By Terver Akase
Ayn Rand was a Russian-born American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. He gave the world one of the most truthful and popular quotes when he said,
“People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.”
Rand’s statement was aptly corroborated by
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, a German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, and Latin and Greek schools thus,
“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
The above quotes draw us to the nagging reality about telling lies. When an individual or group elects to make lying an art and a vocation, the consequences of such a decision is that the immediate community of the liar(s) is endangered. Not everyone has the time to go an extra mile to dig the veracity of a statement made by a habitual liar.
The current situation in Benue State paints the above picture succinctly. Since May 29 last year, the now opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has deployed its propaganda machinery to lie to the good people of the state. Their object in the felonious trade is no other than the Samuel Ortom administration. No day passes without one lie or the other being told against the Ortom administration. From the laughable allegations of bailout funds diversion to the ridiculous claims that officials of the present administration are building and buying structures in choice locations of the country, the PDP propaganda team has used the social media to swear, wait a minute, in whose name? (certainly not that of God) that the current government is not leading well. But on each occasion I check, I do not see their claims backed by evidence/verifiable facts.
But Benue people are no fools. The people know the truth. The good people of Benue know who received over one trillion naira between 2007 and 2015 and spent without appropriation, a whopping sum of N219 billion while over N151 billion went missing from the state coffers making the Justice Elizabeth Kpojime Judicial Commission of Inquiry to recommend that 52 individuals and 10 corporate bodies be made to vomit N107 billion and further investigation be carried out into additional N44 billion.
Benue people are much aware that the Ortom administration has not taken fresh loans as the opposition claims. The people know that the recent funds of N10 billion and N5.5 billion which came to the state in the last few weeks are the same loans the State House of Assembly approved last year which we publicised. The government could not access the loans until now. So any claim that the government of Benue State has taken fresh loans is pure mischief.
The opposition has tried without success to hoodwink the people into believing that the N28 billion the present administration received late last year to clear the backlog of salaries which the immediate past Government of Gabriel Suswam refused to pay is bailout, in other words, free cash from the Federal Government. But the truth is that the money is not a grant. It is a loan and the Benue State Government has already started paying back the loan. Just imagine what the N28 billion could have done for Benue if it were not for payment of salary backlog. That money can change any sector of the economy for the better. But it is not to be in Benue as the funds have been used for the payment of salaries owed workers. Fair enough, isn’t it?
The Ortom administration has refused to be weighed down by the barrage of lies told daily by the opposition. The Governor and his team are moving on as hope rises in the horizon for the people of the state.
Already, Governor Ortom has approved the construction 12 roads in different parts of the state nine of which were awarded by former Governor Gabriel Suswam but the projects were abandoned and the contract money gleefully shared by members of that administration. The affected contractors have been mobilised back to site and work is set to be completed on those roads this year.
Here are the road projects:
1. Zaki Biam – Afia – Gbeji road 46.52km
2. Taraku – Naka – Agagbe road 61km
3. Oju – Obussa – Utonkon road 52.00km
4. Otukpo – Utonkon – Igumale road 55.61km
5. Oshigbudu – Ogbaji road 10km
6. Igbor – Ikpa – Wannune road 36.732k
7. Vandeikya – Kotiyough – Adikpo road 32.00km
8. Ge – Ikyobo – Agbeede – Amua – Anshagba road 37km
9. Tordonga – Zaki Biam with spur to Tsewuaze – Tiza – Shila road 45.14km
Below are the new road contracts so far awarded by the Ortom administration while it constructs the ones listed above which were awarded during the last administration but were abandoned and the money found its way into private pockets:
10. Makurdi Outer Ring road (Mobile Police road)
11. Mobile Barracks – Adeke – Welfare Quarters – Yaikyo – Apir road 24km
12. Origbo – Imande – Akpur – Gbajimba road 40. 397km
As we speak, the Benue State Universal Basic Education Board is advertising in various national newspapers calling for tenders for the construction and rehabilitation of over 700 primary schools – 4th quarter 2011 to 4th quarter 2015. Similarly, there will be conduct of geophysical survey/drilling of boreholes, construction and supply of teachers’ tables and chairs, procurement and installation of computers/portal construction in primary and junior secondary schools across the state.
