Saturday, 25 June 2016

Reasons Behind Postponement Of Benue LG Polls

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has postponed indefinitely the conduct of local government elections scheduled to hold September 3, 2016.

Ortom announced the postponement while answering questions by journalists at the end of a town hall meeting held with stakeholders on Thursday at Oju and Makurdi.

He said, “The Benue State Independent Electoral Commission gave me a bill of N1.5bn to conduct election into the 23 LGs. Where will I get such money from when I have not even paid salary of L.G. workers?

“In fact, I do not have money to conduct L.G. elections now. The local government system is supposed to provide 60 per cent of that money needed for the election but they don’t have.”

Our correspondent has, however, found out that despite the postponement of the election by the governor, forms are still being sold at the APC and PDP secretariats.

When our correspondent visited both secretariats, aspirants were still purchasing Expression of Interest and Nomination forms.

The State Independent Electoral Commission Chairman, Dr. John Tsuwa, in a telephone interview said he was unaware of any cancellation of the election until the governor officially informed him.

At the town hall meeting, Ortom also stated that his administration had borrowed only N53.5bn since inception. He debunked reports that he had borrowed over N100bn within one year, saying all the loans he took were in the interest of the state.

He said he inherited a deficit treasury and had to borrow N10bn to pay May and June, 2015 salaries and to facilitate the take-off of his administration.

He recalled that the previous administration in the state borrowed N18bn bonds, which he said was used for developmental projects.

 Ortom, while giving the breakdown of the loan borrowed within the first one year in office, said the Federal Government offered the state loans of N28bn and N10bn respectively to clear four months’ salary arrears at the state and local government levels and to provide critical infrastructure in the state.

“My administration also took a N5.5bn facility to pay counterpart funding for joint projects with development partners including the Universal Basic Education Commission, which matched the N3.8bn the state paid with an equal amount, bringing the total amount to N7.6bn for investment into primary schools”, Ortom stated.

He said his administration was into partnerships with various agencies, including Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, FADAMA 1, 2 and 3, among others.

The governor stated that the payment of counterpart funds had enabled the state to access N2.4bn for conditional grant projects of the Millennium Development Goals, in the social services and economic sectors across the state while 116 water projects were being executed through the Benue State Rural Water and Sanitation Agency, in four council areas.

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