Benue State governor, Mr Samuel Ortom has been described as a failure. Former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav made the assertion while reacting to the interview granted Saturday Sun penultimate week by Senator JKN Waku on the political crisis rocking their state. He spoke to TUNDE THOMAS.
You claimed that Senator Waku was biased against Senator George Akume, the police and the federal government in his comments on the ongoing political crisis in Benue State in an interview which was recently published in Saturday Sun, why do you say so?
I read that interview granted by Senator Waku from the beginning to the end and my conclusion is that Senator Waku was one-sided. His allegations of complicity against Senator George Akume, the police and the federal government are not true. Waku was talking like an apologist of Governor Samuel Ortom. He was defending Ortom while he left major issues unattended to.
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Waku was taking sides with Governor Ortom and attacking Senator George Akume without telling readers or members of the public the genesis of the whole crisis, how Ortom became Benue State governor through Akume whom Allah used to install him, and how Ortom on becoming governor became a complete failure, and a liability to people of Benue State.
Akume was Governor Ortom’s benefactor, but Akume later fell out with him when not only he but majority of Benue State people realized that Governor Ortom is very incompetent. Ortom as a state governor has become a big letdown for people of Benue State, and that’s why today he is no longer popular. When you talk of performance, Governor Ortom is a failure, and I challenge him to point to any single project that he has been able to execute since over three years that he has been in power. Let him tell the whole public and entire Nigerians what he has achieved as a state governor, and this is why Akume and other Benue people want Ortom to go. He has disappointed people of Benue State.
But is that enough justification for 8 out of 30 members of the State House of Assembly to initiate impeachment process against him?
I’m still coming to that, but before I speak on that let me explain to you further why I claim that Waku is biased against Akume. When Ortom emerged as APC governorship candidate on the eve of 2015 general election, this same Waku took Ortom to court claiming that he didn’t emerge as APC governorship candidate through due process.
What happened was this; before Ortom crossed over to APC to emerge as the party governorship candidate, he was in PDP, but the then state governor, Gabriel Suswam didn’t support Ortom’s gubernatorial ambition. Suswam in opposing Ortom’s ambition described him as an incapable person who is not competent enough to take over from him, hence he didn’t support Ortom.
This development forced Ortom to leave PDP and then defect to APC where through the support of George Akume he became the governorship candidate of APC. But this development didn’t go down well with Waku and another APC member, Hon. Emmanuel Jime who by that time were also governorship aspirants on the platform of APC. So in a way, you can see the genesis of Waku’s anger against Akume. Without Akume’s support, Ortom would not have become governor of Benue State.
However to pacify Waku and Jime, the party’s leadership, compensated Waku and Jime with juicy federal appointments. While Waku was appointed the Chairman, Governing Council, Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, Jime was made Managing Director, Nigeria Export Promotion Zones Authority, NEPZA, Abuja.
For getting these juicy appointments, Akume as a leader of APC played a prominent role. He ensured that Jime and Waku were well taken care of. To me, Waku’s attack on George Akume is like somebody biting the fingers that fed him.
Considering the role Akume played to ensure Ortom emerged as governor according to what you are saying, why should there be friction between them again?
From what I know, Akume is not fighting Governor Ortom, what Akume is against is bad governance. Ortom has performed below expectations as a state governor. Again, if Akume who helped Ortom to become governor now discovers that Ortom is a failure, and a big disappointment, he reserves the right to support Ortom’s removal. In fact, if Ortom is sacked from office today as a state governor, it would be a good riddance to bad rubbish.
Are you saying that Ortom deserves to be sacked and should go?
Yes. Ortom should go. He has been a bundle of failure. Can you believe this, Ortom has been owing workers salaries for almost a year. Not only that, pensioners are also being owed. People are suffering in Benue State, and this is why I disagree with Waku. All the views expressed by Waku in that interview where he was trying to portray Ortom as a saint and Akume as a demon are Waku’s personal views and do not represent the thinking and views of an average Benue person.
Waku is partisan and biased. It is sad that Waku is not bothered about the hardship being inflicted on people of Benue State through bad leadership of Governor Ortom who is owing civil servants and pensioners. Governor Ortom has also been very disrespectful to President Muhammadu Buhari. Ortom has been behaving like an emperor in Benue State.
While Waku is condemning Senator George Akume, and Governor Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, he has failed to mention Ortom’s several failures as Benue State governor.
Under Ortom, Benue State is not secured, and there have been several cases of unresolved political assassinations under Ortom’s watch, these are some of the things I had expected Senator Waku to point out instead of supporting Ortom. Anyway as the saying goes, blood is thicker than water, I can understand why Waku has become Ortom’s apologist, both of them come from the same local government area and they are also neighbours in the village. In fact, I pity my people in Benue State.
