By.Dr.Mrs. Magdalyne Dura
Sam Oritsetimeyin Omatseye is one of the journalists that is supposed to be a protege and ambassador of the golden age in our journalism history that thrilled us. That age, which was tutored by the Newswatch and Concord best. An era that gave us the likes of late Dele Giwa, Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese, Yakubu Muhammed, late May Ellen Ezekiel and others. Men and women who domiciled their art on the best journalistic practices and ethics. People who emphasized details and facts. A group whose brand of journalism was very objective and impeccable. Some of the younger journalists who never came in touch with the Newswatch or Concord schools of journalism that raised their own like Omatseye , to keep the fire burning, can be excused or pardoned if they attempt to obsfucate facts or trivialize serious national issues like Sam did in his April Fool’s article: The voice of Chi , but Omatseye can not enjoy same privilege. He is “too read and experienced” to be excused. There are certain “mistakes” that a man of Sam’s standing should or can not make. Although his warped views in the said article could be allowed to pass and not gain any attention from some of us, if they came from latter days wannabes and hirelings, same cannot be said of Uncle Sam as it is clear to all Nigerians now, that our man has staked his pen to bidders and offers have started coming; So unfortunate.
If not , why would Omatseye in his attempt to glorify Simon Lalong of Plateau State and demonize Samuel Ortom of Benue State, dwell so much on unrelated issues , shying away from the facts known even to the blind. In his failed efforts to drive his points home, Omatseye has claimed that, Ortom has , “called the herdsman a foe and interloper, a bloodthirsty carpetbagger, a hoodlum, a savage from the furnace of human treachery. He invoked Armageddon and enacted a law to banish his group” . Although these are actually not the words of Ortom , it is rather funny that Omatseye who has garbed himself as the new spokeman of the Fulanis kept mute when in 2015, Global Terrorism Index named Nigerian Fulani militants as the fourth deadliest terror group in world, after Boko Haram, Isis, and al-Shabab .
It was widely reported in the press that In 2013, the Fulani killed around 80 people in total – but by 2014 the group had killed 1,229.Operating mainly in the middle belt of Nigeria as opposed to the north which is dominated by Boko Haram, the group recorded much deaths across five states, the bulk being in Benue State. This was the situation when Ortom came on board. What did Omatseye say when Agatu people where masaccred?
Another error in Omatseye’s missive , is what he termed , “contradictory” voting pattern. To him, Ortom won by instilling fear and hate. As simple as this looks to the unspuspecting, it is an insult of the highest order to the informed and gallant Benue people . Indeed it is taking the insult too far, after calling our people lazy food eaters and sex machines, then making them into zombies who are cowards and guided into ventures. Someone needs to remind Omatseye that this is Benue State. The state of One of his Ogas in the pen profession, Dan Agbese. Here in Benue State, like he would have seen in the strength Agbese demonstrated in the news room, we are informed. We are not zombies . He, for a comfort seeking venture, might not have seen Ortom’s efforts and why he has been shown so much love by Benue, but we know. Ortom has shown an uncommon courage and valour and led his people with Solomonic wisdom: that is why he is loved.
It is also unfortunate that Omatseye has also shown so much ignorance on the Benue State Open Grazing Law and Prohibition and Establishment of Ranches Law 2017. He sounded as if the law is primarily enacted as an attack on the Hausa/ Fulani. No, had he done a little research on it, Omatseye would have discovered that the law was enacted to protect both farmers and herdsmen. The law is an invitation to modernity. Omatseye prides himself as a well travelled man. So in his travels , either to the US or Latin America or Europe does he see pastoralists moving large herds of cattle in cities ? The law calls for ranching and has severe punishment for cattle rustling. Should Ortom be demonized for an invitation to modernity in the 21st century ?
It is now safe to conclude that Sam Omatseye has indeed lost touch of reality or his once revered pen has been bought by the highest bidder. While he awaits the harsh judgement of posterity for betraying the trust of his forbearers like Dele Giwa who stood by truth to the end, he should be told that Samuel Ortom has written his name in gold. All Nigerians know what Ortom represents . Ten Omatseyes are not enough to change the Benue narrative. He should also be reminded of the catastrophic end of some Politicians who attempted to change our story. But then Sam Omatseye is just one of “the useful idiots”, an Kpan u Baja to be used and discarded.