Group backs Ortom’s plan to recover alleged N130b loot

Ortom. Photo; thesheet

Ortom. Photo; thesheet

• Benue Assembly grants governor’s request to borrow N5.5b 

MEDIA practitioners under the aegis of the Association of Benue Journalists (ABJ) have commended the efforts of the Governor of Benue state, Dr. Samuel Ortom to recover N130billion, allegedly looted by the immediate past government of former governor Gabriel Suswam.

The group urged the Ortom administration to reduce the duration of enquiry to three months in view of the urgency required to restore Benue to the path of development. Meanwhile, state House of Assembly has approved the request of Governor Samuel Ortom to obtain a loan of over N5.5billion to finance some counter part fund projects in the state.

The transition committee set up by Governor Ortom to ascertain the handover notes given to him by his predecessor had last week revealed that N130 billion was allegedly mismanaged and not N90 billion as earlier speculated.

Chairman of the committee, Mr. Mike Iordye, while presenting its report made up of proceedings, findings and recommendations, said the committee uncovered a lot of uncharitable deals and implored the governor to ensure that the stolen monies were recovered for the development of the state.

ABJ, in a statement signed by its National Chairman, Mr. Emmanuel Iffer described as unfortunate, the alleged pilfering of the state’s resources and urged the present government to begin the prosecution of the last administration, with the view to recovering every kobo allegedly stolen from the state.

While it commending the Governor for his efforts in the last three months to revive the economy of the state, the journalists, however, regretted that the panel set up by the government of Ortom to probe Suswam, took six-month long to conclude its investigations.

The state assembly approval followed a debate on a letter titled “Request for a House resolution to obtain a loan for counterpart funding,” signed by the Governor, Samuel Ortom and read on the floor by the Speaker, Mr. Terkimbi Ikyange.

According to the letter, the World Bank and other donor agencies such as the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), over the years are involved in financing various programmes and projects in the state.” “Some of these programmes involve the provision of infrastructure for primary education under Universal Basic Education Board matching grant scheme, community projects, water and Sanitation, agriculture programmes and control of HIV/AIDS among other projects.”

According to the letter, the funding scheme involves the state government contributing 50 per cent that is providing a matching grant of whatever amount of money the donor agencies have for the state in respect of each programme or project.

It noted however, that these programmes have been stalled since last year due to the state’s failure to make her counterpart funding, adding that, “ I have observed the need for these programmes and projects, but at the same time have found it difficult to raise funds from the federation account and internally generated revenue to finance them.”

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