By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Terver Akase has decried the punitive actions of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government against the state by frustrating the efforts of Governor Samuel Ortom to access funds meant to offset the backlog of salaries and pension of state and local government workers.
The media adviser decried the incessant media attacks on Governor Ortom by the President’s media handlers who he said had tagged the Governor an enemy because of his position on critical national issues, insisting that the Governor always spoke the minds of all Nigerians.
Speaking Monday, when he featured on “Burning Issues” a Makurdi FM current affairs programme, Mr. Akase berated the Federal Government for victimizing and attacking the Governor for his forthrightness on critical issues like security and the welfare of the people.
He maintained that “the attacks will not stop the Governor from speaking the truth; because he has chosen to be the voice of the voiceless and a social crusader against injustice and inequality. I therefore urge the President’s media handlers to take the Governor’s messages and redeem the image of the President rather than making him the subject of attacks.”
He also expressed displeasure over the insensitivity of some Benue politicians who were collaborating with the Federal Government to play politics with the welfare of workers and retirees, saying “such conspirators are enemies of the state. They are collaborating and supporting the punitive action of the Federal Government to block Benue State Government from accessing the N41b loan approved by the State House of Assembly thereby playing with the welfare of workers and retirees.
“But Governor Ortom is not relenting in his efforts, he remains committed to the welfare of the people; the payment of salaries, pensions and gratuity is ongoing, despite the frustration faced by the State Government.”
The Adviser also challenged the main opposition party in the State, the All Progressives Congress, APC, to be more constructive in criticizing the policies and programmes of the Ortom administration, rather than relying on falsehood, campaign of calumny and mischief.
On the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff University Union, ASUU, Akase described the situation as unfortunate and called on the Federal Government to properly fund education and honour its agreements with labour unions.
He reaffirmed the belief of Governor Ortom in fairness, equity and justice saying the Governor had placed education on the front burner, citing the placement of salaries of Benue State University academic and non-academic staff on first line charge.
While refuting allegations by the opposition that the State Government had received N17b without accounting for it, the Special Adviser challenged the opposition to bring forth evidence of financial impropriety against the Governor.
He reaffirmed that the financial records of the state were open to public scrutiny and further challenged those interested to go to the Ministry of Finance and other relevant government agencies to cross-check.
On preparedness for next year’s elections, Akase said the PDP had fielded credible candidates for all positions, “unlike the opposition APC which failed to conduct credible primaries and is currently facing litigations.”