By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – A pro democracy and rule of law group, Defenders of Democracy (DoD) has called on Benue State Governor, Rev. Hyacinth Alia, to as a matter of urgency, tender an open apology to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, over what it described as project theft of the Federal Government.
The group, through a press statement signed by the President, Comrade Amos Uchiv Saturday morning, also challenged Governor Alia to address the people on how much he has received as federal allocations and how much the state has generated as internal revenue since the beginning of June, 2023.
Recall that, Governor Alia, through his Commissioner for Cooperatives, Urban and Rural Development, Ms. Joy Luga, on Friday, announced the training for officials of associations and cooperatives in the state, who she said applied for the “Alia Care” Programme.
According to the announcement, the training will hold across the Federal Constituencies of the state.
The group while reacting, accused the Governor of renaming a Federal Government’s Conditional Cash Transfer programme as to mean “Alia Care”, adding that, the move, has made “gullible folks in the rural communities to believe that he is the one arranging to give them money”.
The statement reads in part: “While we do not have any problems with the government giving money to the people, we are concerned about the name and origin of the programme. We have it on good authority that “Alia Care” is a forged name for Federal Government’s Conditional Cash Transfer Programme. Alia wants to be the Obama of Benue State. Recall the ‘ObamaCare’ initiative in the United States under President Barrack Obama. The current Benue Governor lacks originality.
“Governor Alia has renamed the initiative as his own so as to deceive the public that he is working. The state government has not added a penny to the funds coming from the federal government. Even at that, he is not ready to give anyone the actual amount meant for the people from the programme. Another condition is that only APC members are to benefit from the paltry amount.
“Already, thugs of the party are the ones given the responsibility to screen the beneficiaries in each of the designated areas.
“The government of Hyacinth Alia is not known for any form of transparency. Everything around it is shrouded in secrecy and no one is allowed to ask questions.
“President Tinubu graciously approved and released N5 billion with other packages for each state as palliatives.
“The money got to Benue State and since then, nothing has been heard of the palliatives. When the pressure from concerned people began to mount on him, Governor Alia hastily arranged for the purchase of a few refurbished buses and took pictures which were posted on social media as palliatives vehicles.
“Since he came to power, Alia has not bothered to disclose how much his government has so far received as allocations from the federation account. No one knows how much the state is generating as internal revenue. He is running Benue State like a church parish”.
The group therefore, demanded that Governor Alia immediately address the people of Benue State and explain the source of the funds he is calling “Alia Care”.
“Is the money contained in the supplementary budget that he recently sent to the Benue State House of Assembly? If the answer is no, he should cancel the name “Alia Care” and revert to the original name ‘Conditional Cash Transfer’ of the Federal Government.
“Governor Alia should publicly apologize to President Tinubu for trying to snatch an initiative of the Federal Government to take personal credit and glory.
“Governor Alia should also address the people on his handling of the palliatives sent to the state by the Federal Government. What did he do with the N5 billion? It is our right as a people to know!
“The Governor should similarly address the people on how much he has received as federal allocations and how much the state has generated as internal revenue since the beginning of June, 2023.
“We expect that Governor Alia will do the honourable thing and clear the air on the above issues quickly.
“The people didn’t elect a dictator to rule over them and run the state like a church mission. We are in a democracy and we hold the legitimacy and right to know how our resources are being spent”, the statement added.