity and social inclusiveness, which is totally lacking at the Central government.

We call on Garba Shehu to address the issues raised by Governor Ortom, which are insecurity, heinous attacks and killings by armed Fulani herdsmen in Benue State, nepotism and lopsided appointments by his principal as well as lack of demonstration of political will to go after armed Fulani herdsmen as well as arrest and prosecute their sponsors. These are germaine issues of governance raised that should be tackled rather than resorting to personal attacks against the Governor who is merely speaking the minds of his people.

Again, Garba Shehu should know that Benue people have unwavering faith in Governor Ortom as their dependable choice by electing him as their Governor in 2015 and again in 2019 irrespective of political platform. This underscores the fact that the name Samuel Ortom is a political brand to reckon with in Benue state and indeed, the North Central geo-political zone as well as the entire Nigeria. Garba Shehu, therefore, lacks the basic understanding of the political culture of the Benue people by nursing false hope that they would make a better choice in the next elections. Ortom’s career has been illustrious and outstanding.

A solidly grass-root politician and leader par excellence who started his political career as Local Government Council Chairman, PDP State Secretary, PDP State Treasurer, and PDP State Deputy Chairman, PDP National Auditor at different times as well as a Minister of the Federal Republic and two terms Governor of Benue State.

We advise Garba Shehu, therefore, to create enough time and immerse himself in studying the political profile of Governor Ortom so as to be guided before making future statements. We also urge Garba Shehu to dispassionately do a comparative analysis of the career of Governor Ortom and himself. If he does so, he would find that someone of no electoral value like himself who has never even won any form of election all through his career, not even a Councillorship of a ward has no moral basis to demean the illustrious political career of Governor Ortom, a grandeur feat which he, Garba Shehu can never attain in his lifetime.

Benue people do not need a confused, mendacious, malicious, mischievous, misguided, and misinformed lower-rate media aide of a Garba Shehu to educate them on how to elect good leaders. He should rather channel his energy in making statements that will give Nigerians hope that the government and his principal are making conscious efforts to end all forms of banditry, insurgency, terrorism, kidnaping, and other social vices bedeviling the country. He should also concern himself with the shortcomings of this administration in the area of security, corruption and economy. The three major pillars his Principal and party campaigned for, which Nigerians voted them into power are yet to be provided. Rather insecurity has assumed a frightening dimension, while corruption has become so endemic that corrupt politicians now seek refuge under the ruling party at the centre while the economic situation of the country remains unimaginably deteriorating with the naira badly depreciated against the US Dollar, giving rise to hyperinflation that has pushed basic food items and other necessities of life beyond the reach of most Nigerians.

These are important issues Garba Shehu should be concerned about as a government spokesman. Sadly, he has taken up the role of a propagandist, opposition party spokesman as well as an ethnic champion in a secular country such as Nigeria. His major focus is to promote the interests of one ethnic group over the others and this is dangerous for the unity of the country and unacceptable.

In the words of distinguished Senator representing Benue North West, Emmanuel Orker Jev “in the fullness of time, benefits of the moment will pass away and we will hand over such people to posterity,” we wish to remind any Benue son who is making political capital from the persecution of Benue people that joy has a slender body that breaks so soon. Such people will sooner than later, come home to seek the support of our people to achieve certain political ambitions. It is only then that they will be reminded of their inglorious past.

In a similar vein, we strongly disagree with the infamous press conference address by Senator George Akume, the Hon. Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs in Abuja on 31st August, 2021. Like other peace-loving people of Benue and Nigerians at large, we are shocked that a sitting Minister, a former Senator and two terms Governor of Benue State could casually call for the suspension of democratic structures in Benue State, a state he was privileged to govern for 8 years. We know that Akume’s call is influenced by personal political selfish interests and not the issues of insecurity raised by Governor Ortom.

It is on record that during Senator Akume’s tenure as Governor, he repeatedly clashed with the then President Olusegun Obasanjo on political issues. It is regrettable that for political interests, the Hon. Minister appears to have turn his back on his own people by alleging that the Benue people are the ones attacking and killing themselves when it is abundantly clear to all that the sustained attacks on Benue communities are orchestrated by armed Fulani militia who have never hidden their mission of taking over the Benue ancestral lands. It is curious that Senator Akume has not called for the declaration of state of emergency in Kaduna, Zamfara, Niger, Borno and Katsina States, amongst others where banditry, insurgency, and other violent crimes such as kidnapping for ransom has unfortunately assumed a frightening dimension.

We urge him to play the role of an elder and leader whose major focus should be on how to leverage on his status as a federal minister and join hands with the state government to put an end to insecurity in Benue State and pave the way for the rebuilding of destroyed homes in rural communities and safe return of millions of Benue IDPs back to their ancestral land. The well-being, security, and peace of the Benue people should not be taken for granted by Akume who has benefitted immensely from the goodwill of the Benue people.

We, therefore, call on the Benue people to continue to support Governor Ortom for his firm stand for justice, fairness, and equity for all. We also urge our Leader and Governor to remain resolute, firm, and courageous in his defence of his people through lawful and democratic means as history would be kind to him. We believe in the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria within a peaceful environment of mutual respect, progress, and stability.