George Okoh in Makurdi
The Governor of Benue State, Mr. Samuel Ortom, has called on the incoming ninth National Assembly to pass a National Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment bills as a way to stop the ongoing Fulani herdsmen attacks from becoming a national barrier.
Ortom made this call while delivering the Maiden Public Lecture of the Professor Miriam Ikejiani Clark organised by the Political Science Department of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The lecture was titled: ‘The challenges of mitigating herdsmen attacks on people of Nigeria: Lessons from Benue State’
According to the governor, the incoming ninth National Assembly must be challenged to pass the National Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment bills, stressing that any recommendation about opening cattle routes of the 1950s would not work because ‘on such routes, there are now built hospitals, airports, university campuses and government secretariats.”
He also said the nomadic pastoralism is not an activity of this century, adding that courage and wisdom are needed by the National Assembly and political leadership to move Nigeria forward.
The governor also made it known that the problems of Fulani herdsmen attacks is not limited to the state or the Middle-Belt alone.
“Those who think that the problem of herdsmen is only that of the Benue Valley and Middle-Belt states should watch out. It was first with Plateau State and southern Kaduna and then Taraba, Adamawa, Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Delta, Cross River, Ekiti Ebonyi, Enugu, Zamfara, Katsina, Rivers, Ogun, Ondo and other states. It is spreading, and soon it will become an obvious national social and economic problem too difficult to contain,” he said.
Blaming the Nigerian police for failing to come to the rescue of the victims of the herdsmen attacks, Ortom hinted that the current police no longer work for Nigeria but for some people in power.
He said: “I have learnt another lesson! The current Nigeria police are not really Nigeria police but the police of some people in power at the centre. I have had a lot of experience with many police commissioners as well as police officers sent to Benue State for assignments.
“All I can say is that we need state and local police at the local council areas beside the federal police; and not as a ‘police force’ but a ‘police service’.”