From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is not aware that his Media aide, Garba Shehu made any statement saying he (Buhari) was disappointed in him (Ortom).
A statement credited to the President but signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mallam Garba Shehu had expressed “his (Buhari’s) disappointment and sadness to hear Samuel Ortom, the Governor of Benue State make a litany of accusations against his person and his government following the recent unfortunate incidents in the state”.
Reacting to the statement, Governor Ortom, through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, said he is convinced that the President was not aware that his aide, Shehu made such a statement on his behalf.
“It is clear that the media aide didn’t speak for the President in the said statement. President Buhari wouldn’t have given approval for such a reckless and insensitive press release.”
Akase wondered what is wrong with his Principal calling on the President to address the nation, convene a national security summit and declare a state of emergency on security, following the spate of killings taking place in Benue and the remaining states of the federation?
The statement added that Governor Ortom is not the only one who is worried by the worsening security situation in the country and has called on the President to rise to his responsibilities by declaring a state of emergency on security and convening a summit to address the numerous security challenges bedeviling the nation.
“Many other Nigerians of good conscience have at different times made similar calls. What the Governor therefore deserves is commendation and not condemnation.
“If Garba Shehu claims that the President is disappointed in the Benue State Governor for speaking against the sustained attacks on his people, we wonder how he feels about the killings in North East, North West, South East, South West and other parts of the North Central. Are those killings occurring as a result of the comments of Governors of the affected states?
“It is shocking that Shehu would make a statement regarding an attack evidently carried out by Fulani herdsmen and there won’t be a single sentence of reproach directed at the violent Fulani herders. Such a deliberate omission smacks of complicity and tacit support for the killer herders.
Akase noted that the President’s Media aide is aware that Governor Ortom has on several occasions raised alarm against activities of the rampaging herdsmen whose sole aim is to take over the ancestral lands of Benue people and other Nigerians.
He added that his boss had severally written letters to the Federal Government and made other spirited efforts to have the government at the centre take preventive measures against further attacks on Benue communities but that the Federal Government has repeatedly ignored such patriotic calls, insisting rather that cattle routes of the 1950s be re-opened to grant easy passage to the pastoralists and their animals.
“The posture of the Federal Government has made many Nigerians to conclude that it is complicit and its inaction has emboldened the armed herdsmen to cause greater havoc across the country,” Akase stated.