By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has reiterated the resolve of the state to kick against the reintroduced Water Resources bill before the National Assembly.
Recall that the controversial bill which had in the past generated so much heat in the country after it was introduced in the National Assembly but eventually withdrawn, was few days ago reintroduced in the House of Representatives by the Chairman of the Committee on Water Resources, Sada Soli (APC, Katsina).
Governor Ortom who reacted to the development weekend in Makurdi while flagging off the distribution of improved seeds and seedlings to farmers in the 23 Local Government Areas, LGAs, of the state said the bill was another form of Ruga and would be unacceptable to the people of Benue state.
He noted that by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, Governors were the custodians of the land which they hold in trust for the people assuring that no one would take away any portion of Benue land under any guise.
The Governor said: “We will resist the reintroduction of the Water Resources Bill.
The federal government should go and concentrate and manage the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, because even if other states accept it, Benue state would not support it.
“It is an evil bill by the federal government to take over the river banks and allow herdsmen from other parts of Africa to take over the Benue Valley.
“I want to therefore urge Benue indigenes to rise up and reject the bill because it is targeted at taking over our ancestral heritage. In their attempt take over our inheritance they came with Ruga, Cattle colony among others. But the people behind this plot can be rest assured that Benue people will resist any attempt to take over our land and water resources through any guise.”
The Governor who commeded the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftancy Affairs for initiating the intervention advised Benue people to to take advantage of the government’s agricultural policies and support programmes to farm and cultivate crops in any available space in order to boost all year food production in the state noting that the state was blessed with fertile land that supports the massive production of food and cash crops including onion and water melon “which we are now producing in large quantity in Benue state.”
Earlier, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, whose office is supervising the intervention, Mr. Ken Achabo said the improved seedlings would boost the farm yields of farmers in the state thereby improve their livelihoods.
He commended Governor Ortom for his relentless efforts to ensure that Benue people were not chased away from their ancestral land by armed herders stressing that the agricultural policies of the government had help boost food production in the state.
The improved seeds flagged-off for distribution include, 6,900 bags of rice, 833 bags of maize, 1,000 tins of watermelon seeds, 333 bags of sorghum and 11,000 bundles of cassava stems.