Benue Youth Forum says supporters of the Peoples Democratic Presidential candidate must be blamed for the crisis that occured at the Governor Samuel Ortom’s senatorial campaign flag-off yesterday in Gboko local government area.
Terrence Kuanum, President of the group stated in a statement that: “While we don’t support violence in any form, we call on youths to desist from acts of sabotage that tend to insult the sensibilities of those who have directly or indirectly fallen victim of the invasion of Benue State by armed Fulani herdsmen.”
The statement reads in parts: “We are saddened and concerned with the unfortunate and unnecessary attempt by some youths to disrupt the campaign flag-off organized yesterday 29th November 2022 by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Gboko Local Government Area for its 2023 senatorial election.
“Some youths apparently sponsored by the camp of the Presidential Candidate of the PDP in Benue State, Alhaji Abubakar stormed JS Tarka Stadium, venue of the rally chanting war songs.
“Our findings have revealed that most of the young people who attempted to disrupt the PDP Gboko campaign flag-off were not even from the Benue Northwest Senatorial District, also known as Zone B.
“That action by the young men and women who were dressed in T-shirts and other campaign insignia bearing Alhaji Atiku’s names and pictures led to a conflict between them and some people who are not happy with his (Atiku’s) silence over the killings in Benue State by Fulani herdsmen.
“That indiscretion and insensitivity which triggered an attack on the youths by some aggrieved victims and families of those who lost loved ones in the incessant carnage unleashed on the people by Fulani herdsmen was uncalled for.
The Zone B Senatorial Dustrict of Benue State is the worst hit by activities of terrorists and Fulani militia who have enjoyed the sympathy of the Presidential Candidate of the PDP.
“So, it was not tidy for anyone to lead a battalion of youths to the ground where the party was flagging off its Zone B campaign in a manner that suggested an invitation for war.
“Benue Youth Forum applauds Governor Samuel Ortom for his show of maturity and uncommon leadership in the face of repeated provocations and vilification by enemies of Benue State. The Governor had exhibited qualities of a leader who is selfless and cares about his people and is prepared to stand with them through thick and thin. For Governor Ortom, politics is not a cut-throat affair. He has always admonished his people to hold onto the true tenets of democracy, and he has often tasked the national leadership of the PDP to utilize the internal conflict resolution mechanism to end the lingering crisis rocking the party. That’s how a true patriot shows leadership.
“It was therefore unfortunate that anyone could contemplate the idea of disrupting the campaign flag-off of a peace-builder like Governor Ortom in his senatorial district.
“We commend the organizers of the event in Gboko for rising to the occasion and preventing what might have led to total breakdown of order as a result of the invasion of the venue by sponsored political thugs and street urchins.
“We must not fail to tell Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to call his supporters in Benue to order and advise them to desist from acts capable of igniting tension or escalating the already charged political atmosphere in Benue state.
“The group equally expects the PDP Presidential candidate to be bold in condemning the persistent destruction of lives and property in Benue and call for the arrest of those behind the acts to give the people the hope that he shall tackle the menace headlong if elected president.
“For now, Atiku’s loud silence and clandestine justification of the actions of the terrorists only emboldens them to continue with the massacre even as they have already killed people in their thousands, destroyed properties worth billions of naira and displaced over two million people, thereby causing a monumental humanitarian crisis in the state.
“We once again caution the youths against being used by the enemies of the state to mock those who have been affected one way or the other by the ethnic cleansing being perpetrated in the Benue Valley.
“We once more commend Governor Ortom for standing firm in defence of the Benue Valley at all times unlike those politicians who have sold out for peanuts and fleeting political survival.
“The BYF encourages the Governor to remain on track as the conscience of the nation and defender of democracy and human rights as posterity would be kind to him for standing for the truth, justice, equity and fairness at all times.
“As the political campaigns gather momentum and become intense, we urge the youths particularly to shun those who are out to use them as pawns on the political chessboard especially those who hate Benue people with passion.”