The paid full page newspaper advertorial by the Benue State Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, “Comrade” Abba Yaro, published in two newspapers is yet another futile attempt to whitewash the party’s tainted garment.
It is at best a feeble attempt at salvaging an irredeemably damaged brand.
The statement which was a reaction to Governor Samuel Ortom’s state broadcast confirms that the APC is indeed, a one man show.
Ordinarily, if adverse comments are made on a serving senator in the media, he ought to respond himself or have his aides respond on his behalf.
That the APC state chairman would react on half of a serving Senator is indeed confirmation that the legislator has pocketed both the party and its officials in the state to the extent that they are out to dance to his whims and caprices at the slightest opportunity.
No wonder, most major stakeholders who had been suffocated by the nature of survival in the APC have left to find breathing space in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Those left in the demigod’s prison remain in chains to do his bidding no matter how odious.
The most unfortunate thing is that in a bid to please the slave master, all manner of lies and concoctions have to be fabricated.
Moreover, there is every indication that both the feudal lord and his slaves have since alienated themselves from the people hence they do not know what is on ground even at their doorsteps.
Besides, we are amused at ” Comrade” Yaro’s belated mudslinging and the numerous ironies and contradictions in the poorly written script.
We condemn the Goebellian tactics of “a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” employed by the Benue APC and its Abuja collaborators. The allegations of the embezzlement of a phantom N22 billion exists only in the schemes of the operators of the APC. When has the EFCC began the investigation of security votes in Nigeria? Why is Governor Ortom the only Governor being investigated on this score? Why is this probe coming after his defection? Why not begin the investigation of security votes with the Presidency? The answer is simple. Governor Ortom’s investigation is nothing other than political persecution. Otherwise, with the enormous security challenges confronting Benue State before, and since his assumption of office, what is he expected to do with security votes other than to spend it on the challenges? We strongly suspect that the APC may be expressing their innermost desires of what they will be doing with public funds if they were in charge or rather what their leader did when he was Governor. We reject this attempt to evaluate us by their own standards.
Governor Ortom has neither embezzled nor diverted any funds. He assures the people of the state that no free and fair probe can ever find anything incriminating against him.
We are alarmed that the APC Chairman has swallowed the narrative spurned by enemies of Benue State regarding the genocide waged on the people of the state with impunity. No wonder close watchers have identified insider collaboration with the attackers and killers.
This is likely to explain why Comrade Yaro in his half clever statement has attempted to shift blames from the perpetrators of crimes against humanity to a State Government that has risen to the challenge of protecting its citizens from an orchestrated campaign of ethnic cleansing.
As a State Government, we will not tow the path chosen by the APC in playing politics with human lives. As is the custom of the Ortom administration, we shall not intervene in the investigations by security agencies on any suspect . However, we shall continue to demand fairplay and equity as the only panacea for justice and peace. We shall however resist any tainted process with predetermined outcomes. Otherwise why would someone not call for the arrest and prosecution of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and other Fulani groups who threatened to invade the state, carried out their threats and owned up, turn round to celebrate the arrest of Alhaji Aliyu Tershaku? Why is the man not being tried publicly? It is on record that Alhaji Tershaku was brought to head the Civilian Joint Task Force for Nasarawa and Benue States by the then Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations, Mike Zoukhomou, in 2013. Governor Ortom inherited him and later deployed him to head the Livestock Guards to enhance the implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017. It is on record that Senator Akume has not come up with any statement in support of the law. Although incessant attacks on communities across Benue State became pronounced from 2011, records taken from 2013 to April, 2017 indicated more than 50 devastating attacks with hundreds of victims occurred. This state of affairs prompted the people of the state to clamour for the Ranching Law as a permanent solution to the incessant clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
Ranching itself is not new. It has been an international best practice of animal husbandry across the world. Governor Ortom did not invent it. He only subscribed to the wishes and aspirations of the Benue people by sending an Executive Bill to the State House of Assembly on the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law and after it passed through due legislative process accented to it. For anyone to claim that he made the law for his political gains is to overstretch partisanship and mischief, to say the least. Yet the Ranching Law has exposed the real agenda of Fulani herdsmen and their sponsors who have come out openly to declare that the real issue at stake is CONQUEST AND OCCUPATION.
