About seven hours after the former Benue Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, went in to see agents of anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), he is still answering questions.
Ortom was said to be responding to invitation for questioning over his financial dealings as state chief executive.
The invitation, Everyday.ng gathered, was extended to the former governor last week but he opted to respond this Tuesday.
Ortom, reports said drove into the Makurdi zonal office of the agency, in company with a former media aide, and many others.
Ortom handed over the reins of power to Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia at a brief ceremony held at the old banquet hall of Government House in Makurdi, Benue State.
He was said to have left a debt of N187 billion to his successor, leading to a public outcry by Alia over the debt burden.
Three weeks ago, Ortom formally presented handover notes of his eight years administration to Alia.
At the brief ceremony on Sunday, May 28th, 2023 at the Old Banquet Hall of Benue Peoples House, Makurdi, Ortom said the handover notes, which are in three volumes, contain sectoral briefs as well as briefs on all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the State Civil Service and briefs on the key programmes that were implemented by his administration
“Your Excellency, although the handover notes I am signing with you today encapsulate the essentials of my administration’s eight years in office, I consider it pertinent to give highlights on income, expenditure, debt profile and pension within the timespan of my administration.
“The total income that accrued to the State within the tenure of my administration from all sources (Statutory income, Value Added Tax, Internally Generated Revenue, other FAAC incomes including Grants, refunds, and loans) was N734.96bn as at 30th April, 2023.
“The total expenditure on both recurrent items (salary/wages, pension and gratuity, overhead or cost of running government services, loan service obligations, refunds/remittances to Local Government Councils) and capital expenditure amounted to N735.6bn as at 30th April 2023.
“The total indebtedness of the Benue State Government at this time of the exit of my administration from office is N187.56bn. This is inclusive of salary and pension arrears, loans and bonds as well as outstanding contractual obligations,” Governor Ortom stated.
Ortom explained that his administration has taken proactive steps to negotiate and ensure significant debt reduction/reliefs for the state.
He gave the breakdown as a total debt swap between the Federal Government and State Government to the tune of N71.6bn.
According to him, the inflows being expected were a backlog of accumulated Stamp Duties of N48bn, refund from debt swap with the Federal Government to the tune of N22.95bn, amounting to N70.95bn.
He emphasised that “by the time you discount or factor in the negotiated debt swap and the expected inflows, the State would attain a debt reduction, bringing down the State’s debt profile to N45.2bn
“In addition, Benue State has outstanding approvals awaiting disbursement from the Federal Government including: balance of bailout N41bn, CBN facilities (referred to as Central Bank of Nigeria DCRR) of N20bn.”
He further explained that his administration had introduced pension reforms stating that over N8bn has been raised under the Contributory Pension Scheme.