President Muhammadu Buhari has accused Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state of trying to re-enact the Rwandan Genocide in Nigeria.
The president said this in response to the governor’s outrage against the federal government’s plan to establish grazing routes in 25 states of the country.
The world was shaken in 1994, after mutual suspicion between two major ethnic groups in Rwanda led to the killing of over 800,000 people in just one 100 days.
The once devastated nation has since left behind its ugly past to become one of the forward moving countries in the continent, with major development straddling its landscape under the watch of President Paul Kegame.
Governor Ortom who has been a virulent critic of the president said his state will not allow any land in the state to be used for the proposed grazing reserves.
He accused the president of trying to hand over lands belonging to other ethnic groups to the Fulani’
President Buhari is a Fulani man from Katsina state and his relationship with the Benue helmsman has been marked by allegation that the president is taking sides in the perennial clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers.
Buhari has denied the allegation.
Responding to the latest outburst against his government, Buhari in a statement by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity said Ortom is an unstable politician whose views on salient national issues cannot be trusted.
The Presidency said the governor has been used to fanning ethnic embers to score chief political goals, adding that such action is dangerous in a multi-religious and ethnic nation like Nigeria.
According to the statement ‘Governor Samuel Ortom has few political principles. We can see this from the fact that he has changed political party five times during his undistinguished career.
Every time he feels the wind may be blowing in a certain direction, he follows it.
“Unfortunately, for the good citizens of Benue State, the most dangerous direction he blows in today is that of sectarianism and ethnicity.
“In an attempt to boost his sinking political fortunes, Ortom takes the cheapest and lowest route possible by playing on ethnic themes – and in doing so knowingly causes deaths of innocent Nigerians by inciting farmers against herders, and Christians against Muslims.
Governor Ortom is walking a dangerous path as his action is capable of leading the country into genocide, the Presidency said in the statement.
“Specifically, Ortom stirs up hatred by targeting one single ethnic group in Nigeria – using language reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide.
“As was the case in Rwanda where the then Hutu leaders of the country incited their countrymen against each other, claiming there was a “secret Tutsi agenda” over the Hutu, Ortom claims there is a “secret Fulanization agenda” over other ethnic groups in his state and in Nigeria. This is a copy of the language of Hutu Power – which falsely, and intentionally, accused the Rwandan Tutsi of plans to dominate the country.
“This wicked talk is aimed at giving cover to his so-called “policy” on the Ranches Establishment Law – which in reality is purely an act of denial of the law – intended to withhold rights and freedoms from one ethnic group alone, whilst inciting race hatred against them amongst all others.
These are not the actions of a man who should be trusted with running public services or holding public office.
“For the governor of a major state in Nigeria to be politically driven by ethnic hatred is a stain on our country.
“The good, and fair-minded people of Benue State deserve more than this, and we look forward to the next elections when they have an opportunity to restore its greatness,” Shehu said.
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