From Geoffrey Anyanwu and Jude Chinedu, Enugu
Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday said only justice, equity and fairness will end Biafra and other agitations by various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
He lamented the trend where those who demand for equal rights and freedom, and an end to injustice and marginalisation, were hurriedly declared terrorists by the state, while those who kill innocent citizens were pampered.
The governor said the South East has been at the receiving end of such levels of injustice, impunity and marginalisation. He also flayed the President Muhamamdu Buhari-led government for lopsided appointments, nepotism and other acts of sectionalism, particularly from 2015 to date, alleging these have divided Nigeria now more than at any other time in its history.
Ortom stated this in Enugu while delivering the keynote address at the 3rd Lecture Series/Service Award and inauguration of executives of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) Chapter, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Enugu State Council.
The Benue governor whose address was on “Emerging security situation in the South East: the place of good governance,” said the Federal Government had the capacity to tackle the country’s security challenges, but had chosen not to.
“It is evident that the Federal Government has chosen to play double standards in its handling of security situation as it affects some regions, especially the South East, North Central, South South and South West, while at the same time treating with kid gloves, the menace of killer Fulani herdsmen, bandits and other terrorists in the North East and North West.
“The speed with which the leader of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and Yoruba Nation agitator, Sunday Igboho, were arrested confirmed the fact that the Federal Government has the capacity to tackle insecurity with determination and commitment. We live in a country today where those who demand for equal rights and freedom to end the wave of injustice and marginalization are hurriedly declared terrorists, while real terrorists who invade communities and kill hundreds of innocent people are pampered and given government protection.
“The South East has been at the receiving end of such levels of injustice, impunity and marginalization. Let me make myself very clear. I am not a supporter of violence in any form, neither am I here to justify the violence being witnessed in parts of the South East. This is why I condemn in strong terms, the destruction of Federal Government properties such as INEC offices, attacks on police stations, law enforcement operatives and even traditional rulers. Such attacks and destruction do not make a positive case for freedom fighters and campaigners for justice. Dialogue remains the best option in any dispute.”
Ortom said ongoing agitations by youths of the South East were as a result of years of neglect, injustice, unfairness and lack of equity by leaders of the country.
“I, Samuel Ortom, will never keep quiet as long as injustice and marginalisation prevail in the affairs of our country. I want peace that is anchored on equity, fairness and justice. The lopsided federal appointments, nepotism and other acts of sectionalism, particularly from 2015 to date, have divided Nigeria now more than at any other time in the country’s history. The Federal Character Principle as enshrined in the Constitution has been abused and abandoned by the present administration. This is where leadership has failed Nigerians and good governance has also been relegated to the back seat.
“Eastern Nigeria, like other parts of the country, deserves equal attention with the provision of critical infrastructure and development projects, as well as allocation of resources and key appointments at the federal level. No section of this nation is more Nigerian than another. My definition of democracy is doing what the people want the way they want things done. As leaders, we owe the people who voted us a duty to serve them without prejudice and sentiments on account of region, religion, ethnicity, language and political affiliation.
“The present administration has introduced selective persecution and prosecution of perceived political opponents. Its fight against corruption is only targeted at those who hold alternative views.They have been intimidating members of other political parties with EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies. For instance, in Benue State, no day passes without one or more appointees of government being invited and intimidated by EFCC simply because I have refused to bow to the strings of threats and harassment from Abuja to betray my people.”