From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam has denied allegation that he is sponsoring one of the governorship aspirants in the state, Dr. Eugene Aliegba with government funds to emerge as his successor.
The governor who made the denial yesterday when the leadership of the correspondents’ chapel paid him a courtesy call at Government House, Makurdi, also refuted claims that the state government intends to sell its shares in Dangote Cement worth over N7 billion.
Governor Suswam said he has provided a level playing field for all the aspirants, adding that he would not interfere in the process of choosing who should succeed him in 2015.
“I have provided a level playing ground for all the aspirants. I do not have any anointed aspirant. If I had the powers to anoint anyone, I would have chosen my deputy, Chief Steven Lawani because he understands the nitty-gritty of governance having served me for this period of time. But, it is the Benue electorates that have the power to elect their governor”, Suswam said.
On the alleged sale of the state shares in Dangote Cement, he said there has never been any plan by his administration to sell off the over N43.3 million worth of shares of the state in Dangote Cement, maintaining that the shares are strictly managed by the Benue Investment and Property Company (BIPC).
“It is just the imagination of people. I do not have control over the shares. The state shares in Dangote Cement and Julius Berger is handled and managed by the BIPC”, he explained.
Governor Suswam also confirmed the nonpayment of civil servants’ wages for over two (2) months, explaining that it is as result of the ongoing negotiation with labor over the new salary structure in the state. He assured that soon the negotiations will be concluded and workers salary arrears would be cleared.
On whether local government elections will hold in the state at the expiration of their tenure on November 27, 2014, he stated emphatically that the state may not afford the cost of over N1billion to conduct election, disclosing further that care taker committees will be put in place. He added too that a 7 man panel has been inaugurated to look into the possibility of creating 12 development areas in the state.