Ortom clears airs on Cargo airport, surrenders self for probe

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

The immediate past governor of Benue state, Chief Samuel Ortom PhD says his administration did not spend a dime on the proposed Cargo airport in Makurdi.

Ortom’s claim is contrary to claim by the present administration in the state that the former governor wasted public funds on the abandoned project.

The former governor who was reacting to a plan to probe him by Governor Hyacinth Alia in a press statement signed by his Media Aide, Mr Terver Akase also advised his successor to study the hand over notes with him properly to enable him understand that he is being given wrong information about the former administration.

The former governor also said that he was ready for the planned probe of his administration by his successor, Governor Hyacinth Alia, stressing that such probe will stop the unending media trial against him.

Chief Ortom also explained some facts surrounding the lease of the state’s liaison offices in Lagos state.

The statement reads:

We read a statement credited to Governor Hyacinth Alia of Benue State in which he made known his decision to probe the decisions and actions of the immediate past administration. Governor Alia whose Chief Press Secretary conveyed his intention to the media listed the proposed cargo airport as well as the state’s liaison offices in Abuja and Lagos which the report read that “Ortom’s administration had allegedly leased out the state’s liaison offices in Lagos at N10 million for 15 years, while the one in Abuja was sold out…”

We consider Governor Alia’s decision as a welcome development as it will enable him to get the facts and perhaps see no reason for the unending media trial of his predecessor, Chief Samuel Ortom.

The assertion that the state liaison offices were leased suggests that the current government is conflating and confusing liaison offices with Benue Plazas.

The liaison buildings are administrative offices which were established in Kaduna, Abuja and Lagos alongside the Plazas which were created for commercial purposes and made tenantable to generate revenue for the state.

The Benue Plazas have always been on lease, while the liaison offices are occupied and run by civil servants posted from the state. At no time in the history of the state have the liaison offices been leased.
It is equally important to emphasize that none of the Benue Plazas has been sold!

The cargo airport was never a Benue State Government project. Governor Ortom made it clear that his administration was not going to use public funds to build the airport. The project was purely a private sector initiative under a public-private partnership agreement between the investors and the State Government.

The government’s primary responsibility was limited to providing land for the cargo airport and creating an enabling environment that encompassed security, policy formulation, monitoring, and regulation.

The cargo airport agreement gave the consortium a condition of two years within which to start and carry out the project or have the land certificate revoked. The company failed to comply with the agreement terms and the Ortom administration wasted no time in revoking the certificate.

We advise His Excellency, Governor Alia to take time and go through the handover documents that his predecessor presented to him and he will realize that he has been given the wrong impression on a number of issues regarding the previous administration.

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