Probe: Alia Diverting Attention From His Failures

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Gov on a Vendetta Mission Against His Predecessor

By Peter Awunah, PhD

It is now obvious that the Governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia is incapable of tackling the serious issues of insecurity and the hardship facing the people and has decided to employ tactics to divert attention from his ineptitude.

On Monday, February 26th, 2024, Governor Alia inaugurated two judicial commissions of inquiry with a charge on them to investigate the management of the state’s resources and assets under the previous administration of Samuel Ortom.

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The move came on the heels of series of attacks on people in different parts of the state by terrorist Fulani herdsmen who have launched mindless raids on Benue communities since the turn of the year.

In the wake of escalating violence and bloodshed at the hands of terrorist Fulani herdsmen in Benue State, Governor Hyacinth Alia’s recent decision to prioritize the inauguration of the two judicial commissions of inquiry can only be seen as a gross misplacement of priorities. This move also reflects a lack of empathy and concern for the lives and well-being of the people of the state.

The people of Benue State are currently living in fear and uncertainty, as they face relentless attacks and brutalities from marauding Fulani herdsmen who have wreaked havoc on their communities. Innocent lives have been lost, families displaced, and the social fabric of the state torn apart by the senseless violence perpetrated by these insurgents. In such a dire situation, it is imperative that the government focuses its efforts and resources on addressing the root causes of insecurity and protecting the lives and property of its citizens.

By choosing to prioritize the investigation of past administrations over tackling the immediate security challenges facing Benue State, Governor Alia has displayed a callous disregard for the suffering of the people he was elected to serve. The timing of this decision is not only insensitive but also raises questions about the government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens.

For Benue State Governor, human life does not matter more than financial resources. He has said nothing and done nothing to provide security but is interested in how funds were spent by a government that took the security of lives and property seriously.

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It is becoming clearer that Governor Alia is working in cahoots with Fulani herdsmen and their sponsors who bankrolled his 2023 campaign for governor. He was not sincere even on his recent pronouncement that Fulani should leave Benue with the cattle within two weeks, because that statement has not been backed by any action.

It is paradoxical that Alia who does not have the word transparency in his vocabulary is demanding same from another person. Since he became governor, no one knows what the financial status of the state is.

The States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) law otherwise known as Due Process Law is in existence in Benue State, but Governor Alia is not obeying the law in the award of contacts. He awards contracts unilaterally. The man acts like a dictator running a colony. When he approved the contracts for the construction of 16 short streets of merely 15 kilometers for N6 billion, there was no cabinet in place. He later increased the contract amount to N9 billion still without due process.

Alia recently dismantled the High Level roundabout in Makurdi and cordoned off all streets linking the roundabout under the guise that he wants to construct a flyover at the popular junction. High Level roundabout is never known for traffic congestion.

What the state government has not told the people is the exact cost of the project and the fact that it is not captured in the 2024 budget of the state. Media reports however have it that governor Alia and his Executive Council have approved N44 billion for the construction of the High Level flyover, though he came out to deny and say that the flyover will cost only N6 billion.

Federal allocations have increased by nearly 70% since June 2023 at both state and local government levels, yet, Governor Alia has not provided any information regarding how much his government is receiving and what is being spent. He often criticized his predecessor on the issue of state wage bill, but has kept sealed lips on the wage bill since he took over.

Governor Alia has been deducting huge sums from the state treasury in the name security votes without applying the funds for the use they are meant for.

Meanwhile, he is busy buying houses and other properties for himself and his cronies in Benue State, Abuja, Lagos, the United States and other places.

The other day he said he would probe the contract which he claimed that former Governor Ortom awarded for cargo airport. That was another indication that the man knows nothing about governance. Otherwise, he would have known that the cargo airport was a private sector initiative and not a state government project which no public funds were involved.

In November, Sahara Reporters published a detailed report of Governor Alia’s financial recklessness which the newspaper said had amounted to N46 billion spent in no clear circumstances within just four months of his stay in office. He vowed to drag the newspaper to court, but till today, nothing has been heard of any case of that nature.

Just yesterday, 27th February, 2024, I read another shocking revelation by This Day and other newspapers which reported that a pro-democracy civil society organization, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), has written a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to arrest, interrogate and prosecute the Special Adviser to Benue Governor Hyacinth Alia on Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Dennis Akura and others for alleged diversion of local government funds.

The group accused Alia’s government of embezzling N20 billion of local government funds between June and December 2023. It said the LG Bureau under Government Alia has been using some of its staff and privately owned companies to syphon the funds meant for local governments in the state.

This is a governor who today has set up two commissions of inquiry to investigate the past government. If Alia can probe Ortom, what would his successor do to him who does not practice any form of accountability and due process?

  • Dr. Awunah writes from Durumi, Abuja.
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