In a sharp response to President Buhari’s recent comment on national television urging State governments to re-open cattle routes, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, yesterday Thursday 17 January, said there were no known cattle routes in his State, and even if it existed his government would not re-open them.
Ortom said current reality of the State had made such routes untenable and if he found any such routes previously gazetted as it might affect Benue State he would de-gazette them.
The governor was speaking during his interaction with officials of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Buruku Local Government Area during his campaign tour.
“At the time such routes were contemplated in the 60’s, the entire population of the country was about 40 million while the current population is about 200 million, thereby foreclosing the possibility of such routes,” the governor said.
He said he had a rough first four years with huge financial and security challenges to overcome promising a second mandate, if freely given by the people, will see a marked improvement in performance from his administration.
He accused the All Progressives Congress, APC-controlled Federal Government of failing to stand with the State when it was besieged by Fulani herdsmen who went on a killing spree of indigenous Benue people and openly bragged about their historical conquest of the Benue valley and asserted their rights to Benue land and expousing their occupation agenda of the State.
Ortom said even now, the APC-led federal government have denied his people justice and explained that he couldn’t continue to stay with the APC as it turned a blind eye to the plight of his people. “This development coupled with the deliberate neglect of Benue people by the government when strategic positions are being shared to parts of the country, prompted my decision to seek an alternative platform to pursue my re-election.”
Benue, Taraba, Nassarawa and other States of the middle-belt were centres of carnage and bloodletting between 2015-2018 as herders mainly of Fulani tribe like President Buhari asserted its right to graze their pastoral cattle freely in the rich vegetation fields of the region defying local laws which required everyone to embrace ranching as a modern, more profitable approach to livestock farming.
Tensions however de-escalated in late 2018 as the political and electoral season approached in which President Buhari of APC is also seeking re-election for a second term in office.