Presidency: Ortom Inciting Ethnic, Religious Hatred

The Presidency on Wednesday came hard on Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom over his ceaseless diatribe on President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of national security.

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu accused the governor of promoting sectarianism and ethnicity to cover up his political shortcomings.

The chastisement came on a day a group cautioned the governor to discontinue with his criticisms of the Buhari-led administration.

According to the Presidency, Ortom, with his utterances, has been inciting ethnic and religious hatred in his state, thereby stirring up a Rwandan-like crisis.

In a statement, Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity,  said Presidency also accused the governor of deliberately escalating the farmers’/herders’ clashes and causing more deaths in the Northcentral state.

The statement said the Benue Anti-Open Grazing Law was crafted to rob a particular ethnic group in the state of its rights.

Ortom chose the path of festering ethnic and religious wounds among the people in the state because of an alleged exclusionist agenda, Shehu claimed in the statement.

He said the governor concealed the agenda in the Ranches Establishment Law.

The statement reads: “The said Ranches Establishment Law is a ploy to withhold rights and freedom from the targeted ethnic group.

“Governor Ortom has few political principles. We can see this from the fact that he has changed political party five times during his undistinguished career.

“Every time he feels the wind may be blowing in a certain direction, he follows it. Unfortunately, for the good citizens of Benue State, the most dangerous direction he blows in today is that of sectarianism and ethnicity.

“In an attempt to boost his sinking political fortunes, Ortom takes the cheapest and lowest route possible by playing on ethnic themes – and in doing so knowingly causes deaths of innocent Nigerians by inciting farmers against herders, and Christians against Muslims.

“Specifically, Ortom stirs up hatred by targeting one single ethnic group in Nigeria – using language reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide.

“As was the case in Rwanda where the then Hutu leaders of the country incited their countrymen against each other, claiming there was a ‘secret Tutsi agenda’ over the Hutu, Ortom claims there is a ‘secret Fulanisation agenda’ over other ethnic groups in his state and in Nigeria. This is a copy of the language of Hutu Power – which falsely, and intentionally, accused the Rwandan Tutsi of plans to dominate the country.”

“This wicked talk is aimed at giving cover to his so-called ‘policy’ on the Ranches Establishment Law – which in reality is purely an act of denial of the law – intended to withhold rights and freedoms from one ethnic group alone, whilst inciting race hatred against them amongst all others.

The statement, however, noted that the governor is not fit for public office, expressing the hope that the people of the state would make a better choice in the next election.

“These are not the actions of a man who should be trusted with running public services or holding public office.

“For the governor of a major state in Nigeria to be politically-driven by ethnic hatred is a stain on our country.

“The good, and fair-minded people of Benue State deserve more than this, and we look forward to the next elections when they have an opportunity to restore its greatness.”

Also yesterday, a socio-cultural group, Tiv Youth Council Worldwide (TYCW), asked the governor to stop the blame game and use his energy on providing good governance.

The group, in a statement by its President, Mike Musaan, scored the governor low after a review of his performance in the last six years.

It described Ortom’s continuous attack on President Buhari as a diversionary ploy to distract the people of the state from assessing his performance.

According to the group, Ortom has not done enough to justify his criticisms of the President in terms of performance.

Challenging the governor to list ongoing or completed projects in the state, the group said: “Governor Ortom obviously has several MoUs to his credit; none of which has come to light. Governor Ortom cannot continue with the deceitful posturing of fighting or defending the people of Benue State when he has practically failed in securing their lives as he swore on oath to do.”


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