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APC, PDP Differ On Ortom’s Performance

Samuel Ortom as the Governor of Benue State
Samuel Ortom as the Governor of Benue State.
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December 06, (THEWILL) – Benue State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC has raised an alarm that the PDP- led Samuel Ortom administration has ruined the state through poor performance, even as the PDP in a swift reaction, described APC as crying wolf over nothing.

At a news conference in Makurdi, tagged: “The current state of events in Benue State”, the party said, it is greatly dismayed with the manner at which Governor Samuel Ortom and his supporters have been clutching at straws to foist the reasons for his poor performance on Senator George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.

The State chairman – elect of APC in Benue, Mr. Austin Agada, pointed out that the recent onslaught against the leader of APC in the state, Senator Akume was a mere tactics aimed at diverting the eagle eyes of Benue people.

“While we may have tolerated this bashing for so long, governor Ortom has again embarked on a dangerous campaign of calumny, trying so desperately to run down the towering profile of Senator Akume, who is one of the very few former governors without criminal records.

“The target of this campaign of calumny, we ultimately know is to lower Senator Akume who is highly celebrated by many Nigerians in the eyes of the public thereby, weakening his chances of emerging as the National Chairman of the APC, now that majority of members across all country are clamouring for his emergence to the exalted position”.

According to Mr. Agada, the fraud allegations currently leveled against Senator Akume by Governor Ortom is clearly an act of political witch – hunt; asking why conjure a haphazard probe report about the Akume’s administration of many years now.

“Same government had leveled N107bn allegations against former governor Gabriel Suswam’s administration but later nullified same. Will the same government not overrule itself tomorrow over this frivolous report that seeks to indict Senator Akume today”. He asked.

According to the APC chairman – elect, allegations raised by the PDP government against Senator Akume is merely another diversionary tactics to take away Benue people’s eyes off another tranche of over N18 bn bailout federal government is to release to the State.

“This, Governor Samuel Ortom has become strangely more loquacious and hostile, not just to his benefactor, Senator Akume but also to the Benue civil servants and pensioners he refused to pay their salaries and pensions; the internally displaced persons (IDPs) he described as those stealing from his cassava farm; and now, rudely referring to all Benue people as drunkards who idly start drinking as early as 9am daily”.

APC notes with regret that rather than employ Benue people, the Ortom administration has perfidiously sacked thousands of youths who did their internship at the Benue Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), and were absorbed into the Benue State civil service by his predecessor.

“Governor Ortom also sacked many other civil servants as ghost workers without employing others, an act that has skyrocketed the rate of unemployment in the state. Despite all the sacks, the salary wage bill of Benue under his administration has rather climbed to over N7bn based on his claims”.

“What has Governor Ortom done to take the Benue man off the street and alcohol in the last 6 years. What has been the social intervention programme of his administration when businesses are rather closing down due to multiple taxations? This Government should be ashamed that despite its deliberate impoverishment of the state, Benue people can still afford a bottle of beer to sip and forget their poverty and misery”.

The APC further alleged that no sector of the Benue economy seems to be working as workers are currently owed about seven months salary arrears, while primary school teachers and local government staff are owed for over one year, with pensioners owed for over 32 months arrears as well as gratuity.

While alleging that Benue farmers are denied farm inputs to boost their food production and remaining subsistence level in this modern age, the party notes with dismay that

the Ortom administration lacks the capacity and basic ideas on how best to develop the state and should not be allowed another chance to succeed itself in 2023.

“It is on this note that we reiterate our earlier call on all officials in the Ortom administration to honourably resign and live their lives, rather than continue to smile while suffering and deceiving themselves that they are in government”.

The party therefore, advised Governor Ortom to face the herculean task of governance before him in the remaining phase of his administration and avoid the careless affront on President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Akume and the suffering population of Benue state that he branded as drunkards.

It said, history has recorded that the Ortom administration is the worst that Benue State has ever experienced since its creation in 1976.

However, the PDP in a reaction, advised former Benue state Governor, and Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume to be ready to answer financial crimes unearthed by the Audit about his stewardship as governor rather than sponsoring what it described as ‘unworthy’ press conferences.

“It is the position of Benue PDP that senator Akume should do the needful by availing himself to answer those cases of financial crimes unearthed against him by the audit report rather than resorting to sponsoring press conferences”.

In a statement, the State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Bemgba Iortyom, said, crying wolf about the audit report as being a witch-hunt is immaterial, noting that due process of law requires Senator Akume to prove his innocence before a competent authority when call upon to do so.

According to Iortyom, the claimed that APC won the 2019 governorship election in Benue State but were robbed of the victory, was only a fiction, pointing out that, as at the conclusion, the rejection of APC was overwhelming such that the party came third distant from PDP, rather it was the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which came second by winning 2 seats in the House of Representatives.

The PDP said, the fact that the governor is about to receive a bailout loan from the Federal Government for his administration won’t gag him from speaking on issues such as where his farm produce are being stolen or where he is alarmed at the negative tendency being indulged in by opposition elements with habitual alcoholism exercise.

Mr. Iortyom linked the current backlog of salaries and pension arrears to the tenure of George Akume who served as governor from 1999 to 2007, during which salaries and pensions were owed workers for no justifiable reasons.

“The Akume era as governor witnessed numerous external intervention funding to the state for purposes of ecological, educational as well as social amenities development, yet there was scarcely any projects executed commensurate to those funds, which were rather channeled to oiling a loose, irresponsible and extravagant lifestyle in official circles”. He alleged. ##

According to him, it is the consequences of such a wasteful era that the Suswam administration battled with and passed on to the Ortom administration which is currently in the midst of hugely depleted revenue inflow coupled with debilitating security challenges, but is still managing to pay salaries on a regular monthly basis, since 2018.

“The Ortom administration has also taken head-on the monster of pensions arrears it inherited by domesticating the Pensions Law in the state by which to plug into the pool of funds reserved for automated payment of pensions nationwide, thereby eliminating the problems faced by retirees when they leave the civil service”.

The PDP Publicity Secretary, said, the fact that Senator Akume is nursing ambition to run for any office anywhere in the world does not confer on him immunity from accounting for his stewardship at previous offices he held or the one he is presently occupying.

“It is the position of Benue PDP that Akume should do the honourable needful by availing himself to answer to those cases of financial crimes so unearthed against him by the audit rather than resorting to sponsoring press conferences read by the purported state ‘chairman’ of APC.

“Crying wolf about the audit report being a witch-hunt is totally immaterial as due process of law requires senator Akume to prove his innocence before a competent authority when called upon to do so”.

Debunking claims that APC won the 2019 elections in Benue State but were robbed of the victory, Mr. Iortyom explained that PDP came top and followed by All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) with two seats in the House of Representatives, while the APC lagged behind.

He said the fact that the governor is about to receive a bailout loan for his administration won’t gag him from speaking on issues including where his farm produce are being stolen or where he is alarmed at the negative tendency being indulged in by opposition elements in habitual alcoholism exercise.

Mr. Iortyom linked the root of backlog of salary and pension arrears to the tenure of Senator George Akume who served as governor of Benue state from 1999 to 2007, during which time emoluments were owed workers for no justifiable reason.

“The Akume era as governor witnessed numerous external intervention funding to the state for purposes of ecological, educational as well as social amenities development, yet there was scarcely any projects executed commensurate to those fundings, which were rather channeled to oiling a loose, irresponsible and extravagant lifestyle in official circles”, he alleged.