From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi
The All Progressives Congress (APC), Benue State Chapter, has alleged that the incumbent Governor Samuel Ortom led administration has perfected plans to divert Benue resources through emergency contracts and loans.
The APC Chairman in the state, Austin Agada, who raised the alarm while briefing newsmen in Makurdi, Friday, said the party gathered reliably that the outgoing PDP led Government has embarked on emergency awards of contracts worth billions of naira.
Recall that the Benue State Government through the commissioner of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Mike Inalegwu, had disclosed plans to build an Airport at Kura, along Naka Road, about 12 kilometres from Makurdi town.
Inalegwu had explained that the Airport will be built near the Industrial Layout so that Cargoes from the Airport could be moved easily.
Speaking to newsmen, Agada said “We recall that on the 29th October 2016, Governor Samuel Ortom led PDP administration flagged off 38 billion naira Cargo Airport in Daudu, Guma Local Government, a project he assured will be completed in 18 months.
“4 years after with no visible site of an airport, Governor Ortom while presenting the 2020 budget announced the re-awarding of the same Cargo Airport to another company for 12 billion, with extra 3 billion as compensation to land owners which reportedly didn’t get to the actual owners of the gazetted lands.
“The N38 billion contract and it’s N12 billion re-awarding all squashed with the flagging of a Mega City for Internally Displaced Persons which has also gone moribund, how do we trust a government that has buried chunk of tax payers money into an unrealistic Cargo Airport for almost 8 years despite promising it’s completion in 18 months to build for the state an airport in just 2 months.”
The APC also alleged that the government is awarding contracts and back-dating same as well as back-dating of employment letters.
He said they are worried that while there was no employment in the last seven years and 10 months, suddenly the out going government has massively employed staff to the tune of 2500, at the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and other ministries, with barely two months to exit office.
Agada who noted that the exercise will shift the financial burden to the incoming government, said “we view this as a clandestine move to pitch the people against our government even before it start.
He stated that the decision by the outgoing PDP government to build an airport is malevolent, malicious, and ill-timed and advice all consultants and contractors to refrain from entering into such deals with the outgoing administration as the Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia’s administration will not be held accountable for any nefarious contractual obligations.
The party warned those “collaborating with the outgoing government to increase Benue indebtedness through loans, overdrafts or other financial obligations to stop forthwith, as it will be viewed as financial sabotage to the incoming administration.”
He urged the people to remain calm as any last minute anti people decision or policy that is capable of inflicting more plains on them will be reviewed and decisive actions taken on whoever is found culpable.
The state Commissioner of Information, Mike Inalegwu could not be reached as at the time of filing this report as his phone was switched off.
Meanwhile, a government official who preferred to remain anonymous said the state government has not contracted anybody to build an airport yet.
“Yes the state government has gotten approval for the civil airport but we are not engaging any contractor, we have not entered into any contractual agreement with anybody.”
In a related development, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom, Nathaniel Ikyur, while responding to concerns that his boss was making appointments few months to handover, simply said “The Governor’s tenure runs up to 11:59pm on the 29 May 2023. So his tenure is still running and he has the right to appoint any person from now till that day. So the issue of making appointments at the dying minutes does not arise at all.”