As Ortom continues to receive encomium from Nigerians for initiating fights against open grazing
By Aare Abiodun Oluwarotimi, Nigerian Concord Newspaper
If there is anyone who Nigerians should never forget when it comes to peace and security, that person is no other man but the governor of Benue state, Dr. Samuel Ortom PhD, as a result of his consistent stand against open grazing by fulani herdsmen.
Before Dr. Ortom raised his voice against open grazing in Benue state and Nigeria as a whole, thousands of lives had been lost due to gruesome killings of innocent people/farmers and burning down of their properties by Fulani herdsmen.
But on May 22, 2017, the governor of Benue state, Dr. Samuel Ortom PhD, officially signed the Anti Open Grazing Law to end the incessant clashes between farmers and fulani herdsmen in the state.
Before he signed the Law, the governor was much aware that he would be doing that at the expense of his reelection bid which was less than two years then. The governor was very aware that his life and that of his family were no longer safe but, he forged ahead with the signing of the law.
Even on the day he signed the Law (Before the signing), it was reported that his estranged political godfather, Senator George Akume who was one of well over twi thousand people that graced the occasion, called him aside and asked him (Ortom) to cancel the signing.
One wonders why Akume whose constituency was the most affected by the killings and destroying of properties by the herdsmen would give such advice at that crucial event.
According to findings, Governor Ortom having listened to Akume very well begged him to go and inform the crowd which had gathered to witness the signing about his advice that he should canceled the final ratification of the Law which ordinarily has nothing against the fulanis but to liberate Benue people from their wicked killers.
Shortly after the law was signed, Governor Ortom began to experience lots of crises in the state. The Herders increased their killing sprees in Benue state. Hardly would a day pass without the Herders killing scored of innocent Benue people.
On the political side too, Governor Ortom was facing series of heat from the duo of President Muhammadu Buhari and Senator Akume. Several lies were told against the governor. Fictitious petitions began to fly from one security agency to the other just to nail the governor. Several of his Aides were falsely accused and illegally arrested- all to get facts that would indict the governor but nothing was found to incriminate him.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo too at that time joined the Presidency to wrongly fight Governor Samuel Ortom who on two occasions went to report the situation of things back in Benue to him in Abuja. On each occasion, Osinbajo would come out with insulting press statements filled with vulgar languages to berate the person of Samuel Ortom.
Adams Oshiomole, the unceremoniously sacked national chairman of the APC, also joined the war against Samuel Ortom who only approved the law to stop killings of innocent people and burning down of properties. Oshiomole called the governor series of bad names before the issue of “Red Card” came up in 2018.
Yes, “Red Card” George Akume threatened in June 2018 that he would give the governor a red card and also that nothing would make him return for a second term in office. This made the governor leave the APC on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 for the PDP where he fought the oppressors seriously without considering the stakes around his reelection.
The governor was heard saying it severally that the lives of Benue people were more important to him than a second term in office with two Bible quotes that: “No man shall receive anything except it comes from God” and “Only God gives powers to people” For this reason, he blindly intensified his combat against Open Grazing and fulani Herders killings in Benue state with a statement that he was ready to surrender his life than for Fulani herders to illegally take over Benue’s lands.
When Ortom was fighting against open grazing, no governor encouraged him as they were all afraid that The Presidency could dig out what they were hiding but, the Benue governor forged ahead with the fight with the help of his Creator.
Although, some state governors later declared wars against open grazing in their respective states. Many of them have secured court orders to stop open grazing while some are issuing ultimatum to fulani herdsmen to vacate their states. The governor of Ondo state, Rotimi Akeredolu, is now in a deep fight with the fulani herdsmen in the state. He wants them out of his state at all cost.
Although, Ortom began the fight alone, the entire Nigeria is celebrating him today for initiating the fights against open grazing in Nigeria. Eyes have opened to the damaged which fulani herdsmen are doing to our land.
Just yesterday, the Southwest governors held a meeting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, where they castigated open grazing. At their meeting, they also thanked the initiator of the fight against open grazing, His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom.
Aare Abiodun Oluwarotimi writes for Nigerian Concord Newspaper, Lagos State.