BY AUDU ENTONU
Certainly, these are not the best of times for Benue people. There is pain, sorrow and lamentations on the land. A land once purified by the blessings and peace of our ancestors has become a killing field. The bloodbath is abhorring and the cries so loud and trenchant. Everybody is feeling the pains now, especially, in Tiv land and indeed, all Benue.
Unfortunately though, those who are indifferent, hardened and unsympathetic to the mood in the land are Benue’s political leaders cum gladiators’, led by the Executive Governor of Benue state, Hon. Samuel Ortom and his clique of power mongers. They are unperturbed and undaunted by preserving invented schemes that have made people of the state permanent guests in the kingdom of sorrows. Insofar as it service their personal political interests and lubricates a repulsive ego of triumphalism on the political turf, all is fair.
So, they are mindless and irreligiously non-challant to these afflictions, the unconscionable pursuit of power has wrought on the people with the harvest of tears. Religion is key to our lives as Africans. But most times, we use it in negation in the quest for power. It keeps reminding me very sadly about the days preceding the ascension of Ortom to the seat of Governor of Benue.
He wielded and flaunted assorted platitudes ensconced in very touchy Biblical verses. He spoke of visions and revelations from God Almighty about crowning him Governor of the state in his life. He covenanted with the people, through God that he would rule the state with the fear of God.
He wailed on the streets and in every community at campaign fora; he cried loudly while standing on the sacred altars of God in churches, reeling out tons of afflictions of his people, whom God has promised to mandate him with power to remedy.
However, if all prophecies as proclaimed by Governor Ortom were false, cooked or contrived, at least, the rough guess of enthroning him Governor of the state has come to pass. Ortom has been Governor of Benue state for nearly three years today.
But I am baffled and nervous that the Governor has not solved even one of the afflictions of his people, which he claimed, God ordained him to resolve. And he does not appear worried at this glaring violation of the covenant with his people or how his actions offend God and the multifaceted failures of his administration.
At best, Governor Ortom has overlooked these afflictions; aggravated the severity of some of them and created fresh ones with killer venom and devastations. Peace has deserted the land he holds sway as Governor.
Alien afflictions of the people have reached frightening new fathoms and what we hear at organized and partisan fora is the necessity of Governor Ortom continuing in office. He bought this idea from day-one in office. So, he has unceasingly sold the seed of discord, violence and bloodbath to impoverish the people economically and psychologically with infinite sorrows. This is practiced ploy to divert attention from his concealed, but deviously explored plots to perpetuate himself in power.
Its common psychology that when you destabilize and devastate a people, with killings or deaths, they have no time to think about politics. They are plunged in an endless orgy of mourning and bemoaning of their beloved lost ones.
And so, the “smart” politician like Ortom would seize the opportunity to bandy another round of dubious prophecies alleging it emanated from God to stealthily grab the mandate again. To him, the sacred name of God Almighty is an effective tranquilizer on the people, to blend and raise a political platform of deception of people.
This has been the brief history of Governor Ortom’s political sojourn in Benue state. And it is easy to decipher from the outset when he ventured into the governorship race in 2015. The manner of his rejection and eventually ouster through a failed nomination as flagbearer of the PDP, his original political party on which platform he contested governorship was a key eye opener to Benue people. But they ignored the signs of God directly speaking to them.
Governor Ortom dissatisfied and irretrievable bent on actualizing a satanic ambition to rule Benue, defected overnight. And in less than 24 hours, the equally cursed political goons of Benue; souls who drink and eat from the same shrine of darkness like Ortom handed him the APC party nomination ticket on a platter of gold. His new handlers subdued and undermined all other viable contestants to embrace Governor Ortom.
The manner of this emergence was very ungodly. And God exposed Ortom to emerge the APC governorship flagbearer through this style to allow the people sense the evil of tomorrow. But once again, Benue the people took no special notice by faulting this process and rejecting him at the polls.
They overwhelmingly voted him at the polls and consciously planted a King Pharaoh to rule over them. At daybreak, the people realized the terrible mistake and attempted to fight back to reclaim their mandate. But the dark forces again prevailed with interventions and eventually a court verdict foisted Governor Ortom on Benue with a legal seal.
And it did not take long before the people started harvesting the results of their tenacious disobedience to God’s command and signs. Therefore, Ortom has manifested everything God only in words; but everything Lucifer in actions in the administration of the state. What we harvest in Benue under Governor Ortom is endless bloodbath, massacres, sorrow and pains in varied and sophisticated forms.
I know Ortom’s supporters are likely to still insist that God anointed him King over Benue. But truly God Almighty, we ask you in tears rhetorically and in humble supplications’ that if Ortom was Your true messenger, why had he to cheat or apply criminal schemes to ascend to power in 2015? Now, we are saddled with afflictions!
Oh God Almighty, when will these afflictions end in our land? Have we wronged or hurt You so deeply that you cannot forgive us? Why are You still consenting to the afflictions Governor Ortom has imposed on Benue people?
Today, Oh Lord our God, hundreds of your children starve to bed; their children cannot go school; we cannot afford medical bills for common ailments such as malaria fever and people are dying quietly because of sufferings. And life is generally, very bleak and meaningless to us because the man, who claimed You anointed him Governor has deliberately refused to pay our salaries.
Oh Lord, it is a Biblical injunction You handed down to us through the Prophets that a labourer deserves his wages. In Benue under Governor Ortom, we labour day and night, but he does not consider us worthy of our wages.
As if these afflictions to Benue people, akin to what King Pharaoh did to the people of Israel in Egypt are not enough, Governor has persistently increased this yoke of burden on us. The Governor arms our youths against the visitors in our midst. His armament of the Livestock Guards and Civilian JTF, which he sustains with monthly stipends, is worrisome. It is just a decoy to blur suspicion, by getting these idle youths infused and familiarized with remote communities in order to use them for the 2019 elections.
Again, like civil servants, he has refused to pay them the paltry N15,000 monthly stipends for months. And an armed hungry youth is like a lion and a potential risk to his community and sponsors. So, they probably, went berserk, instigating the killings which have become another dark chapter in our beleaguered history.
Least, I be misconstrued! The killing of Tiv peasant farmers by herdsmen is condemnable and unacceptable. No sane society can condone such acts of aberrations’. Again, no amount of provocation is enough to justify the crude and gruesome termination of the life of a neighbor or any other human being. It offends both religious and secular laws.
But the snag in the whole absurd drama is the determination of Governor Ortom to blur the truth; to lie to the people of Benue and to mortgage his conscience for political expediency in his satanic lust for political power. He turns around to shed crocodile tears, boasting of dying for his people. These are all fake posturings to curry undeserved sympathy from Benue people still ignorant of the intricacies of the grand designs behind the scenes. Or ask me, did Governor Ortom ever weep when the same youths he armed differently used the weapons to wipe out his personal aides and notable indigenes of the state from Benue Northeast, to Benue North West and Benue South? What has he done to curb recurrence?
We shall be fooling ourselves, if we seem to perceive the current crisis; the killings, the tensions and other acts of lawlessness entrenched in the state, without rumination on these deep insights. Governor Ortom is not new to public administration, having started as a council chairman. He is so versed in governance and security protocols to have armed any militia for a genuine purpose, as law enforcers, without the consent, collaboration and guidance of the appropriate security authorities.
The result is what we regrettably have today on our hands- the senseless bloodletting. Let Governor Ortom be bold enough to tell Benue the truth and confess his sins against the people, as propelled by weird political ambitions.
Entonu is a retired staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation and sent in this piece from Otukpo, Benue State.