All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State has asked Governor Samuel Ortom to stop misleading the people of the state through false claims and accusations so as to divert the N18billion to be released to states by the federal government.
This is sequel to a letter of complaints written by the state government asking anti-graft agencies to probe the minister of special duties, and intergovernmental affairs, George Akume over alleged gross financial impropriety to the tune of over N4,556,899,632.9 during his time as governor.
The allegations, according to the letter include misappropriation of public funds, approvals above limit, abuse of office and public trust including the sale of N33,440,818 units of shares at the Benue Investment and Property Company (BIPC), valued at billions of naira without recourse to due process among others.
However, in a press conference held in Makurdi, the state capital, the APC chairman-elect, Comrade Austin Agada described the allegations as part of strategies to frustrate Akume’s emergence as national chairman of the APC.
Agada disclosed that what the governor is doing now is a diversionary tactic to divert people’s attention and squander the N18 billion which will soon be made available to states by the federal government through unfounded claims and excuses.
But in a swift reaction, the spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Bemgba Iortyom said, “The fact that 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.”
According to him, “If today the audits have found it needful to call that era to account, it is for the reason that such colossal waste of public resources as took place under it must of necessity be addressed and this is a fact which cannot be vitiated by tagging it a witch-hunt or whatever.
“Crying wolf about the audit report being a witch-hunt is totally immaterial as the due process of law requires him to prove his innocence before a competent authority when called upon to do so.”
Agada said, “We are greatly dismayed by the manner at which Governor Ortom and his few supporters have been clutching straws to foist the reasons for his poor performance as governor on the consistent attack on our leader Senator Akume with great mischief.
“The target of this campaign of calumny, is to lower the reputation of the Senator 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 APC members across all states of the federation are clamouring for his emergence to the position.
“It is regrettable that rather than employing Benue youths, the Ortom administration has sacked thousands of youths (BIRS interns) that were absorbed into the state’s civil service by his predecessor; he has also sacked many other civil servants as ghost workers without employing others, an act that has skyrocketed the rate of unemployment in the state.’’
Agada said despite all the sacks, the wage bill of Benue under the Ortom administration has climbed up to over N7 billion based on the governor’s claims.