Telescope.ng reports that the governor, who noted that it would be unachievable, asked the presidential candidate to tender a public apology to him for his statement in Kaduna if he cares about Benue votes.
It will be recalled that Alhaji Abubakar, during the presidential interactive session organized by the Arewa Joint Committee held in Kaduna, was quoted as saying that “I am angry with Governor Ortom for profiling Fulanis as bandits and terrorists because I am a Fulani.”
Reacting to the comment shortly after being publicly endorsed for Senate by thousands of youths from Tarka, Buruku and Gboko Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the state known as the Jemgbagh block, on the platform of Coalition of Jemgbagh Youth Associations, CJYA, the Governor asked Alhaji Abubakar to tender a public apology to him and Benue people.
He said: “I join you, the youths, to vehemently condemn Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s statement against me because when that statement got to me, I protested to him through a WhatsApp chat, and he apologised to me.
“But I told him that it did not go down well with my people and several other people across the country, so he should make the apology public; he declined to make it public.
“You cannot undress an elder like me in the public and want to dress me up in the room. I told him it was wrong, but he refused to make the apology public that is why we are where we are today.
“And I want to put it on record that at no time did I apologise to Atiku that some of my brothers were stealing my cow. He lied against me, and I take exception to that, and I require an apology from him. It is unbecoming for a presidential candidate to tell lies against his people.
“And so I never also profiled Fulanis as a whole because it would be a logical fallacy, I am educated to say that all Fulanis are bad. There are good Fulanis that I can even allow access to my bedroom. Some are serving with me here. I have never sent any Fulani man away from Benue, we have all lived together.
“But there are Fulanis coming from Niger, Mali, Senegal and other countries to occupy our land and cause our people to be displaced, and today we have two million IDPs in Benue state which is unacceptable. And as Governor of Benue state, I will not keep quiet.
“We know our enemies, Miyetti Allah have come out to accept that they are responsible that until we lead them to integrate into the society and take over our farms; this is what they have said.”
Commending President Buhari for sending a sympathy message to Benue people over the recent Gbajir killings, the Governor said, “but I condemn what Atiku said. You are seeking to be the President of Nigeria and not the President of Fulanis, and you cannot seek to please them alone. You must please and work with everybody.
“He must do a retraction if he wants our votes. If he doesn’t, on the day of the election, we will vote according to the election because we cannot bring an enemy who is telling us that he would come and continue with the carnage and displacement of our people. We cannot vote for that kind of person.
“Only recently, we were ravaged by flood, did you see Atiku here? We have IDPs in this state since 2017. Atiku came here in Benue state, and I suggested to him to visit one IDP camp, but he never did.
“No wonder he decided to profile me against the Fulani people. And I tell him it is wrong for him to be seeking election and use me as a scapegoat. I have no problems with the Fulani people.
“All that we did was to act on behalf of Benue people, make a law to provide for the modern way of animal husbandry in Benue state and nothing more.
“Go to the hospital and see what Fulani terrorists from Mali, Senegal, Niger and others recently did to our people. One of the victims was caught by the marauders, and when they discovered he was from Guma LGA like me, they plucked his two eyes; another had his hand caught off by the terrorists who told him that they were sending him a message to the Governor. And you want me to keep quiet.
“Atiku, you have been very unfair to the people of Benue state. Your political ambition has blindfolded you, and you think that the Fulanis can make you President, it is impossible.
“Whether I go to the Senate or become anything or not, I want to assure him that what he said is unacceptable. Please apologise if you want us to remain in the same party and vote for you because you have committed sacrilege against the Tiv people and Benue in general, which is unacceptable.
Earlier, the President of the Coalition, Terver Kyernum and the Chairman of Gboko LGA, Isaac Mtom, who spoke for the three chairmen, expressed their support for the senatorial ambition of Governor Ortom after haven endorsed him and expressed disappointment in the statement by the PDP presidential candidate and urged him to apologise to the people of the state if he cared for Benue votes in 2023.