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President Muhammadu Buhari was on Monday in Benue state as he continued his tour of crisis and violence-hit states of the federation. He was welcomed by the state governor, Samuel Ortom, whose speech demanded a lasting solution to the violence inflicted on his people, saying they are tired of burying their loved ones.

Read his full speech below:
On behalf of the Government and good people of Benue State, I welcome the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari to Benue State, the Food Basket of the Nation. As a helpless child in trouble looks forward to the rescue by a father, so the people of Benue looked forward to seeing you. Welcome sir. Benue people have always believed in you which is why we voted massively for you in the 2015 General Elections.

You are our father and we appreciate your visit here in the hope that our lingering challenges will be over. You are known as a man of integrity and uprightness and you have always fought for justice.

Your Excellency, on January 11, 2018, we buried 73 citizens, including women and children. All of them were brutally slaughtered in their sleep by armed herdsmen in the early hours of the New Year 2018. At least 65 more have been killed in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas after the mass burial. Just a few days ago, 26 of our men, women and children in Okpokwu Local Government Area were killed. Also over 5,000 people were displaced in Mbatoho Community in Makurdi Local Government Area. Attacks by armed herdsmen have continued in various communities in the State leading to the displacement of over 170,000 people. More than 60 percent of this figure are children who have been forced out of school. These and many others now live in the eight Internally Displaced People’s Camps scattered across the State namely: Abagana, Daudu1 and 2, Gbajimba, Tse Ginde, Anyiin, Abeda and Ugba. Their homes and farms have also been destroyed and taken over by armed herdsmen.

Mr President, thank you for your response to these attacks. You quickly directed the Inspector General of Police to relocate to Benue and stop the killings. Issues of capacity and integrity may have accounted for the disobedience of your orders but you responded swiftly. At your directives, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) also distributed some Relief Materials to the IDP Camps. Given the enormity of the situation, this was like a drop in the ocean. Thank you for the deployment of the Police Special Forces which proved useful in reducing the attacks. Some of the gallant Police and Civil Defence Officers paid the supreme price in trying to keep the peace. Our sympathies go to their families and loved ones.

Your Excellency, we plead with you to take steps to reduce the suffering of the over 170,000 of our countrymen in the Eight Internally Displaced Camps. The Federal Government should compensate them and assist in the rebuilding of their homes as promised by the Committee on Displaced People headed by the Vice President. The Primary and Secondary Schools, Churches and Health Centres destroyed in several communities should be rebuilt for use again.

When I was sworn in May, 2015, one of the first things our Administration did was to organize an Amnesty Programme for youths who had armed themselves and were creating some security challenges in the State. The Amnesty was done in the open and over 700 weapons and thousands of ammunition were returned. The Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the United Nations contracted the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) of South Africa to supervise the destruction of weapons and ammunition surrendered by the over 900 persons under the Programme. The Amnesty Programme was our own way of telling everyone that we cannot condone lawlessness in the State. We set out to reform our youths and stabilize our rural areas as we promote agriculture. Our conviction is that the formation of militia does not bring peace. It only promotes lawlessness, impunity and instability. We have also eliminated thuggery in our Government. The challenge we have, however, is about Terwase Akwaza, alias Ghana, the notorious gang leader who has been terrorizing Benue and Taraba States. He has been declared wanted and a bounty of N50 million has been placed for information on him. We hope that Exercise Ayem Akpatuma or its upgraded version will help us arrest and bring him to justice. Indeed we request that the exercise be upgraded to an operation with the capacity to chase away the invaders so that those who have been displaced can return to their homes.

Although concerted attacks on communities in the State commenced in 2011, between 2013-2017, Forty-Seven attacks were recorded and over 1,878 men, women and children were slaughtered in cold blood across 14 Local Government Areas of the State. Another 750 were seriously wounded while 200 were missing. Over 99,427 households were affected. We have lost an average of 47% of Internally Generated Revenues due to attacks by armed herdsmen in the State. This underscores the problem between herdsmen and farmers. It was clear to us that increased population, shrinking arable land, global warming and desertification as well as the need to diversify the economy through farming, all make open grazing unattractive.

