Akume betrays Benue people for crumbs- Ngbede

Nigerian Concord Newspaper

The chairman of the People’s Democratic Party in Benue state, Sir John Ngbede, has accused the minister for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, of betraying the people of the state for crumbs and his selfish interest.

Ngbede said this in a press conference he addressed in Makurdi this evening.

Below is the text of the press conference:

On Monday, August 30th, 2021, Senator George Akume, Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, regurgitated the press conference he addressed on 14th September, 2018, almost word for word.

2. That press conference was held as a reaction to the dramatic departure of Governor Samuel Ortom from the All Progressives Congress, APC, and his re-entry into the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Governor Ortom took along with him large numbers of APC members, sounding the death knell for Senator Akume’s political career as was to manifest in defeat at the 2019 General Elections where he sought re-election to a 4th term at the Senate.

3. Three years later, there is once again massive defection of members of the APC to PDP in Benue State, leading to enormous boosting of the political fortunes of the umbrella party ahead of the 2023 General Elections.

4. The promise reportedly dangled before Akume is the APC National Chairmanship which is up for contest at the party’s next convention, yet such a promise could never be taken seriously by those who know the character of the promise makers.

5. However, for one as desperate as the defeated Senator who is facing inevitable political extinction, such an hollow promise is still reason enough to embark on the ill-fated project of blackmail and backstabbing against his people carried in the press conference.

6. The major demand of Senator Akume in his bizzare press conference is a declaration of a State of Emergency in Benue State, which implies a dissolution of all democratic structures in the state and the foisting of a surrogate government.

7. Such a stooge would very likely open the purse of the state’s coffers for him to dip his hands into, as he did all through his ill-fated 2 tenures as governor of Benue State and left Government House in 2007 with a whooping N2 billion as a self-awarded parting gift. Now starved of funds in his inconsequential office of Minister of Special Duties and Inter – Governmental Affairs, Akume is evidently thirsting for acces to Benue public funds so desperately he is willing to sell the state off to a stooge via a State of Emergency.

8. All the fabrications of figures in Senator Akume’s press conference, the grovelling praise singing of President Buhari, the demonizing of Governor Ortom, the denial of attacks on Benue people, the lack of mention of the over N1.5 million IDPs in the various camps across the state, are all targeted at getting control of power in Benue by institution of martial law where he failed through the ballot.

9. This is also reminiscent of his futile attempt in 2018 to impeach Governor Ortom through a kangaroo impeachment that fell flat on its face as he could not rally a quorum of 10 members of the 30-member Assembly to execute his diabolical plan.

10. All the figures quoted by Senator Akume as monies given to Benue State under Governor Ortom are a tissue of lies. For instance, Benue needed N69 billion from the federal government as bailout to offset arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuity, but was only given N28 billion. The claim by Senator Akume that Benue was given N40 billion as bailout funds is outright falsehood. How can the sum of N28 billion be used to clear the arrears of N69billion?

11. We are living witnesses to Senator Akume, while Governor Ortom was in APC, loudly buttressing the inadequacy of the N28 billion bailout loan to offset wages arrears inherited by the Ortom administration and his passionate explanations of the governor’s judicious application of the bailout funds at various stakeholders meetings. He went to great lengths, on record, to explain the financial challenges of the state at that time. All this has changed since the Governor left the APC for the PDP.

12. Everyone also knows what the Presidency released billions of naira to Kogi State on the eve of the last governorship election to clear arrears of salaries, gratuities and pensions just like it did to Osun State without releasing any further amount to Benue State which applied for another tranche at the same time with the two states.

13. Repeated allegations of pilfering of local government funds, Governor Ortom’s possession of militia outfits, and other sundry accusations are fabrications to support a personal objective of giving a dog a bad name to hang it. Everyone in Benue State knows the private business life of Governor Ortom before he assumed Office and the fact that he has divested his holdings in such outfits except in agriculture as permitted by law.

