Normal official activities of the Benue State government has shutdown with most Commissioners and Special Advisers among other appointees of government absconding work following the three weeks Annual Working Leave embarked upon by Governor Samuel Ortom.
The Governor had before travelling overseas for the leave, transmitted a letter to the State House of Assembly notifying the lawmakers of his intention to proceed on vacation.
In the letter, the Governor said his Leave which commenced on April 7th, would end on 30th of April this year, adding that in the interim, his Deputy, Engr Benson Abounu would take charge in acting capacity as enshrined in the constitution.
But since the governor left the state less than a week, the activities of governance have been paralyzed as most of the Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies have absconded from their official duties in pursuit of their private businesses.
When journalists undertook a surprise visit to the State Secretariat housing the MDAs and their Commissioners, Director Generals and Permanent Secretaries, most of the offices are under lock and key, just as there was no staff on ground to attend to people that have government dealings.
At the cabinet office which houses the office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants and other government appointees, the premises were turned into mourning places as there was no staff seen performing any task.
However, a staff of the office who spoke to journalists but preferred anonymity said that “ever since the staff were told that Ortom had proceeded on vacation without paying them salaries, they were disappointed and decided to stay out of offices”.
“As for me, l only came to the office to pick some things which l left in the office. As you can see, the SSG is not on seat, we have many Special Advisers occupying various offices here, but none of them is in the office now because they are running away from people and are not ready to assist”.
New Telegraph gathered that Governor Ortom had paid salaries to some ministries while others including teachers and local government staff are to wait till the chickens go home to roost.
A primary school teacher employed through the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) who spoke to New Telegraph in confidence lamented over non-payment of salaries for teachers.
“The government is currently owing teachers close to 12 months, even the last payment we were not involved like. I cannot afford a three two-day square meal, TELEGRAPH NEWSROOM I cannot buy drugs to treat myself, I cannot pay school fees for my children”, he lamented.
The State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Joseph Shimaor, who was equally not on seat as at the time of visit, could not pick his calls when he was called for explanation.
But when contacted, the Chief Press Secretary to the Acting Governor, Benson Abounu, Mr. Ogaba Ede, said “It is not the business of journalists to know the movement of Commissioners. It is not true that Commissioners are not on seats”.
However, I when journalists reeled out out the names of Commissioners that that were not on seats, the Chief Press Secretary lost his words.
Governor Ortom had cried out that his appointees had abandoned him and was left alone in the governance of the state.
He said rather than help defend him where ever he was been battered by the opposition, “they will rather keep mute”, and added that the appointees have not contributed meaningfully to the success of his administration in the past years.