President Muhammadu Buhari has said that nobody can question God who put different ethnic and tribal groups together to make up a country called Nigeria even as he called on leaders of various groups in Benue State teach their people the joy of living together in peace and togetherness.
The President, who visited Makurdi, capital of Benue State today, Monday, to commiserate with victims of the herdsmen/local farmers clashes that have resulted into several deaths, said: “the governor (Samuel Ortom) and I, and others here know that we will leave one day, but the relationship between farmers and herders will continue. I urge you to keep in touch with them and advise them to live peacefully. Nigeria has over 250 ethnic groups with different cultures and nobody can question God for putting us together.”
Buhari, who addressed various stakeholders at a Town Hall meeting in Government House, Makurdi, advised leaders at all levels, as well as the people in the state to show restraint and allow the security agencies to handle the untenable situation.
President Buhari said that he is not in the habit of publicly rebuking his appointees as many would desire, and that he preferred to quietly “read the riot act” as he did to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) when the Benue attacks began.
The President disclosed that he even shared the IGP’s security report on the Benue crisis with Senators George Akume and Barnabas Gemade from the state.
Recalling his Civil War era memories with military officers from Benue State, he said that his nostalgic experience with such persons would never allow him to do harm to the state.
Governor Samuel Ortom had thanked President Buhari for visiting and listening patiently to the representatives of socio-cultural groups, farmers, herdsmen, national and state legislators, former leaders and elder statesmen, among others, described him as “a father known for his integrity and fight for justice.”
The governor said that attacks by armed herdsmen predated the current administration, adding that the recent attacks had displaced 170,000 people with children of school age constituting 60 per cent.
He called for support for ranching, compensation for victims of the attacks and rebuilding of destroyed houses and farms, as well as the upgrading of the current military exercise to a “military operation.”
Governor Ortom also appealed to the Federal Government to fix some major roads in the state and take over the state polytechnic and college of education among other demands. [myad]