Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom has argued that Nigeria as a country, has no reason to be backward or to be poor.
The governor, who spoke to news men at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, shortly after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari today, Saturday, said: “we (Nigerians) have no business having economic problems because God has given us enough in terms of Agriculture, solid minerals, culture and tourism, you can name them.
“As oil (economy) is no longer fashionable today, we are looking for other ways that God has given us for a very long time. In fact, Nigerians are the best people. Go outside the country, in Europe, Asia and America, you see Nigerians doing very well,
“it is just that people here don’t believe in getting it right and so it is a challenge, otherwise, Nigeria is a great country. For me, I have no other country than Nigeria. I an proud to be a Nigerian and I am happy that we are an independent nation.”
Governor, who spoke against the background of the nation’s 57 Independence celebration, said that Nigeria had great cause to celebrate.
According to him, this year’s Independence will ever remain memorable.
“Mr. President (Muhammadu Buhari) was sick, now he is well and has resumed and like I said, when you have a President and he is sick, the whole country is sick. Now that the President is well, the entire country is well, and so we appreciate God.
“We were in recession and we came out of it during this period again so we have every reason to celebrate Nigeria. Nigeria is a great country and I believe and trust God that with the leadership that we have now, we will come out of all the challenges we are facing today.”
On the current situation regarding the herdsmen and farmers’ conflicts in Benue, the governor said that his government had reduced the general insecurity to the barest minimum.
“We have less tension between herdsmen and farmers: we have signed the anti-open grazing bill into law not targeting any ethnic group or group of people. But we are saying that as a state, we have to provide security for lives and property. So we are providing security for farmers and herdsmen who want to stay in Benue state and do their ranching.”
Ortom said that the government is however, against cattle rustling for which the law had made provision for stiff penalties for cattle rustlers.
“So, anyone living in Benue state will be given protection under the law that we have signed. And I believe that we need understanding of this. Many people have misunderstood this that we are against the Fulani people; we are not against them. Some of the Fulani people were born and brought up in these places. They speak Tiv even more fluently than some of our children. So, we have no problem with them.
“I even have one of them as my special assistance on Fulani affairs. This is how we relate. “We have lived with Fulanis for ages and will continue to live with them. We are willing to provide the enabling environment for anyone who wants to stay in Benue state and engage in ranching of cattle.”
Governor Ortom said that there is presently no open grazing in the state because there is no land for open grazing.
“This is the point we have been making. You can still go there to see for yourself if there is one hectare that is empty for open grazing. After all, ranching remains the best option. I challenge anyone who think that there is a better policy that can restore peace between herdsmen and farmers to bring it up. I am ready to go with the person but for us in Benue, the law has been signed and that is it.”
On how he is handling the recent flood in the state, the governor said that the state is not having challenges now with the water but that the worry is the devastation that was caused: the destruction of roads, houses and how to rehabilitate the people to return to their homes that is the problem.
“Since the incidence, the last flood, we have not had any again but we are doing everything possible to see how we can support the people to go back to their homes to continue their normal businesses. As at now, others have no homes, we are looking forward that the Federal Government, other spirited individuals and international organizations will assist us so that we can rehabilitate the people. [myad]