The Benue Youth Forum (BYF) has criticized President Muhammadu Buhari for blaming Governor Samuel Ortom for the Federal Government’s inability to safeguard lives and property in Benue State. This comes after Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesman, quoted the President as stating that the security situation in Benue State had worsened due to Governor Ortom’s refusal to accept and act on the intelligence provided to him.
BYF’s President, Terrence Kuanun, issued a statement on Thursday in Makurdi, stating that the statement from the presidency was ridiculous. Kuanun expressed displeasure at the President’s comparison of his accomplishments to that of a state Governor. He reminded the President that over 200 innocent Benue people have been killed in the last two months by armed herdsmen, and no appointee of the President has visited the state to see the damage caused by the attacks and console the people.
Kuanun also questioned if Governor Ortom’s supposed refusal to utilize intelligence was responsible for the President’s inability to end banditry, kidnapping, terrorism, religious tension, and general insecurity, particularly in the North and his home state of Katsina. The BYF President stated that the President was always blaming others for his failure to guarantee the security and welfare of Nigerians.
Furthermore, BYF expressed concern about the President’s celebration of the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 elections in Benue state. They stressed that “mocking Benue people” did not negate the fact that Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) used state instruments to militarize the polls and essentially seize the state for their allies, who they believe will undermine the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state to relinquish land to Fulani pastoralists.
BYF warned the governor-elect, Father Hyacinth Alia, to be mindful that he was viewed as an ally of the state’s enemies and should be cautious not to trade the people’s lives for political convenience and correctness. The group also advised the Benue APC to reconsider its stance and change the narrative of justifying the killings in the state.