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Benue commissioners, other top officials abandon duties as Ortom proceeds on leave

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[File] Governor of Benue State Samuel Ortom


Indications have emerged that official activities in Benue State have been partially shutdown following the three weeks annual leave embarked upon by Governor Samuel Ortom.

Prior to this, government appointees, teachers and local government employees had complained about non-payment of their March 2019 salaries for over a week after the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs had its monthly Joint Account meeting.

Before embarking on vacation last Wednesday, Ortom had transmitted a letter to the state House of Assembly after the elections that saw him reelected for a second term.Consequent on the Assembly’s approval, he delegated powers to his Deputy, Benson Abounu to be Acting Governor, as constitutionally stipulated.

However, a few days after leaving governance for Abounu, nothing seems to be working, as government activities in most of the ministries have been paralysed.

Consequently, most heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have allegedly absconded from their duty post in pursuit of their private businesses.When The Guardian visited the state’s Civil Service Secretariat in Makurdi with other journalists, most offices of commissioners, permanent secretaries and other key government officials were under lock and key.

This development posed a serious challenge as some people who the ministries to perform one businesses or the other had to leave disappointed, as there were no staff to attend to them.Another visit to the Cabinet Office, housing office of Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Special Advisers (SAs), Senior Special Assistants (SSAs) and other government appointees, revealed that the few members of staff on duty were ill prepared to perform any official tasks.

But one of the employees said: “l only came today to pick my personal effects, which l forgot in the office. As you can see, the SSG is not on seat.“We have about 13 special advisers in various offices here too and none of them are in the office today because they are running away from people and are not ready to assist.”

However, effort to speak with the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Joseph Shimaor, was not successful, as he could not respond to calls to his cell phone.But when contacted, Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Governor, Ogaba Ede Ogaba, wondered why journalists were monitoring the movement of commissioners in the state, saying: “It is not true that they have absconded from their duties.”


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Samuel Ortom
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