Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
Contrary to fears and insinuations that open-grazing prohibition law will create frictions and breed bad blood in Benue State, the governor of the state, Dr. Samuel Ortom, has disclosed that the bill has rather endeared him to the people, adding that it protects both farmers and the Fulani herders.
Ortom disclosed this in Jos, Plateau State yesterday at the annual thanksgiving service of Faithway Gospel Ministries where he and his wife Eunice Ortom were special guests of honour.
He said without any prompting from him, Benue people have endorsed him for a second tenure in 2019.
â€œI see and hear all around the state that people called me â€˜Ortomatic,â€™ meaning that they have endorsed me to continue in 2019 automatically.
He said the law was prayerfully considered and passed, and it has restored peace to the state, as there are no longer incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers, noting that the law also protects the herders against cattle rustling, and adding that violators have now been sent to prisons.
The governor and his wife, who were accompanied by the Director General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Ari to the event recounted how pressure was mounted on him from some Nigerian and African leaders to abandoned the law, â€œbut we went ahead because we know we had prayed about it and were convinced to go ahead with it.â€
He said: â€œWhat we adopted was global best practice; ranching remains the best option in the face of limited land space that has been caused by growing population. It is a win-win thing; the farmers have their farmlands protected and the herdersâ€™ cattle are protected too.â€
On the challenges of paying workersâ€™ salaries in the state, the governor assured that it would be over soon as modalities are being put in place to fish out ghost workers, take away contract staff and merge some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that caused the wage bill of the state to rise to as high as N78 billion, making it practically impossible to for the state to cope.
He added that when that is done, the state would become prompt at paying workersâ€™ salaries.
He observed: â€œFor Nigeria to witness the needed transformation and development, Christians must rise up and take their place in politics, and must not allow darkness overshadow them.
â€œWhen I was local government Chairman, I was swallowed up by â€˜darknessâ€™; the reason was that everyone around me were unbelievers. But the grace and mercies of God located and restored me. And when God gave me a second chance I told myself that I will never go back. I have since then tried to obey God, and he has been helping me.â€
The presiding cleric of the ministries, Dr. Sam Alaha, who preached on â€˜His Presence and Destinyâ€™ took his bible reading from John 3:1-2,27.
He emphasised that no man can do anything extra-ordinary except God be with him.
He therefore charged the congregation to make Godâ€™s presence a priority in all their undertakings.