Governor Samuel Ortom has described Nigerians who slammed President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to visit Benue State following the August 27 flood disaster in the state as ‘ignorant,” adding that they lacked basic knowledge of how government runs.
“Those people who are criticising are completely ignorant of what governance is,” Mr. Ortom told PREMIUM TIMES in an exclusive interview at his official residence in Makurdi Thursday.
Mr. Ortom said the president acted promptly after receiving news of the development, a gesture he believed was sufficient.
“Immediately after the thing happened, I instructed the Director General of National Emergency Management Agency who then informed the president,” he explained.
“As soon as the president got the message, he directed the DG to move to Benue and the next day the DG arrived with relief materials.”
The governor said the criticism was misplaced, given that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had also visited the state to identify with the victims and assured them of federal government’s support.
“Those who are criticising are not from Benue State,” he added.
Mr. Buhari was at the receiving end of some social media outrage throughout last week, after failing to visit the state days after the August 27 flood which displaced an estimated 110,000 people in 46,000 households.
The attacks intensified after reports emerged that Mr. Buhari would be travelling to the United States to honour an invitation extended to him by President Donald Trump in February.
The report, which was never carried by PREMIUM TIMES, later turned out to be inaccurate as the president returned to Abuja from his hometown in Daura, Katsina State, Thursday after spending the Sallah holidays there.
Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, also absolved Mr. Buhari or any wrong, saying disaster management in the country is gradually being ceded to the federal government by other tiers of government.
“Whenever there is an emergency from natural or man-made disasters, all you hear is ‘where is Buhari, what is he doing? What happens with the other tiers of government?” Mr. Shehu said in an interview with Radio Nigeria, Kaduna.
He admonished states to take responsibility for emergencies within their respective boundaries because they receive more share of the ecological fund than federal government.
“Nigerians, at the state and local governments, should demand transparency and accountability in the management of ecological funds by their Governors and local government chairmen.
“Without accountability by local political leaders, the federal government would continue to be the scapegoat for the failure of states and local governments to use ecological funds for the purposes they were released.”
“The largest chunk of the fund goes to the states and local governments. Every month, states and local governments receive 1.4 per cent from the federation account as ecological fund, compared to the federal government’s share of one per cent,” he said.