By Celestine Ajayi
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Sunday visited Benue State and donated N50 million to support Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the north-central state.
Speaking during a courtesy call on Governor Samuel Ortom, Atiku also called for more support for IDPs.
The former vice president also recalled how he led the first-ever private sector contribution to the fight against the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic which elicited and encouraged others to support the course.
While calling for peaceful co-existence between the Fulanis and other tribes in the state and country, he warned against ethnic profiling, especially of criminals.
He equally commended the administration of Governor Ortom for his peacebuilding efforts in Benue, calling on leaders to bring every Nigerian together, regardless of their religious, political, and ethnic differences.
The former vice president said he told the governor that since his last visit to Benue in 2019, he has always wished to see the IDP camps.
“I don’t label anybody, either ethnically or religiously. As leaders, we should try as much as possible to bring all our people together to understand themselves,” he said.
“The other time I visited the IDPs camp in 2019, since then I have not returned. I want to announce my own donation for their upkeep of N50 million.
“Let me recall at the beginning of the corona pandemic. I was one of the first initial donors in the private sector. My donation was not the highest, it was also N50 million. After that, so many donations came into billions.”
Responding, Ortom disclosed that former vice-president Atiku Abubakar abandoned the people of the state during their trying times.
Speaking during the visit, Ortom said Abubakar should have visited the state when residents were under repeated attacks.
The governor said the visit of the former vice-president — who holds the highest chieftaincy title in the state — is “long overdue”.
“Your visit to Benue as the ‘Zege Mule U Tiv’ is long overdue. But it’s better late than never. You are in your home and we are happy to receive you,” the governor said.
But let me say here that our people were not happy that you didn’t visit when terrorist groups were attacking and killing the people in Benue.”
Ortom alleged that the federal government is treating the killing of Benue residents by suspected herders with levity.
He expressed optimism that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will salvage the country in 2023.
On his part, the former vice-president said he was unable to visit the state earlier because he was out of the country for further education.