● Farmers-herders conflict: Groups tell Ortom to stop attacking Buhari

By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, has been advised to face the myriad of violent criminal activities under his watch instead of persistently attacking President Muhmmadu Buhari.

Giving the advice on Tuesday, three bodies, which claimed to be ‘friends of the Presidency’, rubbished an allegation reportedly made recently by Governor Ortom, accusing President Buhari of being lenient towards criminal herdsmen.

The statement was signed by Mohammed Salihu, Chairman of The Nigeria Project Initiative; Akinloye James, Chairman of Initiative to Save Democracy; and Chief Bernard Okri, Chairman of Global Economic Policy Initiative.

According to the groups, contrary to Governor Ortom’s allegation, President Buhari had all along proven to be a leader that is committed to the rights of all Nigerians, regardless of tribe, religion and social statuses.

They recalled that Buhari had on occasions risen to condemn all forms of criminal activities, no matter who was involved, citing the occasion when criminal herdsmen and bandits attacked Benue and the President had to visit the state, sympathised with affected communities and ordered a crack down on the hoodlums.

They, however, charged the governor to be more responsive to the yearnings of his people, describing his allegation against the President as sensational and cheap.

“We react to the widely circulated attack on the President by the Governor of Benue State Samuel Ortom, the summary of which is the allegation that President Muhammadu Buhari is ‘lenient’ towards criminal herdsmen.

“As friends of the Presidency, we like to defend the President by saying that contrary to the wrong assertion of the Governor, President Buhari is a patriotic, nationalistic and fair-minded leader who is, at all times, ready to defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“He is a leader committed to the defense of the rights of all citizens, majority and minority including ethnic and religious minorities, meting out justice without fear or favor when crimes are committed. Under the Buhari government, the climate of impunity has been banished.

“Governor Ortom is himself a witness to this when Benue State suffered attacks by criminal herdsmen and bandits. President Buhari travelled to Makurdi, addressed Communities, offered sympathy and support and ordered law enforcement agencies to take action against the criminals.

“The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom is on the other hand a failed leader with nothing to show to his people for all the years he has been in office.

Under him, religious tensions have intensified; inter-ethnic violence has remained pervasive.

“His contribution to Benue in the last six years is seen more in the increased incidents of religiously and ethnically motivated criminal violence throughout the state.

“Governor Ortom needs to do better in addressing issues of violence between farmers and herds; he must do better on the issues of violence against women, government corruption, extra-judicial killing and the mayhem unleashed by state-supported cultists and vigilance groups.

“The Governor needs to be more responsive to the feelings and yearnings of his people.

“A Governor who collects monthly subventions from there centre, collects bailout funds from Buhari as do many other Governors, but fails to pay workers and pensioners, should look at himself in the mirror to determine where his problems lie.

“It is cheap and sensational to blame President Buhari for the ills of his government and the state for the truth is that Ortom is Ortom’s problem, not anyone else”, the statement said.

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