New Telegraph

COVID-19: Ortom’s absence paralyses Benue govt’s activities

Normal official activities in Benue State have been paralysed in recent weeks over the absence of Governor Samuel Ortom from office. The governor has stayed away from office over reported contact with top government functionaries said to have tested positive for coronavirus.


New Telegraph observed that days before the Armed Forces Day cerebration, the governor had ceased showing up at public functions, a development that suggested huge concerns by people of the state.


His deputy, Benson Abounu, who has been running skeletal services, had disclosed that his boss was on a 10-day self-isolation because a certain permanent secretary (whose name he did not disclose) and his entire family whom the governor had contact with, tested positive to COVID-19.


As at last count, seven persons, including a serving local government chairman, Hon. Daniel Ukehemba Deajir, and a Catholic Priest, Father Kuluke, have allegedly died of COVID-19 complications within the last two weeks in the state. Last week, the state recorded 37 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 694.


Ortom is said to be operating at his private residence located at the highbrow Judges’ Quarters along Makurdi-Gboko road. But the governor’s prolonged absence from office has raised many questions from people of the state, most of whom have expressed worries over collapse of normal official activities as most of his appointees have cashed in on his absence to abscond from work.


When New Telegraph visited the Government House yesterday, it was like a mourning place as most security personnel deployed there and other staff deserted the area possibly for fear of being infected with the disease.


Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Terver Akase, had explained to reporters that his boss was “in a good state of health.”


He also denied that government activities were crippled on account of his principal’s self-isolation, contrary to speculations in some quarters. Akase said though his principal was on self-isolation, the deputy governor had been representing him effectively.


He said the governor has also been performing some essential duties when necessary and cited the instance where he, a few days ago, met with some Permanent Secretaries- designate to discuss with them ahead of their appointments.


Akase argued that the governor’s self-isolation was necessary because a few of his aides had tested positive for COVID-19 and had to go into self-isolation, according to protocol on prevention of the virus.

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