By Uja Emmanuel, Makurdi
The Benue State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) said the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is becoming desperate to tarnish the name of Senator George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs over matters relating to herdsmen’s attacks thereby causing disaffection.
The APC was reacting to a press statement signed by the PDP Publicity Secretary Bemgba Iortyom, who levelled allegations against Senator George Akume for allegedly discrediting the enacted Benue State anti-open grazing bill.
But a statement signed by the Benue State APC Publicity Secretary James Ornguga, which was made available to reporters yesterday in Makurdi, the state capital, said the PDP camp in Benue faced with overwhelming depleting population, loss of confidence and exhaustion of all available lies in their arsenal has resorted to petty, frivolous and even defamatory remarks against Senator Akume and the All Progressives Congress (APC), in the hope of whipping up dangerous sentiments that would arouse public anger against our party.
Orgunga maintained that “in their latest campaign of calumny, the PDP, through their spokesperson in Benue, alleged that Senator Akume had sided and absolved the Fulani over killings in Benue during his speech at a certain NKST Central Church in Wannune, Tarka Local Government Area.
The APC statement reads: “To put the records straight, Senator Akume has not been to NKST Central Church, Wannune in recent times; the APC leader only attended a wedding reception in Tarka last Sunday, away from the church during which he identified with the couple and took time to enumerate the good deeds of his principal, President Muhammadu Buhari towards Benue; one of which is the siting of the Federal Polytechnic, Wannune in the Minister’s hometown.
“During the speech, Senator Akume urged the people to grow above tribal sentiments and see the Fulani and any other ethnicities first, as Nigerians, then, as brothers. The Minister established that the relative peace witnessed in Benue at the moment was made possible through President Buhari’s military interventions of Exercise Ayem a Kpatuma and Operation Whirl Stroke.
“He condemned the killings by herdsmen and other intra- community hostilities in Benue that have claimed many lives and sued for expeditious action from the government to end the killings, adding that Governor Ortom was left with two years of his administration and that was enough time to turn things around for the good of Benue, rather than promoting the purported Islamisation and Fulanisation theory he has been advancing to court hatred against the President who is doing great projects in Benue State.
“It was while making reference to the hitherto agelong cordial relationship between the Tiv and the Fulani that the APC Leader referenced that even while he was the governor of Benue State between 1999 and 2007, the relationship between the Tiv and Fulani was still appreciable, at a time the anti-open grazing law was not yet in force.
“But sadly, the PDP in their narrow minds have hurriedly accorded a different interpretation to this harmless statement, rather insinuating that Senator Akume had called for an outright repeal of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state.
“This thinking of the Benue PDP is utterly perfidious and to an extent, maladjusted as the anti-open grazing law of Benue remains a creation of the APC; the law was duly passed with Senator Akume’s overwhelming endorsement by an APC assembly and assented to when APC was still ruling Benue. At that time, PDP that now fancies the law to the point of elevating it to a state anthem was rather indifferent about the law.
“PDP, in the same statement, listed many appointments that Benue State had benefited before now, during the Shagari and Yar’ Adua administrations, both of whom were Fulani, an example that rather validates Senator Akume’s plea on the need to make friends with other tribes.
“We can clearly see from this poor outing that the PDP in Benue is on a life support machine, gasping to survive on mainly on the anti-Fulani propaganda. It has become a norm that each time people of the state begin to deeply interrogate the glaring nonperformance of the Ortom administration which is being midwifed by the PDP in the state and has become a textbook example of failure, the party cunningly reactivates the subject of herdsmen killings to cover up their empty scorecard. “President Buhari, a Fulani man still has better projects in Benue than the Ortom administration and this is a statement of fact.
“This same dummy was sold out to Benue people in the 2019 election, creating a false impression that only Governor Ortom would defend the state if re-elected, but sadly, the return of the defender has rather left the state with countless own goals ranging from heightened poor infrastructure, nonpayment of salaries, running into many months, nonpayment of pension arrears for about two years and the emptying of the Benue food basket with no defined agricultural policy.
Benue APC is, however, consoled that people of the state have become wiser and realised their 2019 mistakes and would not fall cheaply for the same regrettable snare.
“We call on the PDP in the state to stop using Senator Akume’s name as a meal ticket and concentrate on executing at least one landmark project that would outlive their master’s administration. Already, the Ortom administration has wasted more money on media coverage than agriculture in the last six years and we passionately, plead that such monies be saved this time, at least for the feeding of IDPs who are suffering in the camps all these years.”