The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, parted ways with him and the All Progressives Congress (APC), as a result of disagreements over the issue of Fulani herdsmen atrocities.
It stated that it appeared the nation’s leader prefers herdsmen terrorism to safety of Nigerians.
Buhari was reported to have said this while addressing the Nigerian community on Tuesday, at a town-hall meeting in Dubai.
PDP said Buhari was quoted to have absolved herdsmen of involvement in killings, laying the blame on those “cattle rearers from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and other cattle herders.”
Referring to Gov. Ortom, he reportedly said: “I took the governor on this and this is one of the reasons he left our party for another party.
“Because I told him the cattle rearers and settlers problem in Nigeria is older than myself not to talk of him and at first republic, there were cattle routes, they put infrastructures and even veterinary.
“So, if you are a cattle rearer or you know about cattle like myself, the herders now pass through anybody land to find water for their cattles to drink.
“I told Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture to look at the Gazette of the first republic to get the cattle routes and get the grazing routes and re-establish them so that we can reduce this incidence. Some of you here know the efforts we are making.”
Reacting, Bemgba Iortyom, PDP Publicity Secretary in Benue, said Buhari’s comments represented a shocking acceptance by a sitting President that he and his country’s security architecture were not only incapable of policing its borders effectively to stop criminal elements from breaching those borders, but powerless to curb the criminal activities of those intruder elements.
A statement he signed read: “Mr. President once on a visit to Benue at a high point in the wanton killings of farmers in the state by the herdsmen told the helpless victims to, as a panacea, learn to accommodate and live with the herdsmen whom he dressed in borrowed robes as ‘your neighbours’.
“On another occasion the president had shockingly told Nigerians and the whole world that the solution to the herdsmen killings was to be found in farmers giving up their lands for the establishing of cattle colonies and grazing routes. This option he said was better than the farmers losing their lives.
“Concerning Ortom, President Buhari need not belabour himself trying to craft new narratives as to why the Benue State governor parted ways with him and APC.
“We remember well enough how Gov. Ortom became “Permanent Trouble” in the eyes of the Presidency, and how, despite having been praised to high heavens by APC, both in Benue and Abuja, as a jewel of the party and endorsed for its automatic ticket for his re-election bid, he became overnight the worst thing to have happened to the party.
“All of these couldn’t have been just that the Benue State Governor lacked the capacity to understand the difference between Nigerian Fulani and their neighbouring West-African kith and kin, or that he didn’t appreciate the age of the conflict between Fulani and farmers in his state.
“Rather the parting of ways between the Buhari Presidency and Gov. Ortom was and still is to be located in the fundamental divergence in the view of the president and his advisers, who are mainly of his Fulani ethnic stock background, on one hand, and on the other hand the governor and his Benue people who are the victims bearing the brunt of the brutal bloodletting and pillaging in their land.
“For the Presidency the deployment of an endless and inconsistent chain of narratives remains a convenient ploy in the conflict, regardless that this may be unconvincing and incapable of standing the administration in good light.
“But for Gov. Samuel Ortom his choices in this conflict have always only been those available to the victim who must first fight to survive before anything else.
“How then could he not have become a “Permanent Trouble” always asking for reprieve from the authorities for his people who were unendingly being so brutally massacred?
“Could he have remained a good boy to Oshiomhole and the APC high council when in a desperate bid to survive together with his people, he had the temerity to see the solution to the killings as being in a prohibition of open grazing in the state, rather than in an ineffectual re-enactment of grazing routes and experimentation with cattle colonies and similar other such contraptions?
“How else could the victim have remained good in the sight of his oppressor if not by accepting to be continually killed without seeking to remain alive?
“If today, Gov. Ortom should be a target for condemnation by the president even in far away Dubai, it is simply an affirmation of the fact that the Benue State Governor has indeed stood valiantly for his people and fought a good fight in their defence.
“Further proof of this is handily available in the massive electoral support the people of Benue gave to his re-election victory and other candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the 2019 polls.”