Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state was Saturday morning barred by security personnel from entering the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, Base Makurdi to receive the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who was transiting through the NAF Airport to Wukari in Taraba state by helicopter.
The Governor who had earlier received a letter of a notification dated February 10, 2022, from the State House Abuja, signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs/Head of Protocol Office of the Vice President, Ambassador Abdullahi Gwary intimating him of the visit, was however denied access into the NAF facility to receive the Vice President.
Briefing newsmen on what transpired, the Governor who described the incident as unfortunate and a breach of protocol said “I feel so sad for our country Nigeria where everything has been reduced to politics. There are certain things you don’t politicise.
“I was to attend the burial ceremony of one of our elders and leader, Prof Ignitius Ayua; I had made all arrangements to travel to Konshisha Local Government Area, LGA, then this letter (waving the letter) was brought to me, that the Vice President is transiting through Makurdi to Wukari.
“It is a normal thing, when distinguished dignitaries, like the President or the Vice President, is passing through your state, the Governor receives him.
“I decided to mandate the Deputy Governor to represent me at the burial of Prof. Ayua. So, this morning I got prepared and went to the Air Force Base, where the Vice-President was supposed to land, en route Wukari. Unfortunately, I was barred at the gate; in my own state.
“It doesn’t happen, this is a breach of protocol and this is not accepted; this is politics taken too far; this is not correct and somebody must account for this.
“If a personality like the Vice President is visiting my state and I cannot go there to welcome him, then it will be a breach of protocol on my part. How can I go to the NAF base and I am barred at the gate; it has never happened anywhere in this country.
“Maybe, the same Presidency that wrote to me is not aware. But I think we should if we must make progress, differentiate between politics and government activities. It is government activity that I welcome Mr. President or Vice-President; that I welcome any dignitary that comes here from the Federal Government.”
Displaying the letter, the Governor said “this is the letter that was written to me, you can see the content. I don’t want to be a busy body; I have many things to do.
“As I talk to you, the entire Gwer-West is under siege. The Fulanis have been burning down houses, and I was also supposed to go there but I had to shift all that to receive the Vice President. I feel so pained that politics has been taken beyond what it is supposed to be.
“There is no permanent enemy or permanent friend in politics. Tomorrow I can be the best friend of the President if they chose to do the right thing. I do not have any problem with the President or Vice President, and all the things that I say are meant to add value to our development and get things right.
“I have never insulted the President, the Vice President, or the Federal Government but there are certain things that they are doing which are wrong that should be corrected.
“You will recall the issue of Executive Order 10; where does the President in a democratic setting have the right to issue decrees. Maybe because he was once a military ruler, he still believes that he would be issuing decrees. He does not have the right.
“How can the President usurp the powers of the National Assembly? These are the things that I criticize and it is constructive. And today, thank God I am vindicated because the Supreme Court has ruled that the President does not have powers to be issuing decrees. He is no longer a military President, he was democratically elected by the people.
“So if he wants anything he should pass it through the National Assembly, just like I do when I want anything I pass it through the state House of Assembly.”
Continuing, the Governor said, “It is very unfortunate that this presidency is barefooted, it is a lame duck. And that is why we are having all these insecurity problems in our country today.
That is why the economy of this country is going down.
“How can you bar a governor in a state where you are? What is the meaning of that? I feel so pained and I’m going to report this to the Vice President. Well, if they choose to do something, fine. And if they don’t, it is okay.
“But that is the kind of thing we keep talking about, they want us to remain as a banana republic. Don’t we have a constitution? Can’t you differentiate politics from other things? Have I insulted the President? Have I insulted the Vice President? All that I’m saying is that let the right thing be done. Let there be justice, equity and fairness. It is unfortunate.
“I will report this breach to the Vice President because it was protocol for me to have gone to receive him and then see him off, and received him when he comes back.
“It is really unfortunate. I feel very sorry. And those who are keeping quiet, I tell them, one day, they will not be where they are. We must come out together and condemn the evil that is happening in our country. This is not right.”