Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Stakeholders in Benue state have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to tender an apology to the nation for not condoling families of protesters who were either shot or killed during the #EndSARS protests across the country.
The stakeholders also applauded Governor Samuel Ortom for his proactiveness in ensuring that youths in the state did not engage in looting and destruction of property, while the protests lasted.
The stakeholders made this known during a meeting held at the Banquet Hall of the Government House in Makurdi on Monday.
Governor Ortom while welcoming the Stakeholders to the meeting, explained that some of the issues raised by the protesters were genuine.
He said the protest came about as a result of accummulated wrongs meted on people as well as issues that were left unattended to by successive governments.
Ortom who recalled that during the protests, government had sleepless nights pondering on the security situation and calming youths not to go violent, no matter the provocation however called on leaders of the country to leave no stone unturned in engaging the youths especially at such a time as this to avoid a situation where both the leaders and the led can be consumed.
He urged stakeholders at the occasion to lay aside their political, religious or tribal differences and tackle the issue at hand.
On his part, Minister for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affair, Senator George Akume lamented the colossal damage the violence that erupted as a result of the protest caused to the nation’s economy.
Akume who represented President Buhari at the occasion, disclosed however that government was working on a welfare package to cushion the effect of the damage done even as he noted that the Buhari administration had so many attractive packages in stock for the youths.
He posited that even though SARS started well, it derailed in its functions when it began engage in extrajudicial killings, a development which he noted had led many Nigerians into pyschological trauma.
In his submission, the Tor Tiv, HRM, Prof. James Ayatse observed that the reaction of the people during the protest showed that the intervention by the federal government was not touching the lives of the people.
The emphasized that there was need for quick and decisive steps to be taken to avert any further ugly situation even as he appealed to President Buhari to look at his intervention and ensure that the actual implementation of his programmes were done.
The Tor Tiv also he appealed to youths in the state to employ restraint and allow government to sort out the issues.
On her part, National Coordinator of Jireh-Doo Foundation, Josephine Habba who spoke on behalf of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the state called on President Muhammadu Buhari to tender an unreserved apology to families of youths that were killed during the #EndSARS protests.
Hanna who averred that if the President had responded swiftly to the demands of the youths, lives wouldn’t have been lost, warned that the #EndSARS had shown that since youths cannot obtain court judgements to get government to act, they would get their judgements on the streets.
In his remarks, elderstatesman, Wantaregh Paul Unongo who explained that he was at the meeting to encourage the governor, enjoined the nation’s leaders to have listening ears and attend to issues raised by the youths with a view to finding a lasting solution to the current problem.
He added that the President may have laudable programmmes, but that the implementation are late and as such he should be proactive.
Senator Barnabas Gemade on his part, appreciated the governor for all he did during the period, pointing out that his efforts at ensuring peace in the state throughout the period of the protest had earned him some respect from the federal government.
Other speakers at the meeting, among them, the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abba Yaro; Chairman of Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Sir John Ngbede and a youth Activist, Dave Ogbole commended the proactive nature with which Governor Ortom handled the #EndSARS protests in the state even as they described the meeting as a welcome development.
They commended Governor Ortom for not allowing the protests by the youths in the state to go the way of protests in other states, which were overtaken by looters who went on looting spree and destruction of property.
They also commended parents in the state for the control they had on their children and wards by restraining them from engaging in arson and looting.
Also, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Akpen Leva enjoined the President to as a matter of urgency convene a national conference to fix the nation and discuss some burning issues among them the issue of the CAMA Law.