Insecurity may scuttle 2023 polls ― Ortom

•Commends Buhari for position on assassination attempt

Governor of Benue State, on Tuesday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja, following the recent attack on him by suspected herdsmen, calling all hands to be on deck to deal with the nation’s insecurity or else, it will be impossible to conduct the 2023 general elections.

After the meeting, he also told correspondents that he was with the president to commend him for the position Buhari took on the attack on his farm along Gkoko road in the state.

While cautioning Nigerians to refrain from inflammatory statements, he observed that the country is sitting on a keg of gun powder, stressing the need to work together to ensure fairness, equity and justice through the application of the provisions of the constitution.

Fielding questions, he affirmed that even though politicians are already jostling for 2023, the elections may not hold unless the country is first secured.

Governor said: “I have recommendations to make, and also to let Nigerians know, especially those who are responsible for making inflammatory statements.

“We’re sitting on a keg of gunpowder, everybody’s not in doubt in Nigeria today about the security situation. And without security, there can be no meaningful progress going on. And so, it is important to put heads together, do the things that are lawful, let us protect the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria so that everybody will be secure.

“Let there be equity, fairness and justice. That is what I stand for. That is what I’m fighting. I believe that as my president, I do not want to talk about the recommendations. I’ve been able to recommend some measures, and most of them agreed that nobody should be a sacred cow. If people are found wanting, they should be prosecuted, the police should prosecute them. And I think this is what is good.

“And the other time, he also gave an order for all those who carried AK-47, irrespective of where you come from, you should be shot on sight. And I think that is welcoming and is the best thing to do in a situation like this. And in order for the immigration and other security agencies to protect our border. I think all these are commendable.

“So, it’s not just enough to say that one criticises the policies of the federal government or the president, but when he does a thing that is good it is our responsibility to team up with him to ensure that that is done. Because it is when we are peaceful when we have security, that we can talk about even tomorrow.

“I want to also appeal to Nigerians. 2023. Yes, to a politician is not far, but is still a long way. If we secure our country, and everything is working fine, then, we can talk about 2023. But the way things are going if we don’t secure the country, there is no way we can be talking about 2023.

“That is why I’ve always dismissed people who come to me to say that you will contest this you contest that.

“For me, I want us as leaders of this country, we have taken an oath of office, let us abide by those things we have said, and work together as a team, leave politics aside, leave ethnicity aside, but secure the country, Nigeria. We have no other country other than Nigeria, we leave.”

He added: “So, my appeal to everyone is to ensure that we work together. Security matters are not just for the security agencies alone. We as people who are being led, we who are leaders, have a responsibility.

“It is only when we team up together, that we’ll be able to surmount this challenge. But I think that there shouldn’t be room for people who are creating problems for us.

“We have a constitution, we have laws of the land. If people are found wanting they should be cautioned, they should be arrested, they should be prosecuted and let the right thing be done.”

The Benue governor revealed that he had made suggestions to the president on the security situation in the state, saying that President Buhari had accepted them.

On the assassination attempt on him, Ortom commended his colleagues, governors, for standing by him even as he regretted that there are some doubters over the attack, wondering what benefits would accrue to him from claiming what did not happen.

While asserting that he has not done anything wrong in enacting a law beneficial to the state, he prayed that his enemies should not experience what he went through.

Speaking on his mission to the presidential villa, he added: “I have to see Mr President, first of all, to commend him for the statement he issued when I was attacked.

“It was quite consoling, and his directive that a thorough investigation should be done and the criminal elements fished out. I think it was important. And I received that as quite consoling.

“I’m aware that the security challenges in our country today is not about the president, is not about the governors, it is about every citizen of this country. So, we must work together to surmount these. We cannot continue in this manner.

“Democracy is anchored on rule of law. That is why for some of us, you will see that I have not done anything illegal, including the prohibition of Open grazing law which my people told me to present to the House of Assembly, and eventually we signed it into law.

“That law is not targeted against any ethnic group, is not targeted against any individual or group of people. But is meant to regulate the activities of herdsmen and farmers. And I think we have very good stories to talk about.

“Today, in Benue state, those who trespass against this law, who are herders are arrested, their cattle impounded, they are prosecuted and they pay fines for those cattle. And those who rustle cattle from herdsmen, we go into them, so nobody is spared. And it’s not about ethnicity.

“So, even the people in Benue state, the Idoma, Tiv and other ethnic groups are also been prosecuted when they contravene the provisions of the law. So, I am here today to also brief Mr President about my internal security problems.”

On the speculation that he stage-managed the attack against himself, Governor Ortom admonished: “I want to advise as I said earlier, Mr President did advise when he was condemning the attack on me, and pleaded with Nigerians that they should not politicise this matter. I want to appeal, I want to beg everyone that we should not politicise the issue of attempted assassination on myself.

“If a governor is attacked, then it is an attack on all. And I appreciate my colleagues the governors irrespective of party affiliation, the chairman of our Governors Forum, the chairman of Northern Governors Forum, the Chairman of Southern governors forum, the chairman of PDP Governors Forum, the Chairman of APC Governors Forum. All of them by way of call or text messages or press statement have communicated to me condemning this attack. That is how it should be.

“We should know when to play politics and we should know when to team up together to work as a team to salvage the country. That is what I’m saying. Those who are saying that what benefit do I have to come up and say that I was attacked?”

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