Farmers/Herders crisis: Bauchi gov lashes out at Southern govs, says Ortom is the genesis of problem

•Declares Fulani forced to carry AK47 for self protection

Bauchi State Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir has lashed out at South West Governors for what he called the mishandling of the Fulani and herders’ crises rocking the country just as he also declared Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom as the worst manager in the Fulani security matter.

Bala Mohammed further unequivocally said that that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom’s lack of foresight has triggered the current negative perception of Fulani herders across the country just as he said that Fulani herders were forced to carry AK47 and other guns in order to protect themselves from rustlers.

Bala Mohammed declared that “They (Fulani) are forced to defend themselves as they, “have no option than to carry AK47 because the society and the government are not protecting him.”

The Governor who criticized his Benue state counterpart, Samuel Ortom for what he termed the latter’s poor handling of the herders-farmers clashes in his state opined that Samuel Ortom’s unconstructive criticisms are bringing a lot of hatred among Nigerians.

He stressed that “sometimes we are quick to go to the press on issues that are dividing us. I will tell you something that I tell my colleagues about the farmers-herders clashes in Nigeria.”

Bala Mohammed made the assertions while speaking at the closing ceremony of the 2021 Correspondents’ Chapel of the Bauchi State NUJ, Press Week, held on Thursday at the Command Guest House, Bauchi.

The Governor who was responding to the theme for the Week “The role of the Media in Promoting Peace and Unity in Nigeria”, cautioned Samuel Ortom and some other Governors especially from the Southern parts of the country to guard against utterances and policies that are threatening to the peace and unity of the country.

He declared that “You have seen what our colleagues in the south-West are doing and some of them from the South – East too are doing same. We have told them with all modesty that they are wrong. But the person that is most wrong is the Governor of Benue State, my brother and my colleague, Governor Samuel Ortom”.

Bala Mohammed added that “He started all these. If you don’t accommodate other tribes, there will be challenges because we also accommodate other tribes in Bauchi and other places. We have many Tiv people farming in Alkaleri, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro in Bauchi State.”

He asked that “Has anybody told them to go? No, because they have inalienable rights to be here. We have people living in Bauchi for over 150 years, even before the birth of Nigeria., nobody is talking to them to go and some of them have risen to become Permanent Secretaries in government in Bauchi, Borno and so on,” the Governor stressed.

Bala Mohammed, however, lamented that pastoralists in the country, particularly Fulani were being maligned even though most of them have become victims of cattle rustlers who have dispossessed them of their commonwealth.

The Governor who shot to prominence when he moved the ‘Doctrine of Necessity at the Senate in 2009 which eventually paved the way for Goodluck Jonathan to become Acting President, and later President when Umar Yar’adua died in office, called on Nigerians to stop labelling Fulanis as criminals because every ethnic group has criminals.

He also called on Journalists to be cautious in their reportage and exercise restraint and avoid takings sides in the issues of herders-farmers clashes to safeguard the unity and peace of the country.

He said that “Something that is so bad and can destroy us, something that is threatening the peace and unity of the country, we must not toy with it. In this regard, I must commend the Governor of Plateau State, Governor Simon Lalong for promoting the peace of the country.”

The Governor opined that “Despite Simon Lanlong’s minority’s background, he is leading the Northern Governors Forum, Lanlong is focused and unity driven. We need people like Lanlong because the fights between herders and farmers in Plateau State has stopped because of justice and equity,  patriotism and community, engagement and fostering understanding between the diverse ethnic groups and that is what we are doing in Bauchi. Everybody is important and so the media must make sure they promote unity and peace of the country.”

Earlier in his address, Chairman of the Correspondents Chapel, Malam Ahmed Mohammed, cautioned journalists against misusing their constitutional power to promote disunity and disaffection among Nigerians.

Ahmed Mohammed said that “I want to yet again appeal to my dear colleagues to be cautious in their reportage. One wrongly-worded headline can spark a fire that may burn down the entire nation or cause irreparable damages to the society or the person(s) affected. One of us may feel that he can retract a story, but news stories are like oil. You can attempt to wipe the spill but you may never get it all back.”

State Chairman of the NUJ, Comrade Umar Sa’id commended the Governor for his friendly posture towards working Journalists in the state assuring him that as they discharge their professional functions, Journalists in the state will remain fair and objective.

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