We are doing our best to end herdsmen attacks, says Buhari

Written by on March 13, 2018

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday appealed to leaders of various groups in Benue State to convince their constituents that the Federal Government was doing its best to end the recurring attacks by armed herdsmen in parts of the country.

In a response to remarks by various stakeholders during a Town Hall meeting at the Government House in Makurdi, the state capital, the President also urged them to show restraint.

Buhari said: “The governor and I, and others here know that we will leave one day, but the relationship between farmers and herders will continue. I urge you to keep in touch with them and advise them to live peacefully.

“Nigeria has over 250 ethnic groups with different cultures and nobody can question God for putting us together.”
The President said he preferred to quietly “read the riot act” to his appointees as he did to Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris during the Benue attacks.

When told that IG Idris did not relocate to Benue State contrary to his order, The President said: “I am getting to know this in this meeting. I am quite surprised.”

He disclosed that he shared the IGP’s security report on the Benue crisis with Benue Senators George Akume and Barnabas Gemade.

Recalling his Civil War era memories with military officers from Benue State, Buhari noted that his nostalgic experience with such persons would never allow him to do harm to the state.

While thanking God for the good rains, he noted the successful efforts of Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbeh, an indigene of Benue State, who he described as “a great asset in my government.”

He said his administration would continue to empower farmers with loans through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Delighted that the agricultural policy of his administration led to 90 per cent reduction in rice importation, Buhari praised Ebonyi, Lagos, Kebbi, Jigawa and Benue states for “doing extremely well”.

Reacting to what he called a “shopping list” by some stakeholders, the President enjoined them to pray for the economy to improve, noting that he would not make any promises during this trip.

He, however, stressed: “When coming back on campaign, if coming back on campaign, I may promise.”

Governor Samuel Ortom had thanked Buhari for visiting and listening patiently to the representatives of socio-cultural groups, farmers, herdsmen, national and state legislators, former leaders and elder statesmen, among others, who described him as “a father known for his integrity and fight for justice”.

Noting that the attacks by armed herdsmen predated the current administration, the governor said the recent attacks had displaced 170,000 people with children of school age constituting 60 per cent.

He called for support for ranching, compensation for victims of the attacks and rebuilding of destroyed houses and farms, as well as the upgrading of the current military exercise to a “military operation”.

Ortom also urged the Federal Government to fix some major roads in the state and take over the state polytechnic and college of education, among other demands.

Ortom said Benue people identified with the reconciliation efforts by Asiwaju Bola 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 Refund, 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 stabilise regular salary payment with effect from January this year.

“Let me call 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.”

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