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Monday, May 27, 2024

Peter Awunah: A few questions for Gov Hyacinth Alia 

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I have written quite a few articles about the style of leadership of the current Governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia hoping that he will prove me wrong on just one issue but he is yet to do that. What impresses me about the man Alia is his courage to dare contradictions. Alia says one thing this minute and does the direct opposite of what he said in the very next minute.

Today, I want to put a few questions to the governor in the hope that he will respond and provide answers.

The first issue is the renovation of the Benue State House of Assembly building. Work at the Assembly complex has stopped for over five months now. The cost of the project has not been disclosed till today! The development has made the legislative process difficult and left the House members stranded. The legislators no longer have offices. The governor moved them to Government House but I understand that his schedules were clashing with the Assembly sittings. I understand that the lawmakers became frustrated and returned to the Assembly where they now hold their sittings in a small hall which is meant for committee sittings. There, they use plastic chairs to carry out proceedings. The “contractor” handling the project, one Engr Peter Ashiekaa who is a brother to Governor Alia’s trusted friend and business partner, admitted to the media recently that the state Ministry of Works is still working on the contract documents. Unbelievable! Where on earth has such a thing been heard before?

My question to the Governor is; on the 5th of June, 2023 when he inaugurated the 10th Benue State Assembly and also awarded the “contract” for the renovation of the House complex which he went to inspect the following day 6th June, he did not have an executive council in place to deliberate and approve big amounts for such a project, so how did he arrive at the right “contractor” to do the job and what is the cost of the project? How can it be argued that Governor Alia did not beat due process and illegally mobilized a crony with hundreds of millions to start the “renovation” of the Assembly complex? Did Engr Ashiekaa lie in that media interview which audio has gone viral that the ministry is still working on the contact papers?

Another question Governor Alia has to answer is the N50 billion that President Tinubu released to five states for the Federal Government’s Pulaaku Initiative earlier in the year. The states are: Benue, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna. According to the Federal Government, the “Pulaaku Initiative” is a non-kinetic solution for the insurgency and banditry in the North. By the way, the word “Pulaaku” serves as an unwritten code of conduct for Fulani people. It is a word that holds a deep value in the hearts of all traditional Fulanis. It represents the key principles of how they act and treat others. Governor Alia excitedly jumped at the money but has since remained silent on what he has done with the funds.

Mr Governor, where is the Benue State share of the Pulaaku money? People are being killed and forced out of their ancestral lands, yet, you are sitting on billions of the money the President has released to help the people rebuild their lives? You have not even bothered to tell Benue people that you are in possession of their money since January? Haba oga governor!

Mr Governor, another issue that requires your attention and response is the accusation leveled against you by the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC which has alleged that you have deliberately refused to give Benue workers the wage award and palliative money after you collected huge sums from the Federation Account. TUC President, Comrade Festus Osifo made this accusation in Abuja yesterday and I woke this morning hoping to see your swift rebuttal. Osifo singled you out as one of the worst culprits in handling the funds meant for ordinary people of Benue State. Hear him:

“And top on that list is Benue. Benue State has done nothing for the workers. Benue State has done nothing for the masses as well. Nothing has been done in Benue. So, we hereby call on the government of Benue to put in place robust mechanisms to solve the economic challenges that our members and the masses are passing through in the state”.

What exactly is happening in your government Mr Governor? Why do you become suddenly mute once you take delivery of funds meant for Benue masses? Other states have diligently utilized the wage award for workers and palliatives for the general public in their states. But in your case, aside from the highly inflated cost of 60 (not 100) refurbished buses for Benue Links that you personally purchased through one of your friends but which have been rickety and often break down on the roads, what else did you use the N5 billion palliative funds for?

I also got reliable information that after your recent jamboree in America, you have concluded plans to buy a private jet for yourself. This news has brought tears and sadness to me and I am asking, is this why you raised an alarm recently that the state owns a plane? I will advise you to discard the idea of buying your personal airplane immediately, Governor. Our people are yet to recover from the cost of the private construction company you are building for yourself and to add the weight of buying for you a private jet will be too heavy a burden to bear.

I have offered you this advice for free.

Peter Awunah write from Durumi, Abuja.

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