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  • News - North Central - Benue
  • Updated: February 21, 2024

Stop playing politics with insecurity - Onjeh tells Moro

Stop playing politics with insecurity -  Onjeh tells Moro

Benue State National Assembly Caucus, led by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Abba Moro has received a strong warning from APC Chieftain and former Chairman of the PRODA Governing Board, Comrade Daniel Onjeh, to quit interfering and playing politics with the lives of Benue people. 

Onjeh made this declaration in response to the press conference that the Benue State National Assembly Caucus hosted last Wednesday, during which they condemned what they perceived as the illegal dissolution of Benue State's elected councils and the state government's subsequent appointment of caretaker committees.

They argued that the caretaker committees were not legitimate or politically motivated to address the pervasive insecurity at the local level.

The governor of Benue State, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, had previously declared that the herdsmen invasion was caused by invitations from some Benue State natives to Fulani herdsmen in the Niger Republic to come and graze in the state. He also added that his administration would not put up with attempts to destabilise and disturb the peace in the state, and he would rebuff any attempts to thwart his plans. 

According to Onjeh, the current claims attributed to the Benue State NASS Caucus were only a continuation of their concerted efforts to malign Rev. Fr. Alia in the public's eyes. He told them to get on with their work as federal legislators and that it was improper for them to be meddling in the lives of others for political purposes. 

“All through the last administration of Mr. Samuel Ortom in Benue State, there were reported cases of serial herdsmen attacks on villages in Benue State.

"Even though at some point, we had ‘democratically-elected’ local government executives in Benue State, the former governor, Mr. Ortom, was still not releasing funds to the local governments. But Sen. Moro didn’t see anything wrong with the wanton killing by herdsmen across Benue State at the time.

"It did not occur to him then that it was the non-funding of the local governments by the Ortom administration that was responsible for the dastardly attacks on Benue communities by killer herders. He found no reason to condemn the Ortom administration because they were both of the same party, the PDP. But suddenly, he now found his voice under the APC administration of Rev. Fr. Alia,” stated Onjeh. 

Com. Onjeh went on to say that statutory security forces, such as the Nigeria Police Force and the DSS, were in operation in Benue State and that they could offer trustworthy information about the level of insecurity in the region.

He therefore questioned whether the Benue State NASS Caucus was speaking from fantasy or whether they were getting their information from the statutory security forces.

For this reason, he called on the federal lawmakers to come clean about anything they could be hiding about the underlying reason for the state's growing unease.

“The reliable information that Rev. Fr. Alia has received from the security forces as the cause of the spike in insecurity across the state is different from what the federal lawmakers are alleging. So, could it be that there is something the NASS Caucus knows, which we the Benue people do not know, as the true cause of the deteriorating insecurity in the state? If Sen. Moro and his co-travellers in the Benue NASS Caucus are holding back some secrets, now is the time for them to kindly reveal it,” stated Onjeh.  

Com. Onjeh, the APC's senatorial candidate for Benue South in the 2023 general elections, went on to say that no Benue State administration since the state's return to democracy in 1999 had experienced the same degree of disruption as the current Fr. Alia administration, since virtually from the moment of his oath of office, members of his party and the opposition will unite against him.

According to Onjeh, the goal of the NASS Benue Caucus was to undermine, divert, and denigrate Rev. Fr. Alia's administration in order to prevent him from fulfilling the promises he made to the Benue people during his campaign. 

“Yet, Fr. Alia has achieved much more than any of the past governors of the state since the start of the Fourth Republic. What most of them presented to Benue people as rocket science, Rev. Fr. Alia has been able to achieve seamlessly from the inception of his administration.

"Now, they will want to say that payment of salaries and pensions is nothing, but hitherto, they made Benue people believe it was an insurmountable challenge. Rev. Fr. Alia was able to fix that lingering problem in no time.

"Therefore, it is a very huge achievement. Indeed, civil servants are the life and soul of the public service, and if you don’t pay them their salaries and wages, you diminish their spirit and reduce their capacity and efficiency, thereby affecting the delivery of government policies and programs,” stated Onjeh.  

According to Onjeh, in addition to paying salaries, Fr. Alia has established the framework for numerous infrastructure projects, some of which have already started and will take time to complete.

