Perhaps, Francis Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), an American novelist, captured succinctly the goings-on in Nigeria’s political space when he said: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand.”
Politics is such a dangerous game that morality does not play any role therein. Everything that gives a politician edge over others is welcome.
Whereas many Nigerians condemn the orgy of killings going on across the country, especially in Benue and Plateau states, by herdsmen, there are some individuals that pretend nothing is happening or that they are seeing nothing. For them, everything is normal.
This could only have been the reason a former governor of Benue State, George Akume is calling for an emergency rule in his own state.
Akume, who governed Benue on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is today with the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a serving minister.
In a move that illustrates the old adage of cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face, Akume, leader of the APC in Benue State, had at a press conference in Abuja last Monday upbraided Governor Ortom for his outbursts over the worsening insecurity in the country and the failure of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to stem the tide.
The Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs also accused the Benue State governor of corruption, calling on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to beam their searchlights on Benue.
Akume said: “We call on Governor Samuel Ortom to tender an unreserved apology to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for using foul language and for operating outside the set rules of engagement between the State and the Federal Government.
“Since Governor Ortom has consistently alleged that the security situation in Benue State has deteriorated in such a manner that lives of Benue people are not secured, we call on Mr. President as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to declare a state of emergency in Benue State to bring the security situation in the state under control.”
In response to Akume’s comments, Governor Ortom, through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase said: “We read the text of press conference addressed today (Monday) in Abuja by the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume with other All Progressives Congress leaders from Benue State.
“We had earlier alerted Benue people and other Nigerians to expect the said press conference. It is one in a series of an organised smear campaign against Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.”
The governor further said: “As expected, Senator Akume and his group avoided responding to the issues of insecurity in the country which the governor has repeatedly and rightly accused the Presidency of complicity.
“The outing of George Akume and others in Abuja was nothing more than a massage on the ego of the Presidency to curry personal favours. As long as he and his group secure their meal tickets, Benue can go to hell. A media attack on Governor Ortom instantly attracts a package from the Villa.”
In their response to Akume’s call for emergency rule in his state, the Benue State Caucus of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the House of Representatives last week urged the leadership of the National Assembly, to intervene and nip in the bud, the calls for the breach of the democratic structure in the state, through the instrument of a disruptive emergency rule.
“The Caucus wishes to state clearly that all Governor Ortom as the Benue leader has been saying on the insecurity in Benue are the collective opinion of the Benue people and not the personal opinion of the governor and shouldn’t be personalised.
“The Caucus also rejects Senator Akume’s call for the disbandment of the livestock guards in the implementation of the anti-open grazing Act.
“The Caucus also wishes to caution the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu to stop trivialising and misconstruing Governor Ortom’s outspokenness for an attack on the President Muhammadu Buhari,” the group said.
But many of those who have listened to Governor Ortom’s comment believe that there must be something serious he is talking about.
There is nobody in Nigeria today that does not hear or read about the slaughtering of human beings going on in Benue. A lot of people have been rendered homeless, fatherless, motherless, orphans as a result of incessant attacks by herdsmen.
Many people have lost their sources of income; farming business dislocated and too many other forms of atrocious deeds too numerous to mention are daily taking place there.
Attempts have been made on the life of the governor on a number of times. The latest being the one he claimed he had to run for dear life for over one kilometer.
Ortom’s main annoyance appears to be the body language of the President, who he said he had met several times and laid the issue bare before him without the Presidency taking any action.
The governor has studied the pattern of attacks in his state and the seeming cold response by relevant agencies, hence his claim that there must be complicity somewhere.
It would also seem that Ortom decided to go hard on Abuja as a result of its apparent double standard in dealing with real and perceived terrorists.
He has continued to wonder why the Federal Government would allow herdsmen to go on rampage with dangerous weapons, killing innocent citizens, yet, government has not declared them as terrorists, but has declared other far less dangerous organisations as terrorists.
He also does not understand why groups like Miyetti Allah have the rights to say and do whatever they want to say and do without reprimand from government.
Ortom also is against the insistence by the Presidency to review grazing routes that featured in the 50s and 60s, and the plan to forcefully institute grazing routes in states where they never existed. He believes, like many Nigerians, that since cow rearing is a business, those in that business should figure out the best way to go about their business.
It was this line of thought that appears to have made Ortom a “sinner” in the eyes of Senator Akume, who wants him removed by the President using the instrument of Emergency Rule.
Some analysts have also likened Akume’s call to the dangerous call by the woman who had urged King Solomon to divide a living child that was in contention.
The woman had accidentally killed her child while sleeping, and had stealthily dumped the dead child by the side of another woman who was fast asleep, removing the woman’s own child from her side.
Since she had lost her child, she had nothing to lose if the living child was to be sawn into two.
It took the wisdom of Solomon to see through the wicked scheme of the woman. The rest is history as it is usually said.
Akume’s call is not only unfortunate, but dangerous. He does not consider the huge implication of an emergency rule in Benue. Despite his rich experience in life and in politics, he does not see any danger in his proposal.
Those who should rightly be addressed as elder statesmen should not continue to destroy the country for selfish reasons.
For decades, they have been in position of authority, moving from one job to another; if they have not been satisfied with material acquisition all these years, it goes to tell them that they will never get satisfaction even if they have the whole world.
People are being killed from one corner of the country to the other; people are crying for food and protection but government appears to be looking the other way. One thing is true- power is ephemeral.
It is “Soldier come, soldier go, barrack remains.”
Akume and those who share his views today must realise that the world is a stage; the best artiste has played and long exited the stage. One day, we shall look back and ask where are today’s political artistes? And Minister Akume is an artiste!