The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has revealed that he is willing to dump the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) if his people asks him to do so.
The governor stated this yesterday in Makurdi after Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose paid him a condolence visit following the killing of several people of the state by Fulani herdsmen.
The governor has been under intense pressure to abandon his party as the federal government and its security apparatus are unwilling to bring permanent solution to the herders – farmers clashes, enforce the Open grazing prohibition bill and arrest criminals who have been unleashing mayhem on the people.
As a last resort, Ortom had to mend fences with his predecessor, Gabriel Suswan and former Senate President David Mark when it became obvious that leaders of APC in the state including the Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbe and Chairman of Arewa Elders Forum Paul Unongo were not on the sane page with him on how to secure Benue state from the aggressors.
In his address, Fayose told him to “change to another vehicle if the vehicle conveying you cannot take you to your destination and or is faulty.”
But in his response, Ortom said, “I am a member of the APC and about the issue of joining another vehicle, Benue people are here and they are hearing you.
“I cannot decide for Benue people, the people will decide, it is what they want that I will want. Anything Benue people say I should do, I will do.
“Nigeria can never be the same, Benue can never be the same because there is going to be a paradigm shift, there is going to be a turn around never witnessed in our history.
“And one of them is that I have joined my brother Fayose to be outspoken on things that are done wrongly in this country. We have a constitution and laws guiding us and I believe in the rule of law and due process and anything outside that whether here or at the national level I must challenge.
“Those who think that I’m talking, should give me Justice, let there be equity, let their be fairness, let there be transparency in what we are doing. Not hiding under to intimidate and engaging in name calling, it will not be accepted.
“I am an elected Governor and I must speak on behalf of the people who put me there and nothing more because I am accountable to them and whatever they want is what I will do. With the state Assembly we are working together, the law was a product of the people.
“Today people are passing through the back door to grant immunity to Miyetti Allah, herdsmen and their cattle which is not in the constitution.
“Cows have taken over our bedrooms, our schools, farms and everything. And those who are charged with the responsibility of protecting us have taken sides and to the extent that they have become the mouthpiece of Miyetti Allah and herdsmen, this will not be accepted.
“States have been making law why is our own different, but our law has come to stay. Of course it is not about grazing but it is about taking over our land but this will not be accepted in the 21st century.
“If the Inspector General of Police and the Minister of Defense are failing in their duties and the President cannot sack them, we leave ourselves to God who will direct us on what to do.
“I am a member of the APC but I cannot keep quiet when my people are being annihilated I will not accept that because I cannot be Governor over dead people. I’m not a dead man either.
“The responsibility of enforcing the law is that of the federal government. That is why I have joined the voices calling for the restructuring of the country.
“Because we cannot have an IGP who is the mouthpiece of Miyetti Allah. And we cannot have a minister who should be protecting the territorial integrity of this country coming out to say it is foreigners that are responsible for the killings.
“We cannot have a security architecture that is not ready to protect lives and property. That allow herdsmen carry guns and displaying it openly.
“Today herdsmen have also taken over kidnapping in the country from North to South because they have guns and are being protected by the IGP and when you talk they start calling you names.
“I must send a message that Samuel Ortom is not a drowning man. I was a nobody but God lifted me to several important position in life, so I know where I’m coming from, I’m not a drowning man. I dropped out of school in 1979 but I hold a Doctorate Degree today. After passing through several leadership positions in this country today I am a Governor and I’m doing my job.
“Now it is clear that our country must be restructured for the tenets of rule of law to be respected. Any herdsmen that is not comfortable with the grazing law should go to Kano where the Governor has requested that they come.
“Today because of the activities of herdsmen in Benue state over 60,000 of our children can no longer go to school and are residing in seven IDPs camps across the state. They have truncated the education of our children. It very painful.
“To compound the problem the crisis in Cameroon has spilled to Kwande and we have opened two camps where 7,000 persons are being housed, so on the whole we have nine IDPs camps in Benue state. After the killings of the 73 people the killings are still continuing almost on a daily basis and more people are coming into the IDPs camps.
“Though I read that Mr. President has approved the deployment of the military, I thank the President though I have not been communicated officially but I hope it will help in restoring peace and normally.
“Regrettably his directive to the IGP to relocate to Benue was not obeyed and he also failed to do his job. We are calling for his resignation. Such people cannot work for Mr. President he needs better people to assist him including the Minister of Defence. These are bear footed people who have nothing to offer.
“I commend the National Assembly for rejecting the biased report of the IGP which portrayed him as the mouthpiece of Miyetti.”