I listened to Governor Samuel Ortom on an interactive programme on Radio Benue via the internet in far away, Mexico. At the end of the two hour programme, the Governor left me pondering over some issues he raised. In an attempt to get clarification, I tried to call but didn't get through. I sent a text message but was not taken, maybe it did not deliver. To start with, the Governor spent 56 minutes to answer question one which was on why democracy day should be celebrated. Of course he used the opportunity to settle some political scores. It reminded me of my interview with former minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku in Jerusalem sometime ago when I asked him one question and he answered in over 20 minutes.

But my concerns are:
1. In response to questions, comments and observations on demand for better services from contributors, the Governor kept saying "when funds are available". He however did not say what his administration is doing to get more funds.

2. The governor confirmed what I took for a rumour that, in view of the dwindling Federal Allocation, there is an agreement between the state government and workers for one month payment of salary from two months allocation. Going by this plan, there would be salary deficit of six months in a year. By the end of 4 years, Benue workers will be owed for 2 years and by the end of his 8 years which he has bragged of an effortless second term bid, the workers will be owed 4 years salary. Is this a better option to salary challenge in the state? Even with State of Emergency on salaries, does the agreement still stand? Well, I blame the workers for such an agreement.

3. According to the governor, if the much talked about 107 billion naira allegedly looted by former governor Gabriel Suswam and 51 others is recovered, 30 billion will be used to settle salary problem while the balance will be adequate enough to make Benue another Abuja. This sounds interesting. But, the last time I checked, the administration under Gov. Ortom borrowed 53 billion naira which is about half of the hopeful 107 billion naira. This excludes funds from Federal Allocation, IGR, Paris Club and other unknown sources. What has he done with the 53 billion naira? Why should I believe he can perform wonders with 107 billion naira if eventually recovered? This is not to say, he should not recover it o.

4. He gave examples of states including those enjoying 13 percent derivation as not being able to pay salaries as Benue. Why can't the governor look in the direction of non oil producing states such as Gombe, Sokoto, Kano, Bauchi, Anambra, Cross River etc that are steadily paying salaries?

5. He blamed an overzealous state official for printing "Gov. Ortom for you" on wheelbarrows donated to the state by a Federal Government humanitarian agency for distribution to affected citizens by internal crises. What is the outcome of the query given to the official as we were told? This is important, if not, it will be regarded as attempted diversion, the state government being an accomplice.

I have raised these questions to celebrate our children whose future is being tempered with by some bad leaders. Happy Children's Day.

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