By Jimin Geoffrey
Chief Press Secretary to the Benue State Governor, Mr. Terver Akase has thrown a challenge to members of the opposition who criticize every action of the Samuel Ortom administration to tell the people of the state what they would have done differently given the same economic circumstances his principal has faced in the last two years.
Mr Akase, who was speaking with state correspondents today at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi said it was not enough for critics to say that the present administration was not performing well, stressing that what the people needed to hear from the opposition was how they would have executed numerous projects and still pay workers salaries up to date in the face of dwindling federal allocation and internal revenue.
He said the Ortom administration is people-oriented as shown in the transparent manner governance had been anchored in the last two years, citing the disclosure of all incomes and expenditures such as Bailout funds and Paris Club refund as exemplary policies of the Governor.
The Chief Press Secretary restated the decision of the government to channel the N6.4 billion Paris Refund recently released to the state to payment of salaries of workers.
According to him, Governor Ortom was desirous of clearing the backlog of salary arrears of workers in order to uplift their welfare, noting however that the amount of the second tranche of Paris Refund to the state was far below the expected amount which was supposed to be 25 per cent of the 181 million dollars payable to the state.
He further explained that the delay payment of salaries was not deliberate but due to the paucity of funds and would be corrected when the financial situation of the state improves.
Mr Akase said the average of N4billion which comes to the state from the federation account, added to the internally generated revenue was not enough to cater for the state’s wage bill of N7.8 billion.
"We are getting an average of N4 billion from the federation account, the internally generated revenue of the state is between N500 million to N300 million monthly. What would they opposition have done differently given the current same circumstances? Would they have created other sources of revenue? Would the sources be conventional? and if there are conventional sources, what source? Would they go borrowing internationally? will the federal government guarantee such loans? And if you are going to borrow, maybe $100 billion from a foreign organisation, how are you going to pay back that loan? Are you going to mortgage the future of your state?” Akase asked rhetorically.
He denied allegations that the Governor had borrowed huge sums of money from different sources and was unable to complete any projects, stressing that on assumption of office, Governor Ortom inherited a debt profile of over N69 billion which according to him included the backlog of unpaid salaries of workers, pensions as well as contractual obligations.
Mr. Akase commended Governor Ortom for mobilizing contractors back to site for the completion of many road projects which were awarded by the previous administration but later abandoned.

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