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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Your Vile Attacks on Gov. Alia is About 2027, It’s Unpatriotic – Onjeh

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APC Chieftain and former Chairman of the PRODA Governing Board, Comrade Daniel Onjeh, has sternly cautioned the Benue State National Assembly Caucus led by the Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Abba Moro, to stop playing politics with the lives of Benue people.

Onjeh made this statement in reaction to the press conference organized by the Benue State National Assembly Caucus last Wednesday, in which they denounced what they called the unlawful dissolution of the elected councils in Benue State and the subsequent installation of caretaker committees by the state government. They contended that the caretaker committees lacked the legitimacy and political will to tackle the prevalent insecurity at the grassroots level.

The Benue State Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, had previously stated that the influx of herdsmen into the state was a result of the invitation by some Benue State indigenes to Fulani herdsmen in Niger Republic, to come and graze in the state, adding that his administration will not tolerate attempts from certain quarters to destabilize and cause a breach of peace in the state, while vowing to resist all efforts to frustrate his administration.

Onjeh maintained that the recent statements credited to the Benue State NASS Caucus were merely an extension of their coordinated attacks on Rev. Fr. Alia, to discredit him in the eyes of the public. He advised them to face their jobs as federal lawmakers, adding that it was unbecoming of the federal parliamentarians to be playing politics with human lives.

“All through the last administration of Mr. Samuel Ortom in Benue State, there were reported cases of serial herdsmen attacks on villages in Benue State. Even though at some point, we had ‘democratically-elected’ local government executives in Benue State, the former governor, Mr. Ortom, was still not releasing funds to the local governments. But Sen. Moro didn’t see anything wrong with the wanton killing by herdsmen across Benue State at the time. It did not occur to him then that it was the non-funding of the local governments by the Ortom administration that was responsible for the dastardly attacks on Benue communities by killer herders. He found no reason to condemn the Ortom administration because they were both of the same party, the PDP. But suddenly, he now found his voice under the APC administration of Rev. Fr. Alia,” stated Onjeh.

Com. Onjeh further stated that statutory security forces were operating in Benue State, vis-à-vis the Nigeria Police Force and the DSS, who provided reliable information regarding the state of insecurity in the state. He therefore wondered if the Benue State NASS Caucus derived their information from the statutory security forces, or they were only speaking from the figments of their imagination. He therefore urged the federal legislators to reveal any information they may be concealing regarding the root cause of the escalating insecurity in the state.

“The reliable information that Rev. Fr. Alia has received from the security forces as the cause of the spike in insecurity across the state is different from what the federal lawmakers are alleging. So, could it be that there is something the NASS Caucus knows, which we the Benue people do not know, as the true cause of the deteriorating insecurity in the state? If Sen. Moro and his co-travellers in the Benue NASS Caucus are holding back some secrets, now is the time for them to kindly reveal it,” stated Onjeh.

Com. Onjeh, who was the APC senatorial candidate for Benue South in the 2023 General Elections, further stated that no administration in Benue State since the return to democracy in 1999, had suffered the level of distraction faced by the current Fr. Alia administration, where both members of his party and the opposition will team up against him practically from the moment of his being sworn into office. Onjeh claimed that the NASS Benue Caucus intended to disparage, discredit, and distract Rev. Fr. Alia’s administration, to derail him from delivering on his campaign promises to the Benue people.

“Yet, Fr. Alia has achieved much more than any of the past governors of the state since the start of the Fourth Republic. What most of them presented to Benue people as rocket science, Rev. Fr. Alia has been able to achieve seamlessly from the inception of his administration. Now, they will want to say that payment of salaries and pensions is nothing, but hitherto, they made Benue people believe it was an insurmountable challenge. Rev. Fr. Alia was able to fix that lingering problem in no time. Therefore, it is a very huge achievement. Indeed, civil servants are the life and soul of the public service, and if you don’t pay them their salaries and wages, you diminish their spirit and reduce their capacity and efficiency, thereby affecting the delivery of government policies and programs,” stated Onjeh.

Onjeh stated that aside from the payment of salaries, Fr. Alia has laid the foundation of so many projects and infrastructures, some of which have since commenced, and these projects have their time lags. He added that the greatest fear of the Benue NASS Caucus was that the leadership of Rev. Fr. Alia is poised to record ground-breaking achievements in the governance of the state, and when he does, he will not even need to campaign to be returned to office as governor for a second term.

