The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State has challenged the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume to prove his innocence by answering to the financial crime leveled against him in the state.
DAILY POST had reported that the state government petitioned anti graft agencies in the country to investigate the former lawmaker over alleged financial impropriety amounting to about N4,556,899,632.9 billion naira when he served as Governor.
According to the petition, the alleged financial fraud which ranges from misappropriation of public funds, approvals above limit, abuse of office and public trust also include sale of 33,440,818 units of shares at the Benue Investment and Property Company, BIPC, also valued at billions of naira without recourse to due process.
Following the financial allegation, some members of the All Progressives Congress, APC held a press conference where they tackled the state governor, Samuel Ortom, condemning the audit report.
However, in a statement issued on Wednesday by its State Publicity Secretary, Bemgba Iortyom, the Benue PDP said “crying wolf about the audit report” would not make any difference, describing Akume’s tenure as a wasteful era.
The statement reads, “Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State has observed views raised at a press conference by one of those individuals laying claim to the Chairmanship of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, a fellow by name Austine Agada.
“In the press conference, the said Mr. Agada raised a number of complaints against Governor Samuel Ortom and his administration, chiefly among which is the issue of the audit report which recently unearthed cases of gross financial offences against George Akume during his tenure as Governor of Benue State from 1999 to 2007.
“It is the position of Benue PDP that Akume should do the honourable needful by availing himself to answer to those cases of financial crimes so unearthed against him by the audit rather than resorting to sponsoring press conferences by a neophyte whose status is still unclear even within his party, the APC.
“Crying wolf about the audit report being a witch-hunt is totally immaterial as the due process of law requires him to prove his innocence before a competent authority when called upon to do so.
“The fellow Austin Agada must have been handed the poorly written script to read before the press or himself is suffering from acute poverty of thought and history that he needs a quick fix in basic enlightenment which PDP graciously offer to him as such:
“Only a comedian out to create a hullabaloo will assert that APC won the 2019 elections in Benue State but were robbed of the victory, as at the conclusion of that election, the rejection of the broom wielders party by the electorate in the state was so total that they were not even runners up to PDP, rather it was the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) which came a distant second with 2 seats in the House of Representatives whereas APC won just a single seat.
“How could APC have been robbed of victory in Benue, if they had won, when they had a security armada deployed to the state as if it were a military war zone, which themselves christened as “Federal Might”, comprising Special Forces, DSS units, top brasshats of the Nigeria Police Force with heavy detachments of police personnel?
“Does it make sense at all seeking to link recent utterances by Governor Ortom about the state of things in the state to the bailout loan he is about to receive from federal coffers?
“Should the fact that the governor is about to receive a bailout loan for his administration gag him from speaking on issues such as where his farm produce are being stolen or where he is alarmed at the negative tendency being indulged in by opposition elements in the state who indulge in habitual alcoholism refusing to be productive, yet blaming government for virtually every failure of their lives?
“Agada should also receive enlightenment that, while he has taken to singing about backlog of salaries and pensions arrears lately in the manner children sing nursery rhymes, the root of it all traces back to the time of the Governorship tenure of his leader, George Akume, from 1999 to 2007, during which time salaries and pensions were owed workers for no justifiable reason.
“The Akume era as governor witnessed numerous external intervention funding to the state for purposes of ecological, educational as well as social amenities development, yet there was scarcely any projects executed commensurate to those fundings, which were rather channeled to oiling a loose, irresponsible and extravagant lifestyle in official circles.
“It is the consequences of such a wasteful era that the Suswam administration battled with and passed on to the Ortom administration which today in the midst of hugely depleted revenue inflow coupled with debilitating security challenges, is still managing to pay salaries on a regular monthly basis, since mid-2018.
“The Ortom administration has also taken head-on the monster of pensions arrears it inherited by domesticating the Pensions Law in the state by which to plug into the pool of funds reserved for automated payment of pensions nationwide, thereby eliminating totally the problems faced by retirees when they leave the civil service.
“Agada must also be enlightened to the fact that it was during Akume’s time as governor that the equity shares held by the state in Benue Cement Company were sold off, with the proceeds embezzled and to date not accounted for.
“Moreover, it was during the same era that establishment of industries by the state became a corruption stratagem by which huge loans were taken and a fraction of them deployed to the purchase of scraps and obsolete equipment which were installed at those sites named as industries.
“Benue PDP is bold to ask which of those Akume era industries saw the light of day, from the Tomatoes processing plant in Wannune to the Fertiliser blending plant in Makurdi? They were all conduit pipes for siphoning of public funds and today stand as relics which the government must find a way of disposing off as waste.
“Perhaps, Agada may need to be as well enlightened to the elementary fact that there is no legacy anywhere in Benue today as stands to the name of the Akume era worth mentioning: He may go ahead and point to just single kilometer of road built by his leader while he was governor anywhere in the state.
