From: Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Stakeholders in Benue state have demanded an apology from President, Muhammadu Buhari for not condoling families of protesters that lost their lives during the #EndSARS protests across the country.
They however, commended the proactive step deployed by the State Governor, Samuel Ortom in ensuring that youths in the state did not engage in looting and destruction of property, while the protests lasted.
Earlier, in his welcome address at the Stakeholders’ meeting, Governor Ortom noted that some of the issues raised were as a result of accummulated wrongs meted on people as well as issues that were left unattended to by successive governments.
The Governor noted that at a critical time like this, leaders must engage youths and leave no gap, otherwise, the situation may consume both the leaders and the led.
He also explained that during the protests, government had sleepless nights pondering on the security situation and calming youths, not to go violent, no matter the provocation.
He further appealed to stakeholders at the occasion to lay aside their political difference and tackle the issue at hand.
Minister for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affair, Senator George Akume lamented the damage done on the nation’s economy, adding that government was however working on a welfare package to cushion the effect of the damage done.
The Minister who represented President Buhari at the occasion, lamented that even though SARS started well, it derailed in its functions when it began to engage in extrajudicial killings, an issue that has made some persons to be engaged in pyschological trauma.
He reeled out some youth initiatives, embarked upon by the Buhari administration including Central Bank Anchor Borrowers’ programme, N-Power, Small Medium Enterprises SMES amongst other
Also speaking, HRH, the Tor Tiv, Orchivirigh, Prof. James Ayatse observed that if the intervention by the federal government had touched the lives of the people, the reaction wouldn’t have been what was witnessed during the protests.
The Paramount ruler stressed the need for quick and decisive steps to be taken to avert any ugly situation.
While, he appealed to Buhari to look at his intervention and ensure that the actual implementation of his programmes were done, he appealed to youths in the state to employ restraint and allow government to sort out the issue.
The Och’Idoma Agabaidu Elias Ikoyi Obekpa urged the youths to engage in entrepreneurship rather than wait on government for jobs, stressing the need to revert to technical education in our education curriculum.
Josephine Habba of Jireh-Doo Foundation, who spoke on behalf of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the state called on President Muhammadu Buhari to tender an unreserved apology to families of youths that were killed during the #EndSARS protests.
She stressed that had the President responded promptly to the demands of the youths, lives wouldn’t have been lost.
The Activist warned that the #EndSARS had shown that since youths cannot obtain court judgements to get government to act, they would get the youths would get their judgements on the streets.
In his remarks, Wantaregh Pa Paul Unongo who noted that he was at the meeting to encourage the governor, urged the governor not to relent in his efforts.
He urged the nation’s leaders to have listening ear to issues raised by the youths, adding that the President may have laudable programmmes, but the implementation are late and as such he should be proactive.