From: Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has urged the Federal Government not to muzzle patriotic Nigerians who are raising genuine concerns over the worsening security situation in the country.
Governor Ortom who said this in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary Terver Akase and made available to Peoplesdaily yesterday, described as ‘unfair’ and ‘repressive’, Federal Government’s reaction to the message of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah whom the government accused of stirring hatred against Mr President and calling for a coup.
He noted that Bishop Kukah is a selfless Nigerian who only seeks to unite the nation and spoke his mind frankly on national issues calling on the government to serve the people.
The Governor suggested that instead of politicizing the views of the Bishop and castigating him, the Federal Government should take a second look at the issues he raised in the Christmas Day message to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
He stressed that Nigeria is practicing democracy which guarantees the freedom of speech to all citizens and not a military regime which suppresses the right of the people to voice their opinions on challenges facing their country.
Governor Ortom maintained that it is incumbent on the Federal Government to listen to the views of the people and take steps to address the worrisome security situation and other problems confronting the country rather than combatively engaging anyone who dared to hold an alternative opinion.
He stressed that at this challenging time in the country’s history, the people expect their leaders to be tolerant, patient, humane, sincere, and always seek to address the issues that affect shared interests of citizens.
He said the Bishop’s statement is a true reflection of the current situation in Nigeria and urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to listen to sycophants who may tell him that everything is well with the country. All is not well.
The Governor states that Kukah is not the first to say that hundreds of innocent Nigerians are being killed in cold blood by bandits, kidnappers, armed herdsmen and other terrorists.
“The renowned Bishop is not the first to call on the leadership of the country to strengthen security agencies and be proactive in combating the wave of violence and killings in parts of the country. Many other Nigerians have been making the same call on daily basis. He was not the first to suggest that the President should be the father of all and not of only a section of the country or a particular ethnic group.”
The Governor pointed out that even under the worst dictatorships, courageous citizens express their views on issues of national interest. Nigeria which is a democratic nation cannot be an exception.
He said whipping into silence, men and women of honour who speak against injustice will not take the country to greater heights. The Governor states that the government needs critics who make constructive observations and recommendations for it to work in the interest of the people.
According to him, great nations of the world got to their enviable heights by harnessing and utilizing ideas of their citizens, not by discouraging those who made bold submissions on the development of their countries.
Governor Ortom expressed belief in the unity, growth and potential of Nigeria to overcome its current economic and security challenges and live up to the true meaning of its title as the ‘Giant of Africa’.