Nigerian Concord Newspaper
Terver Akase, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the immediate past governor of Benue state, Chief Samuel Ortom PhD has blamed the current governor of the state, Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia for the continuous security challenge in state.
Akase made this known in a piece he said he wrote as a concerned Benue son and a stakeholder who served in the immediate past administration in the state.
Akase was reacting to a press statement credited to Father Alia by his Chief Press Secretary, Tersoo Kula where he described the efforts the immediate past Governor, Chief Ortom made to ensure the security of lives of the people as mere gimmicks.
Recall that the statement by Alia’s spokesperson claimed that the security measures employed by the former Governor did not yield any results.
But the former adviser in his piece stated that Alia has no moral right to criticize the former governor’s security strides since he himself had proven that the safety of the people of Benue state is the least of his concerns.
The piece reads:
I was shocked to read such a trite statement coming from a Governor who, in five months of being in power, has not seen the necessity to appoint a Special Adviser on security and has not bothered to constitute the State Security Council.
A governor who has not seen the need to procure patrol vehicles and render other logistic support to security agencies operating in his state approaching half a year in office lacks the moral authority to fault even a councilor on security.
This is a government that has done everything to suppress media coverage of the genocide ongoing in several local government areas of Benue State as perpetrated by armed herders and local militia whom Governor Alia fondly calls “my brothers in the bush”.
Benue people are being slaughtered like animals in their homes by terrorists, but Governor Alia wants the rest of the country to believe that there is absolute peace in the state. The other day at the Presidential Villa, he gleefully told State House correspondents that there is peace in Benue State, as according to him, the attacks and killings have ended and all internally displaced people have also returned to their ancestral homes.
Whose interest is Governor Alia serving – that of Benue people or some persons outside the state? Why does he not want other Nigerians to know that armed herders now boldly block a highway in the state, stop vehicles and take their occupants into the bush? One of the gory incidents occurred last week along the Makurdi-Naka road when a Benue Links bus was ambushed by terrorists and its occupants taken to an unknown destination.
Governor Alia has repeatedly blamed youths of the state for carrying out acts of violence but has never said a word to condemn herdsmen over the massacre of innocent Benue people.
Only a Governor who has zero value for humanity and honesty would look into television cameras and tell the world that his people are safe and in peace when indeed his people no longer have any place to call their home with daily attacks and killings taking place in Sankera and other parts of the state. True leadership is ingrained in compassion, love for the people and integrity.
I challenge Governor Alia to list the measures he has taken to protect the lives of Benue people so far. While he is on that, it is important to let him know that Governor Ortom was the one who requested for a full military operation in Benue State code named Operation Whirl Stroke after the former President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier approved what was a mere Military Exercise known as ‘Ayem A Kpatuma’. The successes recorded by Operation Whirl Stroke with the constant support of Governor Ortom are there for everyone to see.
A few weeks after he assumed office in 2015, Governor Ortom purchased patrol vehicles for the Benue State Police Command and other security agencies in the state.
One does not need to mention the celebrated enactment of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law by Governor Ortom, as well as the recruitment of thousands of Benue youths as members of Community Volunteer Guards. It is public knowledge that Governor Alia has not been comfortable with the law and has been looking for ways to repeal it, to please the interests only he knows. He has since rendered the Community Volunteer Guards ineffective.
Unlike Alia who does not believe in government as a continuum, Governor Ortom saw that the law establishing Community Volunteer Guards in the year 2000 by Governor George Akume was very important to Benue, so the State Executive Council under him amended the legislation to meet current realities. The amended bill was passed by the State House of Assembly and the Governor gave assent to the law.
In addition to the enactment of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, the Ortom administration enacted a law prohibiting Kidnapping, Cultism and other related crimes.
When Benue people came under heavy attacks from armed herdsmen at the beginning of 2018, Governor Ortom demonstrated rare qualities of a leader who truly loves and cares for his people, a sharp contrast to Governor Alia who tells the nation that Benue is in peace when in reality, the state is witnessing the worst time in its history, regarding security.
The Ortom administration also effectively managed the humanitarian crisis arising from the attacks by caring for thousands of people living in internally displaced persons camps (IDP). Today, no week passes without the displaced persons coming out of the camps to protest against their abandonment by the Alia administration.
Governor Ortom always carried Benue people along in decisions of his administration by holding stakeholders meetings to brief the people. This fact was often attested to by the stakeholders at different times.
Governor Ortom’s media appearances as they affected security were not without merit. Through his campaign against open grazing, the entire country soon embraced ranching and most parts of Nigeria enacted laws to prohibit open grazing of livestock.
Governor Alia and his aides should drop their obsession with Chief Ortom and face governance, except he plans to include the name of his predecessor in his scorecard.