WASHINGTON DC, USA – Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has said that strengthening Nigeria’s democratic and economic institutions was pivotal to overcoming the challenges facing the country.
The Governor stated this on Wednesday in Washington DC, at the forum on deepening democratic governance in Nigeria, organized by United States Institute of Peace, USIP.
He said a holistic approach backed by sincerity of leadership at all levels would not only help in making Nigeria’s institutions strong but also end impunity which has hindered the country’s greater development.
The Governor also identified youth unemployment as a major cause of crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping and cultism, stating that greater collaboration between the federal and state governments could create job opportunities for young Nigerians.
He informed the forum about steps the Benue State Government is taking to reduce unemployment through agriculture and entrepreneurship development.
Governor Ortom, however, urged USIP and other international organisations to support states such as Benue which have made laws to prohibit open grazing of livestock and are promoting ranching as the best method of animal husbandry. He insisted that nomadic cattle grazing is no longer practicable in a country densely populated as Nigeria.
Speaking earlier, Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, said restructuring would put the country on a faster lane of growth, arguing that the current structure which centralizes power in Abuja has not yielded the desired results.
Former INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, in his contribution, advocated constant engagements in the media on the need for unity and the pursuit of common goals to proffer solutions to Nigeria’s challenges.
Former Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff,
Martin Luther Agwai, called for renewed vigour in conflict resolution efforts, saying Nigerians must consider the task of addressing their challenges as collective responsibility.
Ambassador Johnnie Carson of USIP who moderated the session, thanked participants for their frank perspectives. He expressed optimism that the conversation would foster inclusive policies that could mitigate violence in Nigeria and help democracy to grow.