Benjamin Adanyi, former Majority Leader of the Benue House of Assembly, has said that the non-payment of salaries by the state government was “surprising”.
Adanyi told the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Makurdi that the state government had collected more than N300 billion from the federation account and had no reason to owe workers.
He said: “If you look at the receipts from the federation account from June 2015, N300 billion has accrued to Benue. At the beginning, the state was receiving N3 billion monthly, while the wage bill was N5 billion.
“We defended the governor at that time because the price of crude oil at the international market was less than 40 dollars per barrel.
“The situation has since changed with improved oil prices; allocations to Benue from the federation account sometimes go beyond N15 billion monthly. To gather this much in the state coffers and still owe salaries is inexplicable.”
He accused Governor Samuel Ortom of illegal transfers of monies from state coffers to “other accounts”, saying that such situation forced the lawmakers to begin impeachment proceedings against him.
Ortom said: “When we discovered that N20 billion was being moved from one particular account to another in a manner we considered fishy and questionable, we asked Ortom to show cause why he should not be impeached.”
Adanyi accused Ortom of throwing Benue into massive debts by “his constant borrowing habit”, and wondered where such loans were being deployed to, since workers were being owed while projects were non-existent.
He said: “The State House of Assembly has graciously allowed Ortom to take loans; we granted bonds and all these monies were accessed, but there is nothing to show for it.”
Adanyi, who is aspiring to be Benue governor on the platform of the APC, said that his aim was to “take the people out of poverty and underdevelopment”.
He promised to provide visionary leadership that would put Benue on the path of industrial revolution, and accused the governor of converting some state industries into private companies.
Reacting to the allegations, the Chief Press Secretary to Ortom, Terver Akase, dismissed the claims as “mischievous”.
Akase said: “Adanyi should prove the allegations. He is desperate to paint the governor black and should not be taken seriously.”
According to him, Adanyi, as the Majority Leader of the House, had presented many executive bills and was in a good position to know how much Benue had received from the federal account and internal sources.
He said: “It is shocking to us that people that should know better have thrown honour to the winds and adorned the toga of falsehood.
“We challenge Adanyi to tender evidence to prove that the Ortom administration has received and spent 300 billion in three years as he claims. He should also show proof that Ortom has acquired government companies for his private use.
“If he is referring to the plastic industry, Ortom acquired it long before he became governor and resigned from his position as its chairman, even before he became a minister.”