“If today the audits have found it needful to call that era to account, it is for the reason that such colossal waste of public resources as took place under it must of necessity be addressed and this is a fact which cannot be vitiated by tagging it a witch-hunt or wizard-hunt or whatever.
“This is a fact Agada and other opposition naysayers must bear in mind while indulging in their favourite past time of criticising the Ortom administration while it is assiduously at work clearing the augean stable of corruption and bad governance which their leader left behind as a legacy.
“The fact that Akume is nursing ambition to run for any office anywhere in the world does not confer on him immunity from accounting for his stewardship at previous offices he held or the one he is presently occupying”.
Fayemi, Fayose, Badaru, Emmanuel meet in Ekiti
Ekiti Governor, Kayode Fayemi and his predecessor, Ayo Fayose met at the state capital, Ado Ekiti, on Thursday.
Others were Governors of Jigawa, Mohammed Abubakar; and Akwa Ibom, Emmanuel Udom.
Fayose and Emmanuel are Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members; Fayemi and Abubakar are of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Photos of their meeting are being interpreted differently on social media.
In a Facebook post, Fayose explained that he was at the Government House to see off Emmanuel, who superintended over the PDP primary election.
He said Fayemi and Badaru, APC Electoral Panel Chairman for Ekiti primary election, “saw us to the Helipad where Gov Emmanuel’s helicopter departed.”
“These clarifications become necessary before the “political analysts” start their commentations.”
The PDP exercise produced Bisi Kolawole as the party’s governorship candidate for the June 18 poll.
2023: Igbos are ready, better prepared for presidency – Ohanaeze President, Obiozor
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Socio-cultural organization, George Obiozor, has insisted that the Igbos are ready and better prepared to produce Nigeria’s next President in 2023.
Obiozor said the Southwest, South-South, and the North have all produced Nigeria’s presidents and Vice Presidents since 1999, with only the Igbos left out.
In a statement, the Ohanaeze President General said Igbos have over the years fully supported other regions that produced the country’s leadership in the past.
He said, “Let it be known and clearly understood that Ndigbo were more prepared than the North when President Buhari was elected in 2015. By then Boko Haram had threatened to overrun the North and the country, and the nation’s priority then was security and the issue of who will guarantee security to the country favoured Buhari, a former Head of State, a General. The only preparation in the North was having available a man like Buhari presumed to have the capacity to confront the security challenges in the North and the rest of the country.
“In the South West, how prepared were they in 1999 when President Obasanjo was elected? In fact, many people from the South-West did not vote for him in that election. The people of the South-West zone were deep in the crises of NADECO and displeasure over the June 12, 1993 election annulment. That, notwithstanding, the Nigerian nation and the people through the two main national political parties zoned the Presidency to the South West to heal and reconcile the nation over the post-1993 election crisis.
“Today, if the truth must be told, the imperative of zoning the presidency to the South East is an idea whose time has come. Certainly, Ndigbo are prepared and look forward to it as a national priority. It is also indeed reasonable and logical that before any other zone in the country goes for a second turn of occupying the office of the presidency that Ndigbo should at least have their first turn.”
2023: Ohanaeze rejects Atiku’s single term proposal, vice presidential slot
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo has rejected former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s proposed single four years tenure if elected as president in 2023.
The apex Igbo social-cultural group described Atiku’s proposal as a hoax.
Recall that Raymond Dokpesi, an ally of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential aspirant, had said the former Vice President would govern Nigeria for a single term, if elected as president.
Dokpesi vowed to go naked if Atiku fails to hand over to the Igbos after his tenure.
Reacting, Ohanaeze Secretary-General, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said the remark was a collective disrespect to people of the southeast.
Isiguzoro also declared that Igbos will reject the vice-presidential slot, stressing that the region should be allowed to produce a president in 2023.
In a statement he signed and forwarded to DAILY POST, Isiguzoro recounted how Atiku rejected a single term offer from Igbo elders in 2019.
He said: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has declared openly that attempts to trick and entice the southeast with attractive offers from the ally of former Vice President and 2019 PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, Raymond Dokpesi to get southeast’s support for his principal (Atiku) in 2023 are hoaxes and collective disrespect on the sensibility of the people of southeast, no amount of enticing promises will make southeast to swap their right to 2023 presidency to anyone.
“Atiku Abubakar’s refusal to adhere to a written request from Igbo elders for a Mandela option of a single tenure in 2019 will continue to haunt his 2023 presidential ambitions, instead, he replied to Igbo leaders in 2019 with his then six years economic blueprint for Nigeria (2020-2026) which was a clear understanding of having the ambition of a two-term as president if elected.
“This evidence is now contradictory to the recent request from Atiku’s ally for southeast’s support, as no force can thwart the 2023 Igbo Presidency Project with vice presidential offer to the southeast, which is not feasible, as there will be a power shift from the North to the East in 2023.”
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