BENUE, Nigeria – The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom on Tuesday cautioned the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, George Akume, against dragging him into his many fights.
Ortom was reacting to a statement credited to Akume’s aide that he sponsored the Benue Caucus in the National Assembly to condemn the Minister’s recent uncomplimentary statements on the Chairman, Benue State Council of Chiefs, Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse.
Akume had made scathing and derogatory statements against the Tor Tiv, accusing him of partisanship, (tor pati) meaning king of politics.
Also, Akume allegedly castigated the church in Benue State, calling Pentecostal denominations (where the Tor Tiv fellowships) in particular as insignificant groups who have no electoral value.
Against the backdrop of the former governor’s insult, the state caucus in the National Assembly had dared Akume to apologise to the Tor Tiv, stressing that such action should not be condoned.
Displeased by the remark of the caucus, a statement allegedly credited to an aide of the Minister claimed that Ortom was sponsored the group.
However, a statement by Ortom’s Media Aide, Tever Akase said Akume was visibly angry with every Benue indigene since he lost the 2019 senatorial election and has raised a red flag against his imaginary adversaries.
The statement reads: “We read a statement by the media aide to the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, in which the said aide sought to drag Governor Samuel Ortom into his combative response to the Benue State Caucus in the National Assembly who recently condemned the Minister’s verbal assault on the Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Professor James Ayatse.
“The media aide went on to blame Governor Ortom for the barrage of condemnations trailing his principal’s insults on the Tiv paramount ruler who doubles as Chairman, Benue State Council of Chiefs. He suggested that Governor Ortom should have been invited by the Tiv Area Traditional Council to give explanations on his performance, issues of salaries and pensions as well as the construction of a new palace for Tor Tiv.
“We state that Governor Ortom did not advise Senator Akume to insult the Tor Tiv. It therefore amounts to misplaced aggression for Senator Akume’s media aide to blame the Governor over the negative reactions from Benue people regarding his derogatory comments against the Tor Tiv.
“The Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs Minister ought to face the consequences of his public conduct and spare Governor Ortom of any blame. As a prominent son of Benue who has occupied top positions including that of Governor, Senator Akume didn’t need anyone to counsel him on the etiquettes of showing respect for the royal fathers.
“Akume is visibly angry with every Benue person since he lost the 2019 senatorial election and has raised a red flag against his imaginary adversaries. The Minister goes berserk at any public function to rain insults on political opponents in a manner not befitting a man of his standing. He has on several occasions called Governor Ortom unprintable names but the Governor has chosen not to join the Minister to dance naked. Akume’s recent attack on the Tor Tiv which has justifiably drawn the ire of the people only took his plane of insults to a higher altitude.
“The Minister is expected to be busy with his new role and do less of the blame game. It was an insult on members of the Benue State Caucus in National Assembly which comprises a former Governor, former Minister and reputed legislators when Akume insinuated that the lawmakers were sponsored by the Governor to condemn his uncomplimentary statements on the Chairman, Benue State Council of Chiefs.”
He insisted that in Akume’s eight years as governor of Benue State, he never thought of constructing a befitting palace for the Tor Tiv, adding that he lacked the moral right to criticize a sitting governor on such issues.
“Construction of a state-of-the-art palace is almost completed in Gboko under Governor Ortom. When completed, the Tor Tiv palace will be among the best royal palaces in the country. Days before the installation of Tor Tiv, the Ortom administration reconstructed the government guest house in Gboko to match the status of the King,” he added.