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Ortom: Nigeria on life support, running out of oxygen

…says Buhari has hidden agenda for insisting on grazing routes

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State Thursday said that the growing insecurity bedevilling the country today as a result of the activities of militant herdsmen was a clear indication that “Nigeria is on a life support machine running out of oxygen”. Besides, the governor said President Mohammadu Buhari has a hidden agenda to forcefully take the land naturally given to people of Benue State for his Fulani kinsmen owing to his insistence on revitalization of the “archaic grazing routes”.

Governor Ortom stated this in a keynote address at the 2021 Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Makurdi branch with the theme: “Open Grazing in Nigeria: Threat to National and Food Security, National Cohesion and Sustainable Development”, which held in Makurdi, the state capital. “Nigeria is on life support and is running out of oxygen.

All hands must therefore be on deck irrespective of political, ethnic, religious and cultural differences to ensure the resuscitation of the country,” he said. The governor reiterated his administration’s stand against the proposed grazing routes by the federal government, saying it was “not only archaic but antidevelopment and indeed retrogressive”.

He said at the moment, over one million people who have been displaced as a result of marauding herdsmen attacks are living in Internally Displaced Persons camps, while those who made attempts to return to their ancestral homes were murdered a situation he said has adversely affected agricultural activities in the state and country in general.

“Across Nigeria, open grazing has led to the invasion of farming communities by Fulani herdsmen leading to massive killings and maiming of people, raping of women, destruction of property, loss of livelihoods and displacement of persons. You might have heard that on 20th March, 2021, there was an assassination attempt on me by Fulani militia on my way back from the farm.

It took the grace of God for me to survive the attack. As at today, many states in Nigeria have been affected by the activities of marauding herdsmen. “The negative impact of open grazing which often results in attacks on communities in different parts of the country, adversely affect the local economy as farmers are prevented from accessing their farms and local markets are also deserted for fear of imminent invasion by the killers. “Farmers, who have attempted to go back and till their land, are either killed or maimed by herdsmen. This has led to food insecurity and poverty in the country thereby affecting the attainment of goals One and Two of the Sustainable Development Goals on Zero Hunger and End od Poverty”.

Ortom said open grazing of cattle has led to destruction of farm lands and environmental degradation, a development he noted has resulted in resistance from communities whose lands have been negatively affected by the activities of Fulani herdsmen and their cattle roaming across the country. The governor also urged President Buhari to respect the Federal Character Principle in appointments into key positions and siting of projects; he also asked him to as well urgently convene a national dialogue of all ethnic nationalities to address the concerns being expressed by Nigerians.

The Makurdi Chairman of NBA, Barr. Justin Gbagir in his remarks, lamented that the security architecture in the country was in the doldrums and in total collapse, adding that the disturbing trend of militia herders activities and the attendant security threat to the corporate existence of the nation was what necessitated the association to choose the theme for the event.

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