Nigerian Concord Newspaper
Terver Akase, media Aide to the immediate past governor of Benue state has accused the governor of the state, Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia of bandying figures to discredit his predecessor.
Reacting to a statement credited to the state Attorney General, Fidelis Mnyim where he said that the Alia administration inherited N14B debt profile from the immediate past administration, Terver Akase said that the governor is just using every opportunity to paint his predecessor in dark colours.
Akase who made his reactions known in a press statement he personally signed and sent to journalists this morning noted that the present government is quick to publish unsubstantiated figures in the media only to accuse the previous administration without giving evidence to back their claims.
The statement reads:
We read a newspaper report in which the Benue State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Fidelis Mnyim was quoted to have said the present administration inherited a debt profile of over N14 billion as consent judgment from the immediate past government of Chief Samuel Ortom.
What the Justice Commissioner said was one in a series of media outings by the Alia administration aimed at dragging the name of the former Governor and his administration to disrepute.
The present government is quick to publish unsubstantiated figures in the media only to accuse the previous administration without giving evidence to back their claims. The sole intention is to cast Chief Ortom and his government in dark colours, make political capital out of every issue while evading public scrutiny.
It should be noted that most of the issues raised by the Commissioner for Justice are from pensions and gratuity cases. It is on record that the Ortom administration inherited arrears of pension and gratuity which cut across several past administrations and the court cases filed by the pensioners were still pending when Chief Ortom assumed office in 2015.
To ameliorate the situation in his usual humanitarian disposition, Governor Ortom decided that the senior citizens had served the state meritoriously so his government would not enter defense against them in court, and he opted for amicable resolution of the cases.
The State Government had an agreement with the retirees and was paying their arrears of pensions and gratuities as funds permitted. This was even as the economic situation in the country was severe with federal allocations to states at their lowest since 1999 and Nigeria had plunged into recession at two different times.
If the present government is complaining about numerous garnishee orders, there is the possibility that it has defaulted on the payment arrangement that the Ortom administration made with the pensioners and the retirees have returned to the courts.
Interestingly, the current Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Fidelis Mnyim served as counsel to some persons who took the Benue State Government to court. He ought to have told the media if the case he handled was among the garnishee orders resulting in the N14 billion that he claimed.
Chief Ortom appeals to Governor Hyacinth Alia to take advantage of the huge funds available to his administration from the federation’s account following the removal of fuel subsidy, to address development challenges.
When a new government assumes power, it inherits both assets and liabilities. Governor Ortom, like his predecessors, inherited similar financial obligations.