By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
Apparently to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on the insecurity in his domain especially the recent assassination attempt on his life by yet to be identified armed men, Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom Tuesday stormed the Presidential Villa Abuja to meet with the Nigerian leader.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after the closed-door meeting, Ortom said he was in the Presidential Villa, Abuja to discuss security and economic challenges with Mr. President.
The Governor who did not elaborate on the issues he discussed with the President however used the opportunity to speak on the running battles he is facing in his state with Gana Boys and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACABAN) especially since he signed Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition Law.
Ortom also debunked the notion that he stage-managed his assassination attempt.
Governor Ortom in his own words: “Personally, I’m happy to be here (State House). You know, the task of governance today in our country and in Benue state is very challenging. Security issues, economic issues where you have to be on the ground to handle things yourself, and that is what I’ve been doing.
“That is why you don’t see me frequenting in Abuja again. And, most times, as a result of COVID-19, sometimes even Mr. President, we’re able to communicate on phone, except when it becomes very necessary, like now, I have to come. I have to see Mr President, first of all, to commend him for the statement he issued when I was attacked.
“It was quite consoling, and his directive that a thorough investigation be done and the criminal elements fished out. I think it was important. And I received that as quite consoling. I’m aware that the security challenges in our country today is not about President, is not about we governors, is about every citizen of this country. So, we must work together to surmount these. We cannot continue in this manner.
“Democracy is anchored on rule of law. That is why for some of us, you will see that I have not done anything illegal, including the prohibition of Open Grazing law which my people told me to present the House of Assembly, and eventually we signed it into law.
“That law is not targeted against any ethnic group, is not targeted against any individual or group of people. But is meant to regulate the activities of herdsmen and farmers. And I think we have very good stories to talk about.
On the allegation that he stage-managed the recent armed attack on him, Ortom replied:
“You see, I prefer to keep my suggestion with Mr President between me and him. He has accepted and he has advised me on what to do. The rest is to follow up with security agencies, that I’m going to do. But impunity should not be allowed to continue to thrive in this country.
“The second question is, I want to advise, like I said earlier, Mr. President did advise when he was condemning the attack on me, and pleaded with Nigerians that they should not politicise this matter. I want to appeal, I want to beg everyone that we should not politicise the issue of attempted assassination on myself. If a Governor is attacked, then it is an attack on all.
“And I appreciate my colleagues, the Governors irrespective of party affiliations, the Chairman of our Governors’ Forum, the Chairman of Northern Governors Forum, the Chairman of Southern Governors Forum, the Chairman of PDP Governors Forum, the Chairman of APC Governors Forum.
“All of them by way of call or text messages or press statement, they have communicated to me condemning this attack. That is how it should be.
“We should know when to play politics and we should know when to team up together to work as a team to salvage the country. That is what I’m saying.
“Those who are saying that, what benefit do I have to come up and say that I was attacked?
“My Security agencies, not all of them are from Benue state. You have Fulani people there, you have Hausa, you have Yoruba, you have Ibos who are among my Security Personnel with me on that day. So, what benefits do I have to gain by stage-managing an attack on me.
“And so, leave those people, I see it as mockery. They are trying to mock me, but I pray that what happened to me should not happen to anybody else.
“Because the truth of the matter is that we know what is going on round our country. We know that there are AK47 everywhere from North to East, South and West. And so, people are there. But it is amazing, even when FULNAM came out and even took responsibility that they were responsible for the attempted murder on me and some people are there trying to doubt that. I find it difficult to explain that.
“When Miyetti Allah went to Yola and said that I’m their problem, they had planned whatever they want against me, because it was just last week, they held a press conference and came out to say that I’m their problem. And that the law prohibiting open grazing should be repealed. How can I repeal it? It is beyond me. It is not about Ortom, it is about Benue state and Benue people.