Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang has given reasons why the President did not react instantly to the herdsmen/farmers’ clashes in Benue State that had resulted in deaths of many.
The presidential aide, who briefed Buhari Project Group, comprising of Buhari Media Support group and other Buhari/Osinbajo coalition groups, on issues that have been misinterpreted by some sections of Nigerians, said the President waited to have the full report about the situation before going public.
“There were allegations of herdsmen being infiltrated by insurgents to cause the mayhem in Benue State; there were other allegations that foreigners from neighbouring countries were part of it. So, the President had to get the clear picture of what was actually going on.”
Enang said that it is not true that President Buhari did not do anything or did very little while the killings were being perpetrated in Benue, adding that, “the President preferred to do more and talk less.”
He referred to a letter which the president wrote to the Senate in response to the Senate’s earlier letter demanding to know what he had done so far on the issue of Benue killings.
Senator Enang also said it was wrong to continue to blame the president on the issue of land for grazing or cattle colonies in the states of the federation, adding that by the provisions of the land use Act of 1978, which are reflected in the constitution, that have not been amended, the president has no power over land.
He said that even though the constitution spelt out the fact that state and local governments should provide land for, among others, grazing, but that President Buhari only appealed to governors to implement such constitutional provisions.
“In a federal system of government we are practicing, there are certain things that the president cannot do, and that is why he is being cautious so that the same people that are accusing him now of not doing those things would not also blow grammar if he does them.”
The explanation, he said, became necessary so as to enable the support groups to carry the message down to the grassroots as the nation prepares for the 2019 general elections.
On the criticism and advice by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo that Buhari should shun the general elections in 2019, he welcomed the ex-president’s advice, saying he was merely acting as a referee in the whole process leading to next year’s election.