Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Excerpts From Speeches Made By Benue Stakeholders During The Visit Of PMB


More Excerpts from Speeches made by Benue Stakeholders during the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the state yesterday 12th March, 2018:



CHIEF EDWARD UJEGE

"Your Excellency Mr President, on behalf of the three main sociocultural Associations namely: the Mzough u Tiv, Idoma National Forum and the Ominiyi Igede, we want to tell you one thing. You may not be unaware of the wanton killings of our people and destruction of property that had lingered for over fifteen years in Benue State. As a result of the killings, the people of the State led by the three sociocultural organisations demanded the state government to put in place necessary measures that will stop the carnage.This started at the time when probably Agatu was very hard hit. This demand was first made in 2014 to the immediate past Governor of the State Rt.Hon.Gabriel Suswam who himself was attacked and almost killed by the herdamen. We are also grateful to the State House of Assembly. Therefore, we are informing you that this law was not made by His Excellency, Samuel Ortom who heeded to the demand of our people to assent to the law passed by the Benue State House after due course. Rather, we believe he is one of the best servants of this nation. The open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law is therefore the law of the people and not the law of the Governor and the law is for win-win for farmers and herdsmen and the people of Benue State.The only thing we'll like to tell you is that when this law came into being in November last year, up to January we saw a lot of peace and we believe, ranching is the wayfarward. We want to dispell the insinuations that the attacks are as a reault of the passage of the law. Your Excellency, we are asking for the following things:

1. That the Federal Government should openly declare its support for the anti open grazing law enacted by Benue State.

2. We are requesting peace and security for the Internally Displaced so that they can return to their ancestral homes for the children to start going to school.

3. We are asking that adequate compensation should be given to victims of the crisis which should be rehabilitated with communities restructured without further delay.

4. We are also asking that you take us as citizens of Nigeria. In this regard, you should make more appointments for the People of Benue State especially the security council which makes decisions on the peace and security of this country.

5. We also demand for more Federal Government presence in the State especially in terms of infrastructure.



CHIEF TERLUMUN AKPUTU

"I come here in representative capacity as the Chairman of more than two million peasant farmers in Benue State who have elected me as Chairman of Peasant farmers Association of Nigeria. I am standing before you with a heavy heart being a victim myself along with my members. I want to affirm at this gathering that President Mohammadu Buhari is from our constituency. Never since 1999 especially has a President been elected as a direct product of the masses, peasant farmers, artisans, market women and market men. Our suprise is that immediately the President assumed office, the elites gathered in Abuja and started implementing an agenda against we the farmers. First all, the government allowed international cattle merchants to smuggle in all kinds of sophisticated weapons to direct their hirelings to come down to the Benue valley to kill us and to destroy our property and sack us from our ancestral homes. Mr. President, this is completely unacceptable. Governor Samuel Ortom took over the reigns of power, put in place the amnesty programme so if you go down to the villages, the Tiv, Idoma and Igede communities, there is nobody with a sharp knife to fight back these attacks. We chose to heed to the Government of Buhari by being law abiding and accommodating but alas, this is the situation we have found ourselves. Mr. President, the situation in Benue State now is that more than one hundred and sixty housand of my members are refugees under the rain and sunshine. Now of this figure, more than forty thousand are vulnerable children and women. The danger is that our children are not going to school. The danger is that the children of the poor, the children of members of this your constituency, stand the risk of not competing with their peers any where in the world for the next fifty years.

Your Excellency, we want to request at this meeting that you give a presidential order for the military and other forms of security and read a riot act so that we the IDPs can go back to our ancestral homes. Secondly, we request that you put in place programmes that will promote agriculture. We cannot take our farm produce to the market due to complete breakdown of the road infrastructure. As I talk to you, there is no single irrigation project for farming in the State. How can we be the foodbasket of the Nation without one single dam for dry season farming?"



GEN LAWRENCE ONOJA Rtd.

"Mr. President, your Governor Samuel Ortom is a very very good Governor. All he did was according to the wishes of his people. Why do countries or states make laws? We make laws to sanitise the society and to make sure there is justice. So for those who know the term law cannot precipitate violence. So for those who say it is the law that precipitated the violence, perhaps they need to be more educated. That law was made to benefit farmers and herdsmen."



REV AKPEN LEVA, CAN Chairman, Benue State

"Mr President, in 2015, we mobilised the Christian community in Benue State against our brother to vote for you. When you were sick, we organised a three-day prayer and fasting service in conjunction with Benue State Government for your quick recovery. We thank God that you are here today looking more healthy and active to pilot the affairs of the nation. Mr. President, the church has asked me to advise you and Nigerians. There is too much bloodshed in Nigeria. You have to act fast. Please strengthen your security apparatus before it is too late. Secondly, because of the killings, more than 500 churches in Benue had been destroyed. One wonders, is it only for grazing? We are demanding for adequate compensation to enable us build these churches back and other infrastructure. Also as a church, we belive that the only thing that can bring peace between farmers and herdsmen is the open grazing prohibition and ranches establishment law."

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