By Peter Duru, Makurdi
A political drama is currently playing out in Benue state and indications just emerged that powerful forces are bent on stopping Governor Samuel Ortom from running for a second term in office over his innocuous decision to stand with the Benue people to end the herdsmen killings in the state with the enactment of the open grazing prohibition law which was a bill the people in unison presented to the government for enactment.
Curiously, some powerful forces from within and outside the state are obviously not at home with the development especially with the Governor’s rising profile and are bent on sacrificing him on the altar of personal delirium without regards to the wishes and aspirations of the people.
Though all government officials in the state have kept sealed lips over the matter, but a highly placed source in the state who craved anonymity told Saturday Vanguard that the powers that be in Abuja had put their feet down that the Governor would not be availed the All Progressive Congress, APC, ticket in the coming general elections for daring to enact the law against their wishes.
According to the source, “The entire thing emanated from the fact that the governor assented to the bill on open grazing prohibition and had insisted that the law would not be repealed when they asked him to.
“So today they are bent of denying him the ticket of the APC in the coming election because of his insistence to flow with the people and not repeal the law after several threats and intimidation.
“We had expected it will come to this but we never knew it will be taken this far.
“How would any sane person want the governor of a state to go against the wish of his people just to satisfy the whims and caprices of a group of persons who have failed to realize that power is transient.
“Well, we are not saying that Governor Ortom has met our expectations as a people but we also understand the challenges he is faced with especially since the beginning of this year when the killings which were obviously supported by this group of persons started in the state.
“Perhaps they want to test the resolve of Benue people, we will stand with our Governor in this matter and we are prepared to stake our lives for him to ensure that our grazing law is not suspended as they are planning.
“I want to sound a note of warning, we know all our sons who are collaborating with these vampires to take over Benue land for their herdsmen brothers who have destroyed our communities and rendered our people homeless.
“In due time we will resist them and make them realize that power belongs to God and He gives it to whoever He desires because no man has God in his pocket.”
Meanwhile the elders and leaders of Masev, Iyarev Nongov Development Association also known as the MINDA block of Tiv land which Governor Ortom as a Nongov man belong to, two days ago vowed to resist any attempt by anyone to deny the Governor a second term in office.
After a General meeting of the elders’ council they maintained that all candidates of blocks in the state particularly Tiv tribe have had the opportunity of ruling the state for eight years insisting that Ortom’s case should not be different.
At the end of the meeting of the elders and members of the council they resolved to reach out to other blocks in the state to inform them of their position on the matter and the need for Governor Ortom to be supported to complete an eight year tenure as governor of the state.
Also, a statement by the ethnic leaders of the state under the aegis of Mdzough U Tiv. Idoma National Forum and Omi Ny‘ lgede vowed to stand with the Governor in the implementation and enforcement of the grazing law in the state.
In a statement signed by the leaders, Chief Edward Ujege, President General Mdzough U Tiv, Mr. Amali Adoya Amali President General ldoma National Forum and Comrade Ben Okpa President General Om Ny ‘Igede, they vowed to stand with the Governor in the implementation of the law which was a product of the entirety of the people of the state.
They also passed a vote of confidence on the governor over his dogged determination to ensure the smooth implementation and enforcement of the law in the state.
They further commended troops of the Operation Whirl Stroke, a spike operation by the armed forces to end militant herdsmen killings in the state even as they commiserated with families of the personnel who had lost their lives in the operation.
They commended Governor Ortom for his resilience to ensure that the will of the people of the state prevailed in the face of adversity.
Reacting to the unfolding drama in the state, the Convener of the Middle Belt Movement for Justice and Peace, MBMJP, Comrade Joe Bukka cautioned that the move to stop Governor Ortom from running for a second term could be counterproductive.
“Those behind the plot are failing to learn from history because the more you try to oppress someone the mote he gains the acceptability of the people.
“Governor Ortom has not done anything wrong, if his party and those who are playing God do not want him to continue to be their flag-bearer he should immediately abandon that platform for another, after all he has the right of first refusal wherever he goes. That is the beauty of democracy. It’s all about the alignment and realignment of forces, he said.