Benue gov, Tsav trade words over project

GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State yesterday fired back at those criticising his government for embarking on a cargo airport instead of settling the backlog of salaries owed workers.

Ortom spoke during an interaction with newsmen while commissioning six ambulances meant for Primary Health Care Centres at Government House.

He described those criticising him as not only envious of his political profile, but also his prudent utilisation of the state resources.

The governor specifically took on the former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, whom he said was planning to discredit his administration at all cost.

Ortom said, “Abubakar Tsav does not see anything good in my government. What contribution did he make to the state when he was police commissioner? Before I became governor, I have lots of industries and business outfits that engaged many Benue people.”

The governor said that, in line with his campaign promises, he had to carry out projects on Build Operation and Transfer (BOT) as well as Public Private Partnership, stressing that the state is not contributing anything to the airport project.

He added that the consortium had made adequate financial arrangement and even acquired the state’s 15 per cent equity which will be paid when the project becomes operational.

He further said the project, which is expected to be completed in 2020, has a 25 years life span for the state to pay its equity share.

“So, as far as I am concerned, anyone criticising this project is an enemy of the state. I am not going to listen to them. I will go ahead. This administration is succeeding and will succeed.

“Salary is a global problem and we will get out of it. I am also not aware that the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar, criticised the projectt,” Ortom said.

Tsav had, on Tuesday, slammed the governor on the cargo project and accused him of hiding under religion to deceive the people of the state, warning Benue to beware of the governor.

According to Tsav, “let me warn that it is dangerous to trade with God’s name and hinge on the name of men of God to perpetrate evil, especially where many are looking up onto you.”

Tsav, who spoke on the establishment of cargo airport near Makurdi, said he viewed the project as a white elephant that can never be achieved in near future.