Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State says the incessant attacks by suspected herdsmen on farmers and residents of the state have cost the state about N400bn in human, material and agricultural losses.
He said apart from leading to the displacement of thousands of residents of the state, the attacks could also lead to famine, hunger and frustration among the people.
In an exclusive interview with Saturday PUNCH, Mr Ortom said, “It is an unfortunate development and we have lost so much. I’ve told my team to check the impact, and from an interim report that was submitted to me, we have lost about N400bn in terms of human, material and agricultural losses, etc.
“It will take years for us to rebuild and get to where we were. Today, even those that were not affected directly are in pain because the meagre resources budgeted for a year or two or so have been consumed by the IDPs.
“Over 500,000 persons displaced are living with relatives, and then we have another set of over 180,000 persons.”
The governor also lamented that the state economy had suffered a major hit from the crisis and that the huge loss to the state was the reason why he could not keep quiet in the face of opposition to his constant outcry over the attacks.
He added, “Benue State’s economy is serviced by the civil service and actively supported by peasant agriculture, but now they are no more. Our children have not gone to school for seven months and they have stagnated a whole generation and it is very sad and quite destructive, yet they want me to keep quiet. How will I keep quiet?”
“I don’t want to be the governor who presides over dead bodies and IDPs or over people who are frustrated and have no future and hope. I should be giving them hope.”