Why do you say so?
That’s the fact, and I mean what I said, Benue State has been very unlucky in having dynamic people as governors. Since the creation of the state, only two governors have been very outstanding and performed very well, and these two are late Aper Aku, and Rev. Fr Moses Adasu.
What about others?
Little or nothing to write home about them. When Akume was the state governor he didn’t do very well. In fact Gabriel Suswam that took over from him performed better than him. But of all of them, Ortom is a total failure. Benue State is doomed if Ortom comes for a second term.
Are you saying all these against the governor because some people claimed that you and Governor Ortom are not on good terms?
This is not a personal issue. If the governor is doing very well, I will support and commend him. But how do you want me to support a failure? Like I said earlier, I’m not trying to destroy Governor Ortom, but Nigerians should ask him to point to a single project he has executed in Benue State since the last three years when he was elected governor.
In fact when the Vice President, now Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo came on a state visit to Benue State, Ortom has no project to point to. He has no project he can ask Osinbajo to commission. Rather, what Ortom did was to take the Acting President to his own private farm for Osinbajo to see his well fed cows when Benue people are suffering.
You need to come to Makurdi especially at night, the whole place, the capital is always in darkness. Ordinary solar power electricity project, Ortom can’t put in place to light up Makurdi, you can then imagine how other parts of the state looks like. Nothing is happening in Benue State. The state has been very stagnant under Governor Ortom.
On the alleged frosty relationship between you, and Governor Ortom, what is the genesis of the problem?
I became an enemy of Governor Ortom because of my boldness to speak out the truth at all times. When I started speaking out against bad governance, and bad leadership under his administration, the governor became uncomfortable. At a point he dragged me to court. He dragged me to court because I wrote an open letter to him telling him that Benue State is not making any progress under his leadership.
But instead of giving me reasons why he has not been able to perform, and why he has not been able to deliver dividends of democracy to the people of Benue State, Ortom now dragged me to court claiming that I defamed him. He later withdrew the case.
But are there no other avenues available to you as prominent elder, leader and stakeholder in Benue State to reach Governor Ortom rather than writing him open letter?
I did but he doesn’t listen to advice. Ortom is power-drunk. Those people who tell him the truth are his enemies. He is not receptive to criticism at all. He behaves like a despot. He is not a democrat at all.
With all these you are saying, are you not afraid that the governor may come after you, and drag you to court again?
Afraid of what? Afraid of Ortom? Never. Whatever Ortom wants to do with me let him do it. I’m already an old man. I can’t be cowed by Ortom. People who know me when I was younger when I was in the Police know that I’m always outspoken against evil and injustice, and I also dare and challenge anybody to come out with any proof that I collected bribe from anybody while I was in service as Commissioner of Police in Sokoto, Abia, Lagos and Oyo states. Don’t also forget that I was also briefly appointed as the Acting Military Administrator of Sokoto State. In all these positions, I didn’t compromise my integrity.
I prefer to tell the truth, and damn the consequence. I prefer to say the truth and have peace with Allah my maker rather than saying things to please men.
But on this issue of 8 members of Benue State House of Assembly out of a total of 30 attempting to impeach the governor, and you seemed to be supporting them, would you say you are saying the truth on this particular issue?
I always stand for nothing but the truth. On the Benue House of Assembly crisis, it seemed Nigerians have been misinformed about what actually happened. The 8 lawmakers have no fault at all. It was the other 22 lawmakers that committed illegal act, and it was their action that triggered the ongoing political crisis in Benue State.
How did the 22 lawmakers trigger the crisis?
The House of Assembly was supposed to be on recess when these 22 lawmakers held a plenary where they unilaterally suspended the Speaker, and the House Majority Leader.
The action of the 22 lawmakers was illegal because they didn’t sit within the confines of the state House of Assembly before taking the action against the Speaker and majority leader. Moreover, the House of Assembly was in a recess, so for the 22 lawmakers to reconvene without the Speaker, Majority Leader and other six members in attendance is illegal. But it is very unfortunate that many Nigerians are not looking at this.
As a result, the 8 lawmakers probably out of annoyance about what their colleagues did, met within the state House of Assembly complex to take their own action.
These 8 lawmakers being given police protection has also become a controversial issue …
Cuts in … I don’t see any controversy there. The police that were there were not giving backing to the 8 lawmakers, rather they were there to provide security, and prevent breakdown of law and order. I strongly believe that if those policemen were not there, agents of state government including operatives of the state-owned Livestock Guards, which Ortom set up would have invaded the state House of Assembly and harass those 8 lawmakers.
We thank God that Nigeria doesn’t have state police yet, if Benue State has state police, Ortom would have been using them to torment and harass his political opponents.