- Rev. Fr. Alia has woken Ortom up, he deserves pity – Ex-Aide Replies
By Amos Aar
GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State has explained why local government workers who were employed during the administration of his predecessor, Gabriel Suswam, in 2011 were sacked in 2017 and are being screened for reinstatement.
Following the directive to reinstate them, the affected workers on Wednesday, 22nd June, 2022, converged on office of the Local Government Service Commission (LGSC), Makurdi to undergo screening for reinstatement.
The governor, who briefed journalists Wednesday shortly after the State Executive Council (SEC) meeting at Government House, Makurdi; said his sacking of the then newly employed local government employees in 2017 went into litigation and that he government has now decided to settle the matter out of court.
“It [the sack] became a legal matter and so we opted to settle out of court. We also discovered that many people have retired and many are dead and we felt that since it became a legal matter, we should confirm those who were laid off,” the governor said.
Ortom said his government took the decision to sack the local government employees because due process was not followed in their recruitment in 2011.
“Due process was not followed in the recruitment and it had to be stopped,” the governor said, adding that it was an illegal arrangement that was masterminded by not necessarily the past administration but some appointees in his government who came and sorted names and insisted that the 2011 recruitment be nullified.
Although Governor Ortom did not mention his former Special Adviser on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Titus Zam, during his media briefing, it was understood that the appointee he was referring to is Hon. Zam as it was being speculated before the briefing.
Chairman of LGSC, Dr Bem Meladu, declined to speak with journalists to explain how long the screening exercise will last and how many are of those sacked are still alive, how may are likely to be reinstated out of the four thousand (4,000) employees who were sacked in 2017.
Responding to the accusation in a statement credited to him on social media, Hon. Zam, among other things, stated: “Ortom presided over the state executive council, directed the sacking of local government staff and went everywhere in the state including radio stations to justify it. If today he heaps the blame on me, I don’t think he deserves any attention.
“No state governor in Nigeria will deny knowledge of the sacking of over 4,000 workers by an appointee if such a governor is to be taken seriously.”
He added: “If governor Ortom has been sleeping for five years and the coming of Rev. Fr. Alia has woken him up and suddenly discovers that I, Chief Titus Thaddeus Tartenger Zam, unilaterally sacked local government staff and he now decides to recall them, I think he deserves pity.
“The bottom line is that such a sleeping governor does not deserve to go to the Senate because he will forget even the identity of the constituency he is representing. I will trash Governor Ortom with thousands of votes difference in Gwer-West, Gwer-East, Makurdi, Gboko, Buruku, Tarka, we will share Guma.
“When that happens, Governor Ortom will realise that the people of Benue state are no fools. Let Governor Ortom pay salaries and pensions now before he blames evil spirits after his defeat in the forthcoming elections.”
When contacted and asked if the Facebook comment could be taken as his reaction to Ortom’s innuendo, Hon. Zam simply responded: “Gov Ortom has not formally accused me. I responded to a Facebook post”.
Ortom and Zam, who hails from the same local government area, Gwer-West, with Ortom’s wife, Mrs Eunice Ortom, have been having clash of political interest since 2019 when Zam contested for governorship with the latter in his second term and they are now vying for 2023 zone B senate slot.
The governor’s decision to reinstate the sacked local government employees after five years has raised concerns among state workers who were equally sacked the very year Ortom assumed office in 2015.
A staff of Government House, Makurdi, who was employed by Suswam’s administration in 2015 with appointment letter given to him confided in National Record that Ortom relieved them of their appointments verbally without any letter to that effect and converted them to casual staff. According to him, the affected staff numbering about two hundred are also calling for their reinstatement.
“What is good for the goose is good for the gander,” the affected Government House staff said.