To say there is no love lost between the presidency and Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom is an understatement.
Recall that when the governor was in the All Progressive Congress( APC), he was a regular visitor at the Villa. However, things changed when he defected to the peoples’ Democratic party.
In recent times, the governor and the presidency have sparred and they resumed their rivalry this week.
On Monday, the governor in an interview with Channels TV accused President Muhammadu Buhari of trying to “Fulanise” Nigeria.
He also described the president’s decision to review grazing reserves across the country as unconstitutional.
“I’m disappointed with the presidency. One would expect that we’re in democratic governance and the presidency would have understood this,”
“I think Mr. President was misquoted or he did it out of error. He should come out to apologize to Nigerians. There is no basis whatsoever for this to be going on when we have the Constitution, Ortom had said.
Indeed, those who were expecting a heavyweight bout were not disappointed
The presidency didn’t find the comments of the governor amusing and came out guns blazing.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu in a statement said Governor Ortom has few political principles from the fact that he has changed political party five times during his undistinguished career.
He said every time the governor feels the wind may be blowing in a certain direction, he follows it.
Unfortunately, Shehu noted for the good citizens of Benue State, the most dangerous direction he blows in today is that of sectarianism and ethnicity.
In an attempt to boost his sinking political fortunes, he added that 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 presidential spokesman specifically stated that 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 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, ” he added.
Indeed the last has not been heard of the tackles between the governor and the presidency. Expect more fireworks from both parties in the days ahead.