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No ‘herdsman’ must steal Benue bailout funds — Reps aspirant, Agbese tells Gov Ortom

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*No ‘herdsman’ must steal Benue bailout funds — Reps aspirant, Agbese tells Gov Ortom*

Foremost opposition figure in Benue State, Chief Philip Agbese, has advised Governor Samuel Ortom to make judicious use of bailout loan approved for the state by the Federal Government.

Agbese, a leading aspirant for Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo federal constituency in the National Assembly, warned that this time around, the governor must avoid his usual gimmicks of blaming “herdsmen” when he is ultimately unable to account for funds.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government recently approved a loan facility of N18.5 billion to be disbursed to states with a moratorium of two years and repayment period of 30 years.

It is widely expected that the state government will immediately channel the loan to payment of pension arrears and salaries of civil servants.

In October, some pensioners, under the aegis of National Union Coalition of Aggrieved Pensioners protested over 33 months without pay.

Governor Ortom, meanwhile, has regularly blamed garnishee court orders for his failure to pay civil servants for over two years.

But while confirming the bailout from the FG, the governor said that the State Executive Council is yet to decide on how it will be applied without any particular mention of the pensions and salaries being owed.

And Agbese, who has been critical of the Ortom administration, warned that any attempt to potentially claim that the funds were stolen by herdsmen will be rejected.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, speaking through his campaign organisation, cautioned that, unlike previous financial interventions, “this N18b must not be diverted to the private pockets of few individuals in power while the Benue people continue to languish in penury”.

The philanthropist further expressed worry that now that the usual complain of “paucity of funds” is no longer available, he hopes that the governor doesn’t revisit his much-fancied lexicon “herdsmen” since he can’t throw tantrum at President Muhammadu Buhari this time.

“It is our earnest prayer that no emergency Fulani herdsman is allowed into the Benue State Government account or the records of the pensioners and workers to siphon the money”, he stated.

Agbese, who holds the title of Okanga of Agila land, however, appreciated President Buhari for his love for the suffering Benue masses, noting that, “Mr President has again demonstrated love for the masses by releasing a huge sum to the state for the purpose of clearing outstanding salaries and pensions”.

The London-trained human rights advocate, notes that President Buhari, unlike the ugly narrative being peddled by Ortom, has raised the bar far beyond the reach of the governor’s propaganda and political rhetorics, to ensure that the yearnings and aspirations of Benue people are satisfactorily met.

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