Tiv Youth Council Worldwide (TYCW), a Benue-based socio-cultural group on Tuesday demanded an apology from the state governor, Mr Samuel Ortom, for referring to Benue indigenes as drunks.

It said in a statement issued in Abuja by its president, Mr Mike Msuaan that it was regrettable that the governor made such derogatory remark on a people surviving on self-help.

It noted that it was disheartening that Gov. Ortom who had neither been able to initiate any development project nor pay basic salaries, and pensions and gratuities of retirees, could make such remark.

“While inaugurating the new building of RCN Embassy Church in Makurdi, the governor was quoted to have accused his critics of `drinking beer from 9 a.m. and sleeping all-day long,’ ’’ it stated.

According to TYCW, the governor has consistently ignored counsel to partner with relevant Federal Government agencies to attract development to the state rather than dishing out verbal insults to perceived enemies.

“We have appealed to Gov. Ortom several times to please concentrate on governance and entrench good governance and responsible leadership in the state.

“We have wondered why development has continued to elude us under his leadership, especially at a time states created several years after Benue have moved with the speed of light.

“Today, we are sad that the governor has moved from lack of development to verbally dishing out insults.

“We have listened to an audio recording in some national dailies and online media that while inaugurating a church building recently, the governor said his people drank from 9 a.m.

“He said in the audio recording that Tiv people and went to bed from beer parlours only to wake and insult the governor.

“So far, there has been no rebuttal from the government.

“The response from the Chief Press Secretary, Mr Nathaniel Kyur, was a face-saving and damage control blunder in which he accepted that Gov. Ortom made the comment but it was targeted at APC members.

“We join well-meaning Nigerians to strongly condemn such use of derogatory words on the good people of Benue and demand an immediate and unreserved apology from the governor,’’ the group stressed.

It maintained that such demeaning reference to a people should be condemned by all well-meaning people and called on the Benue Traditional Council and religion institutions to call the governor to order.

“We have consistently tasked Gov. Ortom to develop the state and to create an enabling environment for the people of Benue to excel.

“The governor’s comment is very painful because he has not conducted any employment exercise since he came to office in 2015.

“In 2019, he promised to employ 5,000 teachers; lately, he reduced the number to 2,000, but this has remained in the realm of wishful thinking.

“The governor has refused to pay workers and pensioners in the state for several months,’’ the TYCW added.

It stated also that since he was elected governor, Ortom had not built any industry to meaningfully employ the people of Benue.

“We have continuously appealed to him, to liaise with relevant Federal Government institutions to rebuild, resettle and return Internally-Displaced People to their ancestral homes.

“This appeal fell on deaf ears. We have consistently reminded him that even in Borno which is almost a war zone, Gov. Zulum has been resettling his people,’’ the TYCW added.

Reacting to the demand for an apology, IKyur, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, said Gov. Ortom will not apologise over statements that were clearly products of mischief by a news hound.

Ikyur told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the reporter who wrote the “mischievous story has already tendered an apology to the governor, hence there was no point demanding an apology from Ortom.

“Our earlier statement on the matter suffices.

“If anybody has an audio clip of the message, let him tender it and he will be made to present the original in court.

“Ortom will not apologise for what he did not say,’’ IKyur insisted. (NAN)

By Editor

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