The Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party in Benue State, Bemgba Iortyom, speaks to JOHN CHARLES about the palliatives expected to be shared with vulnerable people in the state
The Federal Government recently announced some packages as palliatives to cushion the effects of subsidy removal. How did the Peoples Democratic Party in the state feel about this?
The Peoples Democratic Party in Benue State commends President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for the palliative packages given by his government to states in the country to cushion the hardship resulting from the removal of subsidy on petroleum products.
Do you think the palliatives are good enough to address the pains of Nigerians?
The palliatives, while not a long-term solution to the issues of poverty and suffering occasioned on Nigerians by the subsidy removal and other related policies of the Tinubu administration, will provide short-term succour to citizens if handled sincerely and transparently by the various state governments. However, in Benue State, the PDP and the people find worrisome the continued silence by Governor Hyacinth Alia over the package sent to the state which we understand comprises trucks of food items and N5bn. This package has also been given to each of the 36 states of the federation.
It is a widely known fact that many other state governments across the country have since distributed the palliatives to their people, with some even augmenting the package from their own resources. However, in Benue State, Governor Alia has not uttered a word regarding the matter.
Questions already agitating the populace in the state include: Has Governor Alia received Benue State’s share of the palliatives or not? If he has received the packages, how does he intend to share same out? Who are his target beneficiaries and what are they likely to get?
The PDP calls on Governor Hyacinth Alia to, without further waste of time, come out from his cocoon of silence and secrecy over the palliatives and throw light on the matter. Continued silence by the governor and the concomitant delay in the distribution of the palliatives amounts to aggravating the sufferings of the intended beneficiaries in the reality that benefits delayed are benefits denied. The PDP further urges Governor Alia to resist any temptation or pressure from his cronies to play politics with the palliatives, and he should ensure in the most transparent manner that the packages reach the suffering and vulnerable people of Benue State for whom the palliatives are meant. This raises serious concerns for us as a party.
The APC-led government in the state on Tuesday came up with the announcement of receiving N2bn and that the fund would be properly channelled. Is your party satisfied with this?
Yes, that was after we raised the alarm, he (Governor) has no such power because he has no cabinet and his approval limit as governor for any spending is a mere N50m. Here, the governor was talking of N2bn as if he was a sole administrator of the state; no cabinet, no meeting was held, and no proposal to the assembly for approval. We don’t understand where he gets that power from.
We know him for all these empty promises he has been making. He is somebody who runs on empty promises, and no legacy other than the empty promises he has been making right from the campaign. He promised to return IDPs back to their ancestral homes in his 100 days, to clear salary and pension arrears in 100 days to fix Benue State and make it heaven on earth. The PDP in the state is not folding its arms to watch the governor fritter away our hard-earned public resources and weaken the legacy our party put in place. The PDP put in place a robust legacy and foundation in all sectors; civil service, security and others.
It is now clear to the people of the state that with few days to his 100 days in office, there is nothing on the ground. He said he awarded a contract for 16 roads totalling 15 kilometres; is it not funny that the number of roads is more than the coverage of roads at a whopping N6bn? But where did he get the power to appropriate such money without any cabinet in place? It was when we put pressure on him that he hurriedly submitted the list of commissioner-nominees through the back door after the stipulated 60 days. Weeks after the state House of Assembly confirmed the nominees, he has yet to swear in the commissioners. So, up till this moment, he is running a government without a cabinet.
A few days ago he constituted a panel to look into the affairs of the state football club, Lobi Stars, and made the Speaker of the state Assembly the chairman, whom he said, would report to him. What manner of decision is that? The speaker is heading an arm of government, such as him. It shows that the governor has no idea of what governance is all about. However, the PDP is leaving no stone unturned to stop the governor before he takes the state down the pit where it cannot be recovered.
But the APC-led government claimed to have done so well within the short period to restore hope to the hopeless through the payment of salaries and procurement of fertilisers and a host of other milestones. How will you react to this?
Which salary is he paying? When he came, he made bogus claims that he discovered thousands of ghost workers and had saved over N1bn, but we asked him to publish the list of ghost workers. The governor has locked down the machinery of the state, and closed all state accounts. He alone makes withdrawal; at whose vetting and for what purpose?
He accused the PDP of running the state aground, but we have challenged him to make a difference and tell the people of the state how much has accrued to the state from the Federation Account since May 29 when he took over and how much from internally generated revenue, Value Added Tax, stamp duties and several stream of income that the immediate past governor had worked out and only waiting to be accessed before he left office which the present governor have accessed most of the funds.
The governor promised to pay salaries on the 25th of every month. Has he been paying? There are arbitrary deductions and demotion of civil servants who were promoted by the last administration.
But the ruling party accused the PDP of making frivolous allegations that cannot be substantiated. How will you react to this?
Go and investigate all that our party has been saying. We don’t just make mere allegations, we give facts. Is there anything that we have raised that they can dispute? None!