Benue State governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, yesterday identified his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai, as one of the people misleading President Muhammadu Buhari.
Governor Ortom was reacting to an uncomplimentary statement reportedly made by El-Rufai against Ortom after watching a video of the Benue governor addressing protesters after an attack on some communities in the state.
El-Rufai, after watching the video during a webinar organized by Africa Leadership Group, was quoted as saying that he no longer takes Governor Ortom seriously because he was in the habit of using the state to attack the Federal Government in order to cover up his failures.
“I did not hear what Governor Ortom said (in the video), but I know him and he is not somebody I take very seriously, frankly.
“He has other issues of governance that he is using the Federal Government as a punching bag to distract attention from his failures.
“Go and find out how many months’ salaries are being owed teachers and public servants in Benue State, then you can understand a lot of what Ortom is doing,” El-Rufai said.
In his own response to El-Rufai’s remarks via a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, yesterday, Ortom said the Kaduna State governor has no moral right to accuse another governor because he has failed in every aspect of his duties as a governor.
He also identified Governor El-Rufai as one of the people that have been misleading President Muhammadu Buhari in the latter’s handling of the nation’s affairs.
Akase’s statement reads: “We read the statement credited to Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai in which he accused Governor Samuel Ortom of using the insecurity in his state to attack the Federal Government in order to cover up what he termed as the Benue State Governor’s failure.
“We want to believe that El-Rufai was wrongly quoted. A man who has failed in several aspects as Governor of Kaduna has no moral justification to accuse another Governor.
“A Governor who has divided the good people of Kaduna against one another by not hiding his hatred for indigenes of the state on account of religion and ethnicity is not qualified to judge another Governor on any issue whatsoever.
“A Governor who chose a Muslim deputy in a state where Christians have a huge population is certainly not one to preach unity and peaceful co-existence.
“El-Rufai’s attack on Governor Ortom is merely to make him look good before the Presidency. He has apparently fallen out of favour at the Villa and wants to use Governor Ortom as a launch pad back to reckoning.
“How has he handled his own problems in Kaduna? This is a man who has insulted almost every prominent Nigerian, including the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a man who is his former boss and one who brought him to limelight.
“Nigerians have not forgotten the unprintable things El-Rufai said during Goodluck Jonathan’s time as President. He insulted the then President and publicly supported terrorists attacking parts of the country.
“His statements on the abduction of Chibok girls and several other acts of terrorism are still fresh in our minds. El-Rufai is on record to have said repeatedly that Fulani people must retaliate any wrong done to them, no matter how long it takes.
“Is Governor Ortom responsible for El-Rufai’s inability to ensure peace in Kaduna State where bandits have taken over some communities while kidnappings and killings occur on a daily basis?
“El-Rufai admitted to paying Fulani herdsmen whom he invited from other West African countries in the name of stopping attacks in Southern Kaduna. Since he made the confessional statement, attacks on the people of Southern Kaduna have escalated.
“This is why he wants men of good conscience like Governor Ortom to be silent to pave way for the conquest and expansion agenda to succeed.
“Kidnapping has become a common crime in Kaduna State under Nasir el-Rufai.
Aside the much celebrated cases, it has been estimated that at every given time, not less than 300 persons are abducted in Kaduna by kidnappers who are always identified as El-Rufai’s kinsmen.
“He pays them billions to embolden them. He has turned the state into one of the most unsafe places to live in Nigeria today.
“Talking about taking someone seriously, if other Nigerians take El-Rufai seriously, we in Benue do not do same. A man who has no regard for humanity does not deserve our attention.
“Nasir el-Rufai is a sycophant, ethnic champion and religious bigot who hates anyone who does not share the same faith with him. He is among the very few persons who have misled President Muhammadu Buhari.
“El-Rufai is one of the real enemies of this country who do not hide their divisive tendencies by elevating nepotism and ethnicity above the good values that have held Nigeria together over the decades.
“Nasir el-Rufai doesn’t possess the credentials to counsel anyone on payment of salaries and the welfare of workers.
“This is a Governor who recently sacked 4,000 workers for no just cause. He ought to be ashamed of himself. What happened to the lofty promises he made to Kaduna people in 2015?
“The Kaduna Governor should know that only two days ago, the people of Benue State met at a stakeholders meeting in Makurdi and unanimously passed a vote of confidence on Governor Ortom in recognition of his performance.
“That meeting was attended across party lines with leaders of All Progressives Congress, APC also present.
“El-Rufai and his conspirators must note that Benue State will not repeal the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law no matter the amount of blackmail, hatred and threats they wage against Governor Ortom.
“We advise the Kaduna State Governor to focus on addressing the numerous problems he has created in his state and leave Governor Ortom to lead Benue in peace.