By Simon Wayo
Governor of Benue state, Mr. Samuel Ortom is a disingenuous thespian. He seeks to recreate the absurdist theatre of ancient Greek, but replicates it very poorly. But in his die-hard posture of dramatizing the bizarre, the Governor competes for fame, which sophistry has outclassed Sophocles, the great Greek playwright.
Governor Ortom is recognized nationally and even globally, as the master of wails and whines! He erects the stage and sources his raw materials or contents for the dramatic and propagandist showmanship from alleged herdsmen atrocities in Benue state. He is not popular among the clan of Governors in Nigeria for landmark development projects.
Each time, he parrots and howls like a strangulated prisoner, it’s about insecurities in his state. What is suspect and triggers anger is his proclivity of his very translucently, dishonest approaches to the crises of different shades and dimensions plaquing his state.
No one can dispute the extremely porous state of security in Nigeria today. Armed aliens, foreign merchants and their local conspirators are really making a mince meat of Nigeria’s national security. This is indisputable. But what is the Presidency not doing to curb the trend of viral insecurities in Nigeria?
President Muhammadu Buhari has not flinched from doing the needful. He is funding, equipping and deploying all security agents to crisis flashpoints. The widespread tendency of the crisis has apparently over-tasked and overstretched the Nigerian security apparatus. It is very glaring. Yet, the Federal Government has not relented on its oars to enthrone peace and stability throughout the country.
It is accepted that where human lives are affected, it sprouts emotions, some genuine, while others partisan. But a cliche says, security is everybody’s business. Leaders at the lower rungs in the corridors of power particularly, have a lot to do in complementing the strength of the Federal Government in securing the lives and property of Nigerians. Regrettably through, it is a philosophy Benue’s Governor Ortom has refused to imbibe.
The central Government’s concern for security is the reason each state of the federation has monthly security votes. It is supposed to be expanded in whatever way to tame crisis at its embryonic stage through proactive steps. Unfortunately, some rogue-State Governors have abused it. They are eager to collect the huge sums, but very hesitant to use it for the purpose it was budgeted.
Ortom is a perfect example. He allegedly collects about N900 million monthly as security votes. But to cover-up his leadership loopholes, Mr. Governor has made it a hobby to tongue-lash, brickbat, grandstand, harshly scold and assail the personality and office of Mr. President with accusations’ of failing to tackle security challenges in the country.
President Buhari has received consistent reproaches from Governor Ortom who accuses him of permitting his Fulani kinsmen to kill and bloodily evict the people of Benue out of their ancestral lands. The Governor knows, what he spews are half-truths; malicious lies and egoistic grandstanding against the Presidency to coverup his abdication of his basic responsibilities. This is public knowledge.
Killers operating in Nigeria whether clothe as terrorists or bandits have permeated the land, including the President’s home-state of Katsina. By Ortom’s extrapolations, is it likely that Mr. President would also prod the killers to kill his own direct kinsmen, who share same affinity with the same armed assailants? The answer is clearly in the negative. That’s why every leader must play his role faithfully to end this scourge in Nigeria.
Now, some few days back, Governor Ortom again addressed Nigerians alleging the invasion and killing of about seven persons housed in an IDP camp, Abagena at the outskirts of Makurdi, the Benue State capital. (May the souls of those who lost their lives rest in perfect peace). But there were a lot of lacunas in Ortom’s wailings and castigations of the Presidency, flowing from the latest incident.
The Governor accused President Buhari of failing on security of his state and the entire country. But strangely, Ortom exonerated himself from his actions and inactions which have aggravated the deadly conflict between farmers and herders or he generally porous security in his state.
Have Nigerians imagined that in the scenario of incessant attacks by killer gangs on communities in Benue, a place housing IDPs would have no security guard, even of local vigilantes? It is the responsibility of the state Governor. These are the minor things, but very crucial, which he ignores, but prefers to blame Buhari.
Benue state is generally a hotbed of violent clashes or insecurities. There are internal communal clashes, and conflagrations in various parts of the state, which have added its force to the invading armed gangs to terrorize the state. These seems entrenched in the state. Perceptively, there is poor leadership discharge in Benue state, as exemplified by Governor Ortom.
