Akume’s former aide said Ortom’s defection was a political uppercut

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* Describes the senator’s political camp as a dying horse

By Codratus Godson

The reality of the defection of Gov Sam Ortom of Benue State may not have all come out. Now, Tahav Agerzuah, the former chief press secretary to George Akume, now senator, has says the defection was nothing short of an upper cut to the formr governor.

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The so-called  ” world press conference ” addressed by Senator George Akume and his co-travellers to political retirement in Abuja yesterday is yet another futile attempt to resurrect a  diminished platform which has lost touch with the people.

2. Since Governor Samuel Ortom and other patriots in Benue State took the wise decision to dump the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Senator Akume and his small band have found it difficult to recover from this political uppercut which left their floundering and sinking party in total confusion. They have consequently resorted to Ortom-bashing as a favorite pastime and lamentation as if that will bring their discredited party back to life.

3. We understand that the mass movement of Benue’s most potent politicians into the PDP will naturally cause sleepless nights especially to individuals and groups who have held down the state in a suffocating manner since 1999.  Their reactions are therefore expected just like a dying horse is expected to kick the hardest at the point of its death.

4. We shall however not allow them get away with their tissues of cheap lies as circulated in Abuja yesterday, as doing so will give credence to their ignoble motives. Senator Akume and his co-signatories of the text of the press conference are sold to the falsehood that the Benue People are ignorant about the issues at stake. By opening their press conference with fallacious and groveling praise singing of the people whose publicized agenda is subjugation, annihilation, conquest and occupation of Benue lands and elsewhere in Nigeria, they have indicated clearly that they stand against our people.

5. One thought that Senator Akume, who represents Benue North West District in the National Assembly, would have seized the opportunity to give an account of his stewardship in the last 11 years. It would have been great if he had proved his critics wrong by enumerating how many bills and motions he has sponsored as well as his constituency projects. Otherwise, many still hold the opinion that he is an absentee Senator in the upper legislative chambers. Lacking any scorecard of his own, he embarked on panagyrics that have no bearing on his constituents. Many wonder when Senator Akume transformed into President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesperson. This is clear evidence that the legislator is out to curry favour with the Presidency at the detriment of the government and people of Benue State.

6. Close watchers believe that the legislator has also indeed arrogated divine powers to himself and also assumed the status of the entire people of Benue State hence his megalomania of speaking as both God and the people. But those familiar with the Holy Scriptures know that when humans play God disastrous consequences await them as it happened to Nebuchadnezzar and Herod in the Bible.

7. Senator Akume and his cohorts in their text made grievous, unsubstantiated and indeed seditious allegations against the person and administration of Governor Samuel Ortom.  They mentioned issues like “Governor Samuel Ortom recruiting and arming militia in order to cause mayhem in 2019”.  Even if Senator Akume was intoxicated , this particular allegation defies logic especially against the background of Governor Ortom’s internationally acclaimed decision to mop up small arms in the state through a well articulated Amnesty Programme. If the Governor had the intention of arming citizens, the cruel invasion and wanton killings by armed Fulani militia provided an ample opportunity to do so. He has on the contrary resisted the temptation to do so and turn the state into a theatre of bloodbath. If the Governor disarmed hoodlums in the face of concerted attacks against his people, why does he need to re-arm them for an election he is confident of winning? In 2015 Governor Ortom won election popularly and overwhelmingly without the aid of any militia and there is no need whatsoever for him to resort to any illegal means to win reelection in 2019.

The purported arrest of any individual or group of people with or without weapons on any accusation does not amount to a conviction by a court of competent jurisdiction and cannot therefore be used as proof that the Governor has a militia. In any case, anyone out to do justice about the incessant violence that has rocked communities in Benue State should first arrest and prosecute leaders of various Fulani groups including those of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore. Otherwise, any other arrest is suspect. However, in talking about a militia, Senator Akume ought to recall his tenure as Governor between 1999 and 2003 when his militia perpetrated mayhem and electoral violence in Tarka, Kwande and Gwer East local government areas. Governor Ortom as Governor is poles apart. He has no need of militia. Yet, there is cause to worry as Senator Akume who is reviving his old militia structures is pointing fingers in the opposite direction.

