“He who comes to equity must come with clean hands” is a popular legal doctrine that men should first search their conscience before attempting to crucify others. But for those that the gods want to kill and have made mad, the doctrine has no place in their conduct or character. This is exactly where the self-contradicted “man of god” Governor of Benue State, Pastor Samuel Ortom has found himself.
What is further compounding his leadership disease or misjudgments is his flair for flippant comments. Earlier in the week, Gov. Ortom featured on a live-audience participation programme, “Issues of the Moment,” on the state owned Radio Benue. To the bewilderment of his heterogeneous audience, the Governor inexplicably justified the lynching of some seven travellers in Gboko, the traditional headquarters of Benue dominant tribe, the Tiv nation by some criminals.
The incident had the trappings of reprisal for the current herders/farmers conflict in the state. Ask any sane leader, it was better to allow the whirlwind generated by the despicable act fizzle out quietly. But not for Ortom whose actions suggest his senses have been on sabbaticals for ages now.
Therefore, in responding to a question by a caller which centered on the alleged killing of some Fulani travellers in this ancient native town, Gov. Ortom attempted to justify the killings. He bluntly said, no Fulani man was killed in Gboko and that the travellers caught up in the fury of the mob action were eight in number.
The Governor claimed one of the victims was rescued from his assailants and upon interrogation, it was discovered the travellers were transiting from Adamawa to Akure to work as cocoa farms and he was not even a Nigerian. Then, as an afterthought, he profusely condemned the killing, reminding of his directive to security agents to arrest the suspects.
This is bad enough. Is the Governor attempting to let the world understand that sniffing life out of anybody through jungle justice is not crime enough, unless such persons belong to a particular ethnic extraction? That was the pathetic message Ortom conveyed with the exposition over the bizarre act. Surely, maybe, he failed to decode the implication of his utterances.
Is Ortom’s justification of the killings in Benue State, imply it is right for any human being to be roasted alive ? Whether Igbo or Hausa, or any tribe, a true man of god like he professes should ordinarily know that no man has the powers to take the life of another man in any circumstance. If he has truly read the English version of the Bible before now, Judas Iscariot was the first man to take his own life and was rebuked in the Christian Holy Book not for selling Jesus Christ rather for killing himself. Ortom’s attempt to justify the killing of the innocent is exhibition of polluted conscience.
This has been the sad story of the leadership failure in Benue State under Ortom. He has a strong passion and deftness for politicizing every matter. No doubt the outing is also anchored on his desperation to politicize the herders/Farmers clashes in Benue State and other parts of the country.
This is a terrible exhibition of the worst form of mischief and bad politics by a Governor who is supposed to be the guiding light of his people. This resentful mindset has continued to influence and push Ortom into avoidable blunders over the herders/farmers crisis. It makes him perceive everybody as an enemy, rather than a partner in peace and security.
It explains Gov. Ortom’s deliberate attempt to provoke the Minister of Defence, Gen. Mansur Dan Ali through vilifications. The minister incurred his wrath over comments that the anti-open grazing legislation in the state triggered the current crisis, by escalating suspicion between the parties. Again, Gov. Ortom failed to assess the comments beyond the veneer, but rushed to the public space in vomiting vituperations against the Minister.
But Dan Ali was not wrong as nothing in his comments suggests anything less than the truth. Undoubtedly, Gov. Ortom is a rich farmer, whose farm has incredibly expanded since he became Governor. He should have known the truth about the sociological and economic reasons, which occasionally fracture the cordial relationship between herders and farmers.
He would have treated these issues independently on their strength, devoid of partisanship. But he abused it and feels politicizing the matter would earn him sympathy from the people towards 2019 having failed in performance.
Consequently, Gov. Ortom erected conditions precedent to the present conflict in the state and does not hold his breath, to explore any angle that would exacerbate it. It accounts for why the Governor has deployed state resources for clandestine operations to blacklist every stakeholder, who dares to speak truth either to the people or power on the conflict. He declares you an instant enemy by venting invectives. This is thorough disservice to the people he swore an oath to protect.
Therefore, he berates everyone and recklessly calls for people’s resignations. From Dan Ali to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris Kpotum to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Governor either calls for resignation or horribly berates for holding opinions that appear to truncate his avowed desire to prolong the herders/farmer conflict.
Ogbeh is a worthy son of Benue and by every rating, a more successful and experienced farmer than Ortom. He is a man whose views on the crisis cannot be dismissed casually as Gov. Ortom delights in doing.
But time has come for Gov. Ortom to face the reality or be told the truth without blinking. If there is anyone who ought to resign his position, Gov. Ortom is long overdue for this action. Scratching the surface of the problem and asking others, such as the minister of defence to resign is laughable and the attempts to use official seal to veil the evil he is perpetrating against Benue.
Similarly, to castigate the role played by the IGP in quelling the crisis is very illogical and betrays Gov. Ortom as a hardened and unsympathetic leader. The IGP has been facing the furnace on slaughter slab. He has lost gallant officers to the crisis. He spends sleepless nights in the bid to find solutions, yet the Governor delights in publicly proclaiming, that he is not doing enough.
In this posture, one sights Ortom’s intention and desperation to destroy the whole of Nigerian Police Force and any other leader to prosecute his evil. He should not expect that everybody would keep quiet over his overstretched missteps. Ortom believes all heads of security agencies which have exposed his complicity in the saga by deliberately arming militias as rivals to the Police in enforcing the anti-open grazing law must be blackmailed.
And his anger continues to stretch. Thus, even President Muhammedu Buhari; the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) have all become his sworn enemies. He is happy that by exciting himself and instigating the people against the very leaders who can assist him resolve the conflict would prolong the crisis to his delight.
And the trick seems to be working perfectly. Gov. Ortom is at peace with his soul now because the herders/farmers conflicts appear to blur the senses of the people over his poor performance. It has waned the pressure hitherto mounted on him over unpaid salaries.
He has now seen reasons or justification to explain his deliberate refusal to construct a kilometer of road, in nearly three years despite several federal intervention funds. Ortom flaunts the worse performance indices by any Governor in Nigeria since the return of democracy in 1999.
In essence, Benue people should not be surprised that Abuja has abandoned him for being an irremediable disappointment to his people and the ruling party. No one is on the same page with him; he operates like the loner he is known to be. And even after failing in governance, Ortom has no wisdom to give his people peace and security, which is a sacred obligation he owes them.
Shamelessly, Ortom does not want to remember that his poor governance has murdered more persons, as a result of hunger than the herders/Farmers clashes. Playing the blame games or passing the buck of his responsibilities to others is not the solution.
It appears, very soon, Benue people would be stunned, as Gov. Ortom will begin to blame Jesus Christ for his failure in Benue State. He does not dread lies and so could easily tell the people Jesus Christ, the son of the poor carpenter of Nazareth has refused to help him pay workers’ salaries, equip hospitals for the people, tar the roads, light the streets. He will stand on sacred altars and claim, he failed to send him some bailout and Paris club like President Buhari has consistently done.
But obviously, Gov. Ortom’s belated attempts to twist the narrative is certainly in bad taste. No one has quarrel with it. But let him return the asset of the people back to them honorably by resigning as Governor of a state he can neither manage nor administer in anyway. If he is interested in saving Benue and the people, there is no need to drag over this urgent decision till 2019 to face disgrace.
To continue assailing other performers, who are doing excellently in the offices they hold to veil himself is no longer appealing to the people anymore. If there is anyone lost on the leadership radar, it is Gov. Ortom than anyone else. So, he should stop fouling the air, with prescriptions only known to his queer wisdom.