Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has taken a swipe at his Plateau State counterpart, Simon Lalong, describing him as a sell out who cannot stand by his people in their moment of trial.
Ortom stated this while reacting to statements credited to Lalong during the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign in Makurdi on Wednesday.
Lalong had criticised Ortom during President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election campaign rally held at the Aper Aku Stadium in Makurdi, saying that he was using the farmers-herders’ crisis to cover his non-performance.
“We have seen projects everywhere but when people cannot pay salaries or do projects, the best way is to hide under crisis.
“It happened in Plateau too and now it is happening in Benue. When they can’t pay salaries or do projects, they hide under herdsmen-farmers clashes,” Lalong said.
But reacting swiftly, Governor Ortom described Lalong as a sell out who doesn’t care about the killing of his people but more interested in pecuniary gains.
“It is unfortunate and those of you who have watched the trend since this thing started would have noticed that Lalong has sold himself out to the Fulani and their attempt to conquer the Middle Belt. So, I’m not surprised that this is coming from him.
“I’m not prepared to talk about him but all that I know is that I’m doing what my people want and that is all about democracy. He may not care about the killings that are going on. Even now, killings are still going on in Plateau State.
“I should be bothered because the primary responsibility of any responsible government is to protect lives and property. And where this is not being done, I must respond to it by drawing the attention of those who are responsible.
“And of course, the issue of protecting lives and property squarely remains the responsibility of the Federal government which has the security agencies. It is their responsibility, not my own. And so, there is no way I will abandon my people and leave them unprotected.
“I will continue to defend my people. I’m not Lalong to abandon my people to be killed and won’t say anything. He is very shameless by refusing to stand by his people who elected him. I prefer to stand with my people even if I’m not a governor,” Ortom submitted.