“So the kernel of their plot is to stop Fr. Alia’s second term by doing everything possible to disorganize his government, and in their thinking, possibly move for his removal from office. These are all their plots, and they are clear for all Benue people to see. I wish to liken them to tiny fishes swimming in their aquarium, but under the illusion that they are in a mighty ocean where they cannot be seen or reached. But we are keenly watching them and seeing everything they are doing. We can easily reach out to them from any corner of their aquarium. All that is playing out is a poorly written script,” stated Onjeh.

Onjeh noted that the Benue NASS Caucus launched their sinister attacks on Fr. Alia with Sen. Moro himself, moving a motion to stop Benue LG Funds. The Motion, according to Onjeh, died on arrival because it was on the fallacious ground that the state governor dissolved the local government administrations in the state, whereas he did not dissolve them. He only suspended them based on allegations of corruption and financial impropriety levelled against them by the State House of Assembly.

“After their initial attack, the true masquerades behind the onslaught on Fr. Alia were unveiled. The members of the APC came out openly to attack Fr. Alia over the same issue of constituting caretaker committees for the Benue local government area councils, simply because they were not allowed to nominate their cronies into caretaker committee executive positions. Suddenly, they are making so much fuss about constituting caretaker committees for local governments,” stated Onjeh.

Com. Onjeh maintained that Rev. Fr. Alia was not the first state governor in Nigeria to constitute caretaker committees for local government area councils, adding that the governor did so because it was expedient at the time to avoid a vacuum in the governance and administration of the local governments. Onjeh opined that the issue of local government caretaker committees was already a settled matter which was not peculiar to Benue State.

“The issue of local government caretaker committees is a trend currently seen almost all over Nigeria, and there are equally security challenges in the other states that have these caretaker committees in place. But their own National Assembly Members, in their wisdom, have not arisen to attribute the insecurity in their states to the constitution of local government caretaker committees.

“So the Benue NASS Caucus is just making puerile statements to justify the herders’ incessant attacks on their constituents, by linking those attacks to the dissolution of so-called ‘democratically-elected’ local government administrations in Benue State. I find their action quite strange, and rather undemocratic and uncharitable to the Benue State electorate that voted them into the National Assembly,” stated Onjeh.

Com. Onjeh, who is a former president of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), alleged that it was Sen. Moro who produced the former caretaker committee chairman of Okpokwu Local Government Area Council, Hon. Mrs. Amina Audu, who eventually became the substantive LG chairman under the Ortom Administration, and that in June 2022, herdsmen sacked Igama village in Edumoga Ehaje, Sen. Moro’s village, killing scores of people.

“The LG chairman of Okpokwu at that time said the attack by the herdsmen was unprovoked. Why did Moro not come out then to say that it was because Ortom was not releasing money to the local government that the herders attacked? He did not say that because it was convenient for him. Of course, he produced the chairman of the local government. This is the first time that he is losing control of his local government, so he is feeling empty. His motion on the floor of the Senate was about the constitution of local government caretaker committees, and his attacks on Fr. Alia ever since have been tailored along that line,” stated Onjeh.

Onjeh challenged Sen. Moro to point to a single tangible achievement that had been recorded in Okpokwu Local Government Area all through the tenures of the previous chairmen, most of whom Sen. Moro had produced under the Ortom administration. “Abba Moro has been the senator representing Benue South since 2019, and he could not rise on the floor of the senate to ascribe the rising insecurity in Benue State to Gov. Ortom’s constitution of local government caretaker committees or non-payment of salary and pension. He could not even speak up in the media, but now, he finds it convenient to attack Rev. Fr. Alia and to allege that the escalating insecurity in the state was a result of the dissolution of local government councils. Why did he not say that during Ortom’s administration? Why did he not accuse Ortom of embezzling security votes? I am sure the Benue NASS Caucus members are only acting a script to secure their positions ahead of 2027,” stated Onjeh.

Onjeh said he considers Sen. Moro’s unfounded attacks on Fr. Alia to be highly uncharitable to the Benue South electorate that voted him into the Senate.

