Herdsmen: Dissecting Benue's 'Gentle' Approach
Ted Tally wrote in his Terra Nova - "Playing the game (in this case politics) means treating your dogs like gentlemen, and your gentlemen like dogs."
I would agree that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown especially when you are the middle man in a federal system of government as practised in Nigeria.
But I will not agree with anyone who attempts to exclude Governor Samuel Ortom from the problems plaguing his people.
By popular demand, Benue was created on the 3rd of February, 1976. It has a population of about 6 million people most of them under the age of 40.
It is inhabited predominantly by the Tiv, Idoma and Igede peoples, who speak the Tiv language, Idoma, and Igede.
Unless for a few countable occasions, these people live in peace and trade extensively across the country and West Africa.
Benue State is named after the Benue River and was formed from the former Benue-Plateau State.
That River which is a source of blessing is now becoming a curse following the drying up of the Chad Basin.
The herdsmen are in need of places to graze. Boko Haram has ravaged the North-East. The North-West is crowded. The Middle Belt is peaceful and is home to Benue state.
Benue shares boundaries with five other states namely: Nasarawa State to the north, Taraba State to the east, Cross-River State to the south, Enugu State to the south-west and Kogi State to the west.
Benue is vast and it is the Food Basket of the Nation filled with tremendous mineral and natural resources.
These minerals include Limestone, Baryte, Gypsum, Feldspar, Wolframite, Kaolinite, mineral salts and Gemstone.
Over 75 percent of the people resident here are farmers with arid land and fresh crops. Benue feeds parts of West Africa Yam, Rice, Beans, Cassava, Sweet-potato, Maize, Soybean, Sorghum, Millet, Sesame, cocoyam etc.
The state accounts for over 70% of Nigeria's Soybean production.
Too Late For The Gentleman Governor?
Governor Samuel Ortom is no longer the man he used to be. He has been pushed to the limit and appears to be broken beyond repair.
The governor was a gentle man leading gentle and peace loving people until the herdsmen chose to take advantage of this gentility.
In a recent interview with the Vanguard, the governor as usual poured out his emotions and showed his very soft and unfortunately naive side.
Within the provisions of the law, the governor should have maximised his several opportunities to earn his people's trust by showing courage and resilience not running to Aso Rock to meet BABA.
"You can see that it is getting beyond me. Even when there was protest against the recent killings in Makurdi, and I went there, there was massive resistance. It became violent and it is even God that saved us. I would have been attacked."
What was he expecting from people whose loved ones have been killed time and again after you promised change that never became reality?
The governor had a chance to set the pace to end these attacks on his people.
Being an early recipient of the herdsmen horror; he should have dealt a resounding blow to the python that has now become an anaconda.
Buhari, Betrayal And The Cabal
Like almost all of Nigeria's common problems, there is a political twist to it that Governor Ortom is now willing to shout out at the top of his voice.
In his earlier interviews after his trips to the Villa to report cases of attacks - he never told us he could not meet with the president. Neither did he tell us there is no direct communication channel between himself and Muhammadu Buhari.
Now that the matter is fire on his soft palms and conscience, he is feeling as burnt as the people whose relatives have crossed to the great beyond.
"I have resisted the temptation to say that our people should protect themselves because I trusted the president.
"I believed that he has the capacity to protect us. But from what is happening, I am sure some people around him are frustrating our communication with him and the actions to be taken.
"Otherwise, the president I know will not allow this kind of thing to be happening. We have not committed any offence."
Dear Governor, you made too many mistakes. You made your people become mats on which these herdsmen are walking.
Were your eyes closed when your colleague in Ekiti state took several drastic steps in phases to end the madness?
Is Ortom sure he ever knew where the president's personal and political ties and sentiments lie?
2019: The Votes Will Count
Ortom has also spoken out about the need to halt all political campaigns. He is also reported to have been one of the APC governors that declined when asked to commit 50 million naira to the president re-election campaign.
In his own words to Vanguard, he seemed a bit uncertain of what 2019 holds. Would the APC be willing to allow a man willing to lose to run?
"I have suspended everything about campaigns and all that, even for myself.
"Yes, I am contesting in 2019 but I don’t want to be campaigning for now. I cannot campaign for myself or any other person until this matter is resolved.
"I cannot preside as governor over dead people. The lives of my people come first before politics.
"In fact, I have decided that I am not going to engage in any political activity, whether for myself or for anybody until this matter is resolved."
Finally, the gentle man is learning the art of politics. You treat gentlemen as dogs and dogs as gentlemen not by their apperance but their actions and inactions.
The Reality Of Reprisals
Those of us thinking that the worst is over may have to plan ahead of time and act fast.
If our security operatives have never responded promptly enough to evade an attack by these herds who equate human life with cattle, then we have a BIG problem ahead of us.
In the history of mankind, people naturally have the urge to retaliate when hurt.
These people do not need long speeches or sermons on love and sacrifice. They are demanding justice.
That's the path the Governor must take within the provisions of the law if he will ever reclaim his people's trust.
If these words of mere mortal like me are not enough then maybe we should hear what God told Bishop David Oyedepo as he shared on Sunday.
"It is not enough to pray, people must cry out.
"The destiny of this nation has never been under a threat of survival as it is today.
"People may soon be forced to take laws into their own hands.
"The security apparatus of the nation has obviously failed to protect and defend the lives and property of these poor farmers across the nation.
"While we are claiming to curtail Boko Haram onslaught, we are on the other hand ‘sponsoring or abetting’ the Fulani herdsmen and their murderous acts.
"Nigeria is a nation at war with herself. No external aggression, no ethnic crisis, no natural disaster, yet we are doing mass burials. What a nation in a state of slumber.
"Here the voice of the Lord through this prophet".
YOU CAN WATCH WHAT HERDSMEN DID TO THIS WOMAN IN OSUN STATE