He continued by saying that the main concern of the Benue NASS Caucus is that Rev. Fr. Alia's leadership is going to accomplish historic feats in state governance, and when that happens, he won't even have to run for reelection as governor. 

“So the kernel of their plot is to stop Fr. Alia’s second term by doing everything possible to disorganize his government, and in their thinking, possibly move for his removal from office.

"These are all their plots, and they are clear for all Benue people to see. I wish to liken them to tiny fishes swimming in their aquarium, but under the illusion that they are in a mighty ocean where they cannot be seen or reached.

"But we are keenly watching them and seeing everything they are doing. We can easily reach out to them from any corner of their aquarium. All that is playing out is a poorly written script,” stated Onjeh.

Onjeh pointed out that the Benue NASS Caucus moved a motion to halt Benue LG Funds, initiating their nefarious attacks on Fr. Alia alongside Sen. Moro. Onjeh claims that the motion was withdrawn before it could be carried out because it was based on the false premise that the state governor had dissolved the local government administrations in the state—which he had not done. He only suspended them because the State House of Assembly had accused them of financial wrongdoing and corruption. 

“After their initial attack, the true masquerades behind the onslaught on Fr. Alia were unveiled. The members of the APC came out openly to attack Fr. Alia over the same issue of constituting caretaker committees for the Benue local government area councils, simply because they were not allowed to nominate their cronies into caretaker committee executive positions. Suddenly, they are making so much fuss about constituting caretaker committees for local governments,” stated Onjeh.  

Com. Onjeh contended that the governor of a state in Nigeria, not Rev. Fr. Alia, was the first to establish caretaker committees for local government area councils.

The governor took this action at the time to prevent a void in the local governments' governance and administration. According to Onjeh, Benue State was not the only place where the topic of local government caretaker committees had been resolved. 

“The issue of local government caretaker committees is a trend currently seen almost all over Nigeria, and there are equally security challenges in the other states that have these caretaker committees in place. But their own National Assembly Members, in their wisdom, have not arisen to attribute the insecurity in their states to the constitution of local government caretaker committees.

“So the Benue NASS Caucus is just making puerile statements to justify the herders’ incessant attacks on their constituents, by linking those attacks to the dissolution of so-called ‘democratically-elected’ local government administrations in Benue State. I find their action quite strange, and rather undemocratic and uncharitable to the Benue State electorate that voted them into the National Assembly,” stated Onjeh. 

Com. Onjeh, a former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), claimed that Sen. Moro produced Hon. Mrs. Amina Audu, a former caretaker committee chairman of the Okpokwu Local Government Area Council, who subsequently took over as the substantive LG chairman under the Ortom Administration. Additionally, Sen. Moro's village, Igama, in Edumoga Ehaje, was sacked by herdsmen in June 2022, resulting in numerous fatalities. 

“The LG chairman of Okpokwu at that time said the attack by the herdsmen was unprovoked. Why did Moro not come out then to say that it was because Ortom was not releasing money to the local government that the herders attacked? He did not say that because it was convenient for him. Of course, he produced the chairman of the local government.

"This is the first time that he is losing control of his local government, so he is feeling empty. His motion on the floor of the Senate was about the constitution of local government caretaker committees, and his attacks on Fr. Alia ever since have been tailored along that line,” stated Onjeh.  

Onjeh challenged Sen. Moro to point to a single tangible achievement that had been recorded in Okpokwu Local Government Area all through the tenures of the previous chairmen, most of whom Sen. Moro had produced under the Ortom administration. “Abba Moro has been the senator representing Benue South since 2019, and he could not rise on the floor of the senate to ascribe the rising insecurity in Benue State to Gov. Ortom’s constitution of local government caretaker committees or non-payment of salary and pension.

"He could not even speak up in the media, but now, he finds it convenient to attack Rev. Fr. Alia and to allege that the escalating insecurity in the state was a result of the dissolution of local government councils. Why did he not say that during Ortom’s administration? Why did he not accuse Ortom of embezzling security votes? I am sure the Benue NASS Caucus members are only acting a script to secure their positions ahead of 2027,” stated Onjeh. 

Sen. Moro's baseless criticism of Fr. Alia, according to Onjeh, is extremely inconsiderate towards the Benue South voters who supported him in winning the Senate seat.  

