Farmers/herders crisis: Group cautions Ortom over constant attacks on President Buhari

.....says Benue Gov using the crisis to steal public funds

Some middle-belt leaders have denounced Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State over his persistent attacks on President Muhammadu Buhari.

The group, under the auspices of the Middle Belt Conscience Guard (MBCG), warned the governor to focus on governance rather than habitually incite Nigerians against Fulani herders.

The MBCG, at a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, described Ortom‘s assaults on President Buhari and Fulani herders as “uncomplimentary, satanic and a grand plot to orchestrate widespread public violence in Nigeria”.

In his address, Alex Samuel, the Secretary of MBCG’s Board of Trustees, said the governor’s antics is aimed to divert attention from public funds being looted in his state.

Samuel noted that Ortom capitalizes on the slightest opportunity to criticise Buhari whereas in his state people die daily of hardship and starvation.

According to him, while President Buhari has entrenched durable peace between farmers and herders, Ortom continues to fuel hatred amongst the people due to political benefits from the crisisd create using Fulani herdsmen.

The MBCG advised the governor to concentrate on providing genuine leadership to the people who elected him.

The group added that Ortom who has displayed zero capacity to lead people uses President Buhari to cover his own failures in leadership.

Mr Samuel, however, warned the governor to stop dancing on the graves of innocent citizens with his persistent onslaught on Buhari and Fulani herders.

He said Gov. Ortom has been tolerated enough and he should purge himself of the anti-Buhari and Fulani herders’ sentiments and face genuine governance.

Read the full statement below:

We are pained to pencil down these feelings at a time Nigerians are celebrating the Christian feast of St. Valentine; which is a day globally set aside for the expression of love and brotherhood.

But it has become expedient for us to let out our feelings known to all Nigerians, which are in stout disagreement and stiff opposition to Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom’s habitual and consistent incitement of Nigerians against the Fulani herders. We are equally vexed by his unrestrained verbal assaults on President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, which shows scant regard for the person and office of Mr. President.

In the last few days, as done in the past, Gov. Ortom has decided to revive his penchant, umbrage, hate against the Fulani ethnic group and outright incitement of other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria against Fulani herders. He has accused the Fulani herders of various unsubstantiated misdemeanours against crop farmers, including bloodshed and sought very foolishly to terminate the traditional occupation of the Fulanis, which is cattle rearing from the face of the earth.

Middle Belt Conscience Guard (MBCG) finds Gov. Ortom verbal assaults on President Buhari and Fulani herders very uncomplimentary, satanic and a grand plot to orchestrate widespread public violence in Nigeria. We find this very unacceptable, especially, as the hateful campaigns are mounted by Gov. Ortom  a supposed leader of the people and who by his status ought to be the father of all Nigerians domiciled in the state he governs.

Those in Benue state or the people Gov. Ortom governs knows that each time the demand for the Governor’s stewardship accountability comes up, he resorts to the antics of the sentimental resurrection of the issue of Fulani herders to divert and distract focus on his disastrous leadership of the state.  This trick is conveniently used by Gov. Ortom to gain undeserved political milage and favours’. It is what is known to us and Benue people are not deceived either.

We understand Gov. Ortom’s actions and he stops dancing on the graves of innocent citizens of Nigeria.  His constant and senseless vociferousness on the issue of Fulani herders and crop farmers for very personal and selfish reasons. Ortom created and natured to blossom, the conflict between idyllic herders and crop farmers in Benue state. These two groups co-existed and practised their occupation in peace and commonality until Gov. Ortom decided to thrust a knife on the fraternity between these twin traditional brothers and friends.

Gov. Ortom is very skilful in deceitfulness and manipulation of the people for his political and economic interests.  That’s why he has deliberately refused to address the root causes of the herders-farmers crisis in Benue State because of his political and economic interests. His inactions laced in propagandism have worsened the fragile relationship between Fulani herders and crop farmers across the country.

Gov. Ortom kick-started the farmers-herders crisis with the so-called anti-open grazing law. And since the law came into effect through an Act of the Benue State House of Assembly more than three years ago, Gov. Ortom’s Livestock Guards have seized or confiscated thousands of cattle from Fulani herders under the pretext that they have violated the law.  A clause in the anti-open grazing law, which Ortom knows very perfectly, makes provision for the public auctioning of seized cows on the strength of the anti-open grazing law.

But in truth, can Gov. Ortom tell Nigerians where and when he has ever auctioned the cattle confiscated from Fulani herders? There are no such records anywhere. Rather, the seized cattle end up in Gov. Ortom’s Oracle Farms Limited as his personal possession and treasure.  We challenge Ortom to publicly disprove us.