Water is now running through taps in Katsina-Ala and Otukpo as a result of deliberate efforts by the Ortom administration to complete the abandoned water projects. Recently, the office of the Special Adviser, Development Cooperation, SDGs and NEPAD, Dr. Magdalyne Dura, publicly opened bids for the construction of primary health facilities in the 23 local government areas of the state.
Governor Samuel Ortom believes that Benue people deserve good services and he is committed to completing any abandoned project which can bring smiles to the faces of the people while embarking on new ones.
On Wednesday, the 10th of February, the Benue State Government signed an agreement with Torra KFT for the completion of the Wannune Tomato Factory which is aimed at creating hundreds of jobs for the people. The same approach is being applied to other comatose state-owned industries.
Already, the training and retraining of thousands of teachers has been in the state.
Governor Ortom has refused to be weighed down by the numerous challenges he faced following the numerous pitfalls the immediate past administration set for him. One of the traps was that the present administration did not only meet an empty treasury, it actually met a deficit treasury.
We have published many times other achievements of the Ortom administration in the last 9 months so I wouldn’t go into the full long list now but perhaps one needs to take a quick look at some of the things the Ortom administration has done in a few months despite the daunting challenges it has faced within the same period:
– Trimming of Government size from the previous 17 Commissioners to 13 and advisers from 28 to 18. This is to reduce the cost of governance, a significant departure from the prevalence of waste witnessed during the last dispensation.
– Resolution of disputes with unions a few days after taking over and the resumption of Benue State University (BSU) from strike.
-Payment of accreditation requirements of College of Health Sciences and BSU Teaching Hospital leading to granting of accreditation by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria after 12 years.
– Rehabilitation of School of Nursing and Midwifery for re-accreditation.
– Immediate commencement of payment of full salaries at state and local Government levels after the workers had not received their wages for a period of several months.
The Government also paid minimum wage to primary school teachers in the state.
– Promotion of peace between farmers and herdsmen as well as deepening inter-state peace building efforts.
– Introduction and prosecution of Amnesty Programme which led to the recovery of over 400 arms, thousands of ammunition while over 700 youths embraced the amnesty and surrendered their weapons. The initiative has brought peace to various parts of the state.
– Setting up of Judicial Commission of Inquiry into funds which accrued to state and how they were utilised between 2007 and 2015 as well as the Administrative Commission of Inquiry into the sale and lease of government property within the same period. The Judicial Commission of Inquiry submitted its report recently and indicted 52 individuals and 10 corporate bodies who are to refund over N107 billion to the coffers of the state. A white paper has already been issued on the Kpojime Commission’s report.
– Collaboration with the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA for the establishment of Benue State Information Technology Development Agency, BITDA
– Partnership with the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology and the Rockefeller Foundation for training of 1,500 unemployed youths from the 23 local government areas of the state on how to access online jobs.
– Re-engagement with Development Partners, UN, UNHCR, UNFPA, World Bank, IFAD, USAID for the provision of Education, Health services etc.
– Signing of MOU with Chinese, German and American investors on infrastructure.
– Release of funds for construction and equipping of laboratory at the Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture, Yandev, and rehabilitation of Agric Training centres in Mbatie and Otobi.
The Ortom administration has also taken proactive steps to boost the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR of the state by introducing the Point of Sale (POS) machines which is already helping in plugging leakages and increasing the revenue base of the state. It is the first time that this is happening in Benue State. As I write, the monthly IGR of Benue State is well above N500 million.
Today, citizens of Benue can proudly name figures which have accrued to the state as income because, for the first time, a Governor has decided to be transparent. Even primary school pupils now know how much Benue has as and how much is being spent. Governor Ortom has included labour unions like NLC, TUC and NUT for the first time, as part of the joint account committee and they know precisely what comes to the state and how it is disbursed.
The people know that the lies peddled against the Ortom administration are merely what they are – lies!
The opposition in Benue State can help deepen our democracy better if they engage the present administration on issues. That’s how it is done elsewhere.
Akase is Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor.