By Peter Duru – Makurdi
The youth leaders of the three main tribes of Benue state under the aegis of the Concerned Tiv Youths in Nigeria, CTYN, Idoma Youths Forum, IYF, Igede Youths Forum, IgYF, weekend stated that they have been begrudging the President Muhammadu Buhari led federal government over manner it ignored the over 500,000 persons displaced by armed herdsmen in the state.
They accused the government of also paying less attention to the condition of infrastructures in the state particularly federal roads which they said had become death traps.
The leaders in a joint statement in Makurdi by Comrades Shima Atokaa of the CTYN, Abel Magaji of IYF, and Ogwuche Imoha of IgYF wondered why the federal government had deliberately refused to give attention to the plight of Benue IDPs as was being done to those in the North East.
They observed that “the invasion of Benue communities by rampaging herdsmen took a deadlier dimension during the first term of President Buhari.
“Even then, the government did not do anything to halt the destruction that was visited on the state and the cries of our people fell on deaf ears. As it is, Benue people have been reduced to a state of anomie because our people are left to suffer unduly in the hands of their enemies.
“The bottom line is that there are refugees in Borno and Benue states and the federal government has chosen to respond to the needs of refugees in Borno while those in Benue are being chased out of their ancestral homes.
“While those displaced by Boko Haram have been given billions of Naira to take possession of brand new homes with all modern amenities that make life meaningful, nothing is given to the citizens in the IDPs camps of Benue state. We take strong umbrage at this nauseating double standard.
The classical case of Governor Zulum of Borno state and Samuel Ortom of Benue State must be used to accentuate the contrasting dynamics of statecraft. While Zulum is building, Ortom is looking for funds to feed displaced citizens who have been abandoned by the Federal Government.
“And the “crime” of Benue citizens is that they have refused to give up their ancestral lands to herdsmen and their cows. And for obvious reasons, there is no place for peace in the Benue Valley.
“It will be recalled that the federal government released more than N10 billion for the building of houses for those displaced by Boko Haram and the money has increased dramatically as we speak.
“The displaced people in Benue State have remained in IDPs camps till now and besides the State Government, no one else cares about them. Why is it that people displaced by invasive elements would be left to their fate by a government that pretends to care for the people?
“Refugee camps have been turned into permanent homes to the extent that classrooms are being built there. In Borno state, modern buildings are put in place to house those displaced by Boko Haram. The funds being used in Borno to erect structures for refugees is coming from the federal till. Meanwhile, the camps in Benue are not conducive and it does not bother the federal government.
“What crime have we Benue people committed that we won’t be considered as citizens of this country? The federal government must convince Benue State that it is still part of the country. The insult and marginalization must stop now.”
They urged the federal government to be sincere in handling the issue of IDPs and as a matter of urgency release, the N10billion promised by the Vice President when he visited the state in 2018 for the reconstruction of communities affected by the herdsmen crisis.