Your Excellency, on the 29th of May 2015 the people of Benue breathed a sigh of relief – relief
from failed government, relief from broken
promises, relief from months of unpaid salaries,
relief from lack and hunger.
The reason they had this sigh was because they
fought for and voted for a governor of their
choice whom they believed was coming to wipe
away their tears and take away the pains of the
past. They all jubilated when you were sworn in
as the governor of Benue state. Hope was
birthed in the hearts of the people – your
This desire for hope didn’t start today, it started
in 2011 when we all took part in the then Broom
revolution that invaded Benue state. We went on
the streets screaming “Ugbah Yor, Isho’ Changi”.
At that time the hope of the people was in Prof.
Steve Ugbah, the then ACN governorship
candidate. The elections came but the people
were disappointed…their hope was killed.
Now fast forward to 2015, the people came all
out to demand change which was founded on
hope for a better Benue. They campaigned, they
faced intimidation from the then ruling party, but
stood their grounds. Some of us became known
as APC chairmen because of the passion with
which we campaigned for your candidacy. We
campaigned in our offices, Business places,
Churches, among friends, etc.
When in April 2015 you were declared the winner
of the Benue state governorship elections, the
whole Makurdi town went into celebration. I
received calls congratulating me and the people
of Benue. The people believed hope had come.
Today, 11 months into your government the story
is different. The people that called to
congratulate me when you won are now calling
me to complain about your government. I have
now become your unofficial spokesman because
I keep trying to explain your plans for Benue to
the people even though I don’t really understand
One issue that is very deep in the hearts of the
people – your own people, is the issue of
payment of salaries. This issue is one that any
government that plays with it is already planning
to fail. Suffice to say that the refusal of the past
government of Gabriel Suswam to pay salaries at
the twilight of his administration was responsible
for the rejection of the PDP in the state. Now
the same trend is ongoing. Someone called me
and asked a question. He asked whether you
were no longer receiving allocations from the
federation account. I answered in the
affirmative. Then he asked “then why is Ortom
not paying salaries?” I didn’t have an answer for
him and I still don’t.
It is public knowledge that Benue state is ‘a civil
service’ state. The civil service runs the state,
hence once salaries are owed by the
government, the economy of the state is
Another issue that calls for your urgent response
is that of the fraudulent and abnormal increase
of school fees and acceptance fee at the Benue
State University. I call it fraudulent because the
people can’t understand why a school will just
wake up and increase its fees from 62,000 to
about 130,000. That’s over a hundred percent
increment. Not only that, acceptance fee was
increased from 5,500 to 22,000 (that is exactly
400 percent increase). For a state like Benue it
is bad, inhuman, and a slap on the faces of
those that voted you in. BSU is a family school
where most of the students are indigenes of the
state; now how do you expect the parents of
these students to pay the fraudulent acceptance
fee and school fee when their salaries are being
owed? Even if their salaries are paid as at when
due, it is still inhuman. I am personally angry at
this particular issue because it makes no sense.
Your tax policy is another matter of concern. I
understand that there is paucity of funds in the
state, receipts from the federation account has
drastically reduced, and the state’s account was
left in red by the past government, hence there
is need to look for other sources of funding the
state. But if you put ears on the ground you will
realize that the people see that policy as anti-
people and their reasons are genuine. The
questions they ask is why should a government
be owing salaries and yet be hammering on
payment of taxes when the state is civil service
driven? If the government is working and salaries
are being paid people will not complain about
your tax policies. When you tax businesses
excessively, the burden of those taxes will be
eventually transferred to the consumers – your
own people through the increase in prices of
goods and services.
That is how it works. And when that happens
you are simply increasing inflation.
One very troubling and annoying issue is the
name given to some of these taxes and their
abnormal amounts which makes them appear
fraudulent. For instance, how can someone be
asked to pay tax for using generator to power
his business when the same government of
Nigeria has refused to provide him with power?
