Benue PDP Kicks against Establishment of Housing Units for Herdsmen

George Okoh in Makurdi

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue state has kicked against the planned  establishment of housing estate for herdsmen in Benue state.

The party asked that Benue should be expunged from the list of beneficiary states as announced by the federal government.

Vice President Kashim Shettima had disclosed at a public function in Maiduguri last week that President Tinubu had approved the construction of 1,000 houses in Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Benue states with all the ancillary facilities of schools, clinics, veterinary clinics and ranches for the Fulani community.

The establishment of those Fulani colonies, according to VP Shettima, is “part of a broad plan by the federal government to address the conflict in the north.

However, in its reaction, the Benue State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Bemgba Iortyom, said the state  Governor, Hyacinth Alia,  is the one who put Benue on that list of Fulani colonisation in order to fulfill promises he made to Fulani lobby groups to accommodate herdsmen in the state in return for their support and sponsorship during his campaigns at the last

The party said: “It is no longer news that the All Progressives Congress (APC) controlled administration of President Bola Tinubu has earmarked Benue as one among a few states where a federal government sponsored settlement for Fulani herdsmen is to be established which Benue had vehemently rejected Ruga, the Water Resources Bill, Cattle Colony, Grazing Routes and every other form of Fulani colonisation efforts as were made in the past and the situation has not changed.”

“PDP reiterates that Benue does not need a Fulani colony, what the state needs is Governor Alia’s fulfillment of his promises to IDPs to resettle them back on their ancestral lands”.

He said Benue will resist with all means lawfully available to its people attempts by Governor Alia and his allies in Abuja to settle Fulani herdsmen on lands they displaced the people from through killings and plunder.

“It is the understanding of the party that as reflected in the principle driving the Prohibition of Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law, Fulani are permitted to live and do lawful business in the state, it is, however, such policies as will negates such principle of peaceful coexistence that will be resisted by the people.

PDP therefore, demands that Governor Alia should, with dispatch, remove Benue from that list of colonisation, as the people of the state across all sections, the traditional leadership, religious organizations, civil society, institutions of representative leadership, had all during the Buhari administration clearly rejected such attempts to have herdsmen colonies in the state.

He said: “The party expects that the governor is aware of the deathly serious nature of this matter and that he cannot afford to dismiss it and attempt to have a Fulani colony established on any inch of Benue soil.”

“But for the people of Benue State there is more darkness than light surrounding this planned Fulani community in the state, and the reasons are not farfet

“Firstly, the absence of a peer – to – peer basis for the inclusion of Benue among the other selected states which all have large indigenous Fulani populations with substantial land holdings on which such colonies could be sited, while Benue does not have such a situatio

“In other words in those other states it could be natural to have such colonies where a Fulani population is already insitu and which would seamlessly be accommodated therein”.

“Benue has no such indigenous Fulani population with land holdings where such a colony could be established”

“Secondly, it is unjust and ultimately insensitive to have a colony established for the Fulani with all the facilities for modern living in a state where victims of the genocidal atrocities committed by those same Fulani are still displaced from their lands and means of livelihood and living in sub-human conditions in camps which bear semblance to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany during Second  World War.”

He added that  in May 2018 the then Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who visited Benue, made a commitment on behalf of the Buhari administration to resettle those displaced back to their lands and as well made a pledge of  N10 billion to them.

“That promise by VP Osinbajo has not been fulfilled to this moment and the displaced persons in the IDP camps are still even to date being attacked and killed by Fulani herdsmen right there in the camps and dare not venture near their plundered and desolate ancestral lands to scavenge for food.

“It is inhuman to even contemplate settling those oppressors in comfort while their victims are languishing in hellish conditions, and this amounts to thumbing-up criminality while rubbing the nose of the victim into his blood spilled by the oppressor”.

Meanwhile, the Benue state governor has reacted to the allegation by the PDP.

In a public announcement by a Special Adviser to the Governor Dr Mkor Aondona said the governor had not approved the inclusion of Benue to the list.

He said:  “This is to specifically inform the indigenes of Benue State that Governor Hyacinth Alia has not approved the inclusion of Benue State as part of the federal government proposed states for herdsmen/Fulani colonies.”

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