The Coalition of Southern and Middle Belt Youth Leaders Assembly, COSMBYLA, the umbrella body of all the youth groups in the South East, South South, South West and Middle Belt region has called out Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The group said they are disappointed with Atiku over his comment regarding the security situation in Benue State and other parts of the country.
Abubakar was quoted during the week as saying that he was angry with Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, accusing him of “profiling Fulani as bandits and terrorists.”
COSMBYLA noted that in the last few days, more than 50 innocent people have been killed by armed herdsmen in Gbeji community of Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State with many others injured and hundreds displaced from their ancestral homes.
The group wonders why despite all this the former vice president is more concerned about frivolities and blaming Governor Ortom and accusing him of profiling Fulani.
“What does he expect a Governor who has not known peace since he took over government in 2015 to do when Fulani killers have come out repeatedly to take responsibility for the attacks on Benue State?
“We want to ask Atiku what he would have done if given the gory circumstances that Governor Ortom has found himself in, having to bury hundreds of his people every year after they are hacked down by marauding Fulani herders. Is profiling more important than the lives of Nigerians?
“Atiku has furtively declared support for the Fulani Jihadists and terrorists parading as herdsmen who have made it a duty to be killing indigenous Nigerians on daily basis in Benue State, Ondo state, South East states and other parts of the country.
“It is very unfortunate that a former Vice President of the country who should be a statesman and nationalistic in his statements, conduct and approach will condescend so low to promote tribal and ethnic sentiments,” the group said.
According to them, the statements expose the former Vice President as one who is contesting to be President of Fulani Republic and not that of Nigeria.
“He is apparently seeking the opportunity to empower his tribe – the Fulanis to continue their onslaught against innocent Nigerians and the takeover of their ancestral lands. He will be worse than Buhari!” The group added in a statement signed by Hon. Goodluck Ibem, President General, COSEYL; Shittu Waheed, a Coordinator, SWYLF; Terrence Kuanum, Coordinator, Forum of Middle Belt Youth Presidents; Tito Zokumor
“Atiku should be called to explain to Nigerians what he knows about the killings by these merchants of deaths in human skin who have brought untold hardship to Nigerians. Atiku truly has questions to answer. He has never for once condemned the atrocities of his Fulani kinsmen,” they added.
“Atiku’s silence all these years that the killings by the Fulani terrorists and Jihadists have been going on, is a tacit approval of their wicked and demonic operations in the country.
“It beats our imagination how a supposed statesman will be happy that an entire state of Benue is marked for extinction by his kinsmen because they refused to hand over their ancestral lands to them for open cattle grazing which is an outdated form of animal farming and practice.
“It is surprising that Atiku’s reason of being angry with Governor Ortom which he openly confessed is because the Governor has doggedly stood in defense of his people and has repeatedly spoken against the killings of his people by Fulani terrorists and Jihadists.
“Ortom’s strong and fierce defense in ensuring that his people are not wiped out of the face of the earth by Fulani terrorists finally confirmed that the man who is privileged to be the holder of the title “Zege Mule u Tiv” is not really the shade under which the Tiv people can seek refuge.
“We condemn Atiku’s comments against the Benue State Governor and demand that he publicly apologizes to Governor Ortom, Benue people and all other Nigerians for his insensitivity and selfishness.
“While we await Atiku’s apology, we call on the Executive Governor of Benue State to remain firm in ensuring that Benue people are protected from attacks by Fulani terrorists and Jihadists. He should not be discouraged by the unfortunate and reckless statements of Atiku.
“In 2023, we the voters in this country will speak to all the presidential candidates in the language they will understand, depending on what each of them represents.”