Gov Ortom no longer cares
With Benue a favourite hunting ground for kidnappers and murderers, Governor Samuel Ortom has had just about enough. He cannot be blamed; he was pushed to this point. Only two months ago, he raked Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State over the coals for unguarded and insensitive comments made by the latter in league with the now subdued Sheikh Gumi. On Tuesday, he gave the presidency a mouthful. His words: “What is happening now, to me, is very clear; Mr President is just working for these Fulanis to take over the whole country… The body language, the action and inaction of Mr President shows that he is only the President of Fulani people; I have known this… We are becoming a banana republic, if we have a president who gave the security agencies order to shoot on sight anyone wielding AK-47, and the Minister of Defence came out to say that they cannot shoot on sight… so who is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces?”
On Wednesday, he explained further: “It is an unfortunate development that what is happening, if the federal government had taken a proactive step, we will not be where we are… It means we don’t have a government… They no longer come here with their cattle because they want to suck blood… They are not bandits. They are Fulanis. We saw them and heard them speak the language.”
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Responding to his accusations, the presidency limply and unconvincingly stated that the president was deeply disappointed with the governor and that no responsible government would be happy with the loss of lives of its citizens. In a word, said the presidency, the government swore an oath and it was going to fulfil it so Mr Ortom should cooperate. Big words, small actions. Following this, the presidency went on the offensive to misfire — but fire nonetheless– political missiles at the hapless governor, accusing him of divide-and-rule tactics.
Unfortunately for the Buhari administration, Mr Ortom’s statements were a polite representation of the true sentiments of Nigerians. The enemy is not Governor Ortom, neither is it any of those who have lost their lives needlessly. The enemy is not the university students who are being picked off like lilies in the field, nor is it soldiers whose lives are being offered up as sacrifices to bloodthirsty marauders and insurgents from neighbouring countries. The presidency is its own worst enemy with its consistent armoury of silence, denial and inaction. The battle is not within; it is without. Until the presidency’s spokesmen have tangible messages of substantive hope, no one wants to hear what they have to say. Mr Ortom is too injured to care anyway; but, alas, Nigerians somehow care even less.