Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, on Sunday, said Afghanistan is currently better than Nigeria under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ortom said statistics have shown that Afghanistan currently fares better than Nigeria under the Buhari All Progressives Congress, APC-led administration.
He made the remark in response to claims by a member of the APC and an aspirant of the Ado/Ogbadibo/Okpokwu House of Representative seat, Philip Agbese, that he has turned “Benue state into Afghanistan.”
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, the governor, who described Agbese as a “blind Bartimaeus” in the Bible, noted that the Buhari government has turned Nigeria into a killing field.
A statement by Ikyur titled: Agbese as Blind Bartimaeus” reads: “We read the widely published news, credited to one Philip Agbese who claims to be an aspirant for the Ado/Ogbadibo/Okpokwu House of Representatives seat on the platform of the All Progressive Congress, APC. In that news story, he made scathing remarks against the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom. He claims that the Governor “has turned Benue into Afghanistan.”
“This is absurd. Although this is undeserving of attention, we feel constrained to respond to it, if not for anything, at least for the unsuspecting members of the public to be properly informed.
“For anyone who may have read the news item as claimed by the APC member, it is obvious that this is a typical example of the attitude of political jobbers who grab at anything to survive.
“How can Agbese allege that Governor Ortom is turning Benue into Afghanistan? It is Nigeria, currently led by President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC that can be likened to Afghanistan. Available statistical indices from reliable and respected organizations clearly show that Afghanistan is at the moment better off than Nigeria under APC.
“What then becomes of Nigeria under APC which they have turned into a killing field? Here, there is no sanctity of lives as terrorists reign freely from state to state? Our future development is threatened as school children are being kidnapped daily with reckless abandon. It is no longer safe for anyone to travel freely on our roads. Is it not clear that the APC is leading Nigeria to the Golgotha?
“Agbese is truly in the dark. Nigeria is currently experiencing escalating insecurity challenges with no end in sight. This has engulfed the entire country with terrorists and bandits becoming so emboldened that they operate only in the daytime. Is Agbese not aware of how three Benue citizens were kidnapped in Zamfara State on their way to Kebbi State for their National Youth Service?
“The outgoing United Nations Representative, Edward Kallon a few days ago gave scary reports on terrorism in the country. He said the Global Terrorism Index had listed Nigeria as the Third Most Terrorized Country in the world. Is this also the making of Governor Ortom?”
The governor lamented that Nigeria’s economy has virtually collapsed under the Buhari Buhari-led administration.
He said: “Nigeria’s economy under the APC administration has virtually collapsed. At the moment, the exchange rate of naira to a dollar is almost N600 a Dollar. In 2015 when the APC took over the reins of government, the naira was exchanging for about 180 to a dollar.
“The cost of living is also skyrocketing. Every sane citizen that has the responsibility of catering for a family will agree that the standard of living in the country is daily going beyond the reach of everyone. Already it has gone beyond the reach of an average Nigerian.”
The governor also dismissed Agbese’s claim on the delay of salaries in the state, stressing that the challenge is a national problem.
He stressed that his administration is prompt in the payment of salaries to workers in the state.
“Agbese harps so much about salaries and pensions. Let it be known to him and all his co-travellers that the issue of delay in payment of salaries is a national problem. It is not peculiar to Benue state alone.
“Even at that, the Ortom administration is prompt in payment of workers salaries while also working tirelessly to find ways to clear the salary arrears and end the pension crises which was occasioned at the height of the inflation era under the APC led administration. This is why the administration has domesticated the Pension Law in the state. As of today, the Benue State Government has saved more than N1.5 billion into the PENCOM Account. This means that workers retiring a few years from now will not need to worry about their pension or gratuities. In any case, is it not laughable for someone who claimed to be a lawyer and is aspiring to be a federal lawmaker to be unable to distinguish areas of how to direct his campaigns? How can he be relying solely on unsubstantiated claims of delay in payment of workers’ wages to liken Benue to Afghanistan? ”
Ortom accused the aspiring lawmaker of exhibiting ignorance which could be akin to someone who has lost touch with his home.
The governor challenged Agbese to base his campaign on how to emerge victorious during the polls and stop spreading falsehood about him.
“Philip Agbese is exhibiting a pathetic ignorance akin to the blind Bartimaeus in the Holy Scriptures. He’s not conversant with the real sufferings of Nigerians and Benue state. I feel this should be deleted, please. Or it is either the Youngman has completely lost touch with home, or he has only spoken up to act a script to be noticed so that the emperor of his party, will impose him as a sole candidate for Ado/Ogbadibo/Okpokwu federal House of Representatives ticket.
“Instead of campaigning against the incumbent, Hon. Francis Ottah Agbo, Agbese is sounding incoherent because of the towering achievements of the person he should be challenging. Electorates from this federal constituency should be wary of this acclaimed lawyer who has chosen to take side with the oppressors rather than show empathy.
“Whichever way it is, we appeal to the conscience of those close to Agbese to get his ears and whisper to him that churning out falsehood is not the way to winning the heart of the electorates. He should base his campaign on countering his opponents in the forthcoming elections rather than hoping to hide behind Governor Ortom to win electoral favours. Agbese should concentrate on campaigning against Dr Ottah Agbo who is a formidable opponent and leave Governor Ortom out of his local politics,” he added.