The presidency has asked Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue, not to blame President Muhammadu Buhari for the challenges experienced in the state.
In a recent interview with Arise Television, Ortom had said the All Progressive Congress (APC) has ruined Nigeria and that citizens regret voting Buhari into power.
On the allegations of non-payment of Benue workers’ salaries, Ortom had said he inherited over N70 billion arrears of pensions, salaries and gratuities from his predecessor and that despite that, he is trying his best.
But reacting to Ortom’s comments in a statement on Tuesday, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesperson, said there are two types of politicions — those who offer solutions to challenges facing the country and those that offer excuses “and instead blame others for problems they have either not solved or have themselves created”.
Shehu went on to say Ortom is an example of the second class of politicians who blame others for challenges.
He said Ortom “inherited unpaid salaries and pension arrears” and rather than find a way to raise funds to pay them, “he has blamed the President”.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is a leader. He inherited a treasury that had been emptied by successive previous administrations – and he sought and succeeded in repatriating billions of dollars of stolen funds from overseas,” the statement reads.
“And the President brought forward the first and only plan to address farmer-herder clashes in 100 years, supporting states to rediscover grazing reserves and create ranching lands that have successfully reduced tensions while increasing harmony and saving lives.
“This is a President who has not failed to pay the salary of those working for the federal government and declared the failure of states to do so; a national disaster.
“To avert this, he had, at various times lent money to the states in excess of N1.682 trillion, and Benue, Mr Ortom’s state, did not miss out on all occasions: Salary Bailout, Excess Crude Loan and Budget Support loan, each repayable in 20 years.
“Mr Ortom, an officeholder who collected on all occasions, currently holds the country’s longest record of unpaid salaries and pensions, has no reason, absolutely no reason, to blame President Buhari for the mess in which he put his state and its workers.”
Shehu said since Ortom claimed his predecessors created the arrears, it was his business to prove that he was better by paying salaries promptly.
“Instead of doing that, he joined them! And while he runs up even further salary and pension debts on top of those he was bequeathed, instead of respecting the voters who elected him to office, he publicly attacks them in unprintable words and has raised his own thuggish militia to harass and violate them,” Shehu said.
“The Governor now claims the voters wish to be ‘rescued by the PDP’ and ‘regret voting for Buhari.’ The voters, of course, will not be asked to vote for the President again because – as a leader – President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, APC, respect term limits and the constitution, and will stand down next year at the end of his second democratically elected mandate.
“It seems unlikely, however, that any voter would seriously consider it possible to be ‘rescued’ by a party that would today, allow a politician such as Governor Ortom in its ranks.
“What is certain, however, is that Nigeria has had enough of failed politicians who blame others as a diversion for their inability to improve citizens’ lives.”