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NO LONGER AT EASE: Governor Alia under pressure as Senate, Benue APC LG Chairmen bare fangs

The long drawn feud between Benue Governor Hyacinth Alia and his erstwhile godfather, Senator George Akume assumed a drastic dimension recently.


Barely six months after being sworn in as Governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia’s administration has hit a storm. Thursday November 30, the 23 Chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State accused the state governor of myriad of wrong doings including mismanaging funds meant for local councils in the state.

In a communique issued at the end of their meeting on Thursday, 30th November, 2023, the party chairmen also accused the Governor of neglecting the party and running the government like a one-man show. They also condemned Alia’s selection of local government caretaker committees without consulting the party’s leadership.

The party chairmen publicly distanced themselves from Alia’s actions and decisions, and decried what they termed his tendency to make himself inaccessible by refusing to answer phone calls or even consult with other leaders of the party.

The communique noted: “The Forum stated that, instances abound that it could no longer pretend that all is well between Governor Hyacinth Alia and the party both in the state and at the local government area chapters ranging from his being inaccessible and not answering of phone calls, non-inclusion of the party’s leadership both at the state and local government levels in making the key appointments in his government as well as the mockery meted on the personality of the forum and the party stakeholders in the recent constitution of local government caretaker committees; an exercise the governor saddled party’s stakeholders across various local government areas with the responsibility to nominate three persons for each position but instead the governor dumped the list presented by the stakeholders and in his usual way produced a unilaterally list made up of non-party men and women.

“That the said list indeed, is not in conformity with the unanimous decision of the party stakeholders in various local government areas but rather a mockery to the grass root politicians who staked their neck for the party to succeed in their respective areas”, the Benue APC chairmen stated in the communique.

“In the meantime, Governor Alia has come under fire over his handling of local government funds in the state, since he was sworn in. Some Social Media activists from the state have taken to their blogs and handles in the last two weeks to demand that the governor comes clean on what his administration is doing with local government allocations since he suspended elected chairmen of the 23 council areas, over five months ago.

“Some of the activists such as Iorfa Eddy and Steve Tyover accused Governor Alia of suspending the democratically elected council chairmen and installing his stooges to be syphoning funds meant for development at the 3rd tier of government.

“The activists alleged that more than N100 billion has accrued to Benue for both the state and local governments since the month of June this year but Governor Alia has little or nothing to show in terms of development and has refused to give accountability for the funds.
Ironically, the Governor’s recent widely celebrated is his administration’s procurement of buses meant as palliatives to be used by the state-owned transport company, Benue Links.

Some of those who have written about the development accused the governor of buying refurbished buses with inflated prices when other state governors were purchasing brand new luxurious buses to cushion the effect of the economy in their states, the chairmen said.

Just recently, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Benue State, through its Publicity Secretary Bemgba Iortyom, took a swipe at Governor Alia for what the party described as “flagrant disregard for the rule of law” by the Governor with the announcement of caretaker committees for local government areas of the state despite a prevailing court order stopping him from doing so.

The celebration of more than twenty politicians and hundreds of thousands of their supporters were cut short in Benue State Friday Dec. 1 following a Senate resolution which barred them from assuming office as Chairmen of Caretaker Committees of their respective local government councils.

Governor of the State Hyacinth Alia had last Wednesday November 29, 2023 announced the appointment of the local government caretaker chairmen as well as legislative councils. This came against the background of a long drawn legal tussle over the status of local government chairmen elected during the Governor Samuel Ortom,s PDP administration in the state. Ortom had suspended the elected chairmen and unilaterally appointed caretaker chairmen in their stead. The sacked chairmen had strongly resisted their removal from office and subsequently dragged the State government to court, seeking their reinstatement because, according to them, they had been elected to serve for three years. Even as the the aggrieved elected Chairmen were still in court seeking their reinstatement, Governor Alia had gone ahead and constituted the caretaker chairmen

On December 1 however, that attempt to unilaterally impose another set of illegal chairmen on the people of Benue State attracted stiff opposition from the highest law-making body in the land – the Senate.

The development followed a resolution by the upper chamber following a motion by Senator Abba Moro, Senate Minority leader.
The Senator representing Benue South Senatorial District had moved a motion on what he described as an affront on the democratic structure in Benue State by the state government.

The motion titled, ‘URGENT NEED TO HALT THE EROSION OF DEMOCRACY: THE DISSOLUTION OF ELECTED COUNCILS IN BENUE STATE’ decried the illegal dissolution of a duly elected local government system by the APC-led government, and sought for an urgent intervention by the senate with a view to reversing the unconstitutional sack of the elected executive and legislative arms of the local government areas and installation of caretaker committees.

The motion read:

“The senate:

“Notes with dismay the dissolution of democratically elected Local Government Councils in Benue State;
“Also notes that in placing Caretaker Committees to replace elected local government councils is an aberration and alien to the 1999 constitution (as amended) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
“Aware that Section (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) guarantees a system of local government by democratically elected councils;
“Also aware that it is the constitutional responsibility of every state to ensure the existence of local government councils by law;
“Further aware that there are subsisting court rulings directing the Governor, the House of Assembly, their agents, privies, etc, not to tamper with the tenure of the elected councils;
“Equally aware that the Governor/Government of Benue State have not appealed these judgments and that it is against the grain of the rule of law;

“Accordingly resolves to:
“i. Condemn the arbitrary dissolution of democratically elected local government councils in Benue state.
“ii. Urge the governor of Benue State to adhere to his oath of office to obey the rule of law and defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
“iii. Review his dissolution of the elected councils and constitution of caretaker committees and reinstate the elected councils.
“iv. Urge the federal government to withhold statutory allocations to the local government councils not democratically elected.
“I so submit.”
In separate contributions, Senators Victor Umeh and Adams Oshiomhole strongly supported the Motion. They condemned the arbitrary dissolution of elected local government councils across the country by governors and urged the Federal Ministry of Finance to suspend release of funds to unelected local government officials in Benue State and other states of the federation where caretaker committees are in place.
In unanimous voice votes, the Senate approved all the four prayers sought by Senator Moro.
The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, in his remarks, thanked Senator Moro for introducing the reform at the local government level. He said the motion would entrench democracy and speed up development at the grassroots.
Verbatim learnt that, following these troubling developments, and fearing for his political future, Governor Alia is already in talks with top PDP leaders from Benue State on his possible decampment to the party. According to reports, the embattled Governor is in talks with Benue PDP leaders like former Senate Presidents Iorchia Ayu and David Mark as well as Senator Gabriel Suswam.


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