By Dirisu Yakubu
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has slammed Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, following comments made by the latter on the governor for faulting approaches to ongoing war against insecurity in the country.
Vanguard reported that in response to Gov Ortom’s revelation that some high ranking military officials, confided in him that, President Buhari warned them against repelling attacks on armed herdsmen, Garba Shehu had said Ortom “expects the country to believe Nigeria’s top security personnel would share high level confidential information with him. To be clear, they do not”.
Reacting to the utterances of the Presidential spokesman, Principal Special Assistant (New Media) to Governor Ortom, Raymond Magen took Shehu to the cleaners, insisting that well-meaning Nigerians know the governor as a man who does not make baseless comments on sensitive issues.
In a statement titled, “Ortom’s revelation cannot be waved away: A response to Garba Shehu,” Mr. Magen noted that “while being a weak line in the hope of making a rebuttal of the governor’s revelation, it smacks of ignorance to make the claim generally, that, Nigeria’s top security personnel would not share confidential information with a state governor. To be clear: on a number of cases, they do. And for a state governor battling with herdsmen attacks, it’s a no brainer, he must have feedback from all security outfits involved in arresting the herder attacks. And such feedback always includes “off record” or ‘don’t quote me’, information.”
He continued: “But then, Shehu would also add that, if indeed Gov Ortom is saying the truth, he should “name names”. In Garba’s words: “Let him name the military personnel who told him this story”.
“I once wrote that, I wonder what they smoke there at the villa. Garba’s outing here reinforces my curiosity. If Garba expects Ortom to give out the identities of people who give him information on their devilish plans, he’s clearly overrated. It’s sufficient that they know, the Governor and the country now knows of this order that has long been widely thought of as, merely the body language of the President. It’s worse. It’s now a communicated order.
“In phrasing the title for his State House press release on the subject, Shehu coined it “Ortom’s lies insults nation’s security system”. An alternative title more befitting, I might add, would be “Ortom’s revelation helps in understanding the emboldened attacks on communities by armed herdsmen.
“This is especially so because, one can now make better sense of the prevalence on the one hand, of gun wielding herdsmen freely moving across the country and the shoot on sight order for possessors of AK 47 – the latter, being a so-called Presidential order.
“There is now, a guided understanding to how particular weapons are strangely withdrawn from battle fields wherein their use was mostly responsible for inflicting high number casualties on enemies of state. It addresses our curiosities (Ortom’s revelation) on strange military tactics like sending out numbered personnel to battle fields with weapons that, easily gathered intelligence already points to possession of way higher grade weaponry by the enemy. It addresses our sense of wonder and helps our appreciation of the many puzzles on bizarre military responses with regards timing, armed levels, personnel numbers, reluctance or refusal to go after known targets/camps etc.
“To have as President, someone with a military background, should ordinarily assure of their loyalty to country, their broad mindedness and triumph over such common prejudices as ethnicity, religion, region etc. Instead, we have a soldier who embraces vulnerabilities in these areas and presides over country with every security decision and appointment influenced by these parochial leanings. Shame!
“It does point to a deep sense of dissatisfaction, frustration, when high placed military personnel begin to reveal unpopular orders. When these reveals do not lead to reviews and then reversals, options available as resorts are considered and they may not be pleasant options. Ortom’s revelation can not be waved aside,” the statement read.
Mr. Magen signed off the statement with a quote by former American President, Barack Obama who in 2004 said, “When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going, to care for their families while they are gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.“