Herdsmen: Bauchi, Benue Governors embrace peace

Wike, left, and Fintiri, reconcile Ortom and Mohammed

Richard Elesho/ Lokoja

After nearly three weeks of intense mutual verbal assaults, a ceasefire has been archived between the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed and his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom. A peace accord was reached in far away Rivers State Government House in Port Harcourt on Tuesday with the two men embracing each other after a meeting.

The two Governors had opened on all cylinders over activities of criminal Herdsmen which have fuelled insecurity across the country.

Mohammed rose in strong defence of the Herdsmen describing them as an endangered specie that needed to bear arm for self defence. He described the Fulani as a “global citizen” and that no one owns “any forest, the forest is owned by Nigeria.” He said a harder carries AK-47 to defend himself and protect his animals.

During a programme of the Correspondence Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in Bauchi, Mohammed also accused his Benue colleague of painting Fulani herders with the tar of criminality and leading the verbal assaults against them.

In response, Ortom accused his traducer of being a terrorist and threatening his life.

“I am beginning to think that my brother, the governor of Bauchi State is part of the terrorist Fulani organisation that is terrorising this country.

“Why do I say this? This is the same Governor who took the oath of office to protect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This constitution does not leave room for allowing foreign herdsmen to come in without valid papers.

To prevent the matter from degenerating further, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP to which both Governors belong waded into the matter. The party disclosed this in a series of twits on Monday 22 February.

It said, “@OfficialPDPNig assures that it has waded into the rift between Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, and his Benue State counterpart, Governor Samuel Ortom.

“@OfficialPDPNig calls for calm as the internal reconciliation mechanism introduced by the hierarchy of the party between the two governors subsists.

Three days after the tweets, Governor Diri of Bayelsa State followed up with a peace visit to Bauchi. On Thursday 25th February, Diri extracted an understanding from the Bauchi Governor.

Muhammed promised to cooperate and reduce the tension and he gave the assurance that no words would be heard on the matter again. He also seized the opportunity to  apologise to all Governors, the national assembly, his constituents and all Nigerians.

He said, “There is no disharmony between me and my brother and my friend in Benue, we are just having the courage to discourse a burning National issue and I am happy that Nigerians have the opportunity, to discourse the issue and we are going to do everything on my own part to make sure we disedcalate the issue that it will not bring injury to our party and to national unity.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his Adamawa State counterpart, Ahmadu Fintiri wrapped up the peace efforts on Tuesday. Both men met with their feuding colleagues at Wike’s private residence in Port Harcourt. The Governors were said to have agreed to sheath their swords in the public interest.