Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Makurdi, the Benue State capital is agog as the presidential campaign train of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar makes a stopover in the state.
There was heavy traffic along major streets of the metropolis especially roads leading from the Makurdi Airport through the popular Wurukum roundabouts up to the Low level to the Benue Government House.
Also, the Aper Aku Stadium, venue of Atiku’s rally is filled to capacity as people from all walks of life from across the 23 local government areas of the state all turned up to witness the event.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar along with his entourage flew into Makurdi Airport around 11am and were received by Governor Samuel Orton in company with Senator David Mark, ex-senator Iyorchia Ayu, and former Governor Gabriel Suswam among other dignitaries.
The entourage thereafter moved to the Government House Markudi to meet the Benue Traditional Council, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other groups.
Atiku who thanked God for the opportunity to meet with the royal fathers, described his visit to Benue as homecoming as a Tiv traditional title holder (Zegemule U Tiv).
He assured the royal fathers that he would not betray the oath of office he took to protect the Tiv nation but would discharge his responsibility to the best of his ability.
While expressing the belief and conviction that Nigeria should practise a true federal system of government, he said it was for that reason that he has continued to advocate for the restructuring of the country to make sure that the responsibility rests more with states and local governments than the federal government.
“This is one issue that will help curtail the challenges of insecurity no matter the colouration,” Atiku said while urging the traditional rulers to reflect on the situation in the country and guide their subjects in the right direction.
On his part, the Chairman, Benue Traditional Council and Paramount ruler of the Tiv nation, Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, told Atiku that Benue people place their security top on the agenda, and they would vote for any presidential candidate who would ensure their security.
“As traditional rulers, we are very close to the people and we are in a better position to speak with you on their challenges. The Benue people want those who will lead them to have security as top on their agenda; someone who will be president must be ready to consider our security.
“The people of the state have suffered for quite sometime now. This is beyond coming to graze but also killing of our people.”
The Tor Tiv noted that there were a lot of misconceptions about the Benue Anti-Open Grazing Law in Benue State. He regretted that people misconstrue it to be anti-Fulani. “It is not true that Benue people don’t want Fulani to come to Benue; it’s not true.
“What we are saying is that we are against open grazing of any kind of livestock so that our farmers will be free to go to their farms without being killed.
“We are not against people coming to our state, but we don’t want to be killed. As you have come, Benue people are listening to you keenly to hear what you will say about their plight,” the Tor Tiv stated.
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