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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 Asks INEC To Declare Tambuwal Sokoto Gov-Elect

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Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, urged Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to save its time and resources by declaring Aminu Tambuwal winner of the election held on March 9.

The party, which stated this while reacting to claim by the umpire that it was under pressure to declare the governor winner of the polls, said given the margin of victory recorded on the first ballot, there was no reason not to declare Tambuwal duly elected.

Spokesman of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “Our position has not changed and we insist that His Excellency, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal should be declared winner of the governorship election in Sokoto State.

“If we go by the figure of votes collated so far, the governor has satisfied the provisions of the law because he won clearly in almost all the local governments of the states.

“What are they waiting for to declare him duly elected? We are a party that has respect for the laws of the land. So, we advise our members and supporters to remain calm because at the end of the day, victory is ours.”

Meanwhile, barely a week to the March 23 date for the supplementary governorship election in some states, pressure continues to mount on INEC to declare Governor Aminu Tambuwal the winner of the March 9 guber poll in Sokoto State.

There were indications over the weekend that the tension in the seat of the Caliphate may worsen if the incumbent governor who was enjoying a clear lead in the poll is denied victory.

A top politician from Sokoto who spoke on condition of anonymity, said tension was building up in the state over fears of plans to undemocratically stop Tambuwal for another term in office.

Our source alleged that though the governor appears to be the popular choice of his people as shown in the collated result of the guber poll, the power brokers of All Progressives Congress, APC, were bent on taking the state which they consider strategic to the party’s future political plans.

The source said: “The powers that be should declare Tambuwal as the authentic winner of the March 9 governorship election in Sokoto State. The collated result showed that he won the election by the simple majority, which is what the constitution provides. They should not set the seat of the Caliphate on fire.

“Remember that even President Muhammadu Buhari won his election by the same simple majority. He was declared winner, even when elections were yet to be conducted in areas where the exercise could not hold because of one reason or the other.

“A common man on the street of Sokoto knows that Tambuwal won the election. There were so many hurdles the APC which controls the centre put before him ahead of the election but he surmounted them all.

So, what they could not get democratically, they want by all means through the back door in collaboration with INEC.”

Over the weekend, this newspaper gathered that there were fears in the PDP, of a plan by the ruling party and INEC to repeat what happened in the Osun governorship election where the PDP lost to the APC under controversial circumstances.

A video recording between the INEC Admin Secretary in Sokoto and a collation officer which trended over the weekend further escalated fears of interference in the coming supplementary election.

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BIG STORY

Twenty-Four Hours After Quitting Politics, Gbenga Daniel ‘Agrees’ To Lead Supporters To APC

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A former Governor of Ogun State and the Director General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has agreed to lead his supporters to the All Progressives Congress.

Daniel, who announced his decision to quit the Peoples Democratic Party and partisan politics on Saturday, revealed his latest decision on Sunday after a meeting with his supporters in his Aseludero Court in Sagamu, Ogun State.

Available reports have it that Daniel’s loyalists at the meeting with him on Sunday kicked against his decision to quit politics.

Led by his Special Assistant on Youth, Ifedayo Kayode, the supporters asked him to lead them to the APC instead of quitting politics.

They hinged their request on the fact that they had worked towards the emergence of Dapo Abiodun of the APC as the governor-elect in Ogun State.

Indeed a few days before the governorship election on March 9, 2019, Daniel had asked his supporters to vote for Abiodun instead of the candidate of the PDP, Senator Buruji Kashamu.

Speaking after the meeting on Sunday, Daniel said: “Basically, they (supporters) said I could resign from PDP.

“They said I must lead them to APC.

“And they also said I cannot retire from politics.

“That is the summary of what I heard.

“Now we have to take a look at it.”

Asked what his position is on the demands of his supporters, Daniel said: “What else can I say?

“My people have spoken.”

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POLITICS

BREAKING: Gbenga Daniel Retires From Active Politics, Gives Reason.

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Former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has quit partisan politics.

