-As MDAs warn of extra budgetary spending

The Benue State House of Assembly today, Tuesday, 2nd September, 2014 directed a staff of the office of Deputy Governor of Benue State to retire over 1.3 Million Naira  impress to Benue State Government coffers

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Steven Lawani

and report to the House within one month.

Benue State House of Assembly also frowned at the over 7.3 Billion Naira extra budgetary expenditure by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs of Benue State Government and warned that any further unauthorised expenditures would be sanctioned.

The decisions followed debate on the report of the audited accounts of Benue State Government 2008 and presented by the Public Account Committee, PAC chaired by Rt. James Ochojila.

The seventh Assembly for the umpteenth time warned MDAs of extra budgetary expenditures insisting that only monies captured in the budget should be expended.

Onah Iduh of the Deputy Governor’s office according to the report failed to appear before the committee and has been given one month to retire over 1.3 Million Naira and report back to the House. 


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The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) and 22 other pro-democracy groups in the country have endorsed the ambition of Alhjai Umaru Fintiri to contest the Adamawa State Goovernorship Bye-Election as a welcome development for the sustenancde of democracy in Nigeria.
Comrade Philip Agbese, Executive Secretary of the Centre who disclosed this in a chat with newsmen after a meeting of the 23 groups in Abuja told our correspondent that Alhjai Umaru Fintiri is a courageous leader whose ambition should be saluted and encouraged by every active player in the polity considering his fearless and transparent posture in the discharge of his duties as an elected representative of the poor masses.
According to him, this is one struggle that has united all democrats in the country and they have unanimously resolved to make a case to the leadership of the People’s Democratic Party as partners in progress to also unanimously endorse Fintiri’s ambition which is a response to popular clamour by men and women of goodwill to restore democracy back to the land.
Comrade Agbese noted that the various groups after an exhaustive deliberation on the state of the nation have resolved to support a popular candidate like Alhaji Umaru Fintir whose demonstration of genuineness of purpose, vision, charisma and usefulness has brought about peace in Adamawa State.
“ I stand to speak on behalf of the 23 pro-democracy based groups here today to tell you that as Nigerians and active particpart in the democratic processes of our dear nation, we have resolved to unanimously endorse the ambition of Alhaji Umaru Fintir for the Governorship Bye Election in ADAMAWA State after considering his enormous sacrifices, commitments and deication to the sustenance of our democracy.”
“The Acting Governor has demonstrated to possess the democratic instruments that are urgently needed for the rapid development of Adamawa State and we shall stand by him and the people of the state to get the PDP ticket in order to complement the efforts of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan at the grassroots”, he also added.


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John Tondo

The Benue State House of Assembly has declared the Ministry of Lands and Survey as problematic. Leading the pack was Hon Ngunan Adingir (representing Buruku state constituency), who yesterday took a swipe on the Benue State ministry of Lands and Survey stating that the ministry is actually causing a lot of problems.

She was reacting on a finding by the House Committee on Education on the question of encroachment on the land belonging to Benue State University, BSU Makurdi.

Benue Links, Dukuh Park, Mission House Int’l, NKST Iortyer, NKST Primary School Iortyer, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Immigration Service, Nigeria Air Force are found by the Olufu Oguche led Education Committee to have encroached on the BSU land.

But while the House Committee chair on Lands and Survey Dr Abraham Agba wondered which institution is actually encroaching, he noted that some of those alleged to have encroached have certificate of occupancies and titles that predates the state owned university.

But Adingi insisted, “you (referring to Agba) are the chairman of that committee (Lands and Survey), go and talk to them. I am the chairman in charge of Culture and Tourism Committee. The ministry had problems with the company that the Zoological garden was leased to when they were demanding for C of O.

“They were actually going to get the C of O because there were some magu magu that were going on. somehow the VC insisted that the land will not be taken away because it belongs to the university.”

Meanwhile, the Benue State House of Assembly has directed the Ministry of Lands and Survey to liaise with the university and investigate the controversy on the university land and to report back to the house within one month from 27the August, 2014.
It is worthy to note that the Ministry of Lands and its  commissioner Hon. John Tondo, have been emeshed in controversies and accusations involving land appropriations, many resulting to ethnic crisis, even a previous investigation by the state assembly and relieving the commissioner of his duty who was reappointed only after lobbying and political pressure.


