By Nathaniel Ikyur
Presidential Spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu’s ten paragraph statement wherein he attempted to pour innuendos against the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, for speaking truth to the President, has failed.
Interestingly, this is not the first time the fire spitting presidential image maker would be disconnected in marshalling his arguments. In this latest slur against Gov. Ortom, Shehu’s incoherence is even more glaring. It can be seen in the disconnect between the caption of the press release and the main text.
Garba Shehu wants us to believe that President Muhammadu Buhari is deeply touched by the unending stream of unprovoked killings perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State and in various states of the country. Sadly, Gov Ortom and many other patriotic Nigerians haven’t seen much of what the president’s image maker wants us to believe. Instead, there has been a slap on the wrist by the Presidency, which gives the impression of encouragement rather than reproach against the known murderous agents.
In the event that the presidency is forgetful, suffice it to be said here that from the onset, Gov Ortom has been raising the red flag over the murderous activities of the killer herdsmen in Benue State. President Buhari himself confirmed this much when he told the Nigerian community in Dubai, why Ortom left the APC in 2018.
The nation is aware, the presidency too is aware of the various instances where the administration of Gov Ortom has sought to collaborate with the Federal Government to tackle this perennial conflict between farmers and herders. This, Gov Ortom knows clearly that the security architecture of the nation is solely domiciled with the President and Commander in Chief. There are several official memos from Gov Ortom to President Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo in this regard.
Apart from these, the administration of Gov Ortom has sought cooperation with heads of various security agencies, working tirelessly to ensure smooth working relationship.
It is an open secret that President Buhari came into office using a three point agenda to wit: Tackling Security, War against corruption, and Economic Recovery. Sadly, the president has performed abysmally on all three fronts. Nigeria’s security under the current APC government has proven to be the worst ever.
In the present Buhari dispensation, there has been an upsurge in ethnic, religious and sectional divide as has never been seen in the life of Nigeria as a nation. This has given rise to secessionist agitations like never heard of in the country. Under Buhari’s presidency, human lives don’t matter. Rather, the herds of cattle are prized higher than the lives of citizens. This should also worry Buhari’s presidency. And this is one of the many ills of injustice that Gov Ortom has been shouting about.
When Gov Ortom spoke with tears in his heart at Abagena, a settlement on the fringes of Makurdi, the Benue State capital, the governor also suggested the immediate convocation of a National Summit on Security as an avenue to end the distintegration of Nigeria through the mindless killings going on. This is a clear indication that Ortom is not working at cross purposes with the federal government.
Garba Shehu talks loosely, suggesting that Gov Ortom has never been open to working with the Federal Government. This is the height of deceit. Except Garba is linking the rejection of RUGA and Cattle Colony by Gov Ortom, but rather proffering the adoption of Ranching as the best global practice in animal husbandry as the panacea to the farmers/herders violence.
For the avoidance of doubt, Gov Ortom has shown more genuine commitment to national cohesion than what the presidential spokesman seems to be preaching. Gov Ortom has always pointed to the direction where and how the nation’s fragile peace could be brought maintained.
Garba’s allusion to the divide and rule policy of the colonialists and his submission that our today’s leaders fester ethnic and religious division is a clear indictment of his principal, whose nepotism as clearly enunciated in his selective, lopsided and provincial appointments has divided this nation more than ever before.
President Buhari’s preferential treatment for a particular ethnic and religious group and a section of the country in his appointments is largely responsible for the growing secessionists agitations across the country. I challenge Garba to dare publish all appointments made by PMB since 2019 to see the damage his principals insensitivity and deliberate disregard to the secularity, multicultural and multiethnic nature of our country has done to this nation.
In any case, we are happy that for once, the Presidency lacked the voice to speak with confidence on the patriotic calls by Gov Ortom over the spate of wanton killings of Benue State citizens by Fulani herdsmen, without any provocation.
What Governor Ortom has consistently asked for is fairness, equity and justice for every Nigerian. A call, which by any stretch of the imagination is to foster the unity and well-being of the federation, as against the crippling provincialism in Abuja that is pushing the nation to the precipice.
▪︎ Ikyur is the Principal Special Assistant on Media to Benue State Governor
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