Ortom Replies Alia: Your Statement Unfortunate, I’m Sad
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom on Friday, replied to the state Governor-Elect, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, over his recent statement about the welfare of workers in the state.
Ortom, who spoke during an interview on Arise Television, said he felt sad about the statement, describing it as unfortunate.
After he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday, Alia while speaking to State House Correspondent, said that workers in the state are being owed a backlog of salaries as well as pensions.
He added that the Ortom’s administration has left Benue in ‘Intensive care Unit (ICU).’
Ortom, while reacting to the development, said, “It is an unfortunate statement coming from honourable Alia, Benue State Governor-elect. He is no longer a reverend father because he was suspended from the priesthood, and so I feel sad about what he said.”
The benue governor added, “Go back to history since I came in. The civil service has not been on strike, and there must be a reason for them to understand with me why they should not go on strike because my government has been transpiring and ensuring equity and fairness in all things that we do in Benue State.
“Go back to history when I took over in 2015, the total salaries arrears, pension, and gratuity was over N70 billion, the federal government did an intervention, and we paid, and there were issues because people alleged that there was a diversion of funds and so on. EFCC came in, the ICPC came in and we were given a clean bill of hands because no single kobo was diverted from the N28 billion that was given to the local government and the state. So the remaining balance of about N42 billion, just like other states, was also applying. I did apply. But politics did not permit this money to be given to me.
“As I talked to you, Mr. President approved, the ministry of finance approved, and they went to Central Bank, and because of politics, people rose from Benue State that the money should not be paid to me because I am no longer in APC then I had defected to the PDP. So that had been hanging on, everything was done, due diligence was done, DMO had approved, the President had approved, the finance had approved, but getting to the Central Bank, our people from Benue State rose that look if we pay this money to Ortom’s administration, it means we will not have anything to, to campaign against him in 2023. This was what happened.
“As I talked to you, all the documents are there, and the Central Bank was supposed to release this money. Unfortunately, I found myself here. The money is still pending. So it is politics that has led me not to clear the arrears. Now the APC government wants to take advantage of what we have learned on the ground to clear off the arrears.”
In other news, Kanyi Daily reported that following recent killings by suspected herdsmen, residents of the Apa local government area of Benue on Friday took to the streets in protest against the action of the assailants.
The protesters, according to reports, trooped to the Oweto-Loko/Abuja Road and mounted roadblocks on the expressway as commuters were stranded for hours.