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John Tondo

The Benue State House of Assembly has declared the Ministry of Lands and Survey as problematic. Leading the pack was Hon Ngunan Adingir (representing Buruku state constituency), who yesterday took a swipe on the Benue State ministry of Lands and Survey stating that the ministry is actually causing a lot of problems.

She was reacting on a finding by the House Committee on Education on the question of encroachment on the land belonging to Benue State University, BSU Makurdi.

Benue Links, Dukuh Park, Mission House Int’l, NKST Iortyer, NKST Primary School Iortyer, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Immigration Service, Nigeria Air Force are found by the Olufu Oguche led Education Committee to have encroached on the BSU land.

But while the House Committee chair on Lands and Survey Dr Abraham Agba wondered which institution is actually encroaching, he noted that some of those alleged to have encroached have certificate of occupancies and titles that predates the state owned university.

But Adingi insisted, “you (referring to Agba) are the chairman of that committee (Lands and Survey), go and talk to them. I am the chairman in charge of Culture and Tourism Committee. The ministry had problems with the company that the Zoological garden was leased to when they were demanding for C of O.

“They were actually going to get the C of O because there were some magu magu that were going on. somehow the VC insisted that the land will not be taken away because it belongs to the university.”

Meanwhile, the Benue State House of Assembly has directed the Ministry of Lands and Survey to liaise with the university and investigate the controversy on the university land and to report back to the house within one month from 27the August, 2014.
It is worthy to note that the Ministry of Lands and its  commissioner Hon. John Tondo, have been emeshed in controversies and accusations involving land appropriations, many resulting to ethnic crisis, even a previous investigation by the state assembly and relieving the commissioner of his duty who was reappointed only after lobbying and political pressure.


 

Hon. Jullie Obbetta

Hon. Jullie Obbetta

The Benue state House of Assembly directed its committee on Local Government, Security and Chieftaincy Affairs to investigate allegations levelled against the Opkokwu council chairman, Hon Juliana Obetta and report back to the House in two weeks. This is even as it is Barely twelve weeks to the expiry of the tenure of council chairmen in Benue state.

The directive which was handed the committee at today’s plenary of the 7th Benue Assembly followed a letter addressed to the Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly by the Okpokwu legislative council.

The Okpokwu Legislative Council according to the letter which was read on the floor of the House by the Deputy Speaker who stood in for the Speaker in a two point resolution suspended the Okpokwu Council chair indefinitely and and called for investigation into her twenty months in the saddle is chair of the local government council.

Obeta is accused of absenteeism, embezzlement of SURE-P funds, executive rascality, and misappropriation of internally generated revenue, abysmal performance, incessant foreign trips, and non compliance with budgetary procedures, award of contracts to personal companies and cronies and other allegations.

The local legislators also accused the Opkokwu Council chair of blatantly refusing to the present to them statement of council’s finances despite several attempts to that effect.

The letter which is signed by the Clerk of the House, James Onoja and Majority Leader, Sunday Ochigbo as well as members present further accused Mrs. Obeta of contravening several sections of the Benue state local government rule including Section 60.

 

 


Anchaver and co walk away with N90 Million

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It all started in 2011 when the Nigerian Labour  Congress (NLC) rose up to demand for an upgrade of civil servants salaries nationwide to the tune of at least 18%, popularly known as 18% minimum wage increase.
This agitation which caused a nationwide uproar and an eventual industrial action, caused all states of the federation to approve individual charts for their respective states with the bench mark set at N18, 000.00, as minimum pay for civil servants.
Arising from the foregoing the Benue state chapter also staged same and consequently entered into an agreement with the State government, in September 2011 agree to terms amongst which was the crux of the matter, 18% minimum wage amongst other pending issues. The state chapter of the union even prided itself for having negotiated the best salary chart nationwide.
According to the Joint Council on Negotiation, Chairman, Comr. Terkaa Gusah, the chart was arrived at after comparism with several others from the best charts nationwide.
“…before the leadership arrived at the chart in question, the following states had already signed similar agreements and arrived at a chart, namely, Lagos, Borno, Adamawa, Cross River, Ogun, Nassarawa, Edo, Bauchi and Ekiti… Benue is amongst the best, with what is on the chart, the state government is still going to pay annual leave grant”. He bragged shortly after the signing of the salary chart.

