By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Piqued by Senator George Akume’s incessant attacks on his person, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has alleged that the former governor’s ceaseless affront against him since the Benue pogrom was a clear indication that the three term senator was a direct beneficiary of the invasions and killings in the state by militant herdsmen since the beginning of the year.
Ortom was Sunday reacting to recent decision of the All Progressives Congress, APC, leader and the governorship candidate of the party to stage a political campaign rally in one of the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps in Daudu, Guma local government area.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secreatry, Terver Akase, the Governor said, “We watched in disbelief, the political campaign staged at one of the Daudu camps for IDPs by the APC which was addressed by Senator George Akume and the party’s governorship candidate, Mr. Emmanuel Jime and we wonder why the group chose an IDPs camp for a rally.
“We understand that the duo of Akume and Jime lied to the displaced persons that they were visiting the camp to give them relief materials, only for the IDPs to discover that it was a campaign rally?
“It is on record that Hon. Emmanuel Jime in particular has never made a single statement in condemnation of the series of attacks and killing of Benue people by armed herdsmen. He did not send even one relief material to the thousands in various camps.
“Now that political campaigns are here, the same Jime has not only found his voice but has also chosen to dance on the graves of the dead and mock the displaced persons by mounting a campaign podium to deliver a ‘sermon’ about governance.
“Where was Jime when the same people he has today found useful as voters were being attacked by herdsmen with many killed and others made to sleep in the bush among reptiles and mosquitoes for weeks? Is life all about politics and votes? Did Jime care if those who came under sustained attacks lost their PVCs while running from the marauding herdsmen? Does he care how they feed, clothe and find shelter now?
“Was the invasion of Benue not an issue big enough for Barrister Jime to have called for a debate against enemies of the state?
“Contrary to Jime’s view of what governance is about, Governor Ortom believes that his people must be alive to vote. The Governor believes that what the IDPs in Daudu and the other camps need to hear now is not a campaign slogan but the sound of school bells for their children; the sight of what to eat and what to wear.
“The people need a blanket to cover their skins after many months in the cold of IDPs camps and not a banner promoting a candidate. The affected people deserve the presence of medical personnel in their communities to heal bruises which they suffered while fleeing from invaders, not the presence of campaign jingoists.
“We expected Barrister Jime to tell the people what he will do and produce his blueprint to support his presentation, not what he thinks Governor Ortom has not done.
“From all indications, the APC governorship candidate has got only Ortom as his ‘blueprint’ and campaign chip, for he hardly says a word or two without the mention of the Governor wherever he goes.
“Jime doesn’t need to challenge Governor Ortom for a debate. There will certainly be a debate before the 2019 elections where Jime will have the opportunity to tell Benue people what he has done for them in his public service career and why he kept quite over the attacks and killings of hundreds of innocent people only to surface on the eve of elections to demand votes from the traumatised victims.
Continuing, he said, “Senator George Akume on the other hand is apparently bereft of the right words, reasons and points with which to market the APC governorship candidate to Benue voters. This was again evident throughout his speech at the IDPs camp rally.
“He began his address with the name Ortom and ended with the Governor’s name. But that goes to show the nature of the smear campaign APC is waging in Benue State.
“The Senator has failed to answer questions bordering on his abysmal representation of the people of Benue North West at the Senate in 12 years. His obsession with the name Samuel Ortom cannot ecplise his glaring lack of performance as a Senator.
“Senator Akume is also yet to respond to the issue of N2 billion he took from the accounts of the state just before he left office as Governor in 2007. The two billion naira saga was a tip of the iceberg in the maladministration and massive corruption that defined his tenure as Governor.
“We restate that Akume’s latter day criticism of Governor Ortom has nothing to do with performance but everything to do with Ortom’s firm stand against the invasion and killing of innocent Benue people (he Akume is a direct beneficiary of the attacks) as well as the Governor’s rejection of Senator Akume’s selfish disposition.
“The good people of MINDA must be aware of Senator Akume’s deceit and resolve never to let a MINDA son do two terms in any office. He succeeded in denying Senator JKN Waku a second term, brought in Dr. Joshua Adagba who died under unclear circumstances and stopped Senator Fred Orti from returning to the red chamber where he has been in the last 12 years without anything to show.
“Now, Senator Akume wants to deny another MINDA son a second term as governor. Though Akume has already failed in his bid to remove Governor Ortom, it is instructive that the people of MINDA know who their real enemy is.
“Governor Ortom will not be distracted by the attacks on his person and office from the APC leader and the party’s governorship candidate in Benue State. The people know who their true leaders are. The people also know those who have found them useful only now that the election season is here.
“For Governor Ortom, Benue people are important before, during and after elections.”