14. The Livestock and Community Volunteer Guards which the genuflecting Minister alleges are Governor Ortom’s militia outfits, are indeed creations of the laws enacted by the Benue State House of Assembly and assented to by the Governor. More specifically, the Community Volunteer Guards Law was assented to in 2000 by Akume himself as Governor. Is he now saying that himself created a militia outfit?

15. But talking of militia, we are reminded of Akume’s inglorious tenure as governor when militia believed to be under his sponsorship unleashed bloody carnage in Kwande, Gwer-West and Tarka local government areas against opponents to his quest to install stooges as council chairmen in those areas, so as to afford him control over funds there.

16. It is a well known fact that Governor Ortom does not patronize thugs or militia, hence his amnesty programme and recovery of assorted small arms and ammunition from criminals was executed successfully in collaboration with local authorities and the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM). The Mines Advisory Group, MAG was responsible for the destruction of the recovered weapons and ammunition.

17. Senator Akume’s unsubstantiated allegation that Governor Ortom allocates N800 million monthly to himself as security votes is a product of a continuous inebriated mind and not true. We challenge Senator Akume to prove this allegation. Even with the dire financial condition of the state, the State Government funds the activities all of the security outfits in the state including Operation Whirl Stroke, the Civil Defence, the Police, the State Security Services. In any case, Senator Akume has not disclosed how much he collected as security votes during his tenure as governor, neither has he called upon his paymasters to disclose how much is being allocated to the Presidency as security votes.

18. Akume must have gotten his narrative of Governor Ortom’s “theft” of Local Government fund from his political ally, the former Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Mr Terkimbi Ikyange. For the information of the Buhari Minister, the Governor is in court with the former Speaker over this false allegation and we will say no more on this as the matter is subjudice.

19. The former National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, toed the same path of libelous media statements similar to what Senator Akume has done. Oshiomhole may have one or two lessons to share with the Minister.

20. Governor Ortom has tremendous respect for President Buhari as a person, but this respect cannot exempt the President from discharging his constitutional responsibilities nor the Governor from respectfully calling on him to live up to the duties of his office. When sick and hospitalized in 2017, the Benue State Government in conjunction with the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, organised a three-Day Prayer and Fasting session from 12th-14th May, 2017 for the recovery of President Buhari. Governor Ortom was also part of a six-man delegation of governors that visited the President on his hospital bed in London. On his return, the Governor called on all Nigerians to pray for the President, stating that, “when the President is sick, the whole country is sick.” We are sure Senator Akume neither fasted, prayed for nor visited the then ailing President. Indeed, Akume’s brand of “love” and “respect” for the then Presidential candidate of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, was manifested through his connivance and denial of landing at the Makurdi Airport and refusal to accept him personally on a courtesy visit in 2003. He also denied candidate Buhari the courtesies due to a former Head of State. What a strange way to love and respect President Buhari.

21. It is on record that Governor Ortom has written several letters to the President complaining about the sustained killings and destruction of massive property in Benue State. He has also visited the President several times over the same issues but was advised to go home and learn to live with his ‘neighbours’.

22. No less than 21 of the 23 LGAs in Benue State have directly suffered the pain of atrocities committed by terrorist herdsmen. Over 5000 of our people, including women and children, have been slaughtered, maimed and raped by these heartless attackers. Millions have been dislocated, with at least 1.5m currently spread across IDP camps. The dead can not be here to appreciate the Federal Government’s investments in Benue State that Akume is trumpeting. Perhaps the Minister is counting on the distressed 1.5m IDPs to cheerfully applaud the schools recently established that their children have little hope of attending while still in the camps. Instead of impressing on the Federal Government to redeem the pledge of the N10 billion for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement of IDP’s, Senator Akume has chosen to move on to praise singing at the expense of the plight of his people. What a shame!

23. Perhaps conscious that he is the Minister of only Benue APC remnants, he could not summon Benue stakeholders to his infamy because no patriotic son or daughter of the state would have joined in his sad misadventure.

