Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has asserted that the country lacked courageous leaders.
He insisted that as long as Nigerian leaders are not willing to stick out their necks to speak against the many ills in the country, the citizens would remain dominated and underdeveloped.
He spoke yesterday on: “Insecurity in Nigeria, restoring peace, unity and progress”, at a lecture organised by the Correspondent Chapel of the FCT Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) to mark its 2021 Press Week in Abuja.
The governor said the country was full of those he described as “lily-livered people” who are masquerading as national and regional leaders.
He also advised President Muhammadu Buhari to eschew favouritism and be for all Nigerians, saying: “We all must ensure justice, fairness and equity in all issues relating to public safety and security for the reputation and the fate of our dear country.”
The governor said even though the governors, as chief security officers of their states, are supposed to assist in addressing the security situation in the country. He lamented that their hands were tied.
Ortom said: “I have learnt from my experience that Nigeria has critical deficit of sustainable leadership. We seem to have a dearth of bold and courageous leaders, who will clearly identify with what is good and loudly tell the nation.
“We have a lot of lily-livered people who masquerade as national and regional leaders in this country, but are afraid to speak and advise the Federal Government correctly. Many leaders have confided in me that our position on ranching of livestock and Rule of Law to ensure justice, fairness and equity are good, not only for Benue State but for Nigeria as a whole. But they cannot speak publicly to support it.
“Where then are our elder statesmen and women? Where are our political leaders who will speak out loudly instead of whispering in closets on crucial and critical national issues, including an existential challenge such as the herdsmen sack and pogrom of entire villages and communities in Benue State and other parts of the country?
“My research and reflection on the establishment of ranches has made me come to the conclusion that national legislation on ranching is urgently required in Nigeria. At least 24 out of 36 states of Nigeria now have serious farmers and herdsmen crisis involving killings.”
The governor alleged that kidnapping has become another lucrative business with strong with strong suspicion of connivance with government officials, adding that “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 the worsening security in the country.”
The governor alleged that his warning in 2019 that those who think that the problem of herdsmen is only that of the Benue Valley and Middle-Belt states should watch out was ignored, saying: “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.”
He said the way forward is “for Mr. President to eschew favouritism and be for all Nigerians”.
“We all must ensure justice, fairness and equity in all issues relating to public safety and security for the reputation and the fate of our dear country.
“In the same vein, we must rise up together as a nation to confront the challenges of these times to avert the country’s drift to anarchy and disintegration, a situation that sycophants and praise-singers may unwittingly hide away from us.”