Governor Samuel Ortom has replied to Benue State Governor-elect, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, that his recent statement was unfortunate and he felt sad about it.
Ortom spoke during an interview on Arise Television, monitored by DAILY POST, on Friday.
Alia, had on Wednesday while speaking to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said that workers in the state are being owed a backlog of salaries as well as pensions, adding that Ortom’s administration has left Benue in ‘Intensive care Unit (ICU).’
Speaking on the development, Ortom said, “It is an unfortunate statement coming from honourable Alias, Benue State Governor-elect. He is no longer a reverend father because he was suspended from Prince hold, and so I feel sad about what he said.”
He added, “Go back to history since I came in. The civil service have not been on strike, and there must be a reason for them to understand with me why they should not go on strike because my government has been transpiring and ensuring equity and fairness in all things that we do in Benue State.
“Go back to history when I took over in 2015, the total salaries arrears, pension and gratuity was over N70 billion, the federal government did an intervention, and we paid, and there were issues because people alleged that there well diversion of funds and so on, EFCC came in the ICPC came in and we were giving a clean bill of hands because no single kobo was diverted from the N28 billion that was given for the local government and for the state. So the remaining balance of about N42 billion, just like other states, was also applying. I did apply. But politics did not permit this money to be given to me.
“As I talked to you, Mr President approved, the ministry of finance approved, and they went to Central Bank, and because of politics, people rose up from Benue State that the money should not be paid to me because I am no longer in APC then I had defected to the PDP. So that had been hanging on, everything was done, due diligence was done, DMO had approved, the President had approved, the finance had approved, but getting to the Central Bank, our people from Benue State rose up that look if we pay this money to Ortom’s administration, it means we will not have anything to, to campaign against him in 2023 this was what happened.
“As I talked to you, all the documents are there, and the Central Bank was supposed to release this money. Unfortunately, I found myself here. The money is still pending. It dents my own administration. So it is politics that has led me not to clear the arrears. Now the APC government wants to take advantage of what we have learned on the ground to clear off the arrears.”