24. Let it be known that Governor Ortom’s only crime is that he has identified terrorist Fulani herdsmen by name as the invaders of Benue communities. He has refused to indulge the fiction of ‘unknown gunmen’ when Miyetti Allah and the Fulani Nationality Movement have openly and repeatedly claimed responsibility for the attacks before and after they occur. He has called for the Federal Government to arrest and prosecute the named leaders of these groups. who parade around Abuja unchallenged.

25. It is sad but understandable that Senator Akume and his band of quislings would not add their voices to Governor Ortom in condemnation of the terrorist herdsmen and call for the arrest of their sponsors. The crumbs dangled before them would not allow them. Obviously this is also not in the evil script that has been written for them. But the real shame is that they have no qualms in asking the Federal Government to disband the Benue State Livestock and Community Volunteer Guards. The irony of calling on Governor Ortom to arrest and prosecute criminals while asking the Federal Government to disband the same Guards that have been helping to arrest and prosecute violators of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017 is lost on Senator Akume and his small band of misadventurers.

26. For us in the PDP, we believe in utilizing the mandate of the people to impact positively on their lives. Consequently, Governor Ortom has been providing critical infrastructure since assumption of office.

27. In the Education sector for instance, Governor Ortom ensured the reopening of Benue State University which striking staff had closed, placed them on first line charge in salary payment and secured accreditation for the College of Health Sciences whose students had stagnated for 12 years paving way for their graduation and that of more than 300 other doctors. More than 1000 classrooms blocks in primary schools across the state have either been newly constructed, reconstructed, rehabilitated or renovated and provided with modern school furniture and learning aids. Some secondary schools including Government Girls Secondary Schools Makurdi and Aliade have received total facelift and upgrading of facilities.

28. In the area of health care, the Ortom administration has reopened the Schools of Nursing and Midwifery Makurdi, reconstructed and upgraded them through affiliation to the Benue State University to offer degree courses, given the College of Health Technology, Agasha complete facelift with perimeter fence, built more than 45 new Primary Health Care Centres across the state, established hitherto non-existent Primary Care Health Care Board and ensured its take off. The Ortom administration also rehabilitated decaying facilities as well as procured equipment for hospitals and other health institutions.

29. In the last six years, the Ortom administration has impacted meaningfully in the construction of township and rural roads across the three Senatorial Districts in the state, invested heavily in the security sector through a successful amnesty program, provision of vehicles and other logistic support to security agencies, procurement of tractors and other farm inputs to farmers, facilitation of loan facilities from the Bank of Industry to indigenes and execution of many other projects in electrification, water supply and other sectors. A comprehensive summary of Governor Ortom’s milestones was published to commemorate the last Democracy Day in June. Time and space will fail us to repeat the list here.

30. Senator Akume called on the EFCC to investigate Governor Ortom’s administration since inception. The PDP has no problem with that. For his information, all the anti-graft agencies have carried out periodic investigations of the administration countless times and are free to continue with the exercise. However, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. The EFCC might need to take a second look at Senator Akume’s file with them for reexamination as records indicated that he had cases with them and was once bailed by Hon. Terngu Tsegba when he was arrested by the agency sometime back.

31. It can also be recalled that when Senator Akume was Governor, he demonstrated his ‘respect’ for the EFCC by personally molesting their officials and forcibly retrieving documents and files from them when they visited the state to investigate some of the key officials of his administration. It is therefore an irony for the Minister to wish to invoke the powers of the agency which he once denigrated and obstructed from carrying out their lawful duties, to investigate the administration of Governor Ortom.

32. We wish Senator Akume well on his path of self destruction. But we will counsel him to beware of the increasingly heavier price he is eager to pay for a declining share of the crumbs. Hopes of his Senate Presidency faded soon after they were nurtured. For Sen. Akume and his fellow travelers who have been recruited for the Benue conquest and occupation agenda, they will do well to heed the wise counsel of Senator Emmanuel Orker-Jev, who humiliatingly defeated Senator Akume in 2019 on PDP platform, for treading this same path. In the words of Senator Orker-Jev, ‘in the fullness of time, the benefits of the moment will pass away and we will hand over such people to posterity’.

Sir John Ngbede
State Chairman,
PDP, Benue State.