Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has rejected calls by the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Sen. George Akume, to tender an unreserved apology to President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) over his (Ortom’s) recent attacks on the administration.
Akume, a leader of the party in the state had, at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, cautioned Ortom to restrain himself from further attacking the federal government and to apologize to the President and the APC over his recent comments.
But in a statement made available to Ripples Nigeria on Tuesday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Terver Akase, Ortom said he will never shy away from expressing his criticisms of the Buhari administration.
In the statement, Ortom derided Akume, who is also a former governor of the state, for not standing by the Benue people but rather joining forces with the “enemies to organize a smear campaign against him.”
The statement reads:
“As expected, Senator Akume and his group avoided responding to the issues of insecurity in the country which the Governor has repeatedly and rightly accused the Presidency of complicity.
“The outing of George Akume and others in Abuja was nothing more than a massage on the ego of the Presidency to curry personal favours.
“As long as he and his group secure their meal tickets, Benue can go to hell. A media attack on Governor Ortom instantly attracts a package from the Villa.
“Akume and his group must have been under immense pressure to hold the press conference and hurl vituperation against the Governor. This, they had to do to keep their jobs.
“The leadership of APC in Benue, having lost grip of the party membership in the state with hundreds defecting to PDP every week, now see a window of opportunity to relaunch themselves into relevance.
“As a two-term former Governor of Benue State, it is shocking that Akume is now calling for the declaration of state of emergency in the state to dismantle democratic structures.
“Is it not contradictory that Akume faults Governor Ortom over his statements on the President’s handling of the security situation in the country but goes ahead to brand the Governor as a criminal and sponsor of militia?
“We challenge the Minister to provide evidence to back his claim that the Governor is involved in corruption and sponsors militia.
“We recall that when he was Governor, Akume challenged the then President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for not doing enough to end the Jukun/Tiv crisis on the border of Benue and Taraba State.
“He is on record to have confronted President Obasanjo and said uncomplimentary things to the President.
“Now he finds it convenient to give lectures on respect for hierarchy in government and age.
“On his call for a probe, we have no objection to that. Governor Ortom is running a transparent administration and has nothing to hide.
“We, however, invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to begin their probe from 1999 when Akume became Governor.
“The N2 billion that went missing at the twilight of his administration is yet to be accounted for.
“Akume’s utterances in 2019 are still fresh in the minds of Benue people. After the state came under herdsmen attacks and hundreds were killed, he accused Benue people of killing themselves.
“That the people responded to him by voting him out of the Senate confirmed their anger towards him.
“Lastly, we expected APC to hold the press conference in Benue to test their popularity among the people of the state.”
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