Flipping through the pages of the weekend edition of Sunday Mirror newspaper of 20th September, 2015 only to come across an interview supposedly granted by a former minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, laden with mischief and falsehood was rather an unfortunate experience.
This was the same situation in which I found myself on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 when I read a similar interview which the immediate past Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro granted Vanguard newspaper in which he made statements that were as spurious as they attempted to deliver all at once, several messages not founded on verifiable fact.
Comrade Moro was quoted as suggesting that there is apprehension in the country that the APC controlled federal government may influence the outcome of election cases before various tribunals. I said really? Is this not a case of a man who got so used to the old ways his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, obtained favorable judgment from the courts now getting jittery that his party might suffer the same fate? What has informed Moro’s fear if not the thought that his party might lose at the tribunals?
Another look at the former minister’s interviews indicated that indeed the atrocious activities committed by his party in the last couple of years are responsible for his fear.
I think that Moro need not jittery over the ongoing election tribunals. The APC administration at the federal and state levels has assured Nigerians that it won’t interfere in the duties of other arms of government. The Import of this is that the judiciary in the change dispensation will be free at all times to perform their functions without interference from the government.
Another issue which Comrade Abba Moro laughably got wrong is that of bailout funds from the federal government. That the former minister left government three months ago should not prevent him from following current events in the country to make informed comments. Even primary school pupils in Benue know that the state government is yet to access the bailout funds from the federal government. So how did Moro come about his claim that the Ortom administration has received the funds? As a former minister and opinion leader in Moro’s class, the decision to comment on issues of national and state importance ought to go with responsibility.
Another curious point to note is how Comrade Moro has contradicted his views in the same interview. If he (rightly) admits that it is too early to assess the Ortom administration but in the next breath, he jumps to the conclusion that the people of Benue are ‘still waiting for change’, it does not only make his convictions appear foggy but also denies his readers the opportunity of understanding the point he set out to make.
When did Comrade Abba Moro begin to believe in change that he now sings about it? A man who fought with all his might and the arsenal at his disposal to prevent change from coming to his state certainly lacks the credentials to serve as a town crier for that change. Perhaps Comrade Moro needs to be reminded that Benue people are no longer expecting another change. This is the change the people voted for and it is the same change they have got. They do not need to look at the mountains for the pie which Moro’s party PDP promised them but failed to provide in 16 whole years.
To buttress the point that the change the people desired has come, here are a few examples which show a clear departure from the way things were done in the era Moro’s party was in charge of affairs of the State.
The current administration in Benue State is transparent in its handling of resources. Governor Ortom and his team have on various occasions briefed the people on how monies accruing to the government are being handled. This is why today, unlike the time when Moro’s party was in power, people can be heard even at eateries and beer parlors discussing policy and financial matters relating to Benue State. A sign that they are being carried along in the affairs of their State.
The pioneer students of the Benue State University College of Health Sciences whom the PDP administration abandoned for more than six years can now graduate! Sounds like dream? No. The APC government led by Samuel Ortom has fully paid for the accreditation of the College’s courses! Similarly, the School of Nursing Makurdi also abandoned for many years is being renovated and its courses would soon be re-accredited.
Unlike the era of Moro’s PDP when one government took over from another and considered the system as business as usual, the APC government in Benue has set up Judicial Commissions of Inquiry to verify assets and funds of the State as received and appropriated by the previous administration. This is to enable the people of the state know, as they requested, the true position of their resources before the present administration came into office.
Governor Ortom has reduced the number of ministries and commissioners from 17 to 13 and that of special advisers from 28 to 20. Here again, it can be clearly seen that this is a significant departure from the wastage of the recent past when huge sums were spent on government appointees and general running of government.
The Ortom administration has also shown clearly that it is prepared to protect the lives and property of the people of Benue State. This is evident in the several proactive security measures the State Government has initiated within the first three months including the amnesty granted illegally armed persons in the State. The amnesty which expires at the end of this month has recorded huge successes with notorious gangs and their leaders willingly handing over their weapons to the amnesty committee.
Unlike in the era of Moro’s party when funds released by the federal government for victims of the 2012 flood were diverted into private pockets, the Ortom administration has not received such a grant, yet, it has acted swiftly to prevent a repeat of the flood disaster of three years ago through a number of emergency measures in readiness to evacuate those living in flood prone zones to temporary homes to be provided by the State Government.
Perhaps it is also necessary to inform Comrade Moro that lecturers of the State-owned University, BSU, who were on strike for many months in the last days of his party’s administration over non-payment of salaries and allowances have since returned to classes! Wondering what the cause is? Simple. The APC administration of change led by Samuel Ortom has engaged in dialogue with the unions and also met their demands to a reasonable extent.
Someone close to Comrade Moro should whisper to him that workers and pensioners of Benue State have stopped waiting for many months for salaries. He got it wrong on the issue of workers’ salaries. Was he actually referring to workers of Benue as being despondent now? Perhaps here again, Moro ought to be reminded that workers of Benue adopted despondency as part of their daily lives in the final years of the ousted PDP government. But now, that word has taken flight from the people’s vocabulary because what brought it to Benue – non-payment of salaries has given way to the new bride – regular payment of full salaries.
When next I read interview from a former Minister, I expect that I find the contents enmeshed in truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Perhaps for Comrade Moro to meet my expectation he might need to explain whether he has cleared himself of gunrunning charges made against him years ago as well as the allegations that he fleeced many youths and organized their deaths during the March, 15, 2014 Immigration Recruitment Exercise.
Many are also surprised that instead of preparing to defend himself before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which is currently probing activities of some top officials at his former Ministry and is reported to have invited him, he finds time for fabrications and smear campaigns.
May be talk is cheap but the accuser may soon be moving from one courtroom to another to attend to the numerous cases pending against him, as the accused, for his actions as Minister rather than from one newspaper to the other granting interviews.
Media and ICT.