Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State says his government has a place for everyone that was interested in cattle business, adding that cattle business or ranching in the state would not be at the expense of the lives of the Benue people or farming, the mainstay of the Benue economy.
The governor, who made the statement in Makurdi on Tuesday while inaugurating 17 boards and two governing councils in the state, also commiserated with Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State over the killing of hundreds by suspected Fulani herdsmen last weekend.
In the wake of killing of hundreds by suspected Fulani herders in Benue recently, Lalong had said he had cautioned Ortom against the implementation of the anti-open grazing law.
But Ortom asked the governor to mind his business, adding that the killings were plans by herdsmen to occupy the land, as there had been killings in states that were yet to enact the law.
A statement issued in Makurdi on Tuesday by Terver Akase, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Governor, added: “Samuel Ortom commiserates with Governor Simon Lalong and the entire people of Plateau State over renewed attacks in the state which have left many innocent people dead and property worth millions of naira destroyed.
“Governor Ortom condemns the attacks and describes the killing of children, women and other vulnerable people in Barkin Ladi as barbaric, inhuman and unfortunate.
“He urges security agencies to arrest for prosecution, the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association who have claimed responsibility over the Plateau killings.”
Ortom assured his Plateau counterpart that Benue would continue to stand with the people of Plateau in prayers until the orgy of violence over the state and other parts of the Middle Belt is brought to an end.
Earlier, while inaugurating the boards, the governor, who was probably reacting to the procurement of land by the Federal Government for ranching, noted that cattle business would not take priory over lives and farming in Benue.
According to him, Benue does not have the land being required by the FG to give away for ranching.
While explaining that Benue government has communicated same to the Federal Government, the governor said anyone that intended to ranch must follow the laid down rules as enshrined in the anti-open grazing law.
Governor Ortom stressed that his government would not release the land of the people to foreigners who slay its people, adding that it was government’s responsibility to protect lives and property in the state.
Just as he pointed out to the boards that the challenges before them were enormous, he said the expectations of the people were very high, as such they needed to be creative to improve Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the state.
He also stated that leadership comes with a lot of responsibilities, even as he urged the boards not to shy away from advising government in areas it could do better.
On the other hand, he said government would not fail in fulfilling its statutory responsibilities to ensure they succeed in the task set before them.
Responding on behalf of the boards, Abba Yaro, the board chairman, College of Education, Katsina-Ala, who is also the chairman of All Progressives Council (APC) in state, told the governor: “We will put in our best and we will work to succeed.”