Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, today resumed from leave with a commitment to redouble efforts at service delivery in the state. He spoke with journalist on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, in Abuja, in the morning today.
Question: What were you doing while on leave?
Ortom: What do you expect me to do? To spend time with my wife and to also reappraise what I’ve been doing with the People of Benue State for the past two years, and to reflect generally on my life, the People of Benue State under my leadership. And of course to get more close to God and also restrategise to ensure better service delivery to the people of Benue State.
Question: What should the people of Benue expect now that you are back?
Ortom: If I were walking, I ‘ll now run, if I were running, I ‘ll now fly, that is the resolution I’ve made during this vacation. I look forward that the people of Benue State will work with me, I appreciate them for their resilience, for their commitment to my government and for the concern they have for the success of my administration. I appreciate the support that I’ve had from workers, the stakeholders, the traditional rulers and the security men and everyone. This is not just about me, leadership is about everyone. If you leave me alone, I cannot do it, but with all of us working together, we can achieve greater success for the people of Benue State and the generation yet unborn.
Question: While you were away, the Paris Club money came. We are also aware that there is an increase in the statutory monthly allocation from the federation account. How will this rub off on your emergency declaration on salary payment?
Ortom: Of course, I was in touch with the Acting Governor then and we agreed that because of the emergency we have on payment of salaries, 80% of this amount should be dedicated to payment of salaries and that is what is already going on.
Question: While you were away the two-week ultimatum which the Tor Tiv gave to Alhaji Abubakar Tsav to retract his petitions against you and also tender a public apology expired, now that you’re back, what next?
Ortom: I’m looking forward that he will honour his words before the Public Complaints Commission and also the Tiv Traditional Council in conjunction with the leadership of Mdzough u Tiv who intervened in the matter, and I think that he’ll honor his words. I have no personal issues with him, I don’t also want to join issues with him. But I want the right things to be done at all times and I want the people of Benue State to know the truth about what is happening.
Question: During your meeting with President Mohammadu Buhari in London along with other Governor’s, was there any clue as to when he’ll be back to the country?
Ortom: He’s waiting for his doctors to advise him on when he will be back; that was our discussion. And I think he is getting very well but like I said, we appreciate God that once again, the enemies of Nigeria have been put to shame. People who thought that Buhari had been confined to a wheel chair and life support were put to shame. We shook hands with him, we discussed with him and he was mentally alert about the happenings in Nigeria, we discussed about Benue State, the security situation and I explained to him that everything is calm and we’re working towards ensuring peace and harmony for everybody. I’m providing security for lives and property and he commended and asked me to extend his greetings to the people of Benue State. But like I said, we as Benue people prayed that Mr. President should be healed and God has answered our prayers. Our God is a God of the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega and so our prayer now is that God should consummate the healing so that the process will be complete. God has healed him but the process needs to be consummated. I believe that as soon as he is strong enough and the doctors advice him, he will definitely come back because he’s quite eager to come back and continue to lead the country.
Question: Did you pray about 2019?
Ortom: Let’s talk about the 2015 that we have; it’s not finished so we cannot be talking about 2019.
Question: The question comes at the backdrop of so many billboards in Makurdi calling you to run…
Ortom: Those are the wishes of people. You see people insulting on Facebook and all that and so if I also have people supporting me, so be it but prayers continue. Please continue to pray for me too, at the appropriate time we’ll talk about that.