By Henry Okonkwo
Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, has described as unfortunate, the Presidency’s response to Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah’s recent presentation to the United States Congress.
Kukah had during a presentation to the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs accused the President Muhammadu Buhari government of nepotism in his appointments and demonstrating little commitment to the fight against bandits and Boko Haram insurgents.
However, the Presidency in a statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, described the Catholic bishop’s claims as outright falsehood.
Shehu also warned Kukah on the dangers of pitching Nigerians against each other.
Reacting to Presidency’s tirade against Kukah, Ortom in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, on Saturday, advised the Presidency to stop intimidating patriotic Nigerians raising genuine concerns about the worsening insecurity, economic situation, and nepotism in the country.
The statement read, “Governor Ortom states that the country’s constitution guarantees the freedom of speech to all citizens, unlike a military regime which suppresses the right of the people to voice their opinions on challenges facing their country.
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“He believes Bishop Kukah is one Nigerian who is selfless and speaks his mind frankly on national issues calling on the government to ensure justice, the rule of law and equity for all.
“The governor wonders why the Presidency has chosen to politicize the views of Bishop Kukah when all the issues he highlighted in his address were facts about the country.
“He claims Kukah was right when he stated that nepotism has been elevated above federal character by the present administration. He further agrees with the bishop that Christians across the country are targets of elimination and thousands have already fallen to the sword of jihadist supremacists.
“Governor Ortom states that Kukah is not to blame for the ranking of Nigeria as the 8th least peaceful country in Africa and the rating of killer herdsmen as the 4th deadliest terror group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index.
“He expects the Presidency to rather be worried that Nigeria is ranked as the most terrorised nation in Africa with an average of over 2,000 deaths per year on account of terrorism.
“He emphasizes that the combative approach the Presidency has adopted in engaging citizens on issues will not solve the problems confronting the country.
“He urges the Presidency to listen to the voices of reason and resist the temptation to whip into silence those who genuinely love the country and are offering solutions to its challenges.”