The Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) – the umbrella body of Nigerian Governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Salihu Lukman, has challenged Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, to provide evidence of his claim that there is a sinister plot by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to turn Nigeria into a Fulani and Islamic caliphate.
He also carpeted former Deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia and a retired military officer, Commodore Kunle Olawunmi for going on air on national television to allege that people in government, including a serving Governor are the sponsors of insurgency and banditry in the country.
In a statement titled: “Narrow Politics and Questions of Democratic Development” issued Wednesday in Abuja, Lukman lamented that unsubstantiated and meaningless allegations continue to dominate political debates in the country, without any specific proposal on how to resolve national challenges.
The statement reads: “Maybe anger has taken the best out of people opposed to the APC and its government to the extent that presentations are reduced to amplifying challenges to demonstrate failure of APC and President Buhari.
“Wild goose campaign against ‘fulanisation’ and ‘islamisation’ as Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue would insist or allegations that government, including the presidency, are the sponsors of Boko Haram and bandits as Commodore (Rtd) Kunle Olawunmi would want Nigerians to believe are part of major highlight of the campaign by political opposition in the country.
“Sensationally, both Governor Ortom and Commodore Olawunmi argued that they have evidence to prove their allegations. Coincidentally, not too long, sometime in September 2020, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria similarly alleged that a serving Northern Governor is the sponsor of Boko Haram. Although while making the allegations, he also claimed to have proof, after interrogation by the security, Dr. Mailafia was reported to backtracked, saying that he ‘did not really mean to say that the government was part and parcel of the killings.’
“Since Commodore Olawumni has already began meeting with the security, hopefully the details of his evidence will come out. On the part of Governor Ortom, he claimed that he has forwarded his evidence to President Buhari and security agencies in the country. But since he feels so strong as to go public with his allegation without waiting for both President Buhari and security agencies to handle the matter, he can as well make the evidence public since he has lost confidence on established processes of managing matters of national security.
“Part of the challenge with Nigerian politics is that accountability is almost zero. People could say whatever they want and get away with it. This has entrenched the phenomena whereby the main strategy of so-called opposition to APC is to ‘forcibly silence’ everyone into believing that President Buhari and APC governments have failed. Even leaders such as Governor Ortom whose constitutional powers to mobilise responses towards resolving challenges, no matter how small, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended, has become a leading campaigner against what he considers ‘fulanisation’ and ‘islamisation’ agenda. As far as Governor Ortom is concerned anybody arguing differently must be a supporter of ‘fulanisation’ and ‘islamisation’ agenda in the country, which according to him is the continuation of the early 19th Century Fulani Jihad of Usman Danfodio.
“Such weighty allegations should be matters of judicial investigation and once proved, all identified culprits should face the full wrath of the law.
“It is more worrisome when a serving Governor could attempt to substantiate allegations of complicity against political leaders, especially President Buhari with argument about ‘fulanisation’ and ‘islamisation’ agenda in the country. What does ‘fulanisation’ and ‘islamisation’ of Nigeria mean? Although it is possible to convert people from other religions to Islam, could anyone who is not a Fulani be conscripted to become Fulani? Maybe it means that every Nigerian will be forced to have a Fulani tribal mark. What will be such a mark? In addition, Fulfude may become the lingua franca of Nigeria.
“With respect to so-called ‘islamisation’, is it possible to force everybody in Nigeria to convert to islam? Maybe ‘islamisation’ means that shari’a law will be imposed on the country. Will that be possible. Often those who campaign based on narrow agenda have short memory. As recent as 2000, when Zamfara State under Ahmed Sani Yerima, made a questionable political declaration adopting shari’a law, thereby triggering a campaign in many parts of the North to make similar declaration for shari’a law.
“How many states in the North succeeded in making such a Shari’a declaration? In Kaduna State, it was resisted, which led to a big crisis that consume many lives. If it wasn’t successful in Kaduna, how can it succeed in Nigeria? Even as tales by moonlight, how conceivable could Governor Ortom’s alleged ‘fulanisation’ and ‘islamisation’ agenda be?”