The Governor of Lagos State, Samuel Ortom, has taken a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari over the his comment that he will run to Niger Republic if anyone comes for him after his tenure ends, telling the president he has been forgiven of his wrongdoings.
Ortom who spoke on Arise TV on Wednesday has been a strong critic of the president, whom he said failed to protect his state from relentless attacks from Fulani herdsmen.
Benue has remained an epicentre of herdsmen attacks with tens of thousands killed and displaced, and camped at internally displaced camps.
Just last week, over 30 were killed when attackers hit the IDP camp.
Ortom was responding to what Buhari said on Tuesday during the commissioning of the new corporate headquarters of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, in Abuja.
The president had said, “When I became the President, my first visit was to Niger, Chad and Cameroon because, based on personal and national issues, the neighbourhood is very important.
“So it is very good that I established a relationship with my neighbours. I said these few things about my personal belief because I have only six more days to go. And I try to plan to be as far away from Abuja as possible.
‘’Thank goodness, I come from an area which is far away from Abuja. I said if anybody forces me, I have a good relationship with my neighbours, Niger people will defend me.”
But Ortom replied saying, “For me, as a born again Christian, I have forgiven President Mohammadu Buhari. He has taken us from top to bottom but that does not mean we should continue to hold it on him. Thank God the constitution provides four years, after four years, you can go in for a second term and then another person will come.
“So, we hope that the incoming administration will provide succour, will provide security for our people and provide economic development and peace for our people. We have suffered for 8 years.
“For me, I have forgiven him. He doesn’t need to go to Niger, he should stay here with us and all of us should stay here and work with the incoming administration that God will put in place and by the grace of God, we shall move again from bottom to top,” Ortom said.
The governor also made excuses on why he was defeated during the senatorial election of February 25, saying, “I know how much that was given to Benue state to ensure that I lose the election; fine and good. God has permitted it and I have accepted it and I have accepted to move on.
“’I have also accepted that if another person comes, I should support that person. If they need my support, I will always be there and if they don’t need it, I will go back to my farm and my business and I can even be a freelance journalist,” Ortom added.
He still took a swipe at Buhari, whom he said presided over the government that “seem to be complicit” in the manner the herdsmen are killing the people of Benue.
“But it is unfortunate and that is what I have been saying since 2016 when I came in as the governor of Benue state that the federal government seem to be complicit in the manner the herdsmen are killing our people.
“I have interfaced with the federal authorities, Mr. president, I had sat with him and I brought these things before him, but his thinking is different from the way I thought we should have been able to handle this matter because the truth is that when you allow the Fulani herdsmen to carry AK47 and then allow the local people and even the community volunteer guard, I think the least they have is a pump action.
“But you know a one hundred community volunteer guard can not confront two people from the Fulani herdsmen with AK47.
“That was what led me to apply to the president and the federal government to also permit us to at least allow the community volunteer guards to be armed with automatic weapons so that they can truly confront these herdsmen who are creating terror and pain in our people.
“But unfortunately, when we applied, we were told that those weapons are prohibited for citizens to carry. They cannot allow us license to have them.
“But the challenge I have with the federal government response to my request to automatic weapons for my community volunteer guards is that why are they allowing Fulani herdsmen to carry these weapons? Where have they arrested these Fulani men, taken them to court and prosecuted them? That is the challenge I have”
The outgoing governor however sounded coy when asked if he would defect, pledging to support the incoming government of Bola Tinubu.
Responding to the question on if he would affect, Ortom said, “That is not on my table, I’m in PDP, and I worked for the Southern presidency, which Tinubu and Obi were part of. Defecting is not on my table now.
“If Tinubu is sworn in, I will continue to pray and support him to succeed.
“I remain the leader of PDP in Benue State but will continue to work for equity and justice in Nigeria.”