Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Insecurity in Benue – Ortom, the time to act is now!

By Ameh Comrade Godwin
William Shakespeare once submitted that, “security is mortals’ chiefest enemy.”

The increasing nature of insurgency, terrorism, arm robbery, kidnappings, corruption and ethnic crisis, et al in Nigeria, particularly Benue State constitute a disturbing threat to security to life and property. Lack of security of lives and property of the citizenry is no doubt a severe hindrance to meaningful development in any enclave.

In the light of these, one will have concern for the happenings in Benue State, which for sometimes has been swimming in blood, literarily.

When a national daily rated Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State as the 3rd Least Performing Governor in Nigeria, several eyebrows were raised.

Some observers feel the governor does not ‘merit’ the list, others believe that he should have been rated the worst governor in the history of the country.

It is on this ground I write to ring the bell to the state government over the worsening security situation in the state.

When Ortom assumed power on May 29, 2015, he received a deafening ovation after he vowed to flush out terrorism from the state.

Subsequently, he backed his word with the announcement of amnesty scheme for criminals in the state.

Several millions of naira was approved to that effect, but sadly, there’s still no peace in the town.

In the few months since this government assumed power the state has witnessed some of the worst bloodbaths in the history of the nation.

And there is growing discontent that Ortom has not done enough to end the menace of killings in Benue.

What most Benue indigenes found appalling is the seemingly lackadaisical approach of the government to this problem.

A recent shocking development was a statement credited to the governor where he said ‘only’ few persons were killed as against the 18 that was widely reported in the media. It is shocking for a sitting governor to be so unconcerned as to describe the death of his citizens he swore to protect as ‘only.’

Since he came on board, aside his parochial appointments which only favour his kinsmen, Ortom is yet to define what his vision for the state is.

It is saddening that the governor is only loud on social media through his online soldiers who are busy campaigning for his reelection in 2019.

When the bloodbaths in Agatu LGA of the state became unbearable, it took the efforts of some ebullient youths in Abuja to draw the attention of the federal government as well as the international community to the devastation caused by rampaging Fulani herdsmen in the area through a protest in Abuja.

Recently, when the marauding herdsmen unleashed terror on the people of the area, the governor rather than spring into action and galvanize the security apparatus of the state he was busy issuing statements to condemn every single attack. De ja vu!

There are obvious security gaps that called to question as the chief security officer of the state. The recent killing of his security adviser was a clear indication that the governor has not measured up to standard in that department.

Ortom and his security team failed to act on time when vicar general of Otukpo, Rev Fr John Adeyi was kidnapped. When, the cleric corpse was discovered near a farm in Otukpa, the only statement from Ortom on the ugly development was condemnation of those behind the dastard act with a promise to ‘bring killers to book.’ Till now, neither the book nor the killer has been found.

From the perennial mayhem by Fulani herdsmen, Benue has deadly cocktail of violence kidnapping and killing of hostages. The spate of killing of innocent citizens has made many changed the slogan of the state from ‘Food Basket’ to ‘Blood Basket.’

The governor should not forget that one of his duties as the governor is to protect lives and property and as such, any life lost under his watchful eyes must be accounted for.

Before Ortom, there was Benue and after him, there will still be Benue.

History book will record accurately his stewardship over the state. Enough of the bloodbath! It is not too late to back out if the seat is too hot for him.

For Ortom and his team, the time to act now!

Ameh writes from Abuja.

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