…Justifies Declaration of Fridays as Public Holidays
Chris Steven, Abuja
Benue State Governor,Samuel Ortom has said he has given directive to security agencies to go after criminals terrorizing the state.
He said the directive was in view of the expiration of the state’s amnesty programme just as he alleged that the immediate past Governor of the state, Gabreil Suswan promoted criminality, through illegal arms proliferation,a development that the current administration was trying to curtail.
Ortom who was at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday to discuss with the Acting President,Yemi Osinbajo on security issues in Benue state,said he had to cut short his vacation because of the challenges which criminals were constituting in the state.
“The amnesty programme succeeded because more than 800 young people came out and surrendered. We have in our possession over 600 assorted weapons and ammunition that we collected from these young men.
“The last dispensation believed in violence. My predecessor and his cohorts believed they could take everything by force and they bought these arms and gave to young men. I am appealing to them to still return those arms.
“Now that the carrot approach of the amnesty programme is over, we will now adopt the stick approach.
“We are going to pursue them to their homes. Wherever they are, we are going to arrest them and prosecute them. We are going to go after them fully.
“I have cut short my vacation to address some critical issues of the state, most especially security matters, economic matters, social vices and state matters that require my urgent attention. I have postponed the vacation indefinitely.
“I cannot in any way surrender my state to criminals. I am going to fight them headlong. I am the governor of Benue State, I was duly elected and I have the backing of my people to fight criminals so that we can have a free society to build our economy,”the Governor stated.
He also dismissed critics of his recent policy to declare Fridays as public holidays,saying such critics were reacting from the point of ignorance.
“They are ignorant people. The programme is well received. Benue State has comparative advantage in agriculture.
“Because we are finding it difficult to pay salaries. We are down by four months at the state level and five months at the local government level.
“Coming to a state that is more of civil servants, I have said that I have declared Fridays as public holidays because this is cropping period.
“They should go to the farm between now and the end of July that is cropping period. This can help because no matter how little, whatever they contribute in agriculture will add value to the state economy.
“The people of the state have accepted it very well. Anybody who is criticising this is completely ignorant about the programme.
“In any case, because there are no salaries, you know the morale of workers is even low. Apart from that, the money to prosecute other projects is not there.
“Even when you did not declare Friday, it is as good as they go there and still do nothing.
“I am a farmer and I am demonstrating it. I am going into the farm myself and everybody has keyed into the programme. They are happy.
“Workers were with me yesterday and they expressed appreciation to government to be magnanimous to give them Friday to go to the farms”.