BY PETER DURU, MAKURDI
Shortly after last Sunday’s assassination of Dr. Tavershima Adyorough, the Principal Special Assistant to Benue State Governor on Knowledge Economy and Investments, by yet unknown armed men, Governor Samuel Ortom visited his widow at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, where she was recuperating from the gunshot injuries she sustained during the attack on the family at their residence. This is what the governor had to say about the killing of his aides. Adyorough was his second aide to be murdered.
What is your reaction to the unfortunate incident?
It is indeed an unfortunate development. We did not expect this to happen at this time when we are battling economic challenges and everyone is making efforts to add value to the development of our state and make life meaningful for the people.
This was someone who was very special to this administration, a renowned economist; someone who had studied to the level of acquiring a doctorate degree and was contributing tirelessly and meaningfully to the economic development of our state.
I invited him home from America when I was a Minister to enable him contribute his quota to the development of our dear country and, when I emerged the governor of Benue, I also invited him to bring his immense experience to uplift our state.
I’m touched, sad and devastated but I’m not going to be distracted by this. I’m addicted to the vision of moving Benue forward no matter the distraction. And at a moment like this, I do remember my theme song during my campaign, which is today the state anthem I submitted to the state House of Assembly, ‘We are able to go forward to possess the land from the north to the south of the state. Though the enemy will be there to hinder, God will surely give us victory. All that we need to do is to be on the righteous side of God.’
The Bible also says that in all things we should give thanks. Today I give thanks to God who permitted this to happen. The Book of Samuel says it is God that gives life and also takes life. If God did not permit it, it wouldn’t have happened.
John 3:27 also says a man can receive nothing except it is given to him from above.
‘We will get them’
One thing I want to assure the people who committed this crime and the entire Benue State is that we will get them. We will chase them to their holes; no matter where they are hiding, we will fish them out, no matter how long it takes, because God is with us and He is in partnership with this government of Benue.
My emergence and how I’ve been able to pilot the affairs of the state and, of course, my dedication of the state to God is a living proof that He will not leave me alone, I’m very confident about that.
I can assure you that there is no hiding place for any criminal in this state. I will go after them. You’ll recall that before the coming of this administration, people could hardly sleep with their two eyes closed.
We were able to substantially reduce criminality. Today we are seeing some form of them coming up with their ugly heads, but I want to assure you that I’m summoning a security meeting and I’m meeting the security agencies and wherever they are we will get and fish them out.
As I keep saying, security is everybody’s business. It is important for people to avail us information of where these criminals are, because we have completed the carrot approach of our amnesty programme and we are now into the stick approach and wherever they are, we will go after them.
Moreover, the primary responsibility of any government is to provide security for lives and property. This is certainly not acceptable. Where ever they are, I can assure you we will fish them out.
There is the insinuation that those who surrendered their arms to government in the course of the amnesty programme had been abandoned and government not meeting its obligation to them and that could be the reason for this resurgence of criminality in the state?
That insinuation is completely false and wrong, because most of them are already engaged one way or the order. And we have told them that as many that have good proposals to be engaged, we are ready to go with them.
Criminality not an option
But one thing I want to assure you and even those who turned out to embrace and also took advantage of the amnesty is that criminality is not an option. So we have told people to go back to the farm. We have brought the Bank of Industry and Bank of Agriculture here to the state and have also made funds available to the banks. People can access funds to do their businesses and engage in agricultural activities.
In any case, as an agrarian state, you do not necessarily need much money to go into agriculture. You can pick on anything and you can take to trading. You can decide to ride motorbike and earn legitimate income. There are several things that you can do which are options for staying idle instead of engaging in criminality. It is not an option to go into criminality and we will never spare you if caught. If we find you wanting, we will go after you.
Two years ago, your Senior Special Assistant on Special Security was killed in similar circumstances. Do you say security agencies may have failed in their duties?
Like I said, it’s not all about just the security agencies. It is about all of us, you, me and the people out there. Information is very crucial. The security agents are doing their best despite the challenges they are confronted with in terms of funding, facilities and new technologies that can track some of these things. But there are challenges, obviously. We need to support them and I need to be supported as well. We need information from everyone because if it is this man today, tomorrow it could be another person if we allow it to continue; that is why it has to be stopped. And that is why I’m calling on the entire people of the state to avail us information. Our security teams are ready to go after criminals but you know that we are in a democracy; so everything has to be done in line with the tenets of democracy. So, as much as possible, we must all ensure that we are law abiding. We don’t just go after people, but if we have concrete evidence about these criminals, I can assure that we will take on them.
I can assure you that on our part as a government, we have put measures in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in all parts of the state. It is a responsibility we owe the people of the state and we will certainly not fail in that regard.