The Benue Governor has mismanaged everything in the state. He has refused to pay salaries and pay pensioners. He has thwarted flow of funds into the Local Government system, despite NFIU enforcement; he has built no cottage industries to create jobs, and he has resuscitated none! Penury smiles ferociously in the state; whilst, hunger and starvation are perpetual tenants in Benue.
And even agriculture which is the main traditional occupation of the people is in shambles because of failure of the Governor to encourage and support farming ventures. What he supports is the Oracle Farms Limited, the Governor’s private farms. He spends more time on his private farms, than he commits to governing the state.
It is this leadership deficit in the state that has created cracks on the wall and birthed the awful insecurities tormenting the people. Gov. Ortom has never thought of exploring alternatives in solving evolving security issues in the state. He ignores these issues until they explode dangerously to create a platform for him to shift the blame on Mr. President. He saves his monthly security votes under his pillow and waits for the next allocation.
Governor Ortom sounds all the time as if it is President Buhari who is opposed to the Anti-Opening Grazing Prohibition and Ranching Establishment Law, operative in the state. The ban on open grazing in the state is a law passed by the State House of Assembly. It means, it is what the people of Benue have collectively endorsed, which is subject to violation like any other law in the country. It is instructive that the Anti- Open Grazing law was conceived and enacted by the APC led government in Benue State at the time and was initiated by civil society groups in the state.
The anti-open grazing law also has restrictions, spells out penalties for violation and prescribes punishments for offenders, including prosecution and payment of fines to reclaim impounded livestock. But Governor Ortom has consciously abused or violated the stipulations of a law he signed himself.
Ortom is aware that confiscated cows from herders who violate the law ends up missing, or diverted, when the owners eventually appear to pay the prescribed fines to reclaim their livestock. Intelligence reports indicate that sometimes, impounded livestock are even shared among operators or enforcers of the anti-open grazing law, immediately they are seized.
And when the owners come to reclaim back their goods, the consignment is most times incomplete or dubiously pilfered. It’s evident in Ortom’s Livestock Guards, who are merely on monthly stipends, but are now living epicurean lifestyles from the business of illegally selling off confiscated cattle.
These are some of the actions sparking reprisal attacks from the same herders, who are angered that the Government has shortchanged and unfairly dispossessed them of their treasures. And Governor Ortom is aware of this defective application of the anti-open grazing law, but he is strangely reluctant to insist on the right thing. By implication, Ortom is a beneficiary of the disrupted peace he has brought on people of the state and doesn’t want an end to it.
It’s high time Nigerians are told the truth. Governor Ortom is the main architect and culprit of the insecurities bedeviling his state or the heist by herders in his state. He is even suspected of diversionary hiding under the cover of the killers to settle political scores with enemies.
This is the reason its difficult for federal security to assist Ortom restore absolute security sanity in the state. Nigerians should ignore his flippancy and propagandist tendencies, as well as the persistent scolding of President Buhari. Ortom is the real cause of insecurities in the state and thereafter, shed crocodile tears to attract empathy.
Each time he has to render accountability to his people, he ups the ante of insecurities. He has used this template to divert monthly entitlements of workers and pensioners’, citing insecurity in the state. The people should be wise to identify their real enemy; and it is Governor Ortom who has turned the herdsmen killings into a business. Those in doubt, should ask Gov. Ortom’s kinsman, Alhaji Aliyu Tashaku!
Had Ortom approached herder’s mayhem in Benue honestly and genuinely, the killings would have ended or at least, the tempo would have reduced. Therefore, the Governor lacks the moral right or rectitude to criticize President Buhari who is doing his best to contain the situation. To this moment, Operation Whirl Stroke is still operating in Benue and parts of the North Central states. It is this same team that tackled the notorious Gana militant group that once kidnapped and murdered the wife of Justice Tine Tuu. The jurist himself died from what is suspected to be the trauma of the tragic death of his wife . Ortom should utilize them as assets to restore durable peace and security in Benue state. #
Wayo wrote from Federal Government College, Gboko Benue State.