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Gov. Gabriel Suswam

This salary chart that was negotiated on behalf of all the state civil servants however was short lived as the implementation has hit a brick wall even before its proper landing.
Trouble seemingly started when the state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Teachers raised alarm alleging foul play. The union claimed they were left out of the implementation of the all-inclusive salary structure with a new one crafted for teachers in the state which prescribed less pay than their other counterparts.
According to the NUT, instead of commencement of the agreed 18% minimum wage, government instead decided to adopt an initial pending agreement of 25% salary which had been a previous issue of contention between the union and the government. Even this increment was not devoid of its pains and troubles as it was effected after a torturous period of negotiations which culminated into staff screenings and audit where unqualified and redundant staff were relieved of their jobs. Even at the scaling of staff numbers the actualization of the minimum wage for teachers is still s mirage. The teachers who had gone on a 9 month long strike to press home their demand were only two months ago called back to their duty posts, after an agreement was reached between the state and the union for the payment of Minimum wage and their salary areas as they were put through a no-work, no-pay condition for the period whilst the industrial action lasted.
Unfortunately the return to work of the state primary school teachers has rather caused another chain of reactions, this is even as the teachers have since assumed duty with only two months of the agreed salary paid to them as against the agreed wholesome. The payment of the teacher’s salary is however put a huge dent into the state purse as the wage bill is increased.
The state government even before the return to classroom by teachers had lamented the poor financial situation of the state owing to the low Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) and meager returns from the Federation Account.
Defending the government position, Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Prince Solomon Wombo had in an earlier interaction stated that the state statutory allocation which he put at 2.8 billion Naira, is too small to cater for staff salaries, since the state needed at least 2.6 billion Naira to effect the minimum wage.
“… if we are to implement new minimum wage on what  the federal government takes, that is, adopting exactly the structure of the federal government, we will need about 2.6 billion to do minimum wage in Benue”. Wombo lamented.
In effect, the state government had penultimate month effected a 10% slash in all state civil servants’ earnings with the alleged exclusion of the staff of the state owned University, who have become a government egg of some sort due to their functional union.
The salary slash received widespread criticism from various quarters with an ensuing industrial action lasting for four days, was premised on the decision to pay primary school teachers the agreed rates viz-a-viz the need for other sectors of the state to sacrifice in order to accommodate same.

