Samuel Ortom, the Benue State Governor has backed Matthew Kukah, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese against the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
POLITICS NIGERIA recalls that Kukah had about a week ago said insecurity in Nigeria is compounded by President Buhari’s nepotism and indecisiveness to deal with and bring perpetrators to book.
“The North, even the whole country, is invaded by armed bandits, kidnappers, among others, who attack communities at will. The fact that the government seems to be either helpless or uninterested in dealing decisively with these people has added more confusion.
“The contradiction here is that the President has blatantly pursued nepotistic agenda and policies that show very clearly his preference for men and women of his faith,” Kukah had said.
Last Sunday, the presidency tackled Kukah for his comments.
In a statement by Garba Shehu, the Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Aso Rock said it was most disappointing that the comments came from a clergyman, a situation that could be traced to overt opposition.
“There is no bias in this government when the President is Northern and Muslim, the Vice President Southern and Christian, and the cabinet equally balanced between the two religions. But neither is there anything in our Constitution to state that political posts must be apportioned according to ethnicity or faith.
“It takes a warped frame of mind for a critic to believe ethnicity is of primary importance in public appointments. It is yet more troubling to hear a Churchman isolating one group for criticism purely on ethnic lines,” the Presidency had said.
However, Ortom in a statement released on Saturday by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase said he stands with Bishop Kukah on the issues he raised.
He urged the Federal Government to stop intimidating patriotic Nigerians who are raising genuine concerns over the worsening security and economic situation in the country.
Ortom lamented that the country is practising democracy which has no room for repression and dictatorship adding that the country’s Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech to all citizens, unlike a military regime that suppresses the right of the people to voice their opinions on challenges facing their country.
He described Bishop Kukah as a Nigerian who is selfless and speaks his mind frankly on national issues calling on the government to ensure justice, the rule of law and equity for all.
The Governor wonders why the Presidency chose to politicise the views of Bishop Kukah when all the issues he highlighted in his address are facts about the country.
“Kukah was right when he stated that nepotism has been elevated above federal character by the present administration.
“It is also true that Christians across the country are targets of elimination and thousands have already fallen to the sword of jihadist supremacists.
“However, Kukah is not to blame for the ranking of Nigeria as the 8th least peaceful country in Africa and the rating of killer herdsmen as the 4th deadliest terror group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index.
“I expected the Presidency to rather be worried that Nigeria is ranked as the most terrorised nation in Africa with an average of over 2,000 deaths per year on account of terrorism,” he said.
He further revealed that Bishop Kukah is not the first Nigerian to address a foreign audience on the security situation in the country.
The Governor recalled that in February 2015 President Buhari who was at the time the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), while delivering a speech at Chatham House in London, stated that “Boko Haram has sadly put Nigeria on the terrorism map, killing more than 13,000 of our nationals.”
“The President went on to announce to the world on that occasion that apart from the civil war era, Nigeria had never been more insecure in the country’s history.
“If a man who was seeking to govern the country could reel out such scary statistics, why will his aides now launch media attacks on a clergyman who is only advocating peace and is drawing the attention of the global community to the plight of helpless Nigerians,” he added.
He also urged the Federal Government to arrest and prosecute murderous Fulanis responsible for killing innocent Nigerians, the same way it effected the arrest of the leader of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Igboho.