The Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, has sharply criticized Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State; a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, and a retired Air Commodore, Kunle Olawumi, for alleging that the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is promoting an Islamisation and Fulanisation agenda and sponsoring insurgents.
In an opinion article entitled ‘Narrow Politics and Questions of Democratic Development’, Lukman said it is disappointing that a sitting governor and retired public servants could be promoting “wild goose” campaigns, adding that those doing so, including a sitting governor, are exhibiting what he called “morbid symptoms.”
He said, “To accuse APC and President Buhari of promoting ‘Fulanisation’ and ‘Islamisation’ will be taking politics beneath the realm of logical reasoning.
“Ideally, knowledgeable and experienced people, especially public servants, should not suffer from any problem that can exhibit ‘morbid symptoms.’ But, sadly, as a nation, we are having knowledgeable and experienced people with manifestations of ‘morbid symptoms’.
“The fact that a serving governor is one of those exhibiting manifestations of ‘morbid symptoms’ calls for urgent review of leadership recruitment processes in the country.”
According to Lukman, if so-called Islamisation did not succeed in a state like Kaduna, how can anyone think it would in the whole of Nigeria?
He also lamented that a major problem of Nigeria is lack of accountability, which allows most people to do or say just anything and get away with it.
Lukman said: “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 (have) backtracked, saying that he ‘did not really mean to say that the government was part and parcel of the killings.’
“Since Commodore Olawumi has already begun 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 in established processes of managing matters of national security.”
The PGF DG added: “When a retired public servant of the status of Dr. Mailafia and a retired military officer, Commodore Olawunmi, can go 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 and the issues are reduced to media debates, it highlights how low we have descended as a nation.
“Such weighty allegations should be matters of judicial investigation and once proved, all identified culprits should face the full wrath of the law.”
He said for a sitting governor, retired public servants, retired military personnel, with all the knowledge and experiences they have, to adopt the imaginary notion that a country as diverse as Nigeria can be taken over by any ethnic or religious group is the highest manifestation of morbid symptom of attempt to block any possibility that a new society can be born out of the dying culture of corruption, greed and lawlessness which he said is the hallmark of PDP’s sixteen-year tenure.
But Lukman warned that such extremist, ultra-right-wing politics adopted by Ortom portends danger for almost everyone in Nigeria.
According to him, Ortom’s “neo-fascist and neo-Nazist” politics is anchored on ethnic supremacy – which he argued is behind his campaign against ‘Fulanisation’ and ‘Islamisation’ agenda.
He warned that the same ideology and the hatred that accompanies it could be targeted at other parties, personalities, or tribes later to the detriment of the larger Nigerian society.
“If today, ultra-right wingers can conveniently mobilise hatred against Fulani Muslims, it will just be a matter of time before they shift focus to other groups. Any group that can potentially block or weaken its power base, it will mobilise hatred against such a group.
“Given Nigerian reality, depending on who will be the major contenders in both PDP and APC, campaigns against so-called ‘Fulanisation’ and ‘Islamisation’ will mutate against Yorubas, Igbos, Ijaws, Ishekiris, etc. Based on short-term calculations, it may choose to contract fluid partnership with the aim of blocking emerging candidates even within PDP.”
“There is therefore the urgent need for political parties in Nigeria to take steps to discourage ethnic and religious campaigns of hatred,” he warned.