Governor Alia to spend N2 Billion on birthday

Governor Alia to spend N2 Billion on birthday

…Sets up 181-man Planning Committee

By Emmy Zahan

Who is Governor of Benue State, Hyacinth Alia in competition with over the biggest birthday celebration?

In a troubling display of misplaced priorities, Governor Alia has set the stage for an extravagant birthday celebration that will not only be excessive but also be a blatant misuse of public funds.

The Governor has already approved two committees made up 181 members. While the state government birthday committee is headed by the Deputy Governor, Samuel Ode, that of the party is headed by the Alia-appointed APC factional chairman, Benjamin Omakolo.

Read: Former Benue Governors not responsible for your failure — Group Tells Alia

There are reports that governor Alia has allocated a staggering N2 billion for his 58th birthday festivities. According to the sources, 50% of the funds are to be deducted from allocations of the 23 local governments of the state as their own “birthday gifts” to the Governor. This means each of the local governments will “contribute” at least N43 million for the birthday. The remaining N1 billion will come from the state government.

This is a severe slap in the face of the people of Benue State, who are grappling with pressing issues that demand urgent attention and resources.
What makes this situation even more disturbing is the establishment of not one, but two separate Planning Committees comprising a total of nearly 200 members to organize the lavish birthday event.

The sheer scale of this unnecessary expenditure on a personal celebration is indefensible and raises serious questions about Governor Alia’s judgment and commitment to serving the best interests of Benue people.

At a time when the state is facing numerous challenges, including economic hardship and the humanitarian crisis caused by herdsmen attacks and killing of hundreds of innocent people, it is sad and insensitive for Governor Alia to prioritize his birthday celebration over the needs of the people he was elected to serve. The allocation of such a whopping sum of public funds for a frivolous event that holds no tangible value for the people of Benue State is not justifiable by any measure.

It is important that Governor Alia reconsiders his decision and cancels the planned extravagant jamboree in favour of redirecting the funds towards initiatives that can genuinely benefit the people of Benue State. The money earmarked for the excessive birthday celebration could make a significant impact if allocated towards critical areas such as healthcare, education, infrastructure development, or poverty alleviation programmes.

As a leader entrusted with the responsibility of stewarding the resources of the state for the common good, Governor Hyacinth Alia must demonstrate fiscal responsibility, accountability, and a genuine commitment to improving the lives of the people. Using public funds to indulge in such opulence and extravagance at the expense of the welfare and development of the people is not justifiable and sets a dangerous precedent for governance in Benue State.

In the light of the outcry and condemnation from concerned citizens, civil society organizations, and the media, I urge Governor Alia to reconsider his priorities, exercise prudence, and act in the best interest of the people of Benue State.

It is incumbent upon the Governor to halt the planned excessive spending on his birthday celebration and instead focus on addressing the pressing needs and challenges facing the state. The resources of Benue State should be used judiciously and transparently for the good of all, not squandered on extravagant display of personal indulgence.

Governor Alia should remember the displaced people who are still suffering in the IDP camps in parts of Benue State. He should remember his promise to resettle them within his first 100 days in office which he failed to fulfill. This is one of the priorities that deserve huge spending this time.

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Governor Alia should also remember his promise to clear the arrears of salaries and pensions all at once. So far, we have not seen any such commitment from him, despite receiving unprecedented amounts of federal allocations.