Gov. Ortom is a mere opportunist, propagandist and leadership accident on the people of Benue. He has become an emergency herder because there are free cows of Fulani herders to impound through the instrument of state power. Ortom should have been contented with the illegal use of state power on innocent Fulani herders. But to further defame or malign the Fulani herders by labelling them killers and bloodsuckers is very unconscionable.

If herders necessarily kill as propagated by Gov. Ortom, it means, he is also a chief killer himself. Why has Gov. Ortom not explained to the people of Benue and the Nigerians, the identity of the six suspects, including his kinsman and political associate, Alhaji Aliyu Tashaku arrested in connection with the murder of two catholic priests and 17 parishioners at St. Ignatius Quasi Parish, Ukpor-  Mbalom community in Gwer-East local government area of the state? Were they Fulani herders? Why is Ortom silent over this incident?

The suspects were charged to a magistrate court in Makurdi.  Nobody has heard about the case anymore. Gov. Ortom himself does not talk about it. The principal suspect, Aliyu Tashaku, the former leader of Ortom’s Livestock Guards is a free man now and we cannot determine whether the courts discharged and acquitted him together with the other suspects.  There is obviously something which Ortom is trying to hide from the people by making Fulani herders his scapegoats.

Gov. Ortom is a master of doublespeak! Just yesterday, he praised President Buhari for intervening in the farmers/ herders’ crisis. Today he is vilifying the same President and accusing him of complicity in the Fulani herders and crop farmers hostilities. But  Ortom has forgotten in his narrow senses that he told Nigerians repeatedly that  President Buhari’s intervention through the  Nigerian Army’s  “Exercise  Ayem Akpatema” and “Exercise Whirl Stroke,” which is still in progress brought relief to troubled communities and quenched the conflagrations between herders and farmers.

It’s simple reasoning that if President Buhari is really sponsoring Fulani herders to unleash violence on crop farmers in Benue or anywhere else in Nigeria, he wouldn’t bother to order Military intervention.  Let leaders like Gov. Ortom begin to think with their brains; let him wear his thinking cap properly. A leader who reasons and behaves like an infantile is a curse to his generation and the people he is leading.

Whilst President Buhari is doing all within his powers to entrench durable peace between farmers and herders, the likes of Ortom have continued to fuel hatred amongst the people because they gain political benefits from the crisis they create, using Fulani herdsmen.  Fulani herders have become targets of attacks everywhere in Nigeria, particularly in Benue because the likes of Gov. Ortom have decided to light the candle of hatred and discrimination against them.

We advise Gov. Ortom to listen to the voice of his colleague-governor, Alhaji Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state. He told Gov. Ortom the gospel truth. He was very articulate and his reasons have no contradictions; it’s a voice of wisdom. If Fulani herders do not make preliminary arrangements for their protection, incensed vampires like Gov. Ortom would finish them.

Ortom has deceived Benue people and Nigerians enough. Let him concentrate on providing genuine leadership to the people who elected him. Leading people is not done by tricks. The person entrusted with the responsibility must commit his mind and soul to it. It is not propaganda; leadership is not a world of fantasy and personal enrichment as promoted by Gov. Ortom in  he almost six years of his tenancy in Government House Makurdi.

MBCG finds it incompatible that Gov. Ortom is vocal on traditional and social media platforms about the protection of his people, yet allows the same people massively die every day because of hunger and starvation. Ortom should explain why his personal businesses as symbolized by Oracle Farms Limited are performing maximally, but private businesses of other Benue people are dying or have closed up because of high taxations and other unfriendly government policies.

We want Ortom to tell Nigerians why Benue people are dying of hunger or swimming in poverty while himself and members of his family are buying every land in Benue and building personal fiefdoms. MBCG wants the world to know the insidious evil Gov. Ortom is doing to Benue people but diverts attention from it by playing the card of Fulani herders.

It’s shameful to know that more Benue persons have been killed under Gov. Ortom’s very nose due to lack of salaries and pensions than any other state in the country or even the alleged killings by herdsmen. But he hardly talks about it. He lies freely and thinks, everyone is fooled by his local antics.

We have tolerated Gov. Ortom enough and he should purge himself of the anti- Buhari or Fulani herders’ sentiments and face genuine governance or else, we shall not hesitate to begin to match him word for word, henceforth.  Its clear, Gov. Ortom cannot lead people, but we find it repulsive for him to keep using President Buhari to cover his own failures in leadership.

Thank you all and journey mercies back to your various destinations.  Happy Valentine’s day to all couples.


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