Sensing that Abuja is in support of this agenda, Senator George Akume has set out to exploit the situation for maximum gains. He is out to curry favour to boost his political ambition to become Senate President that has always been his craving all along. For this, he can sacrifice anyone and anything. This is what is happening. His sponsorship and support for impunity with illegality at the Benue State House of Assembly further underscores his contempt for the people of the state.
The claim that Governor Ortom ceded Agatu land to the Fulanis is not tenable as no such thing occurred. The Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 is in force in every part of Benue State including Agatu.
Comrade Yaro wrote as if Senator George Akume has no stewardship account to render to the people of his senatorial district. What positive role has he ever played about the conquest and occupation? Remember that he is the chairman of the Senate Committee on the Army. One would expect that he would give account of his role in the killings and the solutions. What did he do about those displaced most of who are his constituents?
The most baffling claim by Comrade Yaro is that “the Federal Government has made adequate arrangements for the return of IDPs to their ancestral homes.” The big questions are HOW, WHEN AND WHERE?
Since Senator Akume is part of the Federal might maybe the chairman of his party could direct the question “Where is the money meant for settlement of the IDPs provided by the Federal Government? to him?
Governor Ortom is yet to get such monies.
While we understand that the APC in Nigeria and particularly in Benue has been thrown into mourning following the departure of Governor Samuel Ortom and other patriots, this should not be a reason for them to engage in summersaults from positions they publicly vaunted.
This same Abba Yaro, on August 28, 2016, poured encomiums on Governor Ortom regarding his performance:
“Within one year in office Governor Ortom has embarked on over 1,000 projects in the various sectors through ministries, departments and agencies. All these and several others yet to come are more than enough milestones to immortalize him.”
If Governor Ortom had executed over 1,000 projects in just one year as succinctly captured by Mr Yaro, how does he want the people to believe his current swan song after three years of the Governor’s performance?
Apart from the numerous votes of confidence which the APC in Benue State bestowed on the incumbent state Governor, the state chairman himself announced his adoption as the sole governorship candidate of the party in 2019 at his most recent state Congress. It was Governor Ortom that objected insisting that the more, the merrier.
Comrade Yaro has obviously caught the bad loser bug by claiming Governor Ortom has ” failed to execute any project in three years of his administration “. Ironically, he mentions in the same statement the ” 40.397 km Origbo-Imande-Akpu- Gbajimba road which he claims Governor Ortom awarded to one of his officials. We are at a loss as to which claim to hold to.
In its desperation to reverse the hands of the clock, the APC has callously attempted to discredit even the projects that have earned plaudits for the state and its Governor. The over 740 primary schools projects being executed through the State Universal Basic Education Board ( SUBEB) where Governor Ortom paid up the counterpart requirements of the state is a case in point. While it is the wish of the APC overlords in Benue for the scheme to be abandoned, many schools are wearing new looks across the state, with pupils and teachers enjoying facilities never seen since 1999. We have nothing to hide regarding the processes of the award of these contracts and the records are there for whoever is interested. Incidentally, many APC state officials benefited in the award of the construction contracts.
On the spurious allegation of non availability of fertilizers, we challenge Comrade Yaro to say that to the farmers in the state who have enjoyed unprecedented availability of fertilizer without having to go through middlemen and profiteers. Perhaps Abba Yaro and his paymasters would have preferred the business as usual approach of surrendering public funds to incompetent middlemen who subject farmers to untold hardships. This is perhaps the APC idea of ” party patronage”. Governor Ortom will never patronize such politicians at the expense of food security. The records are there to prove that thousands of metric tonnes of fertilizer have been distributed to farmers at subsidized rates in three years of Governor Ortom in the saddle. It is uncharitable to claim that tractors have been diverted to Oracle Farms which in any case has been a flourishing corporate entity since 2000. The Ortom administration has attracted an office of the Bank of Industry to Makurdi and billions in credit facilities in the Bank as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria, to interested citizens of the state. Those willing and interested have already taken advantage. But it could be understood that the successes recorded by the Oracle conglomerate, which was in existence long before Governor Ortom became the state’s chief executive officer, would be a source of envy to those whose only source of survival since their youth has been the public purse.
