Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has said there are very strong indications that some Nigerian government officials are conniving with kidnappers to perpetuate their dastardly act.
Mr Ortom said desperate politicians had brought into the country foreign mercenaries to help them win the 2019 elections. He notes that the abandonment of these mercenaries has however led to the worsening security situation in the country.
The governor stated this on Thursday when he delivered a lecture at the 2021 Press Week with the theme: “Insecurity in Nigeria: Restoring Peace, Unity and Progress” and organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), FCT Correspondents Chapel.
“There is another lucrative business in Nigeria with strong suspicion of connivance with Government officials,” the governor said.
“The rise in kidnappings of all categories of people across the country is a dangerous trend. We don’t know who is telling the truth. But as it stands, there is a strong allegation that desperate politicians brought into the country foreign mercenaries to help them win elections. Unfortunately, after the elections were lost and won, the mercenaries were abandoned leading to worsening security in the country.”
The governor also warned that unless there is a national legislation on ranching in the West African country, there will be persistent farmers/herders clashes.
He said twenty-four out of the thirty-six states of Nigeria have serious farmers and herdsmen crisis involving killings which may compromise farming and food security across the country.
“My research and reflection on the establishment of ranches have made me come to the conclusion that national legislation on ranching is urgently required in Nigeria,” Mr Ortom said.
“At least 24 out of 36 states of Nigeria now have serious farmers and herdsmen crisis involving killings. Without ranching laws, herdsmen may soon be at every doorstep and that this will compromise farming and food security across the country.
“It will also complicate our demographics because many of those who want to herd livestock indiscriminately into the country and dispossess others of their ancestral lands are not even citizens of this country. Herdsmen attacks on farmers will only come to an end when open grazing is completely eliminated.
“Many countries in the world including those in Africa have embraced ranching. It is a good practice that enhances the productivity of animals and the quality of meat. There are potentials that good implementation of the Ranching Policy will make Nigeria become an exporter of meat and its associated value-chain of animal protein and allied products.
“I had warned in 2019 in my lecture at the University of Nigeria Nsukka that those who think that the problem of herdsmen is only that of the Benue Valley and Middle-Belt states should watch out. Nobody believed me. Now, the challenges posed by herdsmen has spread out across all the states of the federation. First, it started with Plateau State and southern Kaduna, and then Taraba, Adamawa, Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Delta, Cross River and Ondo states. It is still spreading and it has become a national, social and economic problem too difficult to contain. “
By Abel Ejikeme