The question people are asking is, is your
government planning to fly to the sky to fix the
Ozone layer? That tax does not make sense.
Another instance is that of the borehole tax;
let’s get somethings straight.
Your government has not provided the people
with water, the people then use their own money
to dig boreholes to service their businesses, and
then your government wants them to pay for
that? I was talking with one of the numerous tax
consultants contracted by the BIRS to receive
tax, and he told me the borehole tax was
100,000. A friend of mine who has a borehole in
his house was billed 50,000 as borehole tax.
Does this make sense?
A fourth issue to look at is the image your
government has in the minds of the people.
The people see your government as one lacking
in direction and plans. The truth is I have had to
explain the plans of your government to a
number of people. During the Gabriel Suswan’s
government the state actually had a blueprint
that was known even by a small child – Our
Benue Our Future.
That plan was made public and marketed to the
people, so they knew what the government
planned to achieve (even though they were not
implemented, at least the government had a plan
and the people knew it). I know your government
has a written document, our collective blueprint
for a better Benue, but how many people know
about that document? It is not public knowledge
so the people feel you have no definite plans,
and even if you do, they think you are just a tax
master, and many of them are regretting their
Your Excellency with the present state of things
in the state if an election was to be conducted
today in the state I am afraid to say you will lose
out. That is the level of disaffection the people
have towards you. I don’t know the feedback
your advisers are giving to you, but the truth is
the feedback from the people are negative,
which is not good for your government. The truth
is if your government fails, some of us will not
be able to talk again because of the level of
commitment and passion we put into convincing
the people to vote you. Already they are blaming
us. As a son of the soil and one who desire that
you succeed and the state moves forward, I am
making some suggestions to you based on the
issues that the people – your people have raised
from my conversations with them on the streets.
1. On the issue of payment of salaries, I’d
suggest that you do whatever it will take to
ensure salaries are paid consistently. The
outstanding salaries should be cleared as soon
as possible. I would suggest that you even
apologies to the people for the nonpayment of
salaries and assure them that your government
is on a rescue mission. Give the people hope,
right now they have lost their hope.
2. The increment of school fees and acceptance
fee at the Benue State University should be
reversed immediately to the old rates. There
should be no second thoughts on this issue.
3. Your tax policies should be reexamined. Like I
said earlier, once salaries are paid and
government is working the people will pay their
taxes willingly, but one fear I have about the
manner in which the Benue Inland Revenue
Service (BIRS) is going about the taxation plans,
is the fear of businesses closing shop as a result
of multiple taxation.
There are now too many tax to be paid by
businesses, with most of these businesses being
SMEs. The SMEs are the drivers of any economy
so caution must be applied when dealing with
them. If 10 percent of the SMEs in Benue state
close shops the state will be in trouble. Also,
some of the taxes should be stopped – the
borehole tax is fraudulent; the “Ozone layer
repair tax” is fraudulent and abnormal.
4. In the area of image, your media team has
lots of work to do. They need to market the
government to the people. In the present state
of things there seems to be a gap between your
government and the people.
Let the plans of the government be made known
to the people. The document ‘Our collective
blueprint for a better Benue’ should be made
known to the people (I actually think that name
should be changed to something more attention
grabbing). Our Benue Our Future was a great
brand but unfortunately it wasn’t implemented.
Serious efforts should be put into communicating
with the people.
If you really want to succeed as a governor and
build a positive legacy that the people will wish
you serve for three terms, then I’d advise you put
all these recommendations to work without
leaving out any.
It is my utmost desire that this government
succeeds. I wish you and your team the grace of
God and the “Common Sense” needed to pilot
the affairs of the state well. I look forward to a
time when people will start calling me to say
‘thank God we made the right choice – thank
God we voted Ortom.
In the words of my Friend Enenche Comedian, I
wish you and your team an Ortomatic level of
God bless you
God bless Benue State.
– Donald Ngbede Yusuf
Writer & Strategy Consultant