He has also resigned from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In his letter to the national chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, Daniel said he decided to leave the scene to “rejuvenate my charity based organization, the Gateway Front Foundation (GFF) which will literally continue to dispense succor to our people in need, address and assist in the areas of some of their health challenges.

“I also plan on resuscitation of the non-partisan Political Leadership Academy (POLA) which I established some years ago as a platform of political education to our citizens.”

Full text of letter below

The National Chairman,
Peoples Democratic Party,
Wadata Plaza, Michael Okpara Street
Wuse Zone II, Abuja

Attention: Prince Uche Secondus

Mr. Chairman,

Resignation from Partisan Politics

This is to inform you of my intention to resign from active and partisan politics with effect from today, the 14th day of March, 2019.
My decision in this regard is entirely personal to me and having served in various capacities, including as Governor of Ogun State, I have resolved to immerse myself in some other vocations and take on some new challenges.

Preamble
My Political Journey so far

I joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ogun State on Sunday, the 9th of September, 2001 at an event which was described as one of the most ceremonial political rallies in our recent political history in the South Western part of Nigeria. We rose from that rally to create a highly robust and effective political campaign machinery which resulted in an electoral victory for the Peoples Democratic Party in Ogun State in 2003; this movement and vibration affected the politics of the region positively with a victory in five (5) states of the South West.

  1. I served as Governor of Ogun State for eight (8) years and our administration till today remains a point of reference in terms of physical, social, economic, educational and human capital development since the State was created in 1976.
  2. Notwithstanding these widely acclaimed achievements however, our party, the Peoples Democratic Party ran into trouble waters towards the end of our administration (about the year 2009) which led to the sad loss in the election of 2011, and regrettably ten (10) years after the party has been unable to resolve those internal disputes and challenges.
  3. Meanwhile, the PDP in Ogun State was confronted with a very difficult situation in matter of choice. Whereas the national leadership of our party, recognized one candidate for the 2019 election, by court pronouncements another candidate, and in compliance with those court orders, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognized was on the INEC list. The candidates recognized by INEC were not acceptable to the national leadership of the party. Our situation was then compounded because the candidate which the court and INEC recognized and accepted as valid has also been expelled by the party. This was the dilemma we found ourself as we approached the March 9, 2019 Governorship and State House of Assembly elections.
  4. Going forward, we have responded to the yearnings of our people and joined others in emplacing an administration that we believe will better serve the interests of our people than what currently exists. The rest they say is now history.
  5. I must say that looking back, I do not have any regrets over that patriotic choice and decision, especially as several of our citizens, leaders and stakeholders in the state and outside have commended that singular action. Many stakeholders within and outside Ogun State feel fulfilled, excited and grateful about our decision to join others in putting a stop to a regime that was believed to be against the collective and general welfare of our people.
  6. Let me also add, that in the last few months, I have had one of the rare privileges of traveling round the entire length and breadth of our great country on at least two occasions; the first being during my campaigns to become the National Chairman of our great party, and later as the Director General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organization (APCO).
  7. I must sincerely admit that in the course of all these travels, I have built a network of contacts, of friends and associates in a mutually rewarding relationships which I cherished most and greatly too. I am therefore persuaded that I have fewer points to make and prove in my Political journeys in partisan politics.
  8. My decision to quit partisan politics notwithstanding, I have decided to rejuvenate my charity based organization, the Gateway Front Foundation (GFF) which will literally continue to dispense succor to our people in need, address and assist in the areas of some of their health challenges; I also plan on resuscitation of the non-partisan Political Leadership Academy (POLA) which I established some years ago as a platform of political education to our citizens.
  9. Without doubt, I will miss the company of my friends and associates and all those relationships I built in the course of the years all over the country..
    While I crave for your kind understanding, accept assurances of my highest regards.

Yours faithfully,

Otunba (Engr.) Gbenga Daniel, FNSE, FNAEng
Governor of Ogun State (2003-2011).

Cc:
His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar GCON
Chairman, Board of Trustees (PDP)

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