Featured picture: Dr Sunday Ongbabo
· Govt Directs All Civil Servants To Resume Work August 3
By Amos Aar, Makurdi
The Benue State Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Sunday Ongbabo has resigned his appointment from Governor Ortom’s cabinet.
Briefing newsmen on Wednesday shortly after the State Executive Council (SEC) meeting at Government House in Makurdi, the state’s Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Hon. Mrs Ngunan Addingi, said Dr Ongbabo resigned his appointment for personal reasons.
She said the SEC conducted a valedictory session for Dr Ongbabo during the meeting to bid him farewell. She said Governor Ortom thanked Ongbabo for his services to the state and wished him well in his future endeavours.
The erstwhile Health Commissioner and Secretary, Benue State Action Committee on Covid-19 was not available for comments at the press briefing. Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry is to act until a new commissioner is appointed.
While the Information Commissioner said Dr Ongbabo did not disclose the reasons for his resignation, there are speculations that he may have been removed by Governor Ortom on allegations that he was not active, particularly with respect to the handling of Covid-19 pandemic in the state.
But Principal Special Assistant (PSA) Media to Governor Ortom dismissed the speculation as baseless, as the governor did not ask him to resign.
However, a reliable source at the Ministry of Health, who pleaded anonymity as she was not permitted to speak on behalf of the ministry, told National Record that Dr Ongbabo’s sack was long expected.
According to the source, Governor Ortom has been unhappy with the commissioner on a number of times and had scolded him a couple of times on the laid-back manner in which he was managing the Covid-19 Response Committee. The source further disclosed that it was as a result of this that Dr Ongbabo was removed as Chairman of the Committee and rather made its Secretary, and replaced by the Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu.
According to the source, a new commissioner for Health has already penciled down for appointment and would soon be announced. The new commissioner, she disclosed, is from Dr Ongbabo’s local government, Agatu.
Dr Ongbabo is the 4th appointee to leave Ortom’s government. The first was Dr Philip Tachin, former Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), followed by the Executive Secretary, Teaching Service Board, Dr Wilfred Terlumun Uji, the third was Rev. Emmanuel Aper (SUBEB Chairman).
Meanwhile, the SEC has directed the Benue Investment and Property Company Limited (BIPC) to surrender the defunct Lobi Bank’s building, located along Old Otukpo Road Makurdi to the Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS), to be used as its corporate headquarters.
The SEC also approved the release of 50 million naira to be used to ensure that compliance to Covid-19 protocols for the reopening of schools for exiting students.
According to Mrs Addingi, SEC also terminated with effect from August 2020 the Thursday and Friday work-free days introduced by Governor Ortom to enable civil servants go to farm.
The civil servants in the state are to resume full services throughout work days in the week starting from Monday, August 3rd, 2020.