Ortom, Mark Others Snub Lectures on infrastructure Deficit in Benue
The governor of Benue State, Dr Samuel Ortom, his predecessor, Sen. Gabriel Suswam, former Senate President, David Mark and a host of other political leaders from Benue snubbed an invitation to attend a lecture on the poor state of infrastructure in Benue State, held in Abuja.
Benue state is one of the least developed in Nigeria, in terms of infrastructure and other key indices, since its creation 43 years ago.
The political leaders of the state were invited to the 2nd Annual Lecture of the Conference of Benue Journalists (CBJ), an association led by Mr. Anule Emmanuel. The occasion was chaired by Mr Godwin Obla(SAN). Keynote Speaker at the event, was Prof. Armstrong Adejoh of the Department of History, Benue State University, who delivered the lecture entitled: “Benue State and the Challenge of Infrastructure Development”. Prof. Yima Sen of the Department of Mass Communications at Baze University and an Associate Professor and newspaper publisher, Dr. Cletus Akwaya, also delivered talks at the occasion. Though a list of invitees made available to the Media, revealed that Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, former Senate Presidents Dr. Iorchia Ayu and David Mark, Dr. Gabriel Suswam and former Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, were on the list of invitees, none of these eminent Benue persons, turned up for the event. They also didn’t send representatives. Also invited for the event, were all members of the House of Representatives from Benue State. None of them also showed up at the event. While Prof. Adejoh’s lecture decried a decline in the quality of leadership in Benue since 1993, Prof. Sen, lamented an acute absence of basic infrastructure in the state. Adejoh regretted what he described as a “marginalisation of development” in Benue, since the early 90s, attributing the state’s plight to “bad governance”, the “misappropriation of resources” and “ethnic politics”. Though he gave the administration of Sen. George Akume, ex-Governor of Benue State and now Minister for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, credit for a “Benue Advancement Plan”, that was detailed and organic, he regretted that the plan was jettisoned by his successor. Prof. Sen and Cletus Akwaya, however, differed on the deplorable state of things in the State. While the ex-presidential aide said there was “complete absence of development” in Benue since 1999, Dr. Akwaya, a former commissioner in the administration of ex-Governor Gabriel Suswam, strongly differed, adding that governance was collective and required the efforts of the governed too.
Obla, represented at the occasion by Barr. Chris Agbiti Esq, said it was inappropriate to blame Benue citizens for the poor quality leadership since they are victims themselves. According to him, the citizens, however, must begin to show a deeper interest in the leadership selection process in the state, if any meaningful change is to be achieved.
Highlights of the events were awards given to Governor Nyesom Wike of River State, International female footballer, Ms Francisca Ordega and international businessman and Philanthropist, Mr Emmanuel Akpakwu. While Governor Wike was honoured for his humanitarian efforts to ease the suffering of Internally-displaced persons in Benue State, Akpakwu and Ordega, were nonoured for their philanthropy and career achievements respectively.