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Comr. Simon Anchaver

According to information reaching atiterkula, the government had decided to embark on the misadventure despite resistance from the NLC resulting from a series of negotiation meetings between the duo, where staff retrenchment and workforce
The strike action which was theatrically called off after four days has however not signified the end of the government/labour disagreement. A certain section of Benue workers have continued to air their contempt for the order by the NLC to resume work while negotiations continue.
The workers who have even taken further steps to express their contempt through fliers and circulars pasted and shared in major government establishments to establish their anger with the decision by their union’s leadership, are already threatening another strike which may follow an impeachment of the state NLC chairman, Comrade Simon Anchaver who the claim is hob nobing with the state government for pecuniary gains.
In one of the bulletins dated 11th August 2014, made available to this medium, the peeved civil servants  accused the NLC leadership of collecting N30 million and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) , leadership N20 million, while the two other individuals who facilitated the negotiation including one Comrade Uche from Abuja went home with N20 million each.
It further questioned the non payment of pensioners and teacher’s minimum wage after what they termed “illegal deduction”, adding that the state had saved a total sum of N1 billion from the deductions which was enough to pay these.
“… The Suswamic illegal salary downgrade has brought the salary bill down to N1.9 bn thereby causing untold hardship and difficulty to Benue workers. Now that they have saved N1bn why are the teachers still not paid? Must teachers salaries be paid from the allocation of the state? What happens to the huge allocation of local governments and SUBEB? It read in part.
In a previous bulletin dated 6th August, the aggrieved civil servants denied mandating their leaders to negotiate on their behalf stating that proper suspension of the strike could only be achieved if the issues raised were implemented.
It read thus: “The character of this strike was indefinite and could only be suspended if the issues raised are implemented, which chief amongst is refund of the huge amount forcible slashed from workers salary under a 419 chart intended to review downward the salary of civil servants, tertiary institutions and teachers in the state…the labour leaders were not mandated by the workers of Benue state negotiate anything with the agent invited to Benue state by Mr. Anchaver with a letter dated 22nd July 2014 and a friend of the governor of Benue state who served in the House of Representatives in 1999-2003, one Comrade Uche who tried to frustrate the implementation of the correct minimum wage in the state in 2011.”
The civil servants have also indicated their loss of trust in the state government complaining that the state government is “used to lying at any given opportunity. With the so called comparative analysis by state salary chart and the salary increase analysis chart used to intimidate these cheap labour leaders at Government House, it is on authority that state collects nothing short of N70bn monthly  which are: statutory allocation, VAT, Excess Crude, loans, Investment proceeds. The salary bill for the state civil service including BSU, and BSUTH stands at N2.8bn per month.”
A civil servant who spoke to atiterkula on account of anonymity lamented that the NLC has become a wing of the state government since the inception of the Anchaver led exco and so civil servants in the state have not felt any real impact from the union. He further accused the chairman of using the strike to collect money for his campaigns.
“Anchaver is our major problem, since he became chairman our union is dying gradually. He is more interested in his pocket and has abandoned us for politics. This man is the cause of all our problems, in the first place he was the one who fooled us about this salary chart that is bringing this problem today. You can even see that the real aim he agreed to the strike was to get campaign money and immediately they called him and his people aside, you see what has become of the strike”. He lamented.
Meanwhile the NLC in the state has since called off the strike, while negotiations are still ongoing and the deductions maintained. The call for the removal of the state chairman increases daily and the lack of faith in the government by civil servants heightens.


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Before 1999 nobody knew or even cared about the eventful lawyer, Bar. Gabriel Torwua Suswam, very few had even heard this name. Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam, became a member of the Federal house of Representatives in 1999 until 2007 where he was very popular and outspoken.
Though his tenure at the House of Representatives was eventful with bouts of controversy ranging from his role in the popular “Buharigate” to the controversy shroud bribe scandal and his anti 3rd term role. He was the most eventful representative Benue had ever sent to that chamber.
In the same style, was his gubernatorial campaign in 2006. Obviously the youngest of the top contenders, Suswam swam his way through the big time sharks to emerge winner in the party primaries and eventually, though in his normal style very eventfully became governor of Benue state.
Suswam in his signature style, eventfully bumped into his second tenure at the Benue government house. This bumpy ride was characterized by legal actions, political remarriages and several allegations. Starting from his former political bedmate Sen.Akume George to Chigozie Ukpabi and newest political heavy weight, Prof. Steve Ugbah.