“All their actions are premeditated to discredit Fr. Alia, a failed attempt to move for his impeachment and ensure that he does not return to office for a second term. But the decision is not theirs to make. It is only God Almighty who sees 2027. One clear thing however is that the more they are trying to pull down Fr. Alia, the more his popularity is soaring. The Benue people cannot be deceived anymore. They know that no governor, since the return to democracy in 1999, has achieved what Fr. Alia has achieved thus far. Nobody has shown vision and direction of governance thus far in the state like Fr. Alia, and the Benue people are very happy with him,” stated Onjeh.

Onjeh therefore cautioned the Benue NASS Caucus to stop playing what he termed ‘dirty politics’ with human lives. He added that Benue people had moved far from Egypt, and were currently headed to the Promised Land.

“When the righteous rule, the people rejoice. We know that this battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, because right now, Fr. Alia has put Benue on the path of development. Benue has suffered for way too long. From 1999, there has not been any tangible thing to show that the people enjoyed responsive governance in the state. After the glorious era of Chief Aper Aku and Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu, governance took the back seat in Benue State. This is the first time after so long, that the Benue people are basking in the joy of enjoying people-centred governance, and the NASS Caucus wants to foist a false impression of the gentleman governor on the Benue people,” argued Onjeh.

Onjeh urged the Benue NASS caucus to note that the Benue people were not concerned about any ongoing internal political wrangling, or conspiracy of the opposition in Benue State with the active collusion of members of the ruling party, or other unnecessary distractions. He said the Benue people were only concerned about who would deliver the dividends of democracy to them, to bring them out of the woods, and that is what Fr. Alia is currently doing.

“So we wish to inform the Benue NASS Caucus that we, the Benue people, will defend the administration of Rev. Fr. Alia to the hilt. Their greatest nightmare is Fr. Alia’s Vision for a Greater Benue because they know that he is poised to achieve it. They must know that Benue is not business as usual anymore; the era of sharing monthly allocations by political stakeholders is over. Fr. Alia is not cut out for all that, and will not fall for their cheap blackmails, and that is the crux of the current political crisis in the state. The governor has made his commitment to the Benue people and he is keeping to it; he is putting all those monies hitherto shared into private pockets, into legacy projects for the Benue people. He has just assumed office and laid the foundation for the prosperity of the state. They should allow him to focus on his work,” stated Onjeh.

Onjeh further stated that when Mr President recently met with all the state governors, and they were discussing the state of insecurity in the country, one of the charges Mr President gave to the governors was for them to go and make sure that they pay the salaries, pensions and gratuities of their civil servants.

“Mr. President himself recognizes that it is the height of injustice to withhold the salaries and other entitlements of civil servants, as that alone is a recipe to fuel insecurity. But even the Presidency knows that Fr. Alia has passed that test already with an unrivalled distinction because he has since been paying salaries and pensions in Benue State. He pays salaries before the end of the month,” stated Onjeh.

Onjeh stated that the Benue State Governor, Fr. Alia, is doing all within his powers to ensure that the security of the Benue people is guaranteed, adding that the Benue NASS Caucus were only trying to incite the security forces in the state against the state governor.

“Their deliberate act of misinforming the public is indicative of their ulterior motive, which Benue people will resist. We have departed from the old order of conducting government business. It is not about looting and sharing anymore. The administration of Fr. Alia is focused on serving the interests of the people,” stated Onjeh.

Com. Onjeh further alleged that part of what the Benue NASS Caucus set out to achieve by their unwarranted attacks on Fr. Alia, was to upturn the suspension of Mr. Augustine Agada from the APC, and his eventual removal as the chairman of the party in Benue State. Onjeh alleged that Mr. Agada carried out several anti-party activities in a bid to serve Sen. Moro’s interest in the last election, by funding Moro’s campaign with the resources gotten from APC chieftains, and further sabotaging the APC in Benue South by changing all APC agents in the election and replacing them with compromised party agents, just to pave way for Sen. Moro’s victory. Onjeh claimed that Sen. Moro wants to remain in the PDP while remaining in control of the APC chairman in Benue State.

“And sadly, his co-travellers, in the National Assembly, who know the implications of their falling out with Fr. Alia, are busy ostensibly drumming support for Sen. Moro, while they are fighting to save their political futures. They all want to control the party ahead of the 2027 General Elections. They have not served the people and justified the mandates reposed in them yet, and they are already scheming ahead of 2027,” alleged Onjeh.


































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