….demands a personal apology, N100bn for Benue
…laments that Nigerians are suffering, smiling under APC-led govt
By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state, at the weekend said it is the height of deceit and hypocrisy for the Federal Government to encourage ranching in Katsina state with the approval of N6.25billion and release of N5billion for that purpose while the same government is bent on creating cattle routes and encouraging open grazing in other states of the Federation.
The Governor who spoke at the Makurdi Airport was reacting to the revelation by Governor Bello Masari who recently at the commissioning of the Zobe Water Project in Dutsima Katsina state said “Mr. President has graciously approved the sum N6.25billion for ranch development purposes in Katsina state out of which N5billion is in the account of the state government.”
Governor Ortom insisted that the Federal Government should apologize to him and extend the same gesture to Benue State by releasing N100billion to Benue State for the establishment of ranches in the state.
Hear him: “So Mr. President approved N6.5billion for ranching in Katsina state. What kind of hypocrisy is this? Are we a serious country at all?
“If the President would say that the Attorney General of the Federation should ensure the relocation of those who have encroached on cattle routes and grazing areas to do open grazing despite the surge in the population from less than 40 million in 1950 and the over 200million people today; and the same President is encouraging ranching in Katsina state where he comes from, that is certainly laughable and very hypocritical and deceitful.
“We need an explanation because it is a shame. Since 2017 we have been for ranching and of course you recall that the Governor of Katsina state did say that it is un-Islamic for anybody to talk about open grazing.
“The prohibition of open grazing is the only thing that will help this country including the provision for ranching. So if the president has approved N6.5billion for Katsina state, they should also approve N100billion for Benue state with an apology to me.
“It is not right for the Federal Government to approve money for ranching in a state and leave others out. And in fact ,the Governor of the state in his remark said N5billion had already been remitted to their coffers. So I begin to wonder, where are we headed?” Governor Ortom who lamented the level of unbearable poverty and hunger the APC led Federal Government had unleashed on Nigerians said the long time prophesy of late Fela Anikulakpo of Nigerians suffering and smiling was currently playing-out in the country.
He said: “it is sad, that is why I appreciate the late Fela Anikulakpo Kuti who prophetically, in one of the songs he sang long ago foresaw what is happening today in the country; he titled it ‘suffering and smiling.’
“That is exactly what we are going through in Nigeria under the APC led Federal Government. Today,Nigerians are truly suffering and smiling. I feel so sad. Tell me where we are economically, security wise, politically where is Nigeria under this government?
“So when I hear people decamping from one political party to the APC, one wonders what they are going there to do in government that has failed completely in all spheres of life.
“Even you the journalists who are talking to me, can you in all honesty say this government of APC and the presidency have impacted your lives? So we must not be afraid to speak out.
“Some people used to ask why it is me that is always talking, I said well, I’m not a fan of Dino Melaye but he said, ‘if you speak the truth, you die, if you do not speak the truth, you still die’. So for me I will always speak the truth and let it be on record that I stand for the truth.
“Recall that a foremost black American, Martin Luther King said those who keep quiet in the face of adversity, terror, persecution and challenge are worse than those perpetrating those evil. So please it is time for us all to speak out in this country because we have failed our country but I pray God helps us.”