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Suswam’s eight years as governor are in its twighlight, elapsing by May 19, 2015, where he hopes to hand over the state to a favourable successor and head for the senate; the unofficial retirement for all former governors. This after-government house journey however is already bearing all the traits customary to his previous political sojourns-controversy.
The governor who had before now refuted claims to an ambition to settle at the senate after his eight years at the food basket government house, last month led a group of traditional leaders from his Sankera geopolitical axis to Kwande to demand loan for the senatorial seat which is originally zoned to the Kwande/Ushongo Federal constituency.
The ceremony which ended with the Kwande traditional and political leaders loaning the position to Sankera personified in Suswam, has however been enmeshed in a lot of controversy and the usual brouhaha that accompanies his political travails.
Prior to this loan there has been no love lost between the governor and the senator representing Benue North East Senatorial District (Zone A), Sen. Barnabas Gemade, who is also angling to stay put at the hallowed red chambers. Gemade has since drawn the battle line between himself and the governor in a fight to finish.
Since the open declaration of intent by Suswam, Gemade has vowed to fight this ambition to a standstill even vowing to go dirty if warranted. The fight which has already began with salvos flying.
This has resulted in an open confrotation between the duo at a funeral occassion where Suswam supporters booed the serving senator.
This battle has witnessed the reawakening of Suswam’s earlier demon-the infamous certificate saga. In a recent edition of Power Steering Magazine alleged to be sponsored by Gemade, the magazine sought to revisit Suswam’s already popular certificate matter and also discredit his administration. The publication which has earned the publishers a One billion Naira suit was immediately replied by Suswam appologists with the publication of another magazine, Capital Post, which without reservations apart from accusing the serving senator of maliciously sponsoring campaigns of calumny against Suswam, went further to discredit Gemade’s four year sojourn.
Meanwhile even as the loan request may sound like a deal signed, sealed and delivered, there seem to be protests from the Kwande constituents, many who have disassociated themselves from the action of their political and traditional leaders.
These opponents have variously written open letters to drive home their dissapproval of the loan they describe as a financial venture aimed at benefitting the principal actors and not the generality of the Kwande people. In a strong worded open letter written by KWANDE YOUTH VANGUARD, signed by 257 signatories, the group apart from condenming the loan adventure and condenming Suswam’s alleged neglect of Kwande in citing of projects and appointments, also gave conditions for such loan to be considered.
Although the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is enmeshed in crisis and nearly commatose in the Zone A senatorial district, pundits believe that if the party brings up a viable candidate from Kwande then it might stand a chance at grabbing the rug off Suswam’s feet.
This is even as the APC at the time of filling this report were said to be contemplating on fielding former NITEL director Mr. Adaa Maagbe, who is known to be a grassroots person and believed to be man enough to face Suswam save for his shallow purse. However, the party is believed to hold another joker in case Maagbe fails. It is believed thay banking and investment guru, Mr. Manz Denga, who has never hidden his longing for the seat may step in if the Maagbe card fails.
Denga whose purse and financial strenghth is not in doubt might also be convinced to consider joining forces with Maagbe per chance he looses the party’s ticket. atiterkula gathrered that already some Kwande leaders have already began negotiations with him in this light, in a bid to persuading him to forget his ambition and instead join forces with Maagbe.
As these obstacles continue to present itself, Suswam’s return voyage to Abuja, continues to take the semblance of a de ja vu, while political watchers and the state at large watch in suspense what will eventually play out.


First it was, Susan Nat, then, Iveren Gyuse and Annie Kershima. after which Juliet Baaki followed, this year it could be you who will go home with the Miss Benue Cultural Carnival Crown.

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carnival queen leading the procession

You could be the proud owner of a car and the face of the biggest cultural carnival in North Central Nigeria in Benue Youth Cultural Carnival organised by GeeLo Events in partnership with the office of the executive Governor of Benue state.
To participate, purchase your forms at Shop B6 Royal Shopping Mall, Kashim Ibrahim way, Makurdi @ N10,000.00 only. For further  enquiries call 08035098560 .


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As political activities reach the peak, youths from Guma Local Government Area under the auspices of Nongov Youth Assembly have appealed that fairness be considered in considering who represents Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency by 2015.
The group in a document made available to atiterkula said the Nongov people’s desire to clinch the seat was a cry for fairness and equality as they have long been denied electoral positions in the constituency which they share with their iharev brothers.
“The clamour by the Nongov people of Guma Local Government Area, for a shot at the Makurdi/Guma House of Representatives seat at the National Assembly in 2015 goes beyond partisan affiliations. It is indeed a huge cry for fairness, equity and justice”. It read in part.
According to them, since 1957, their Iharev brothers who will just be vacating the seat by 2015, have enjoyed all electoral positions belonging to the constituency amounting to 32 years while the Nongov people have tasted it only twice for a period of One year and 10months.
The group while suing for support from their Iharev brethren appealed that “another Iharev Man on this seat will make it forty(40) years. Isn’t it morally right to allow a Nongov man a chance at it in 2015?


Have you got the charm, beauty, brains and body to walk before over 2000 spectators.

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Do you think you have what it takes to be crowned Miss Benue Carnival 2014?
Then rush and purchase the entry form to the Miss Carnival Beauty Peagantry 2014 at Shop B6, the Royal Shopping Mall, Makurdi for N10,000.00 or call 08035098560 for further enquiries.