• News - North Central - Benue
  • Updated: June 09, 2023

It Is Traditional For Outgoing Governors To Leave With Vehicles — Ortom

The former governor Samuel Ortom has denied accusations made by the present governor of Benue state, Hyacinth Alia over looted properties of the state, and leaving with officials vehicles of the state government.

Ortom in a statement issued by his Media Aide, Terver Akase on Friday, said the state executive council gave himself, and the deputy governor a waiver to take ownership, adding Ortom offered to purchase new vehicles for the incoming but he rejected the offer.

The former governor decried, Alia's administration has resorted to using Ortom as a 'scapegoat in less than two weeks of resumption.

The statement faulted the claims of the administration on the recruitment not following due process as every position of employment carried out was advertised and applicants were screened before the offer of employment.

"The present administration may wish to be informed that it was the decision of the Benue State Executive Council that government officials including the Governor and his Deputy be given waivers to enable them to go with the official vehicles allocated to them.

"Governor Ortom, therefore, did nothing unlawful by leaving office with the official vehicles allocated to him.

"It is a tradition that an outgoing Governor leaves with vehicles given to him. Perhaps we should add that the Ortom administration offered to buy vehicles for the incoming government but the present Governor declined, saying that he would prefer to buy vehicles for his administration after the inauguration. 

"In his latest outing, the Governor has accused his predecessor of carrying out recruitment into the civil service without due process; handing to him an empty treasury and looting government vehicles, among several other unfounded accusations. 

The statement noted that the present Governor did everything to frustrate his predecessor to the point of writing to banks not to honour any transaction by the outgoing government. Even at that, the Ortom administration still funded the May 29 inauguration. 

"While we won’t go into a war of words with the Governor despite the media trial, it is pertinent to clarify that the Ortom administration followed due process in recruiting the workers whom the present government sacked a few days ago.

"Vacancies were duly advertised in national newspapers and those who applied for the jobs were properly interviewed/screened and the successful ones were given appointment letters as required by civil service rules. Promotions were also carried out according to the laid down service regulations. 

"We expected the Alia administration to specifically point out the areas where it claimed that due process was not followed in the recruitments, instead of making sweeping statements and spurious generalizations. 

"On the issue of finances, it appears that the Governor is yet to take time and go through the handover notes that his predecessor presented to him. Whenever he does, he will realize the efforts that the Ortom administration made to reduce the indebtedness of the state in the following ways. 

"Governor Ortom was explicit in his handover speech on May 28, 2023 that though the debt situation of the State Government at the time of his exit from office might appear to be on the high side (N187.56 billion), his administration had taken proactive steps to negotiate and ensure significant debt reduction/reliefs leading to Debt Swap Between Benue State and Federal Government as facilitated by the Nigerian Governors Forum.

"Total Debt Swap for State and Local Government Councils stood at N71.6 billion.

Ortom however appeal to Governor Alia that engaging in a media trial of the former Governor is not the appropriate thing to do. His predecessor is available and willing to respond to him any time he needs clarification on issues regarding the previous administration. 

"Government is a continuum. Governor Ortom also inherited assets and liabilities but did not allow that to stop his government. He has played his part and left the stage."

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Maureen Okpe
Maureen Okpe

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