By Prince Enenche
It is becoming clearer by the day to every Benue indigene and Nigerians, Gov. Samuel Ortom’s hypocritic content, politicization and commercialization of the herders killings in Benue state. The death of every Nigerian or human being is condemnable. But where some persons embalm it with political interests to fester their ambitions is also unacceptable.
But what has hit consistently hard in the much publicized herders and farmers clashes in Benue state is Gov. Ortom’s shadowy manipulations or outright sponsorship of the killings to veil his leadership deficiency in the four years of governing the state. The Governor has designed it to hoodwink unsuspecting indigenes of the state into blindly voting him for a second term in 2019.
Therefore, Ortom has devoted much energy into negative profiling of the Fulani ethnicity and campaign of calumny against an entire race.
Gov. Ortom is also a cattle rearer and has the highest number of cattle in Benue state, just like his friend, the PDP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who leads in number of herds in Nigeria.
The wisdom of casting aspersion on the Fulani tribe is difficult to understand. In fact herding is a livestock business practiced by all ethnicities in Nigeria and the world.
But how Ortom and his negligible apostates have infected their senses to reduce the problems associated with cattle herding in Benue or Nigeria to an exclusive Fulani affair baffles endlessly.
In pursuit of this demonic agenda against the Fulani, Ortom has contrived an array of antics to de-market the Fulanis and promote his 2019 re-election project.
He consciously defames the Fulanis by branding them killers, murderers’ and invaders on annexation of the ancestral lands in the Benue valley. The Governor cannot justify any of these claims beyond the peripheral entrepreneurial and political values he has crafted to service his selfish motives.
So, quite ironic, he vilifies President Muhammadu Buhari, as a Fulani; but courts another Fulani man, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who he is serving as his 2019 campaign Co-ordinator, North Central Zone. Such posturing is unveiling the vaunted secrets behind the farmers and herders clashes as well as the ensuing killings in the state.
Every day, Gov. Ortom reminds Benue of his double-faced portrait on the herders killings. And his simple, but unexpressed message is that aside propagating the herders menace to gain political mileage against opponents in the 2019 governorship race, he knows what is reeled out from his camp is baseless propaganda against Fulani.
Former Governor of Benue State and Senator, representing Benue Northwest Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Sen. George Akume has reiterated at several fora that Gov. Ortom is responsible for the herders killings in Benue state.
Even recently at a party function in Makurdi, the bold and audacious Senator Akume alleged that Gov. Ortom is the leader promoting the herders killings in the state through his Livestock Guards, led by a “repentant” Boko Haramists, Alhaji Aliyu Tashaku. Ortom shares clannish ties with Tashaku.
Elsewhere, Sen. Akume had thundered that when Tashaku was arrested with five others over the killing of two catholic priests and 17 parishioners in Mbalom, Gwer East LGA of Benue; charged to court and remanded in prison custody, the tempo of the herders killings in Benue waned to point of vanishing.
How Tashaku regained his freedom after months of incarceration remains a mystery. But barely three weeks after his release, the herders killings in Benue resumed again. It blends too perfectly to be assumed as coincidence.
Akume has ceaselessly prodded Gov. Ortom to answer this fundamental question. But the Governor shirks each time he is confronted. The best he has ever done are threats to drag Sen. Akume before Ijir Tamen, (the Tiv Supreme Assembly). But a conscience haunted by guilt has not freed him to embark on such a futile exercise.
As a cattle rearer, Gov. Ortom allegedly romances with Miyetti Allah in secret. He reportedly attends their meetings and pays levies. The Governor is only anti-Miyetti Allah in the day time to promote his political ambitions; but a staunch member of the group at nights. He has allegedly sworn an oath to protect their business interests in the state. And the Governor religiously adheres to these commitments.
Many may not understand. But in the aftermath of the herders massacres of Benue people in Guma and Logo LGAs on New Year Day, January 2018, pressure groups and originators of the anti-open grazing law like MAFO and VINTIM sent out an appeal to all Tiv people to desist from consumption of beef from Fulani cattle, as subtle protest against the gruesome killings.
This voluntary rule has been substantially obeyed throughout Tiv land. It has gravely reduced the market of cattle in Benue state.
The profit decline to cattle rearers has been impactful. It is alleged Miyetti Allah tabled the issue in one of their meetings, which had Gov. Ortom in attendance. And he promised the leaders to resolve matter gradually.
It is therefore, not a co-incidence that Gov. Ortom flouted with impunity, the MAFO appeal against consumption of Fulani cows during the 2018 yuletide. Fulani cows were the major gifts Gov. Ortom generously dished out to people during the Christmas, a Christian feast which commemorates the birth of the Lord and Savour, Jesus Christ.
A leader committed to the opposition to Miyetti Allah as Gov. Ortom feigns and preaches everywhere should not have been in the forefront of violating the MAFO restriction on consumption of cows.
He deliberately danced to the tone of his covert Miyetti Allah leaders. So, when it pleases him, he mounts the podium with sermons of Fulani herders killing Benue people to score cheap political points.
That Gov. Ortom has not attempted to answer the questions posed to him by Sen. Akume over Tashaku implies that he is the sponsor of the herders killings in Benue state for selfish political pursuits.
And it is gleaned from the reality that as a Governor who cannot pay salaries and pensions (including select payments in December 2018) and his zero rating on capital projects, reelection for him is glaringly elusive.
Therefore, blackmailing the Fulanis, an entire race over killings to gain public sympathy for his reelection bid is no big deal. The truth would continue to saunter into the open to illuminate hearts charmed by Gov. Ortom’s satanic agenda on Benue.
Now that part of this truth is unveiled by Gov. Ortom by his violation of MAFO restriction on beef consumption from Fulani cows, he should demonstrate the virtues of a true Christian he claims by apologizing to the Fulani folk.
Enenche wrote from MAKURDI, Benue State.