Through consultations and research, we discovered that the global best practice for animal husbandry is Ranching. Top countries in the global cattle business such as India, Brazil, USA, South Africa; Kenya and Zimbabwe, are known to practice ranching. It takes proper care of Livestock to ensure quality meat and dairy products and minimizes cattle rustling. Your Excellency, this is the logic behind our popular Law, “Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017”. I urge anyone who has a superior method other than Ranching to bring it to the table. The Law duly passed by the Benue State House of Assembly reflects the wishes of the Benue people.

On 30th May, 2017, the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore in a “World Press Conference” held in Abuja, opposed the Ranching Law. They called on Fulani herders in all of West Africa to come into Benue to help them reclaim their land. In the same vein, Miyetti Allah Cattle Herders Association in their Press Conference declared that more blood will flow in Benue if the Ranching Law is not rescinded. Your Excellency, as a President that supports the Rule of Law, you will most certainly be offended by these Hate Speeches that may have crossed the red line. Your Excellency, how can a group claim responsibility for the killings that happened and are going about scot free? How can a group make public these inciting and criminal declarations in an organized society and are not arrested by the Police? Your Excellency, kindly order the immediate arrest and prosecution of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and Miyetti Cattle Breeders Association for carrying out their threats to attack Benue on account of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017.

Recent Security Reports before Your Excellency, indicate that the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) are accomplices in the massacres in Benue State. If these Reports on Benue and other parts of the country are true, they have enormous implications for national security. There may be a need to strengthen the enforcement of the ECOWAS Protocol by directing the Nigeria Immigration Service to do the needful.

Your Excellency, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not a good time to tell you about our spectacular achievements in the area of education where over 711 Schools have been renovated and 16,000 Teachers retrained. We need not recount strides in the Health Sector where the moribund Schools of Nursing and Midwifery as well as College of Health Technology Agasha earlier closed down have been renovated, accredited and reopened. After 12 years instead of the normal 6 years in Medical School, we graduated 152 students of the Benue State University Medical School. We wish to appreciate the partnership between Federal Government and our State in the area of Sustainable Development Goals as well as Universal Basic Education. We have empowered youth and women through effective collaboration with Central Bank of Nigeria and Bank of Industry. We have massive rural development in terms of rural roads, rural electrifications, bridges and Skills Acquisition Centers. We have also completed various projects in the areas of Water and Sanitation.

Your Excellency, to reduce the burden of the State Government, we ask you to take over the running of some institutions in Benue State. We plead that the Federal Government takes over Benue State University Teaching Hospital. Benue State is the only State that does not have a Federal College of Education and Federal Polytechnic. We request the take-over of the College of Education, Katsina-Ala and Benue State Polytechnic Ugbokolo by the Federal Government.

We also plead with you to direct the rehabilitation and dualization of Makurdi Otukpo Enugu Road; Makurdi Gboko Katsina Ala Road and Gboko Vandeikya Obudu Road that are each in a terrible state of disrepair. The Makurdi Agasha Wukari Road will ease our communication with Taraba and Plateau States and a Bridge at Buruku on River Katsina Ala will link other parts of the State and Taraba. These have large population of the State that is engaged in farming that has turned Benueinto the Food Basket of the Nation.

The people of Benue identify with the reconciliation efforts by Senator Ahmed Tinubu who is carrying out your mandate. The Benue people also appreciate Mr President for the appointments made from the State, we still hope that more appointments will be made so as to cement the relationship between Mr. President, the Party and the State.

The issue of backlog of Salaries remains intractable. Part of the problem of Salaries was inherited from the past Government. In spite of your efforts with Bailout Funds and Paris Club Refunds which we appreciate, the challenge still remains due to the high wage bill in the average of N7.8billion which we inherited. We request for a grant or soft loan to be able to pay the arrears even as we have taken steps to stabilize regular salary payment with effect from January this year.

