Ortom replies Buhari, asks president to fix security challenge


Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has, again, challenged President Muhammadu Buhari and his government to redeem their battered image by rescuing Nigerians from the grips of bandits, kidnappers and terrorists that are having a field day in the country.

He threw the challenge in a reaction to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in which the presidency described him as a liar following his allegation that President Buhari had given security agents order not to touch Fulani killer herdsmen.

The presidency had accused Ortom of lying in his recent interview, claiming that high ranking security personnel had informed him, personally, that President Buhari had ordered security forces not to move against the Fulani herdsmen responsible for recent violence. 

The presidency said: “These ridiculous claims are patently untrue. If he is as brave as he claims to be, let him name names. Let him name the military personnel who told him this story or forever shut up.

“It is disappointing that Ortom, who, in the same interview, describes himself as a child of God who believes in being lawful, and respects the Nigerian constitution, felt the need to spread such a divisive lie.

“In a period of heightened insecurity, our politicians should be working to bring us closer together, not risking further violence by dishonestly seeking to further divide us along ethnic or religious lines.

“Fortunately, the cheap, dog whistle politics behind Ortom’s falsehood are plain for all to see.

“He is not the first opportunistic politician who has attempted to sow discord among his country’s people in the run-up to an election; sadly, he will not be the last.

“The Nigerian people will see him for what he is: an opportunist flaunting his wares as the country prepares to elect its next president; a man fond of posing in military fatigue who expects the country to believe Nigeria’s top security personnel would share high-level confidential information with him. To be clear: they do not.”

But Ortom, in statement by Nathaniel Ikyur, chief press secretary, observed that any time he speaks about how bad the security situation is in the country, Buhari’s aides attack him.

“Each time, I speak about the dreadful manner the Buhari administration has handled the security situation in the country, his media aides and hangers-on come out attacking my personality instead of addressing the issues I raised.

“The latest of such attacks by the presidency came from the garrulous Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu, who, rather than tell Nigerians the steps taken by his principal to end the unprecedented bloodshed perpetrated by armed Fulani terrorists, chose to hurl insults on the governor.

“If the presidency assumes that I am wrong about my statements regarding the failure of the present government to tackle insecurity, I urge them to hold a referendum to get the feelings of Nigerians towards their ineptitude, complicity and clear lack of commitment and sincerity in protecting the people.

“It is sad and unfortunate that the likes of Shehu have zero sympathy for the families of those being killed daily by Fulani terrorists. As long as their meal ticket is secured, they tell Mr. President to go to bed, that all is well with the country.

While describing Shehu as a man whose loyalty is for sale to the highest bidder, Ortom said: “He (Shehu) sings in high praise of the president today because that is his current source of livelihood.

“He will be the first to go against the president once the tables turn. He has done that before with other prominent Nigerians whom he served. A man who betrays his former benefactor for a new pot of porridge does not possess the moral right to question me.

“Shehu blew the opportunity to prove me wrong that I raised a false alarm about the worsening security situation in the country. Hundreds of our citizens are held captive by terrorists in the forests. I expected Shehu to tell Nigerians what efforts the Federal Government has made to release the hostages.

“Was it a false alarm from me that led to the terrorists’ attack on the convoy of President Buhari in his home state, Katsina? Or was it a movie acting when terrorists broke into Kuje Correctional Centre right in the heart of Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and released their colleagues?

“It is unfortunate that till date, no officer has been arrested or questioned for the lapses and clear cases of complicity by the security operatives attached to the Kuje facility. There are reports of over six jail breaks in the last seven years under the Buhari administration. If that is not a crying shame of failure on the part of the presidency, we wonder what else qualifies as failure.

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“Everyone is aware how the Buhari administration descends heavily and brutally on other groups like Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra or Sunday Igboho who have been declared as terrorists with their members arrested and incarcerated but the same government treats Fulani terrorists with kid gloves.

“Shehu must be reminded that I speak the minds of most Nigerians on specific areas of incompetence or deliberate complicity by the Federal Government in the heinous crimes committed against citizens by armed Fulani herdsmen and other terrorists. Instead of taking me on those points, Shehu went chasing vain and mundane matters in a desperate attempt to malign me which he failed woefully.

“If I raised a false alarm, why have the Fulani terrorists who are veiled as herdsmen continued to kidnap and kill Nigerians unchallenged? How many of the terrorists and bandits have been apprehended and prosecuted?”

The governor posited further that the Buhari administration cannot extricate itself from complicity regarding the evil visited on citizens of this country, insisting the presidency has failed the integrity test and should rather accept its failure, apologise to Nigerians and seek help to salvage the situation.

“It is clear that the loud-mouthed presidential media aide is unaware that other states such as Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto and even Katsina, where the president comes from are under siege. Is that also my false alarm that has given rise to the killings in other parts of this country?

“In case the likes of Shehu and his likes are not aware, majority of Nigerians wake up to face daily frustrations and live in constant fear of who will be the next victim of terrorists.

“Yet, self-serving individuals like the presidential media aide who live under the shield and paraphernalia of the presidency and have apparently sold their conscience to the devil, want us to pretend that nothing sinister is happening.

While also taking a swipe at Garba for branding him as an opportunistic politician, Ortom said: “Shehu should be told that I rose to become a local government chairman, state publicity secretary of National Centre Party of Nigeria; state treasurer of All People’s Party, state secretary as well as state deputy chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), national auditor of PDP, minister of the Federal Republic and, now, a two-term governor.

“If Shehu thinks it is easy to win elections, he should test his popularity by contesting a councillor-ship position in his local government area.”

He maintained that the presidency must realise that no amount of blackmail, persecution and media attack can discourage him from speaking against the injustice and pain the present government has caused Nigerians.

He however, advised the presidency to focus on ending the killing of innocent Nigerians, fix the economy as it promised and stop the stinking corruption under its watch.

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