By Vanen Hwande, Abuja
Apparently worried about the affairs of governance in Benue state since the coming of Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration, rights group under the auspices of Benue Coalition for Justice, Equity and Fairness (BCJEF) has expressed disappointment over what it considered “wanton squandering and cornering of state resources” by the government of Governor Samuel Ortom since assuming office.
In a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari jointly signed by the coalition’s national president and secretary general, Peter Hwande and Ogbole Alechenu, they activists said that the governor was allegedly using the siphoned monies to build a financial war-chest for his 2019 presidential ambition.
“We are bringing to your attention our concerns over the state of affairs in Benue state under the watch of Governor, Samuel Ortom, who has embarked on wanton squandering and cornering of state resources as part of mobilization of funds for an exercise with national consequences. Instead of spending these funds on project for which they are meant, Governor Ortom is rather building a war chest for a 2019 presidential ambition while his time, paid for with state money, is now mostly spent making consultations in this direction. The sorry state the governor has left the state is owing to these distractions”.
A copy of the letter sent to the president, and made available to Pressmen, further stated that while the bailout recently released by the federal government for the state had already been squandered, the governor has gone further to borrow more, plunging the already impoverished state into more debts.
“In addition to lining his war chest, the loans are also used for financing the lavish lifestyles of Governor Ortom and his cabinet through outrageous remuneration packages and exotic cars for his aides.
The state’s share of the federal bailout package was squandered along the same line while pensioners remained unpaid even though the request for the bailout included N2,387,456,783.39 to cover the payment of arrears to pensioners. In just about six months, Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration has borrowed N43 billion and further plunged the state into debts.”
The coalition called on the president to intervene adding that they would be accessories to misdeeds of the state government should they fail to report what was going on.
“We will therefore be accessories to his misdeeds if we fail to speak up at this point when it is still possible to make amends. We remain committed to actively contribute to making Nigeria a better place and we believe we should not keep quiet while the wellbeing of the nation is compromised upwards from Benue state”