By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah |
To say there is no love lost between the presidency and the Benue State governor , Samuel Ortom is stating the obvious . I recall that in 2015 and 2016 when Ortom was still in the All Progressive Congress ( APC) he was a regular visitor to the Presidential Villa .Infact he was among the top five governors who regularly visit President Muhammadu Buhari.
Then , killer herdsmen happened and the chummy relationship went south .I also recall that in the heat of the herdsmen killing , President Buhari visited Benue and assured the citizens that the killings would soon end .True to his words, the operation whirl stroke by the military to an extent reduced the incessant activities of the killer herdsmen in the region.
Expectedly,In the buildup to the 2019 election, Ortom defected to the opposition,Peoples Democratic Party and that was the beginning of the Cold War between the president and Ortom. In the presidency it is generally believed that Ortom was exploiting the killing by the militia herdsmen to secure the sympathy of the people to win a second term while on the other side in the camp of Ortom , it is believed the president is not decisive on herdsmen activities because he is Fulani .
Expectedly , there were regular brickbats between the presidency and the governor .However after the 2019 election in which the President surprisingly got massive votes in Benue , the Cold War simmered .
Surprisingly, last month , Ortom visited the president after an attack on him in Benue. Recall that Suspected Fulani herdsmen attacked the convoy Ortom in Tyo Mu near Makurdi March 20. The incident occurred along the Makurdi/Gboko road while the governor was traveling to Makurdi.
After the meeting with the president, he told us he had a fruitful discussion with the president. Even recently , the governor stated that he will bring a delegation from his state to see the president on the recent killings of 12 soldiers in Benue . We all thought the war was over until last week .
While addressing protesters of the killings at the Abagana IDP camp in the state on Tuesday, Ortom put the blame for the incessant killings in Benue State on the Federal Government.
He said the killings would have been averted if the government had taken proactive steps since he alerted it of the threat of Fulanis.
The governor also noted that about 70 people were killed in the last two weeks in Makurdi Local Government during his interface with protesters.
He wondered at the double-speak in government circle noting, “the president had given an order that anybody found with AK47 be killed but such order was countered by the Minister of Defence who said they should not be killed but rather should be prosecuted.
“What kind of country is this. It is better I am not alive to witness this kind of thing. The president gives order his minister counters it.,” he lamented.
Not finding the comments of the Benue governor funny , the President fired back at him accusing him of politicising killings in the country.
In a statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu the president said he was disappointed and sad to listen to Ortom making a litany of accusations against his person and his government following the recent attacks in Benue State.
He said no responsible government would take pleasure in the killing of military personnel and innocent citizens taking refuge in Internally Displaced People’s camp.
Shehu said, “President Buhari is deeply pained by the terrible acts of violence happening not only in Benue State but also in other parts of the country and expects that the law enforcement agencies will go to every possible extent to catch the perpetrators of these heinous acts and bring them to justice.
“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. President Buhari took an oath to defend the life and property of every citizen, a duty he takes seriously and is committed to ensuring.