“All their actions are premeditated to discredit Fr. Alia, a failed attempt to move for his impeachment and ensure that he does not return to office for a second term. But the decision is not theirs to make. It is only God Almighty who sees 2027. One clear thing however is that the more they are trying to pull down Fr. Alia, the more his popularity is soaring. The Benue people cannot be deceived anymore. They know that no governor, since the return to democracy in 1999, has achieved what Fr. Alia has achieved thus far. Nobody has shown vision and direction of governance thus far in the state like Fr. Alia, and the Benue people are very happy with him,” stated Onjeh. 

For this reason, Onjeh warned the Benue NASS Caucus to desist from using human lives in what he called "dirty politics." He continued by saying that the Benue people had left Egypt behind and were now travelling to the Promised Land. 

“When the righteous rule, the people rejoice. We know that this battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, because right now, Fr. Alia has put Benue on the path of development. Benue has suffered for way too long. From 1999, there has not been any tangible thing to show that the people enjoyed responsive governance in the state. After the glorious era of Chief Aper Aku and Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu, governance took the back seat in Benue State. This is the first time after so long, that the Benue people are basking in the joy of enjoying people-centred governance, and the NASS Caucus wants to foist a false impression of the gentleman governor on the Benue people,” argued Onjeh. 

Onjeh asked the Benue NASS caucus to bring attention to the fact that the Benue people were not worried about any current political squabbling within the party, about the opposition's plot in Benue State including the active cooperation of ruling party members, or about any other pointless diversion. He claimed that the Benue people's primary concern was with someone who could bring them out of the forests and distribute the benefits of democracy, and Fr. Alia is currently fulfilling that role. 

“So we wish to inform the Benue NASS Caucus that we, the Benue people, will defend the administration of Rev. Fr. Alia to the hilt. Their greatest nightmare is Fr. Alia’s Vision for a Greater Benue because they know that he is poised to achieve it.

"They must know that Benue is not business as usual anymore; the era of sharing monthly allocations by political stakeholders is over. Fr. Alia is not cut out for all that, and will not fall for their cheap blackmails, and that is the crux of the current political crisis in the state.

"The governor has made his commitment to the Benue people and he is keeping to it; he is putting all those monies hitherto shared into private pockets, into legacy projects for the Benue people. He has just assumed office and laid the foundation for the prosperity of the state. They should allow him to focus on his work,” stated Onjeh.   

Onjeh went on to say that one of the orders the President gave to the state governors during their recent meeting with all of the state governors to address the level of insecurity in the nation was to ensure that the salaries, pensions, and gratuities of their civil servants were paid. 

“Mr. President himself recognizes that it is the height of injustice to withhold the salaries and other entitlements of civil servants, as that alone is a recipe to fuel insecurity. But even the Presidency knows that Fr. Alia has passed that test already with an unrivalled distinction because he has since been paying salaries and pensions in Benue State. He pays salaries before the end of the month,” stated Onjeh.

The Benue NASS Caucus, according to Onjeh, was merely attempting to stir the state's security forces against the state governor. Fr. Alia, the governor of Benue State, is doing everything in his ability to assure the security of the Benue people. 

“Their deliberate act of misinforming the public is indicative of their ulterior motive, which Benue people will resist. We have departed from the old order of conducting government business. It is not about looting and sharing anymore. The administration of Fr. Alia is focused on serving the interests of the people,” stated Onjeh. 

Com. Onjeh further claimed that the Benue NASS Caucus intended to reverse Mr. Augustine Agada's suspension from the APC and his eventual removal as the party's chairman in Benue State, which was one of the goals of their unjustified attacks on Fr. Alia. 

In order to further undermine the APC in Benue South and ensure Sen. Moro's victory, Onjeh claimed that Mr. Agada engaged in a number of anti-party actions during the most recent election. These actions included supplying funds for Moro's campaign from APC chieftains and switching out all APC agents with compromised party agents. According to Onjeh, Sen. Moro wants to hold onto his position as the APC chairman in Benue State and stay a member of the PDP. 

“And sadly, his co-travellers, in the National Assembly, who know the implications of their falling out with Fr. Alia, are busy ostensibly drumming support for Sen. Moro, while they are fighting to save their political futures.

"They all want to control the party ahead of the 2027 General Elections. They have not served the people and justified the mandates reposed in them yet, and they are already scheming ahead of 2027,” alleged Onjeh. 

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