The immediate past Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, has declared that despite efforts by the Samuel Ortom-led All Progressives Congress (APC) government in Benue State to silence him, he would continue to remain a potent voice in the state to entrench good governance.
Moro, a staunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), made the declaration in a statement he personally signed and issued on Thursday in Abuja, in reaction to the article of Governor Ortom’s media aide, Tahav Agerzua, captioned: “Innocent blood haunts Abba Moro daily”.
The said piece was written as a response to Moro’s critical remarks on the industrial action by the organized labour in Benue State.
Benue workers under the auspices of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) had penultimate week, embarked on a strike action to demand the payment of the backlog of salaries owed them by the state government.
Moro who has been a frontline critic of the current Benue State government had asked Ortom to stop lamenting and pay the workers their entitlements. He had also insisted that the governor has not done any meaningful project, in spite of the huge amount of money that has accrued to the state since Ortom assumed office in 2015.
“My attention has drawn to the vituperation, tirades and diatribes from the government of Benue State that trailed my innocuous query of the handling of governance in Makurdi that is hurting the Benue people against the backdrop of the strike called by the Benue State chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliate unions over their unpaid salaries and allowances and pension arrears. This is not surprising because it has become the trade mark of the Benue State government and its officials to avoid answering pertinent questions on misgovernment in Markudi to go after perceived opponents of government. It is unfortunate that people like Tahav Agerzua around Governor Ortom continue to mislead him into believing that things are well even when people wallow in misery as a result of the negatives of government’s poor policy thrusts.
“Rather than address germane questions being asked, the Agerzuas will quickly point to ‘frustration’, ‘mischief’ and ‘partisanship’ as the reasons for the concern being expressed over the deteriorating state of governance in Markudi. Governor Ortom and the APC campaigned on the change mantra. The governor and the APC hoodwinked the Benue people into believing that they possessed answers to the many problems that Benue State faced. They got elected in 2015. Two years on, can Benue State be said to be any better off than it was when Samuel Ortom took over in 2015?” Moro asked.
Continuing, he added: “Today, the Benue State government is still verifying the status of Benue State workers in local governments, an exercise for which funds were approved and released to the committee headed by the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly at the inception of this administration. Why is the exercise of staff, ghost worker verification an endless, bottomless pit? In a rare act of statesmanship and concern for Nigerian workers, President Buhari requested all States to submit to him salary, allowance and pension arrear liabilities. Benue State like other States submitted her claims. Monies were released to that effect. Several bailout funds were released subsequently to the government of Benue State. The Benue State government took several loans. Several tranches of Paris club refunds have been made to the government of Benue State. The Benue State government has been receiving statutory allocations from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC). The state government generates Internal Revenue (IGR). We asked for the umpteenth time:
where have these monies taken flight to?”
According to him, “Benue State’s infrastructures are deficient and in decay. Listing projects, including those executed by past administrations does not answer the question of what projects that have been executed and commissioned by this administration in Makurdi.
Truth is, the APC government in Makurdi knows absolutely nothing about governance. As Raymond Albert Kroc rightly put it, ‘The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.’ A good leader should be open to criticism.In the words of Winston Churchill, two-time British Prime Minister, ‘Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things’. Criticism, according to Dr. Hendrie Weisinger, a world-renowned psychologist, is information that will help you grow. And that is why Elbert Hubbard said ‘The final proof of greatness lies in being able to endure criticism without resentment’. My criticism of Ortom’s government is out of genuine concern for the pain and agony my fellow citizens in Benue State are going through as a result of the leadership inertia that has taken its root in Makurdi government house. The policies of the government in Makurdi, if what we have can be so called are hurting Benue people. It is my position that those who are endorsing Governor Ortom for a second term in the face of an abysmal failure do not know what they are doing.”
He further stated that “In the mummified minds of officials of government in Makurdi because non-payment of salaries and allowances and pension arrears is not unique to Benue State, it is normal. Yet it is on record that ICPC and other anti-graft agencies listed Benue State amongst states that diverted bailout funds meant for settlement of salaries and allowances of workers. It is on record that recently, the Benue State House of Assembly was rocked by car contract scam which has been a subject of investigation and sundry other sleazes in government in Makurdi. Benue State workers are saying ‘enough is enough’. They organized a warning strike. The internally displaced persons, victims of the Makurdi flood organized a protest against the diversion of relief materials by government officials. Are these Abba Moro, partisanship, mischief? If the anti-graft government agencies sweep these financial infractions under the carpet, history will not.
“It is no longer news that when the government of Benue State is criticized, government officials and thugs go after the persons of imaginary government enemies. For Abba Moro, it is the failed Immigration Service recruitment exercise and the alleged illegal possession of firearms over a decade ago.
“For the information of the government and its officials in Makurdi, Comrade Abba Moro was acquitted of the case of illegal possession of fire arms in 2009 by a court of competent jurisdiction. In the case of the Nigeria Immigration Service recruitment exercise, it was a laudable policy initiative that did not meet the expected curve of results. The policy aimed at opening the space of employment to Nigerians irrespective of tribe, religion or the so-called ‘connection’ in government. The policy did not fail, the implementation did. I believe that history will vindicate the just and the pure at heart. In any case, if innocent blood will haunt Abba Moro daily, the blood of Agatu and Benue people slaughtered by Fulani herdsmen with whom the government signed agreement for grazing will haunt Governor Ortom hourly. And the blood of the innocent Benue people who lost their lives to flood due to the ineptitude of leadership of the government in Makurdi and its cosmetic attitude in the face of a major disaster will haunt Governor Ortom by the minute.”
“If I may ask, was the government of Samuel Ortom elected to tell the story of the Nigeria Immigration recruitment tragedy and to blame past government for lacking in ideas of how to address the challenges of governance? The APC and Samuel Ortom campaigned in 2015 on the change mantra with a promise to rescue Benue State. Today, Benue State has changed from a state full of hope to a state full of misery and total insecurity praying for rescue. The regret of Governor Samuel Ortom on the current situation regarding prompt payment of wages is aptly demonstrated by the superfluous display of the Governor’s 2019 second term bid in the midst of the misery of Benue people”, the former minister pointed out.