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Plateau PDP, Jang, others chide Lalong over utterances against Ortom

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Simon Bako Lalong

• Lalong Was Misunderstood, Says Group
The Plateau State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the senator representing Plateau North in the National Assembly, Jonah David Jang, have scolded Governor Simon Bako Lalong over his comments in an interview in Abuja on Thursday, in which he claimed to have warned Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on enacting a law against open grazing in the state, urging him (Lalong) to apologise to Ortom and Benue people over the verbal attacks.

However, in a swift reaction, Plateau Regeneration Group (PRG), led by Chol Badung Chuhwak, said the reactions to Lalong’s comment were only a storm in a teacup, saying the governor was quoted out of context.

PDP and Jang, in two separate statements, described Lalong’s statement on a day over 70 victims of herdsmen attacks were being buried as “mindless and senseless.”

In a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. John Akans, PDP said: “Rather than proceed to Benue State on his return from vacation abroad to commiserate with our brothers and sisters, following the massacre of innocent lives and the rendering of thousands homeless, he (Lalong) chose to embark on a misadventure of trying to woo Mr. President to visit Plateau State to endorse his second term bid.

‘He chose to berate Ortom on a day when those killed by the Fulani herdsmen were being given a mass burial, bragging that he advised him not to implement the anti-open grazing law.

“To impress his ‘oga at the top’ and State House press, he said he restored peace in the state within three months of his coming to office, dismissing the recent killings that took place in the last three months in Barkin Ladi, Ryom and Bassa Councils, in which over 50 persons were killed.”

The PDP also said Lalong lied by saying the people of Plateau have embraced the ranching policy of the federal government, adding: “If indeed, the policy was embraced, Lalong has failed to mention where the ranches are located in the state.

«He has also failed to mention which law put the ranching policy in the state in place. It is on record that when he toyed with the idea of ranching on the Plateau, all the critical stakeholders and segments of society roundly condemned same, insisting that land belongs to individuals and traditional communities and cannot be forcefully taken away from them.

“The cheap outpouring at the Presidential Villa has clearly exposed Lalong as one who has no interest in delivering democracy dividend. Rather, he is simply in pursuit of his selfish political interests.

‘As a lawyer, we expect him to know that land is owned by families and traditional communities and that there are intricate processes before acquisition and so should have taken time to consult widely before rushing to Chief Audu Ogbe’ s office.”

Jang, in a press statement signed by his media consultant, Clinton Garuba, said: “At a time when the mood of the nation, nay, the states that have continued to suffer decapitation in the hands of marauding killer herdsmen should be sober, it is unfortunate that someone of Lalong’s standing will utter words that will be an insult on the sensitivity of the people, especially of Benue State.

“This is unfortunate, not only coming from the governor, but also on a day when the government and people of Benue held a mass burial for hapless women and children murdered on the first day of the year, ordinarily a day of jubilation.

“While the people of Benue were at the funeral of their lost brethren, Lalong, in his usual manner, was playing to the gallery in Abuja, with a view to currying cheap political points and portray himself as an insider of the Buhari administration.

“At times when one lacks what to say or would say what is irrelevant, especially in calming frayed nerves, silence becomes golden. When people who trot around as leaders cannot conduct themselves in that manner, it is only a pointer to the fact that they were never prepared at all for leadership.

“Thankfully, the days and months ahead lead us to another electioneering period and with the wisdom Nigerians now have, having suffered all kinds of hardship, including escalating insecurity occasioned by herdsmen, it is only a matter of time before the right people will be put in the right places of authority.”

But Chuhwak said: what Lalong actually meant in the interview was that implementing a policy, like ban on open grazing, without alternative measures would be counter- productive.

“For example, if you ban traders from trading on the streets, let us take for instance, the street of Terminus in Jos, as a responsible government, you must have provided an alternative market for them to move to, because if not, no matter how you chase them from the streets, they would still come back due to lack of where to go, and that has a tendency of creating conflicts between them and the security saddled with the enforcement of the ban.

“As a group, we berate those who have taken to the social media to make negative statements and draw political points out of the unfortunate situation in Benue, while the pains in the grieving hearts of the victims were still fresh.

“We want to assure the people of Plateau State and indeed all Nigerians that dialogue around all the options for peaceful coexistence amongst all citizens remains the best solution to any situation that is a threat to peace in the country.”


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