The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State, Emmanuel Jime, has accused Governor Samuel Ortom of abandoning governance of the state for his private business and, therefore, has no moral justification seeking for a second term.
But, Ortom, who described the claims as ridiculous, advised Jime to convince the people of Benue State that he is not being sponsored by enemies of the state to repeal the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, if elected, so that herdsmen could have unhindered access to land for their livestock rather than making him the subject of his campaign.
Jime, who spoke at a reception organised in his honour by some APC stalwarts in the state, maintained that Ortom has failed Benue people and should not be allowed to continue in office beyond 2019. He stressed that the governor, who has no scorecard to show for almost four years in office, has resorted to propaganda to score cheap political points.
The APC governorship candidate berated Ortom for failing to pay workers’ salaries and executing meaningful projects in the state since assuming office in 2015, despite receiving more than N402 billion from the federation account. He added that the governor has also failed to create jobs or address the poverty level in Benue State and promised to change the narrative if elected.
His words: “I will do what I say I will do. This is because I am not a quantity man and I am not striving to be a professional politician, but a professional in politics. I have records of achievements as speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly and eight years as a member of the House of Representatives.
“The reason why APC will win the governorship election in the state is because I have the ability and intellectual capacity to develop the state. I will not go into government to boost my private business. We will put our state into consideration first. “Ortom businesses are growing fat, while development of Benue State is going down the more. Go to government house, you dare not see or drink any other table water than Goshen Water.”
But, Ortom, who insisted that Jime lacks the moral ground to criticize him on issues relating to governance and private investments, dismissed the allegations as comments of an embattled candidate, who is up against the popular will of the people and wants to drag his opponents to a war of words. The governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase, challenged the APC candidate to explain the source of funds he used in establishing an expansive farm in Gwagwalada area of Abuja, estimated to cost over N500 million. He alleged that Jime is yet to clear himself of indictment by the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment, which uncovered N205 million fraud in the 2018 budget of the Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA).
His words: “A man who stands indicted by a committee of the highest legislative chamber in the country over fraud lacks the moral ground and integrity to accuse another man. It is over a year since the Senate Committee on Trade and Investment uncovered padding and other fraudulent issues in the NEPZA budget of 2018 under Jime, but we have not read anywhere that he extricated himself from the accusations. “If this country was not under a government that protects its appointees who loot public funds, Jime would have been answering questions from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by now.”
The governor described as ridiculous, Jime’s desperation to be governor, which has led him to deceive traditional rulers in Benue State that he acquired plots of land for them, while he served as Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He questioned why the APC candidate is informing the royal fathers about the said plots of land now that he is vying for governorship of the state after four years he left the National Assembly. Ortom stressed that the fact that Jime has chosen to make him the subject of his campaign message, indicates that the APC flag bearer has nothing to offer the people of Benue State. He added that Jime ought to have done his homework properly before making the allegations as records exist to show that Oracle Business Limited accessed a Central Bank facility as a corporate entity for its operations.