The Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, on Tuesday visited the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, three days after he was attacked by herdsmen.
At the end of the meeting held behind closed doors, the governor told State House correspondents that with the current level of insecurity in the country, nobody would think of 2023 elections.
Also on Tuesday, the Ondo State Governor and Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, in an interview on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme, said 2023 elections were under threat.
Recall that Ortom narrowly escaped assassination on Saturday when herdsmen attacked him on his farm near Makurdi.
In the interview with the State House correspondents, the Benue State governor said there was no way Nigerians could be talking of the 2023 elections without first securing the country.
He appealed to Nigerians not to allow their aspirations for the 2023 elections to jeopardise the unity and progress of the nation.
He said, “I want to also appeal to Nigerians. 2023, yes to a politician is not far, but it is still a long way. If we secure our country and everything is going fine, then we can talk about 2023.
“But the way things are going, if we don’t secure the country, there is no way we can be talking about 2023. For me, I want us as leaders of this country, we have taken oaths of office, let us abide by those things we have said and work together as a team; leave politics aside, leave ethnicity aside and secure the country. We have no other country than the Nigeria we live in.”
He warned those he said were fond of making inflammatory statements to desist forthwith.
The governor said, “I am aware that the security challenges in our country today are not about the President or we, state governors. They are about every citizen of this country, so we must work together to surmount them.
“I also want Nigerians to know, especially those who are responsible for making inflammatory statements, that we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder and everybody is not in doubt in Nigeria today, about the security situation.
“Without security, there can be no meaningful progress and so it is important to put heads together.
“Let’s do the things that are lawful; protect the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria so that everybody will be secured. Let there be equity, fairness and justice. That is what I stand for.”
The governor also faulted those who hold the belief that he could have stage-managed the attack on his convoy.
He wondered the benefit he would derive in raising a false alarm.
He added, “We should know when to play politics and we should know when to team up together to work as a team to salvage the country. That is what I’m saying. Those who are saying that I faked the attack, what benefit do I have to come up and say that I was attacked?”
He insisted that the state government’s anti-open grazing law was not targeted at any ethnic group or individual as being insinuated.
The governor disclosed that Buhari accepted the suggestions he made on the security situation in the state.
“I have been able to recommend some measures and most of them he (the President) agreed with: that nobody should be a sacred cow.”
In the interview with Channels Television, Akeredolu supported Ortom, who said there might not be an election in 2023 with the current level of insecurity.
Akeredolu said, “I listened to Governor Ortom when he spoke and I sympathise with him that a governor will become a target for this attack and I thank God for his life and I think he is right, definitely we cannot conduct an election under an insecure environment.
“So, if this insecurity is not nipped in the bud, it will escalate undoubtedly, so all of us should be worried that as we are getting to 2023, we might have a full-scale banditry and other insecurity in the country and with that nobody can carry out any election in that atmosphere.
“He (Ortom) has made a good point that the Federal Government must sit up and ensure that this issue of insecurity is nipped in the bud.”
Akeredolu, who is the Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, said the second term of the President is the “best time” to restructure the country along security and economic lines.
Akeredolu, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, said the regime of the APC and the President could restructure the country along the line of fiscal federalism if there is a will.
He said, “A number of us, no doubt believe that the issue of the structure of this country must be addressed. We are not running away from that fact. Even in our constitution, restructuring is fundamental there. The issue is why is it difficult? It shouldn’t be difficult and I believe that the best time to do it is now because Mr President is running his second term and Mr President can, if there is will, there will be a way and this can be done and some of us believe that it is important for us to do it once and for all and let everybody come to the table, make his case.
“Yes, I know that at the National Assembly level, a number of things are being done on the amendment of the constitution. Bring it out, let people know what you are doing because at the end of the day, what the National Assembly will arrive at might at least, solve some of the problems and the additional things we have to do like fiscal federalism will have to follow.”
He stressed the need for multi-level policing system, adding that before such policing system scale the constitutional and legislation hurdle, the head of security agencies must convene security meetings and promptly end the menace of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, herders’ oppression, amongst others.
The governor, who pledged his cooperation to fight insecurity, said, “We have a security architecture we cannot change overnight. What we must do for now is to respond to demands of insecurity. They (security chiefs) must take necessary steps now. We must not continue to scratch the surface. This is a serious matter and I believe the IG, all the service chiefs should be in one place or the other meeting so that solution can come to this problem, so that where you have crisis at each time so that you can respond to it instantaneously.”
Furthermore, Akeredolu said Ondo State was not invited to be part of Yoruba Nation by secessionist agitators in the South-West geopolitical zone.
Growing disaffection and dissatisfaction in the region had made some persons to declare their support for a Yoruba Nation.
Popular Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo also known as Sunday Igboho as well as the Chairman of socio-political group, the Nigerian Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self-Determination, Prof Banji Akintoye, and other proponents of self-determination had last week declared their allegiance for Yoruba Nation.
But speaking on Tuesday night during the television programme, Akeredolu said individuals were entitled to take their positions but “when it comes to the issue of a nation and you want to leave a particular set-up, there must be a consensus. Nobody can on his own wake up and start speaking on behalf of others. Who gave them such powers?
“A few people cannot stand up one day and say Yoruba Nation. How? Where did you sit down to discuss this? With whom and who? At what point in time? So, if you don’t carry everybody along, you cannot be representing us. That is where we stand.”