Your Excellency let me conclude by calling on the Federal Government and States, to support and promote the Ranching Law so that together, we will stamp out the menace of herdsmen and farmers attacks and cattle rustling in Nigeria. There is no known better and credible alternative to Ranching.

Once again, welcome to Benue state.

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POLITICS

PDP To Kashamu: You Are A Clown, You’re On A Journey To Nowhere

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The Peoples Democratic Party has said it has only but pity for the Independent National Electoral Commission/court-recognised governorship candidate for Ogun State, Senator Buruji Kashamu Buruji.

The party in a statement by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondian, spoke against the backdrop of the presentation of governorship flag to Kashamu and his running mate, Dr. Reuben Abati, on Monday.

The party said Kashamu has finally turned himself into a clown in his desperate bid to destabilize the PDP as part of his pact with the Buhari Presidency.

It said this followed the threat of imminent extradition of Kashamu from Nigeria over alleged international fraud.

The party described as the height of ridicule, Kashamu’s purported presentation of himself as Ogun State governorship candidate of the PDP, for which he had to organize his own sham campaign rally, rented an audience and presented a fake PDP flag to himself, after the authentic flag had been handed to the PDP candidate, Ladi Adebutu, by the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.

The statement added: “Senator Buruji, in his forced hallucination, has failed to realize that Nigerians, particularly the voters in Ogun State, have seen through his antics; they know that he is not the PDP governorship candidate in Ogun state; they know that he has a pact with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to destabilize the PDP; they also know that he is a clown on a journey to no where.

“Nigerians are aware that Senator Buruji never purchased PDP nomination form; never participated in our governorship primary or in any process related to nomination of governorship candidate of our party or any position whatsoever.

“Those using Senator Buruji as their agent have turned him into object of public ridicule, particularly in his charade of organizing a rally to hand a fake flag to himself.

“The PDP therefore urges the people of Ogun state to completely disregard Senator Buruji as a clown and continue in their support for the PDP governorship candidate, Ladi Adebutu, who is already coasting to victory.”

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POLITICS

Atiku, Obi, Secondus, Saraki, Dogara; Families & Associates Listed For Arrest — PDP

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National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, on Monday alleged that the Federal Government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have listed critical players in opposition including himself, the PDP Presidential Candidate Atiku Abubakar, his Vice Peter Obi, the Senate President Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, other top party leaders and their associates for arrest on frame up crimes.

The PDP National Chairman came hard on the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, saying that he has made himself a willing tool to carry out the APC script on how to cage and crush PDP.

“The country is in a keg of a gunpowder at the moment as a result of your hatchet job for the ruling government and I warn you to get away from this illegitimate job of using instruments of state to harass and intimidate opponents,” Prince Secondus said in a statement through his Media Office signed by his Media Adviser Ike Abonyi.

He said that available intelligence shows that former Lagos State Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu and former Akwa Ibom State Governor Godswill Akpabio are presiding over clandestine meetings and developing strategies for the APC which is aimed at freezing critical leaders of the opposition.

He said that aside arrest and detention of opposition leaders, their family members and business associates have been lined up for intimidation and harassment including freezing their business interests and their bank accounts.

Secondus described as an afterthought fabrication, the EFCC denial that the son of the PDP Presidential Candidate was not the target in the raid of an apartment housing him in Abuja insisting that the game plan privy to the party was clear on who was the ultimate target.

Prince Secondus reminded Nigerians that these acts of impunity is in continuation of the embarrassment they caused our Presidential candidate and former Vice President of this country on Novemeber 11, 2019 when he was thoroughly searched at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport by operatives of the state on his return from overseas on November 11, 2018.

“After that embarrassment and harassment which was aimed at intimidating the candidate and nothing incriminating was found on him, no apology was extended to him as a former number two citizen.

