Samuel Ortom Governor of Benue State said, yesterday, that the state belongs to President Muhammadu Buhari.
This is even as the president announced that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, will soon commence drilling for a deeper search for oil and gas in the Benue trough. The governor, who stated this while receiving the president who was on a campaign in the state at Nigerian Airforce Base, Makurdi, also said the president could do whatever he wished in the state, being the President of Nigeria. He said: “He is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and whatever he is doing, it is our responsibility to give him adequate protocol. “He is our President, and this is beyond party… so I am doing all the needful. There is no special thing in what I am doing, it is what I am supposed to do as governor of Benue State, irrespective of party because he remains my President and I respect him. “I have no personal issues with him; we talk about policies and issues, there is no personal grudge. So, I am here to receive him, and I have made adequate arrangement. This state belongs to Mr President. So he has access, he can be here and do whatever he wants.” Ortom defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in July, having fallen out with the Federal Government. Speaking while addressing traditional rulers at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Makurdi, President Buhari announced that NNPC will soon commence drilling for a deeper search for oil and gas in the Benue Trough. He said the oil and gas drilling search in the Benue Tough will be the next after commencement of drilling in Kolmani River area, located within Bauchi and Gombe states. He recalled that as Minister of Petroleum in the 70s, he had seen “very interesting seismic surveys” that revealed discovery of oil and gas from the Chad Basin through the Benue Trough down to the Delta region. According to him, for mostly commercial reasons, investment was directed to Niger Delta, given the promise of quicker results. He narrated past efforts by him as Military Head of State to diversify the country’s sources of oil to strengthen its unity, promising that his administration will intensify efforts in this direction. Buhari welcomed the observation by the Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Professor James Ayatse, that peace had been restored to Benue State and the fact that he had so far conducted a decent and a peaceful campaign. The President promised to look at requests for more roads, bridges and tertiary institutions made by the royal father. Earlier, the Tor Tiv had expressed appreciation to Buhari for the manner he had conducted a peaceful campaign, without riots, violence, stressing that the president had set good example. “We had a challenging time in 2016. Thanks for your intervention, for accepting our appeal to step up security. Operation Whirl Strike has succeeded in chasing away violent herders.” He also called for a closer look at the border to stop “criminals and bandits” from crossing into Nigeria.