Water bill: Ortom accused of plans to monopolise cattle business across middle-belt

Governor Samuel Ortom of has been accused of plots to monopolise cattle rearing business in the Middle-Belt. 

The Middle Belt Conscience Guard (MBCG) which made this known at a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, also warned the governor not to set the region on with his “inflammatory rhetorics” against the National Water Resources Bill. 

Speaking on behalf of the group, National , Prince Enero, said Ortom’s ancestry and connection to Fulani (grandfather) makes cattle rearing a part of him. 

According to Enero, the governor perceives the Fulanis as a threat to his seemingly booming cattle business which he hoped expand further when he leaves office in 2023. 

The bill initiated in 2019, among other things, seek to establish a regulatory framework for the water resources sector, provide for the equitable and sustainable development management, use and conserve Nigeria’s surface water, groundwater resources and related matters.

Governor Ortom, who has persistently voiced his displeasure, said the bill was anti-federalism aimed to grab lands for pastoralists.

However, MBCG said the governor’s criticism without reaching out to the National Assembly (NASS) was a strategic way of priming Benue people to embrace if the legislation is eventually passed. 

“We are also aware that has 14 representatives in – three in the Senate and 11 in . If he comes down from his high horse and coordinate these representatives to lobby their colleagues in , alone can singularly shut down the National Water Resources Bill,” Enero said. 

“But because Ortom scarcely has any track of cordial relations with anyone, he is not able to wield such influence hence the resort to inflammatory rhetoric without a thought for how this affects the long-term peace and stability of the Middle Belt, including .

“Even if were to go ahead and pass the bill against all protestations, there is room to lobby and mount pressure against Mr. assenting to the document; which must be done responsibly and not the current loutish approach that we have so far seen from the Benue state governor. It is an exercise that is guaranteed to succeed if Ortom can redeem himself on time to appear responsible before his fellow governors to garner for such enterprise. 

“In the most extreme case, the judiciary is there as the last hope of all citizens and Governor Ortom is welcome to approach the law courts to stop the National Water Resources Bill if the amendment passed through and not resort to whipping up sentiment and inciting people to .  

“We are doubtful that Governor Samuel Ortom will avail himself of these legitimate channels of dissention because he is resolved on setting everyone up against peace in the middle belt. Groups that he is sponsoring are coming out to echo his prelude to , which makes it necessary for us to tell him to stop sponsoring mushroom groups to attack the as led by Muhammadu Buhari. The is not contesting any election with Ortom, all Buhari wants is to create an enabling environment for peace, unity, development and progress and equality for all citizens.”

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