By Amos Aar
THE BENUE State Executive Council (SEC) on Thursday increased funds approval limit for the state governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, by 500 per cent, from fifty million naira (N50,000,000) to two hundred and fifty million naira (N250,000,000).
Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the governor, Tersoo Kula, announced this on Friday, while briefing newsmen on the outcome of Thursday’s SEC meeting at Government House, Makurdi.
According to the CPS, SEC also approved nine billion, two hundred million, sixty thousand naira (N9, 200,060,000.00) only for the ongoing construction of roads in Makurdi metropolis.
It could be recalled that Governor Alia had awarded contracts for the construction of 16 Makurdi township roads measuring 15.39km without budget approval by the state House of Assembly and without announcing any contract sum.
Kula further told journalists that “virement” for the 2023 budget was also approved by SEC to the tune of N30,277,287.16 from the initial budget of N179,750,090.123, in order to make the 2023 budget viable for the remainder of the fiscal year, stating that the supplementary budget will be forwarded to the House of Assembly for approval.
Also fielding questions on a very disturbing issue of when the state government accounts which were frozen since May 29 would be unfrozen, Kula did not give any specific date but appealed to people of the state to continue to be patient with Alia’s administration.
According to him, the processes to lift the embargo on the accounts were almost completed, saying the Attorney General of the state has been working tirelessly in that regard.
Alia’s spokesman also announced that the council approved the allocation of 150 hectares of land, located close to the Alfred Akawe Torkula Polytechnic, Makurdi, to the Nigerian Navy for the construction of a Naval barracks, Naval Schools and a hospital.
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Asked whether the land allocated to the Navy would not create another border crisis as it has been the experience between the Nigerian Air force and Ugondo Community in Makurdi LGA, the state’s Attorney General, Fidelis Mnyim, and the Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Solid Minerals, Martin Shaagee, assured that there will be no cause for alarm.
The commissioners, who also fielded questions alongside Kula, said the SEC nominated them to liaise with the member representing Makurdi North, Hon. Alfred Berger, to dialogue with the host community and compensate the people as well as to sort out other issues likely to cause dispute between between the community and the Nigerian Navy in the future.