Former Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Patrick Moro has challenged Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom to invite President Muhammadu Buhari for project commissioning if he has any to show.
The former minister attributed the difficulty in implementing the Benue state anti-open grazing law to the hasty process in which the new regulation was packaged.
Speaking with newsmen on Sunday in Abuja, Comrade Moro lamented that the state was tilting towards collapse, daring the governor to invite President Muhammadu Buhari to the Benue to commission any project he has executed since May 2015.
“Looking at Benue state under governor Samuel Ortom, I can say, without prejudice to immodesty, that since the creation of Benue State, this administration has been one of the most monumental failures that we have ever had. Benue state at this moment is tilting towards a complete collapse.
“President Buhari was in Ebonyi State days ago, commissioning projects. We have asked that, in those days, I was asking that the vice president who was acting president then, be invited to my state; I have asked the governor of my state, Benue to invite the president to commission one project two years after but they cannot do it.”
Continued: “Those of us who are a little above average in Benue state are bearing the brunt. Everyday, people come to ask for money to even feed. Everyday parents of children in schools come to ask for school fees. Everyday, people die of common ailments because they cannot afford hospital bills.
“As I am talking to you now, the sizable number of Benue people cannot afford two square meals in a day, that’s the truth. So, are we going to keep quiet? When obviously you know that monies are accrued to the state government.
“Just look at the prospect of somebody working for seven months without salary. He has a wife, he has, maybe four children. Maybe two of the children are in the university, one is in the secondary school, one is in the primary school. How do they feed? How do they cope? If they fall ill, how do they go to the hospital? I know how much hospital bills I had paid so far? I know how much school fees I had paid so far.
“And how many people will have access to Abba Moro? And for how long without any paid job? For how long will I be able to pay school fees? I can’t pay school fees for everybody. How many people are available to pay school fees? So, the public servants that are not receiving salaries are on the wrong side of this government.
On the recent anti open grazing law he said while he was one of those who advocated for the law, the government should have given a grace period withing which herdsmen in the state would be advised to build ranches or diversify.
“Let me tell you, because if I talk now, you will say I criticise Ortom because I want to be governor. Quite frankly, I would love to be governor of Benue state but I am not contesting to take over from Ortom. That is the truth! Of course, when Immigration Service issue of recruitment came up, they said I was raising money to go and contest for the governor. I didn’t do that. Now, I am talking, complaining about Benue people that are hurting, they say I am criticising Ortom because I want to be governor of Benue state. No!
“Let me tell you that the anti-open grazing law is good. I was one of those persons that insisted that the bill must be passed by the House of Assembly and that the governor must assent to it to become law because at a point, the Fulani herdsmen were moving around, killing our people with reckless abandon and nobody rose in defense of our people and at a certain point the government of Benue state through its proxy, the chairman of Agatu LG signed an agreement with the Fulani herdsmen, paving way for them to graze their cattle in certain parts of Benue state, specifically Agatu LG and we rose against it; I rose against it and I insisted that it was a betrayal of the people.
“But in trying to provide for the farmers in Benue state, in trying to control the activities of Fulani herdsmen as it affects the lives of the ordinary person, some thoughts should have been given also to the life of Fulani herdsmen because they have lived in Benue; for some of them, they don’t have another home.
“One, some enabling environment should have been provided for ranching, that is number one.
“Two, sufficient time should have been given for ranching or ranches to be built because you don’t wake up from the wrong side of the bed and say ‘look, stop open grazing, go and put your cows in ranches’. Where are the ranches?
“As it is now, the timeline between the passage of the bill and the assenting to the bill to make it a law in Benue state and the time that has been given to Fulanis to either put their cows in ranches or be penalised is not enough and I think that that has made the implementation of the law a bit difficult,” he explained.