Following a statement by the Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, advising Governor Samuel Ortom to embrace the federal government’s RUGA policy if he wants peace in his region, the Benue State government has fired back.
It would be recalled that following a series of killings in the state, Ortom, had called for the urgent intervention of the federal government, asking the president to rise up and address the nation since he took an oath of office to secure and protect lives and property.
The Benue governor had also asked Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security.
Mr. Shehu, in reaction to Ortom’s call, had said Buhari is pained by the killings but disappointed in the governor for blaming him for the situation in Benue.
According to a statement by Terver Akase, Ortom’s aide, the state government is convinced that the President was not aware of Shehu’s statement, as he would never have approved it.
The statement read in part:
“We are convinced that Mr. President was not aware that his aide Shehu made such a statement on his behalf. It is clear that the media aide didn’t speak for the President in the said statement. President Buhari wouldn’t have given approval for such a reckless and insensitive press release.
“What is wrong with Governor Ortom’s call on the President to address the nation, convene a national security summit, and declare a state of emergency on security, following the spate of killings taking place in Benue and the remaining states of the federation?”
He noted that Ortom is not the only one who has called on the president to declare a statement of emergency.
“Many other Nigerians of good conscience have at different times made similar calls. What the Governor therefore deserves is commendation and not condemnation,” he said.
Akase also accused Shehu of supporting “killer herdsmen”, adding that the presidential spokesman’s refusal to condemn the criminal activities of such herders shows complicity.
“It is shocking that Shehu would make a statement regarding an attack evidently carried out by Fulani herdsmen and there won’t be a single sentence of reproach directed at the violent Fulani herders. Such a deliberate omission smacks of complicity and tacit support for the killer herders.
“What Garba Shehu ought to know is that Governor Ortom has no personal grudge against the President. The Governor is only being patriotic by calling for justice, equity, fairness, and above all the rule of law. He expects the President to be the leader of every Nigerian and treat all as his people,” the statement added.