From Austine Tule, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has revealed that the state has lost over N400 billion worth of property to militia herdsmen attacks on communities since 2015.
He made the disclosure when he interacted with journalists on the achievements and challenges of his administration in the past three years at the Government House, in Makurdi on Tuesday.
The governor said that the estimate was arrived at following preliminary report of the assessment of damages caused by the crisis, stressing that the loss was enormous and difficult to recover from.
He said that the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 was the people’s legislation and that no amount of intimidation and blackmail would make them repeal it, stressing that he had no regret on the enactment and implementation of the law.
Ortom said: “I have no regret. Why should I have any regret doing the will of my people? They trusted me and gave me their votes and I will not betray what they want. I’m doing what they want and I’ve no regret.”
He commended his colleagues from Ekiti, Taraba and Abia States for keying into the ranching law, saying it was the right way to go
The governor called on Nigerians with a better alternative to bring it on the table to find a lasting solution to farmers and herdsmen crisis in the country.
Ortom challenged the Defence Minister, Dan-Masur Ali, to tell Nigerians why there are killings in Zamfara, his home state, and other states such as Kaduna, Adamawa, Plateau, Enugu, Kogi, among others, where there are no anti-open grazing laws.
The governor said that he was waiting for the minister to apologise to Nigerians on his comments.
Ortom lamented that he came in with a clear vision to industrialise the state but the herdsmen crisis had taken an enormous toll on his administration with 18 of the 23 local governments now under siege.
He, however, noted that partnership with development partners, donor agencies among others through the payment of counterpart funds had yielded results for the state in the areas of education, health and water supply, adding that the result would have been wonderful with guaranteed security.
Governor Ortom also stated that arrangements were being made to pay the arrears of salaries and pensions to workers both at the state and local government levels.