Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said he would not hesitate to give land to any Fulani man who intends to do livestock business through ranching.
Speaking in Abuja at the 72nd birthday of Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher, former Nigerian Ambassador to Mexico, Ortom dismissed the insinuation that he is on a war path with Fulanis.
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He said historically, the people of the state have always been friends with the Fulani.
The governor reiterated that his government would not back down on the anti-grazing law, arguing that ranching remains the best practice.
Ortom spoke through his Commissioner of Education, Dennis Ityavyar, at the event former students, friends and colleagues of the celebrant put together in his honour.
He said, ”The Tiv people are historically the friends of the Fulanis and I like to submit that, that friendship still exists. And so, I warn those people, who are either using politics or those who are criminals and trying to sell what’s wrong to people.
”His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom has explained again and again that we, Benue people are not against Fulani. We’re still friends.
”He has taken a decision now to be deliberate in explaining to people that the establishment of the anti-open grazing bill or law is a very progressive idea which is done in almost all countries of the world.
”Those who have a lot of cattle are still using ranching, and any Fulani person who wants to establish a ranching in Benue will have the land. Even if our ‘Chairman’ wants to start a ranch, he will get the land today.
”We will give you land and start the ranching today, so that people will see it as model and wherever we go, we want to correct the impression because if you read history, you will see that we have always been friends with Fulani.”
In an interview with journalists shortly after the programme, the celebrant, who is a Professor of Theatre for Development, called on well-meaning Nigerians to say the truth to power always.
He said those scared of speaking the truth to power can do that through Nollywood actors, who will put up the stories in acting and present it to the leaders in parable.