As I watched Governor Simon Lalong, of Plateau State tear Samuel Ortom, his Benue State counterpart to pieces on Thursday evening, I could not but wonder at the pathetic level of leadership in Nigeria.
By that Thursday night, an internecine crisis, perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen had led to the gruesome murder of tens of people from Benue State and Ortom was running from pillar to post seeking help and answers.
From trips to Abuja back to Markurdi , to Logo and Guma local government areas that had been turned into human abattoirs, Ortom had become a sorry image of what a state governor should be. Not only did many Nigerians feel that the Benue State first citizen was not handling the situation well, the marauders carried on like they had justification to take laws into their own hands.
President of the Benue State branch of Myetti Allah Breeders Association, Garus Gololo told a correspondent of BBC News (Pidgin) that The problem started when some people tried to rustle their cows, while they were emigrating from the state to some neighbouring states. Gololo was quoted as saying: “While we were trying to relocate to Taraba State, through Nassarawa State to the border town of Nengere, some rustlers came and stole about 1,000 cows from us and we have to fight back.”
In spite of this first hand testimony from the perpetrators of the killings which was then spreading into other Taraba State, Lalong indicated in an interview with reporters after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari that the killings resulted from the anti-grazing law in force in Benue State. Not satisfied, he claimed to have discouraged Lalong from going ahead with the anti-grazing law.
Although he tried to portray himself as the wise Solomon who got the best handle on things in the circumstance, what I saw was a pitiable man as Lalong voiced out his noxious opinion.
For starters, even if he had offered the said advice to Ortom and the latter had turned him down, a leader of his status should keep that information, capable of further escalating tension to himself at that particular time. More than that, the Plateau State Governor was sharing this position, which has now been described as falsehood by Ortom, on the same day that the Benue State Government was burying victims of the mindless killings.
Not only did Lalong and other governors in the region refuse to join the people of Benue at the burial of these innocent souls, he added pain to the grave situation by discrediting a law which the people of Benue State were united about.
To now think that the discussion Lalong alleged he had with Ortom never happened. According to the Benue governor when he hosted a delegation of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF): “yesterday, somebody drew my attention that he (Lalong) made a comment that he warned me not to implement the law and I was wondering if my colleague from Plateau state could say that; so I called him and he told me he did not say it”
So, I am wondering what he had to gain by lying about this situation as we saw on Channels Television on Thursday. And why would governors in this region not come together to find a common solution to dealing with this threat to lives and property in their states. One governor is even going about visiting the president and coming out to tell unfounded stories that help no one?