The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has described as ‘diversionary’ the comments of Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, who in condemning the killing of 18 people in his council area last Friday said that he would never support a Fulani man to become president of Nigeria again.
But Northern Elders Forum, in a statement on Wednesday signed by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the Governor’s comments was totally unbecoming of a leader, especially at a time when the scourge of insecurity in the country is politicised.
The Forum said, “We, like other Nigerians, watched the video in which Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom speaks in a manner and language totally unbecoming of a leader, at a time when standards of responsibility and decorum should be at their highest levels.
“He was apparently addressing citizens on recent killing of villagers which he attributes to Fulani herders.
“Even while making allowances for the established patterns of rhetorics and practice of Governor Ortom on inter-communal relations, this latest outburst should be condemned in a most emphatic manner.
“It does neither justice to the condemnable killings in Benue State, nor to the standing of the Governor before his people.
“The context of a politicized environment does not excuse this latest demeaning outing of Governor Ortom. On the contrary, it diverts attention from the latest tragedy that has befallen citizens and families in Benue State.
“Northern Elders Forum has consistently condemned the state of siege and insecurity under which Nigerians have lived in the last few years. In the North in particular, rogue Fulani elements have stood out as killers, bandits and kidnappers.
“The Forum will continue to demand that those who are asking for our votes in 2023 will show in clear and specific terms how they plan to re-secure all Nigerians. They must also demonstrate how they intend to address damaging profiling and deliberate exploitation of passions eminently demonstrated by Governor Ortom.
“The Forum demands that leaders and politicians de-politicize the scourge of insecurity under which we all live. It further demands that killers of villagers in Benue State, and other citizens in other villages in many parts of the North must be traced and prosecuted.
“Governor Ortom should live up to his oath and his commitment to his mandate to live as a responsible leader of his people.
“He should avoid the temptation to play to a gallery which, like all Nigerians, is desperate for relief and an end to the killings which pitch them against each other and leads them towards unending conflicts.”