“They followed it up with the freezing of the Bank account of our Vice Presidential Candidate as well as that of his friends and family members as part of a large scheme to keep the party distracted from its focus of regaining power in 2019.”

According to the script, “PDP will be brought to their knees so that by January they would be finally grounded with their leaders framed up and put behind bars,” Secondus said.

He said that in the script, APC and the Federal Government believe that the party can only bark and not bite as observed in the case of Osun and Ekiti states while indeed they are set and determined for the worse rather than lose the election.

Prince Secondus warned that “while PDP believes and cherishes all ingredients of democracy including the rule of law, it cannot guarantee any situation that aims at cowing the opposition and thwart the will of the Nigeria people.”

He chided “Magu and other characters of his type who are willing to assist the APC in undermining democracy, to look back at history and know that the consequences are always not palatable.”

The PDP National Chairman called on “all lovers of democracy and rule of law especially international community to rein in President Buhari, Magu and the APC to observe the tenets of democracy that respects the sanctity of the opposition and human rights.”

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POLITICS

REVEALED: Real Reason Ambode’s Commissioner Dumped APC For PDP

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The All Progressives Congress, APC, has reacted to the resignation of f the erstwhile Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Olawale Oluwo in Lagos State.

The party alleged that Oluwo already had in him traits of opportunism, disloyalty and vaulting desperation for power.

Read the full statement below:

The attention of the All Progressives Congress, Lagos State has been drawn to the letter of resignation of the erstwhile Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Olawale Oluwo.

The APC wishes him well.

The APC salutes the vigilance of the party apparatus and leadership which have put Oluwo on the watch on account of his antecedents in party politics and succeeded in checkmating his rabid opportunism.

It is on record that Oluwo first made an attempt to reap from the challenges of internal party democracy in our progressive movement when he teamed up with one of the losers in the 2007 primaries of the Action Congress to stop Babatunde Fashola’s sure victory at the polls. The unfortunate political adventurism failed woefully.

However, in the conventional demonstration of mercy and forgiveness, Oluwo’s principal, Sen. Tokunbo Afikuyomi was accommodated in the second term cabinet of Governor Babatunde Fashola as the Commissioner for Tourism.

A similar milk of mercy and kindness led to the consideration Of Oluwo as a member of the Lagos State Executive Council under Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in the hope that he has purged himself of opportunism, disloyalty and vaulting desperation for power.

Oluwo had hardly resumed as the Commissioner when he began his plot to use that office to advance his quest for political fiefdom. The object of his ambition was the positioning of his wife as the chairman of a local government.
However, alert party men and women raised alarm about his anti-party antecedents wondering why someone who recently joined the party would want to use his position as commissioner to impose his wife on the constituency.
The party rank and file aborted this abuse of power and reckless peddling of influence and everybody thought the lesson had been learnt. He, apparently, had not.

As soon as the procedures for the general elections began, Oluwo once again became the only commissioner to seek his wife as the member of House of Assembly for Eti- Osa. By now the pattern of his ambition had become clear. The intrigue that enabled him to make his wife the first- term commissioner’s wife to become the chairperson of the committee which organised the annual National Women Conference became clear. It was meant to achieve undeserved visibility. This obnoxious attempt to deceive party members was again foiled and it is the aggravated frustration that has led to this defection.

It has been necessary to put this in true context so as to dismiss the false and capricious insinuation that his resignation was in principled objection to the party’s last primaries. Far from it. He was only playing true to type, seeking as he had done in 2007 to reap from the primaries.

He has further showed that he has been a mole of the PDP and has been working to undermine the APC. His exit is a signal to other like minds who may wish to follow his trail.

The party machinery knows everyone and their inclination. We encourage all genuine APC members to remain firm and committed to loftier and greater ideals of taking Lagos to a higher level of excellence.

The party remains unshaken.

Joe Igbokwe
Lagos APC Pub Sec

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