George Okoh in Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday said he would improve on his performance in office as he prepares for second term in office.
He said his first term was bedeviled by paucity of funds and the herdsmen attack on the state which he said would be a thing of the past as he is determined to take the state to a higher level in his second term.
Ortom stated this while interacting with journalists in Makurdi to mark the end of his first tenure in office.
According to him, “When we assumed office in 2015, we inherited some financial burden and some security challenges, and that was what prompted us to enact some laws. We inherited the issue of herdsmen and farmers’ crises and we decided to initiate an executive bill into a law.
“These laws, particularly the anti-open grazing law, made us to face a lot of challenges from Miyetti Allah and other Fulani organisations which have a different agenda. It is a win-win law that must be obey in the land, and we said no to open grazing in Benue State. So when herdsmen issued threats to us, I reported them to security agents but nothing was done until they struck.
“Today, the situation has calmed down but not completely done. I must commend the OPWS for the good job they are doing, if not, we would have been wiped out. These people are the same as Boko Haram. We should have a North Central Development Commission like every other geopolitical
As we speak now, we still have IDPs living in camps across the state. This is a huge burden to us. Our clinics, schools, homes have been destroyed.”
He added that “the OPWS has done so well but the federal government should fulfill its promise so that our people can go back to their homes. Most of these families have children who cannot go to school for almost two years now. We appreciate the efforts of international agencies at ensuring that these groups of children acquire some level of education but that is not enough.
“These children need to go back home and return to school. No one should blame me for raising the alarm. This is no longer time for blame game between the state and federal government. It is time to seek a lasting solution to this grazing menace. Ranching is the global best practices.”
Speaking on the issue of godfatherism, Ortom said there would be no more godfathers in his government.
“Here, I’m the leader of the party. Yes, there are other leaders of the party who l must consult with but not like having godfathers. The issue of bringing different kinds of people to me will no longer arise and that is why my transition committee is working very hard.”
On the alleged financial autonomy granted to local government authorities, the governor explained that it was a decision dished out to the public by the financial intelligent unit of the federal government.