Another fact is that Governor Ortom’s intervention in the Agricultural Sector has earned him several awards including the “Agricultural Governor of the year 2017″ by the influential newspaper, Business day.
We find it really strange that the issue of reaccreditation of the College of Health Sciences of the Benue State University and the restoration of academic activities and improvement of facilities at the Schools of Nursing and Midwifery is now a subject of bitter politics. It seems that the APC is willing to put out every light that illuminates the state all in an effort to settle scores with a Governor whom they forced out of their party. Otherwise, how would a reasonable person throw dirt at the fact that 175 medical graduates of the State university whose graduation was held up for 12 years are now offering medical services across the country? How would anyone be sad that the School of Nursing and Midwifery as well as College of Health Technology, Agasha, which were closed down for four years and their premises overrun by weeds and reptiles are now offering excellent academic services in a most conducive atmosphere following their reconstruction?. The truth is that Governor Ortom’s name remains indelibly inked in the minds of scores of graduates whose dreams have been realized by his intervention.
The massive rural infrastructure drive of the State Government is evidenced by by 800 rural water projects, numerous rural electrification projects, feeder roads, cottage hospitals, youth and women empowerment programmes and the defence of the people. All these are verifiable and cannot be blighted by the evil wishes of detractors.
Governor Ortom mentioned a Soyabean Cleaning and Packaging plant in Wannune, and the APC chairman rushed to state that he referred to a Soyabean Processing Plant owned by an individual in that town.
But this is a new project contract for which was awarded to the wife of Senator George Akume. The project stands completed in the senator’s home town.
In his broadcast speech he never said he constructed eleven roads. He said he mobilized contractors back to site on eleven roads, two of which have completed.
Moreover, government is a continuous process and the incumbent Governor does not need to reinvent the wheel before he can get credit for upgrading already existing facilities or completing projects started by his predecessors.
It is auspicious to ask at what point did the APC realize the non performance of Governor Ortom? At the last Congress of the APC in Benue, members of the party unanimously endorsed Governor Samuel Ortom for a Second term due to what they described as his ” superlative performance”. Comrade Yaro has been at the forefront of the “no vacancy” campaign. The National Chairman of the APC Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in his last ditch attempt to persuade Governor Ortom from departing from the APC described Ortom as ” one of the stars of the APC”.
We wish to reiterate here that Governor Ortom’s decision to dump the APC is in response to the people’s desire for greater fairness, justice and equity in the Nigerian project for Benue State which wasn’t guaranteed under the party’s platform. The people of Benue have suffered shabby treatments under a party they thought was the answer to their needs. There is no noticeable Federal presence in the state coupled with low patronage in terms of Federal appointments. It will therefore, amount to swimming against the tide for the Governor to remain in a party that cannot provide these and protection for the Benue People.
The entirety of Comrade Yaro’s press release stands truth on its head. It is a compilation of half truths and outright lies induced by the trauma occasioned by Governor Ortom’s departure from the APC. Yet, at all times, the society requires honourable conduct from people. We believe that Lying under whatever guise cannot be considered Honourable.
Everybody in the state can testify that Governor Ortom gave out information about the bailout, Paris Club refunds as well as all Federal Government interventions and the loans he has taken. He has also explained his difficulty in salary payment on account of the N69 billion arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities which he inherited and another N70 billion as contractual and other obligations. Yet the most challenging aspect is that although the state has low internally generate revenue it has the third highest wage bill in the country after Lagos and Rivers States. However, since the beginning of 2018 he has been paying salaries consistently while sourcing funds to pay arrears.
The earlier Comrade Yaro and his masters realize that Benue State cannot be sold to slave masters, the better for them. Governor Ortom will never surrender the dignity of his people to those who wish to overrun the state for their selfish gains. They should also realize that the survival of Benue State as an entity ranks higher than any political consideration. On this we stand and in God we Trust.
Special Adviser, Media and ICT.
7th August, 2018.
Culled from The Nation newspaper of Thursday, 8th August, 2018, page 12.