An unimpressive attempt to re-write the Benue narrative


Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means. – Ronald Reagan

By Abrahams Kwaghngu

The above quotation by former American President and Statesman has continued to play out in our contemporary political times. It has become evident to keen political observers in Benue State that certain elements have not hidden their dislike for Governor Samuel Ortom’s focused and unwavering determination to do the right thing at the right time and for the benefit of the people of the State.

The Governor’s leadership skills especially in the area of peace building, human capacity development and good governance obviously has altered the political equation to the detriment of those leaders whose stock in trade over the years alienated the people from the scheme of things. A case in point is a political party led by the self-acclaimed leader that believes in running party affairs that largely isolate the members.

Governor Ortom’s commitment to the rule of law, good governance and above all his fearless and courageous speaking out in defence of his people against strange invaders has understandably set him on a collision course with some vested interests whose stock in trade is in complete variance with the wishes and interests of the people they seek to lead.

It is no longer news that ever since Governor Ortom introduced the Anti-Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law in collaboration with the Benue State House of Assembly, he had been under pressure from internal and external elements for daring to initiate an innovative law designed to bring about peace between indigenous Benue farmers and law abiding herders.

It was therefore not amazing when a Senator from the State on a visit to Abuja with his party chieftains last November made an unsuccessful attempt to re-write the history of the herdsmen crisis in Benue by suggesting that the State government was behind the unfortunate crisis in the State. This is coming against the backdrop of those who have vowed to make the state ungovernable for Governor Ortom for introducing the anti-open grazing law.

This is even more surprising given the Governor’s consistent and tireless round-the-clock peace building initiatives and his repeated reporting to the relevant security agencies of threats by strange herders elements to resist the anti-open grazing law.

This statement coming from a supposed representative of a constituency in Benue is completely irrational, inconsistent, uncalled for and portrays the self-acclaimed leader making such wild allegations as someone who has infact lost touch with reality. The Benue State Government led by Governor Samuel Ortom has endured the brunt of opposition from some forces for his firm stand against the criminal instigation of crises and destruction in the State some months ago.

A question begging for answer is what would motivate a state government to turn against the people it swore an oath to serve and protect without fear or favour? It is clear that certain elements of the opposition led by the self-acclaimed party leader is taking politics too far and appears to be manifesting the effects of a clear symptoms of a desperate leader clutching at any straw for political survival coupled with a frantic attempt to win back the trust of the people who have clearly discovered who their true leaders are.

The subsequent invasion and destruction of lives and property following several threats by those opposed to the law vindicated the Governor’s earlier alarm that some herders groups have threatened to unleash mayhem and destruction on the State using the anti-open grazing law as an excuse. Governor Ortom had to endure a sustained and turbulent period in the history of the State as strange elements invaded several parts of Benue State following the coming into operation of the anti-open grazing law which has been adjudged nationally and internationally as a bold, innovative and peaceful means to encourage peaceful co-existence between farmers and livestock rearers.

Undaunted by the upsurge of opposition against his decision to side with his people, Governor Ortom was unrelenting in drawing the attention of the international community to the Benue crisis. His courageous stand against those bent on forcefully taking over parts of Benue farming communities was a confirmation to the people of the State that he is a leader who is not ready to compromise his responsibility to his people on the altar of political expediency.

It is now left for the people of the State to decide between good governance driven by honesty, accountability and courage and a direct opposite of these values represented by self-acclaimed leaders who have clearly lost the trust and confidence of the people by opting to stand in opposition to their yearnings and aspirations. The people should not relent in supporting the security agencies who have in recent times worked hard to restore peace to some troubled parts of the State.

Abrahams Kwaghngu, an aide to Governor Samuel Ortom, writes from Makurdi