By Abaji Abaji
These are fertile times in Nigeria. And the reason is simple. Partisan times excite majority of Nigerians because of the perks electioneering campaigns offer to devotees of contenders. And because poverty is prevalent in some states like Benue, the wretched of the earth offer themselves politicians for a plate of lunch or dinner.
The Governor of Benue state, Rt. Hon. Samuel Ortom is at his best of times. For nearly four years, he has consciously and effectively gained control of Benue people who are afraid of hunger. The number is amazing and the imposing urge of hunger has pushed many of them to enlist into Gov. Ortom’s reelection campaign.
Ortom is one Governor who cannot stand upright on any sector in the state he governs assertively, these past three years, except reminding his people of Fulani herdsmen killings. He is a leader who is not just helpless, but confounded and stumped by the demands of his office.
The Benue Governor knows only one narrative or folklore! Herdsmen killings! That’s how cheap he condescends with propaganda. He compels the people to believe “Fulani” killers have stopped him from developing the state; paying salaries and pensions or stopped China MOUs from posting positive results.
And the same enemies prevented him from constructing the access road to his country home in Agasha or the local government headquarters in Gbajimba and hordes of other sensitive issues affecting the state.
But the same herdsmen have not stopped him from borrowing billions of naira on behalf of the state government; which develops wings soon after collection; these “wicked” Fulani herdsmen have not barred him from developing Oracle Business and Farms (his personal business empire); the herdsmen have not stopped him from cultivating a N100 million worth of rice farm in his home local government of Guma, which he claimed was burnt a few days back by the same herdsmen.
For nearly four years, Gov. Ortom has exploited the state to his personal benefits. While the state suffers and the people groan, Ortom smiles at his personal progress at the expense of the people. But he doesn’t want to bequeath leadership. He is viciously out campaigning for 2019. But he has failed to answer fundamental questions about development issues. His brightest card for seeking reelection is the Fulani herdsmen killings.
So, he has embarked on support-shopping in the political pool, recruiting everyone, including Benue’s best or highly venerated brains and intellectuals to spread the tentacles of propaganda. And some of those hired have parents or relations who are Gov. Ortom’s victims of salary and pensions terrorism.
While Ortom has proved consistently that he lacks the capacity to effectively govern Benue state; he has stretched his odious fingers in questioning how President Muhammadu Buhari administer Nigeria. Gov. Ortom’s hirelings did a good job a day earlier by emerging on an emergency group they christened MINDA Strategic Contact Group (MSCG), co-chaired by Prof. Joseph Iorapuu.
The group excitedly questioned FGN’s decision to launch “Operation Python Dance III, ”in a statement tagged as “To Remember is to Resist: Benue on the Eve of 2019.”
No one needs to know these fellows individually. But once you read the contents of their message, a soothsayer is not required to intimate you that Gov. Ortom has hired Benue’s best brains to keep playing the herdsmen killings as his only bargaining chip for seeking reelection in 2019. So, they are blind to every other reason and do not feel any sensibility on common good.
While they chorus an Ortom reelection bid, they play the deaf card to other sound dissenting voices. But a native vocalist, who goes by the stage name “Stuffy” has punctured Gov. Ortom’s Miyetti Allah narrative or parodied the Fulani herdsmen killings, the Governor holds as his only weapon for seeking to continuation in office beyond 2019.
Stuffy laments that in his entire life or that of Tiv people no one is adjudged the best leader by the number of persons he has buried while on throne as trumpeted by Gov. Ortom. He clearly satirized Ortom for answering every other question confronting the state such as non-payment of salaries and pensions or development projects in the state with the excuse of herdsmen killings.
The traditional singer cannot be wrong because Benue is not the only state caught in the blight of killings of whatever colouration. They insistently argue that even in the Northeast, where Boko Haram terrorists reigned supreme, Governors seeking reelection brandished development projects. Disappointingly, Gov. Ortom’s obsession with the killings glaringly stems from what he profits.
Apart from using it to lard his reelection campaigns , sustaining IDPs in various camps in the state has secured his huge security votes and also, kept the window open for funds from sympathetic Nigerians. He plays these cards at the detriment of the masses and comes out to delude himself with the self-acclaimed bogus title of “defender of Benue valley.”
Therefore, engaging the services of paid agents to oppose operation Python Dance III in Benue is ideal. For Ortom to silently consent to the military operation in the state to rid it of troublesome herdsmen or cows and other security challenges is synonymous to terminating the Governor’s only reason in gunning for reelection.
When anybody reads the MSCG’s public statement at first glance, one is likely to conclude the operation is targeted at Benue state alone. But this is a nationwide operation by the Nigerian military to clear the turf of criminals preparatory to the next general elections.
Gov. Ortom has displayed enough of this hypocrisy. Time has come for Benue people to unmask him. This self-anointed defender of the Benue valley shouts everywhere how President Buhari has refused to protect Benue state from herders.
It’s ironic that when the President sends the military, who have proven to be true defenders of the Benue valley from the plains of Plateau to the forests of Taraba and down Southern River Benue, Ortom hides under some emergency groups to oppose it. He prefers the troops be deployed to fighting Boko Haram.
Every Nigerian has liberty of expression. But if the group led by Prof. Iorapuu knows “To Remember is to Resist: Benue on the Eve of 2019,” it is also very germane that they understand “Resistance Should Offer Consolation in Development As Gateway To 2019. “
Abaji wrote this article from Gboko.