Insecurity: Gov Alia should stop insulting Benue People

Benue State, Governor Hyacinth Alia

Insecurity: Gov Alia should stop insulting Benue People

We read with utter shock and concern an unfortunate comment credited to the Governor of Benue state, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia in which he made derogatory comments against the people of state and inadvertently gave the indication that there is no hope for the return of peace in the state, at least under his watch.

Governor Alia in an interview granted Vanguard Newspaper claimed that there has been “relative peace today because we are on the lane of sincerity. There is no need for you to go and cry wolf down there when people come and you slaughter them and you go crying to the Federal Government to give you money so that you will come back and take care of business.”

As stakeholders in the Benue project, we feel betrayed by the unsavory statement of the Governor. Alia insulted every Benue person in that interview and all people of good conscience owe him a stern reply. No Governor of Benue State has ever repeatedly blamed his people for whatever issue as the current governor often does.

A man who is running the state like a church parish and has zero respect for transparency and accountability lacks the moral authority to accuse others of any wrongdoing. Where are the multi billions that he has received since the removal of fuel subsidy? What is happening to local government money under his watch? Yesterday, the former Governor Samuel Ortom challenged Alia to publish all the monies he has collected from Abuja and declare how he has spent the money but he kept mute.

Alia boasts that he is paying salaries and we ask, why won’t he pay salaries when he is getting N20 billion every month as allocation? Salary payment is not an achievement; it is the entitlement of the people. Even the past government that was receiving less than N4 billion was paying salaries most of the time. All state governments are now paying salaries, pensions and gratuities because President Asiwaju Tinubu is giving them plenty of money. The money Alia is collecting today is enough to pay all the arrears so why is he not clearing the arrears?
Governor Alia should stop making it look like he is doing our people any favours by paying workers. By the way, if he is sincere, why did he join the other governors to kick against the proposed N60,000 minimum wage?

This same Governor in less than 5 months in office, increased his security vote to N1.5 billion per month and increased his approval limit from N50 million to N250 million. He spent N46 billion in just 4 months in office. He is yet to explain what happened to the N20 billion of local government money under the Bureau for Local Governments being supervised by his aide kinsman Dennis Akura. Alia awards contracts alone without due process and the contractors are answerable directly to him alone and not the state Ministry of Works. The governor recently sold shares belonging to the state under the Benue Investment and Property Company Ltd (BIPC) worth over N10 billion and has kept sealed lips over the deal. No one knows the state wage bill and internally generated revenue under Alia. The state government receives about N20 billion now from the federation’s account monthly but Alia is keeping all that under wraps.

The claim by Governor Alia that he has not been receiving salaries is laughable! Does a governor need to take salaries to make money, if he wants to be corrupt? What about the contracts that he is awarding to himself using his friends? He is the sole controller of the state accounts and he withdraws money from the accounts any time he wants, so that talk about not receiving salaries is hogwash.

Despite the huge volumes of money Governor Alia is receiving and after increasing his security vote to N1.5 billion, he is not funding security agencies. He has not donated a single patrol vehicle to any of the security forces since he took over. He flies in private jets frequently and stays in 5-star hotels all at the expense of the people. Other state Governors who came to power at the same time with Governor Alia have donated patrol vehicles and other equipment to security agencies more than once in the last one year.

That Governor Alia told such a fat lie from the pit of hell about the issue of security and laced it with a baseless and evil oriented allegation against the people whom he accused of rusting Fulani cows is most uncharitable and a clear indication that he has endorsed what is sadly happening to us the people of Benue State either due to political correctness or sheer lack of capacity to handle the situation.

It is ridiculous that Governor Alia who should be more concerned and aware of the sanctity of human life due to his background as a Catholic Priest is now in the forefront of defecating on the graves of Benue people slaughtered by Fulani herdsmen.

His father and mentor is the Sultan of Sokoto who warned him to cancel the 14-day ultimatum that he gave to Fulani herders to leave Benue State.

We are aware that Governor Alia said his government is already returning those displaced by Fulani herdsmen to their ancestral lands. We challenge him to mention one community where he has relocated and settled people to after one year in office. We also challenge him to tell us the communities where he has orchestrated the return of peace.

Fr. Alia must be ashamed of himself that he has lowered the bar of responsible and proactive governance by turning a blind eye and deaf ears to the plight of the people and has gone a step further to clandestinely tell them that there is no end in sight to the invasion of their lands by marauding merchants of death.

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We make bold to tell Governor Alia that there is no relative peace in Benue state; rather, the situation has deteriorated to an alarming state as more local communities have come under attacks in the last one year and people are living in perpetual fear and penury.

How would Fr. Alia claim that the people are enjoying relative peace and security when kidnappers are gradually taking over Makurdi city and abducting people with reckless abandon in the state capital? How does he want to explain the occasional disappearance of people in the cities without traces? How would he talk about relative peace when camps for internally displaced persons keep multiplying?

Fr. Alia also needs to be conscious of the fact that his reintroduction of thuggery in Benue state is partly responsible for the rising insecurity in the state. It is however, not too late for him to retrace his steps if he wants history and posterity to be kind to him after he leaves office.

Amos Uchiv,
President, Defenders of Democracy.

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