The Benue Youth Forum (BYF) has condemned media reports credited to the Buhari Media Organization (BMO) and other groups attacking Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State over his recent comment on herdsmen.
The group urged the presidency to address issues raised by the governor, stressing that attack on Ortom would not solve the problem.
In a statement issued on Wednesday by its president, Terrence Kuanum, the group alleged that the media report was sponsored by the Presidency to vilify the Governor for calling on the President to act on security situation in the country.
The group recalled that Governor Ortom exposed the perpetrators of insecurity in the country and called for their arrest and prosecution.
It also said the governor reminded the President that his body language appeared to be an endorsement of the Fulani armed killers, a disturbing scenario that had made Nigerians to suspect that the Buhari Presidency was protecting a section of the country.
Terrence Kuanumthe lammented that the alleged Buhari groups went to the press without objectively addressing the issues raised by Governor Ortom in his call on Mr President to act fast and save the country’s ship from wreckage.
The statement reads in parts: “The Nigerian Constitution has given the Governor the power as the Chief Security Officer of the State, and Governor Samuel 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.
“Instead of addressing the concerns raised by Governor Ortom, the Buhari groups have rather accused 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.
“More on achievements, towards the end of last year, Governor Ortom embarked on the commissioning of numerous projects which included hundreds of kilometers of roads in Zones A, B and C parts of the state. Others were school projects, electricity and primary health centres.
“As Benue youths whose parents and other relations are still in the service of the state, we can authoritatively state that since January 2018, Governor Ortom has consistently paid civil servants their salaries and pensioners too have been receiving their entitlements.
“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 press outings of the Buhari group 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 to order armed Fulani herders who kill at will, but are quick to move against other Nigerians for merely expressing their displeasure with the manner security matters are being handled.
“The attempt by President Buhari to use groups to divert attention from the weighty issue at stake is a slap on our collective resolve to live in a united Nigeria. 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.
“Nigerians should note that no form of blackmail can stop Governor Ortom and the people of Benue State from speaking the truth and making selfless contributions as long as the poor security situation persists.
“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”.