It took less than ten months after President Muhammadu Buhari took the oath of office as president in 2015 for the red mist to descend on Benue State. It started in Agatu Local Government in late February 2016, but quickly spread to other parts of Benue in the months that followed. About 500 people were killed while the total number of victims stood at about 7000 as rampaging Fulani herdsmen ran amok.
Recently, in attacks which started on Friday March 3,2023,armed criminals marched through Kwande Local Government area of Benue State reportedly cutting down about 36 persons while razing houses and food barns.
For most of the last eight years, many Benue communities have been turned upside down by those who herd cattle but also chaos and carnage. It is not to play politics with insecurity but the response of the APC-led Federal Government to the frequent attacks has left more to be desired.
During the presidential election of February 25, Nigeria’s president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the APC limped to victory in the state. His 310,000 votes slightly shrugged off the 308,372 votes scored by Mr. Peter Obi, of the Labour Party. The voting patterns painted the picture of a state with divided loyalties.
But it also told its own story that the All Progressives Congress(APC) won the state after eight years during which the powers that be in the party looked the other way while marauding Fulani herdsmen marched through Benue communities butchering innocent men, women and children.
For most of the last eight years, Samuel Ortom, the Benue State Governor has been at loggerheads with the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari. Ortom had been elected on platform of the All Progressives Congress in 2015 before defecting to the Peoples Democratic Party.
More than most, the man who once had to run for his life on foot in his farm in Makurdi while killer Fulani hersdmen closed in knows the inimical insecurity scorching Benue.
He has stood as a strong defender of his people in their times of pain. In fact, It has even been whispered that Ortom’s opposition to the center has been a factor in the reason help has been so slow to come to his people.
The good, hardworking people of Benue State do not need to be reminded of just how hellish life has been for them in the last eight years as insecurity has raged unchecked and unimpeded by a government that has appeared overwhelmed by the ferocity of insecurity in the country. They do not need to be reminded that the choice they make on the 11th March will go a long way in crafting their experiences of good governance or otherwise in the next eight years.
At the end of the day, their choices will come down to either of Fr. Hyacinth Alia of the All Progressives Congress, Titus Uba of the of the Peoples Democratic Party. Fr. Alia is widely popular but his choice of the All Progressives Congress would count against him. For Titus Uba, it remains to be seen whether the measly achievement of Governor Ortom in the last eight years will stand a candidate he so strongly supports in good stead.
For the people of the State,the choice of who becomes Governor will be critical in showing whether they remember or not.
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