We read in the 24th October, 2016 edition of New Telegraph, gross misrepresentation of facts on the recent approval made by the Benue State Executive Council for the restructuring of Aper Aku lodge located within the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
The Benue State Government led by Governor Samuel Ortom has not awarded a contract of N620.4 million for the renovation of the Benue Peoples House, contrary to the report by the newspaper.
The State Executive Council, during its recent meeting, gave approval of N453, 560, 002.36 million for the restructuring and expansion (not renovation) of Aper Aku lodge which is one of the largest facilities within the seat of government. The lodge which has a duplex, 3 bungalows and 27 chalets is in dilapidated condition and has not been given a facelift for many years and is uninhabitable. This fact again contradicts New Telegraph’s account that the immediate past administration renovated the lodge.
It is also necessary to state that the restructuring and expansion of Aper Aku lodge is in the 2016 Benue State Budget passed by representatives of the people – the Benue State House of Assembly.
The State Government took the decision based on the fact that the former Governor, the late Chief Aper Aku whom the lodge is named after, did great things for the state as Governor and restructuring a facility which is in his name will be another way of remembering and preserving the legacy of a man who laid the foundation of the state. The restructuring and expansion of the edifice will also help in cutting huge costs the State Government incurs on accommodation of visitors.
For a journalist who lives and works in Makurdi, we expected New Telegraph’s Benue State correspondent, Cephas Iorhemen who did the so-called investigation to visit the lodge and see things for himself. He did not need any “investigation” to do a report on the said approval as the State Government through the Commissioner for Information had addressed the media and explained the significance of restructuring and expanding Aper Aku lodge.
Though the said correspondent, was absent at the press briefing, he did not have to depend on street gossip to do his report. Any of the government spokespersons or the Ministry of Housing would readily have provided him with the true and correct information.
His claim that Aper Aku lodge was renovated during the administration of Gabriel Suswam is another lie. Throughout the two tenures of the former Governor, not even repainting was carried out on the lodge.
Another falsity in the New Telegraph report is its statement that Governor Ortom awarded contract for the renovation of his official residence before he would move in. This again smacks of mischief, journalism of reluctance and refusal to cross check facts before going to press. No such contract exists anywhere under the present administration. The renovation earlier carried out at the Benue Peoples House affected only the administrative structures (offices) where the Governor’s office is located, but did not include his official residence.
Chief Press Secretary.