- Don’t accept Water Resources Bill – Soyinka
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate how huge sums of money released by the Federal Government for the establishment RUGA settlement in the state and other states of the federation were spent.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government had appropriated in the 2019 budget a whopping sum of over N2.25 billion for the RUGA settlement project. Governor Ortom, who made the call during a courtesy visit on him by the new leadership of the Mzough U Tiv, a socio-cultural organisation, stated that the RUGA budget, he reliably learnt, was released and contracts awarded but that the money released had developed wings, hence the call on the anti-graft agency to probe the whereabouts of the funds.
“Infact, let me talk about this RUGA. RUGA that came was another form of cattle colony or open grazing thing that the Federal Government wanted to do; and I am surprised that contract was given overnight. “I want to invite EFCC to probe the contracts that were given for the take-off of the project in Benue and other states of the country. They have not constructed it here, because we said no to it, but where is the money?
“Let the Federal Government should tell Nigerians the whereabouts of the contractors and the money. EFCC must tell us; it’s not going about arresting people that have stolen chicken and then people who have stolen billions you allow them to go that you say you are fighting corruption.”
Meanwhie, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday threw his weight behind Benue State governor’s rejection of the controversial Water Resources Bill before the National Assembly.
The playwright in a short telephone message to Governor Samuel Ortom through the state Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Benue State chapter, Dr. Charles Iornumbe, described the bill as “deliberate, flanking move towards RUGA colonisation”.
Soyinka’s position came just as the Tiv Youths Organisation (TYO) also said that the bill had a hidden agenda, which was to encourage Fulani pastoralists to take over the nation’s green vegetation. Soyinka urged Governor Ortom and his counterparts in other states not to compromise their stands on the bill but resist it as it was ill-planned.