Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, on Thursday, January 4, has attacked President Muhammadu Buhari of only caring about Fulani herders, rather than being the president for all Nigerians.
Nigeria has been battling heightened farmers-herders clashes and ethnic tension since Buhari, a northern Muslim from the Fulani tribe, won a first term in office in 2015.
Fulani Herdsmen from the north of the country have been accused of destroying farmlands of southern farmers as they nudge their cattle further afield for pasture.
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There have been bloody clashes between crop farmers and herders across the geopolitical zones since 2015.
In his inauguration speech of 2015, the president said he “belonged to everybody and belonged to nobody.”
Ortom doesn’t think so anymore.
Addressing a press conference in Makurdi on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, Ortom who defected from the president’s APC political party to the PDP in 2018, and whose state is often the epicenter of the farmers-herders clashes, said nothing has shown that the president is representing the interests of all Nigerians.
Punch newspaper quotes Ortom as vowing that no Benue citizen will be a slave to the Fulanis.
“Mr. President, in case you are listening to me, I want you to know that your people, Nigerians, you promised Nigerians that you will be fair to all.
“You said that you will be for everybody and for nobody, and now it will appear that you are for Fulani people because nothing is coming from you to give the people confidence that you are their president.
“You are the President of the federal republic of Nigeria, you are not the president of Fulani.
“You are the president of everybody and I owe you a duty as a stakeholder in this nation to let you know that what is going on is wrong and this has the potential of dividing this country which will not be in the interest of anyone –some of us believe in the unity of this country,” he said.
The governor added that he has asked the federal government to allow for the licensing of AK-47 rifles so that Nigerians can defend themselves.
“When I talk, I was being castigated, I was being vilified, nothing bad that was not said against me, I am this and that but the reality is here and it is not just happening in Benue State today, it is happening in the entire country.
“Why is the federal government being silent about these Fulani herdsmen? When will federal government come out and criticize and arrest herdsmen carrying AK-47? When are they going to do that?
“Are we second (-class) citizens in this country? Why (is) the Fulani men superior to a Tiv man? I am not their slave, a Benue man is not slave to any Fulani man in this country.
“We stand for justice, equity and fairness. Whatever is happening to a Fulani man should also happen to a Tiv man. That was why I called the federal government to license me and many others to have guns, to have AK-47 too. Because if I have my AK-47 and a Fulani man is coming there, he knows that I have and he has, then we can fight each other.
“But you can’t disarm me and arm a Fulani man. This is not right, the federal government is biased, it is unfair. The failure in security is caused by federal government,” he said.
Governors of the southwestern states recently banned open grazing of cattle within their domains, after clashes between farmers and Fulani pastoralists led to heightened ethnic tension and insecurity in the region.