Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has alleged that on Saturday he was prevented by security personnel at the main entrance of the Air Force Base (NAF) in Makurdi, the State capital while on his way to receive the Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Osibanjo was traveling to Wukari, Taraba State en route to the Makurdi military airport in Benue to attend the convocation of the Federal University, Wukari.
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But, Ortom, who told newsmen in Makurdi that he was denied entrance at the gate of the Air Force base by the security personnel despite receiving a notice earlier that the vice-president will be passing through his territory, described the action by the security personnel as unacceptable, breach of protocol and politics taken too far.
The governor regretted that although he had initially set out to attend the burial of Professor Ignatius Ayua, he had to delegate his deputy to stand in for him in order to receive the Vice President when he received communication via a letter from the presidency intimating him of the vice president’s transit visit.
He noted that the letter addressed to him from the State House Abuja dated 10th February 2022 with reference VP/SP/DOP/26 was titled: “Visit of His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, Vice President, the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Wukari, Taraba State transiting NAF Base, Makurdi, on Saturday, 12th February 2022”.
The letter which was signed by Ambassador Abdullahi Qwary indicated that the vice president would also return through the same route in the afternoon.
Speaking on the development, Ortom said, “Gentlemen of the press, it is unfortunate that an ugly incident occurred today, which is a breach of protocol and I feel so sad for our country Nigeria, where everything has been reduced to politics. There are certain things you don’t politicise.
“It is a normal thing, when distinguished dignitaries, like the President or the Vice-President, is passing through your state, that 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 is supposed to land, en route Wukari and unfortunately, I was bounced 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 Air Force base and I am bounced at the gate? I mean, it has never happened, anywhere in this country.
He continued, “Maybe, the same Presidency that wrote to me is not aware. But I think we should, if we must make progress, to differentiate between politics and government activities. It is a government activity that I welcome Mr President or Vice President; that I welcome any dignitary that comes here from the Federal Government.
“There is no permanent enemy or permanent friend in politics. Tomorrow I can be the best friend of the President if they choose to do the right thing. I do not have any problem with the President or Vice President and all the things that I say they 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. 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, also, to receive him back when going to Abuja. It’s really unfortunate. I feel very sorry,” Ortom explained.
Contacted, the NAF Command Public Relations Officer, Wing Commander, Chris Erondu, simply referred our correspondent to his superiors in Abuja.
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