Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has disclosed that the state spends about N2.1 billion on cow meat annually especially during the Yuletide season.
Governor Ortom disclosed this, on Friday, at a memorial service in honor of the Benue 73 who were gruesomely murdered during the new year day herdsmen pogrom on the state.
Speaking at the one year remembrance mass held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral, the Governor lamented that in spite of the huge amount of money being expended on patronising herdsmen’s business from the state, they have continued to carry out attack on the state.
He enjoined the people of the state to pay more attention to livestock farming as a way of stopping capital flight instead of expending so much on cows from herdsmen.
“With the research we have carried out, over N2.1 billion have moved out of the state into the hands of Fulani herdsmen for the purchase and consumption of cattle during the yuletide season.
“Instead of pushing this amount to Fulani herdsmen while our youths engage in shoddy acts, it is better they direct their energy on the local production of livestock. If this is done, it would stop capital flight from the state,” Ortom stated.
The governor stated that some politicians in the state were trying to change the narrative despite obvious signs and admittance by herdsmen that they carried out the attacks on the state.
While positing that the Benue killings was not about grazing but an agenda to take over the land, Ortom said it is expected that those who have taken oath to defend and protect the people are alive to their responsibilities and uphold that oath.
The governor who also applauded the military spike Operation WHIRL STROKE (OPWS) for restoring peace to the troubled areas of the state however maintained that a lot still needed to be done especially in the area of restoring confidence in the minds of the Internally Displaced Persons, (IDPs) to enable them return home.
“Though as at today, we do not have any herdsmen camp in Benue state but that does not mean that they are not lurking around because only recently they stormed Logo. So we must all be vigilant.” Ortom said.
Speaking earlier, state chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Akpen Leva rained curses on anyone who collaborates with outsiders to betray the Benue people.
“I know one day the blood of the innocent victims shall rise and seek for Justice. I know one day the blood of the victims shall rise and pursue our killers and sponsors.
“I want to still say that if any of our children collaborates with our enemies to betray the people Benue state, it shall not be well with him or her, moreover, Benue land will definitely open up and swallow such a person.”
Leva who lamented that the displaced people were yet to return to their homes for lack of where to lay their heads urged the federal government to fulfill its promise of reconstructing the homes that were destroyed by the invaders.
“The people need to be rehabilitated to keep them going. Other infrastructures such as schools, hospitals and so on also need to be reconstructed as is the case in the North East,” Rev. Leva said.