THE STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
8.  We understand that the ousted former leadership of the Benue State House of Assembly and a few of their supporters will naturally cast their lots with their fellow losers in the APC. We shall not waste time responding to issues of the Assembly raised by eight out of a 30-member Assembly. Even Senator Akume admits in his statement that there are only eight members on his side against 22 other patriotic members siding with the people and their legitimate government.  The era where a negligible minority dictated the impeachment of Governors is over. Indeed in Benue State everyone knows that it was Senator George Akume who sponsored only eight members of the State Assembly with the aid of the police and other security operatives to stage unprecedented impunity at the Assembly Complex where the majority was excluded and an illegal sitting was staged. The law court has since quashed the illegality with its proceedings.

Besides, the outrage that greeted the development ought to make everyone associated with the infamous saga ashamed. As for the removal of the leadership of the House, Section 92 sub-section 2 (c) states that “The Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly shall vacate his office- if he is removed from office by a resolution of the House of Assembly by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the House.” How can Governor Ortom be held responsible for the change of House of Assembly leadership when the legislative arm is a separate entity of government and when the Constitution has been followed? The matter is however, in court which in a ruling ordered both parties not to hold sittings at the Assembly Complex until the substantive issues are resolved.

9.  We have on previous occasions sufficiently addressed Senator Akume’s alleged corruption swan song especially allegations of a phantom N23 billion which exists only in his imagination.  Like we said in an earlier statement, we shall not be evaluated by his standards. We remain firm in our commitment to run an open and transparent administration with zero tolerance for corruption. We challenge him and anyone else with proof of any wrong doing on our part to make public any such claims. For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Ortom has not, and does not intend to breach his oath of office by engaging in unwholesome acts. The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, indeed investigated allegations of the N28 billion diversion against Governor Ortom and gave him a clean bill.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION
10. In the pursuit of transparency, the Ortom administration has never spared any official including those loyal to him who have any form of indictments hanging on their necks. A Special Adviser who was indicted by the Kpojime Commission was relieved of his duties even though he was a political ally of the Governor. His other colleagues in the State Executive Council accused of criminal acts were also relieved of their appointments and released to face the law. Subsequently they were cleared.  In the same vein, the Governor shall not cover up Local Government Chairmen whom the state House of Assembly has found wanting in the discharge of their duties. This has nothing to do with their political affiliations. Besides, section 154 of the Benue State Local Government Law 2007 provides that “The Governor, with the approval of the House of Assembly may suspend a Chairman of a Local Government on the occurrence of any of sub-section (a) to (f). It is totally false and mischievous to allege that the Governor reserves local government funds to fritter in accordance with his whims and caprices including the sponsorship of a Presidential Candidate.

11. If the Leader of the APC in Benue State had been on record as championing the cause of our dear state at any previous time, one would understand his current vocal concerns. However, that he has suddenly found his voice after the exit of Governor Ortom from the APC exposes his motives which are undoubtedly political. It is curious to note that Senator Akume at the last APC State Congress led the Party to endorse the Governor for a second term due to what they called “superlative performance” We wonder when his new narrative of poor performance suddenly emerged.

12. We wish to urge the good people of Benue State and Nigerians in general to disregard the vituperations of Senator Akume and his group of gentlemen of fortune who do not wish our state well. In that group are failed contractors, expired  politicians and discredited people without the slightest consideration for integrity. We are happy that they are all congregating in a political ship that has hit the rocks and is fast sinking.

THREATS TO PEACE
13. Several paragraphs of the press statements were laced with veiled threats to peace and breakdown of law and order in Benue State by Senator Akume and his collaborators. We know from the antecedents of this group that it has no respect for due process and the rule of law. We also have intelligence reports that meetings were held recently in China where plans were perfected to make Benue State ungovernable. We wish to assure the people of the state and Nigerians that all these plans will fail as the others before them. Power belongs ultimately to God. As a government we are also prepared to tackle all threats to peace within the ambit of the law.

14. The operation to free our state from agents of oppression and impunity out to kill, destroy, dislodge and occupy is firmly underway. We are determined to liberate our people no matter what it is going to cost us. One thing is certain which is that we shall never bow to forces of evil no matter what powers are behind them. We have an unshakable commitment to defend our people at all costs and we shall not be deterred by subversive actions of a few unpatriotic and selfish elements. Those recycling boring false narratives should realize that they are up against the very people they purport to speak for. They need their minds examined because what we see in the language and tone of their discourse is evidence of fast deteriorating minds and politicians due for retirement in the next few months.

(Source: Tahav Agerzua, Special Adviser on Media and ICT)