From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
A group known as Benue Youth Forum (BYF) has said that attempt by some groups allegedly loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari to divert attention from the weighty issues of national security recently raised by Governor Samuel Ortom is a slap on the collective resolve of Nigerians to live peacefully in a united Nigeria.
The BYF further vowed that no form of blackmail can stop Governor Ortom and the people of Benue State from speaking the truth and making selfless contributions to the development of the country as long as the poor security situation in the country persists.
President of BYF, Terrence Kuanum stated this on Wednesday in reaction to an earlier statement by a group known as Friends of President Buhari.
“We read media reports credited to the some groups apparently sponsored by the Presidency to vilify Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom for calling on the President to act more sincerely and fairly to address the security situation in the country.
“It should be recalled that Governor Ortom exposed the perpetrators of insecurity in the country and called for their arrest and prosecution. He also reminded the President that his body language appears to be an endorsement of the Fulani armed killers, a disturbing scenario that has made Nigerians to suspect that the Buhari Presidency is protecting a section of the country.
“Unfortunately, the groups hurriedly went to the press without objectively addressing the issues raised by Governor Ortom in his patriotic call on Mr President to act fast and save the country’s ship from wreckage.”
The BYF noted further that the Nigerian Constitution has given the Governor the power as the Chief Security Officer of the State, adding that Governor Ortom, in serving his people, has never hidden his desire to uphold the oath of protecting lives and property of his people.
“Since the beginning of the herdsmen crisis, the Governor has always been frank about the situation and ways of arriving at a permanent solution. The Ranching solution he proffered has now been accepted by all stakeholders in the country.
“Only a few days ago, the Northern Governors Forum rose from their meeting and declared that ranching is the only way out of the current insecurity which is largely caused by attacks on farming communities by herdsmen across the country.
“BMO and the other sponsored attack groups seem not to have taken cognizance of this reality which is fast becoming a revolution in Nigeria.”
Kuanum regretted that rather than addressing the concerns raised by Governor Ortom, the Buhari groups have chosen to accuse the Governor of chasing Fulani herdsmen away and failing to deliver dividends of democracy to his people.
“But they failed to realize that the Benue State Governor has done so well for his people and that’s why they re-elected him in 2019 and today we have peace and a lot of developmental projects are ongoing in all corners of the state. At the moment, Benue is one of the most peaceful states, courtesy of the Governor’s efforts.
“The Buhari groups failed to verify sources of their information regarding payment of wages under the Ortom administration. We are not holding brief for the Benue State Government, but the truth is that despite the huge wage bill Benue has which makes it the 3rd highest salary paying state in the country after Lagos and Rivers, the Ortom administration deserves commendation in that regard.
“We are well aware that the Federal Government is also borrowing to pay salaries and pensions. This is a verifiable fact.
The BYF explained further that the press outings of the Buhari groups are intended to distract attention from the issue at stake which is that the Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces and his team have not for once called armed Fulani herders who kill at will to order, but are quick to move against other Nigerians for merely expressing their displeasure with the manner security matters are being handled.
“This country belongs to all of us and it is our responsibility to point out where the government has got it right or wrong.
“For the Presidency to hide behind groups to launch attacks on Governor Ortom instead of addressing the issues he raised is not only unfortunate but also goes to show how things are fast degenerating in the country.
“The Presidency’s option to leave the message and descend on the messenger also smacks of desperation and paucity of a convincing response to the Benue Governor’s statesmanly call.
“We expected the Buhari Presidency to publicly acknowledge Governor Ortom’s input and assure Nigerians that the President is making genuine efforts to address the security concerns being raised.
“We urge all stakeholders to rise and insist on Ranching as a lasting solution to this crisis as highlighted by Governor Samuel Ortom. We must put sentiments aside so that we can all live in peace and seek the development of our various communities. No country in the world which desires development is practicing open grazing of animals in this century.
“We equally call on Nigerians to ponder on the constitutional rights of Governor Samuel Ortom and many other patriotic Nigerians to make their options heard on issues affecting the country. Such patriots must not be intimidated into silence,” the statement concluded.
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