Friday, 9 January 2015

Rt Hon Terhemen Tarzoor's Economic Blue Print ''TOWARDS A GREATER BENUE (TAG-B)''.

 “Yes We Believe in a Greater Benue anchored on the philosophy of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) which is expected to spur macroeconomic stability and good Governance”

–Rt. Hon. Prince Terhemen

 Tarzoor (PDP Gubernatorial Candidate for 2015 elections in Benue State).

‘Towards- A- Greater- Benue (TAG-B) provides a strategic road map for the radical transformation and development of the State from May 29, 2015 to May 29, 2019.This Economic Blue Print is anchored on the philosophy of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiative, which is expected to spur macroeconomic stability and good governance in the State.
While recognizing that all sectors are critical to economic growth and development, the mission is tailored towards five key areas within an infrastructural development framework tagged ‘I-HEAPT’ namely;
• Infrastructure
• Health
• Education
• Agriculture
• Pension matters and
• Tourism
An addendum which addresses two secondary key areas ofSports Development and the Traditional Institution is attached.
To be able to arrive at informed strategies to achieve the desired projections, there is a consideration of sectoral issues in retrospect using the actual performance indices for a complete tenure period of 2008-2011 as a basisfor a Four-year (2015-2019) working Projection.

The following performance objectives were thus derived and will be targeted;
Change in the structure of recurrent expenditure- capital expenditure ratio to 30:70.
Doubled revenue in-flows to be utilized for capital expenditure and other recurrent purposes.
Effective management of State resources to ensure realization of set goals.
Reversed budget deficit trend to meet with global standards.
Reversed Non-Personal Goods percentage of expenditure profile.
The strategy document has been presented in four sections namely; Economic, Human Capital Development, Environment and Administration.

An overview of the sectoral plans indicated in each section is as follows:
Section A:Economic Sector
1. Agriculture: The dwindling global oil prices and attendant impact on the Nigerian economy has created an urgent need for States in the Federation to diversify their economies. The importance of refocusing Agriculture in Benue State can thus not be over emphasized. The sub-sector with its huge potentials is currently fraught with a myriad of problems ranging from being a low base for Internal Generally Revenue (IGR); high prices of agricultural inputs; poor storage and mechanization facilities; an aging work force; poor accessibility to marketing facilities; problems of suspected Fulani herdsmen and degradation of the environment through bush burning and logging of timber.
In order to achieve the set objective of strengthening the food basket status and ensuring food security and self sufficiency of the State, actual capital expenditure within the 4-year period (2015-2019) would be increased by additional 11.4% to achieve the desired target of 20% of total capital expenditure.
Government will take deliberate steps to encourage Public Private Partnership (PPP) for the establishment of food processing factories, which would assist eliminate poor pricing of agro produce in the State. This will be achieved by strategically putting in place a comprehensive agricultural policy, the establishment of a Benue Produce Marketing Company (BPMC) to be mainly private sector driven etc

2. Commerce, Industry, Investment and Tourism: This sub-sector witnessed a negative growth trend in capital allocations within the period and the resulting low level of activities within the sector has further compounded the limited opportunities in the State for gainful self-employment. In addition the moribund nature of Government owned industrial establishments, low private sector participation and surge in capital flight in the State serves as a rationale for the Government to provide an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
In order to create an enabling environment for the State to attract inflows of foreign and domestic capital which would stimulate activities within the sub-sector Government would improve on the State’s infrastructural base, privatize Government companies and where necessary equity participation by Government would not exceed 25%.
To promote tourism and maximize the State’s tourism potential, a deliberate cultural policy will be formulated and implemented while the establishment of world class hotels, catering services and attractive tourists sites, (which the State is naturally endowed with water bodies and mountainous sites) will be pursued by the Government via a strong PPP arrangement.

3. Infrastructure: The components of infrastructure in this case consists of the state of roads network, distribution of power supply and all capital projects which serve as catalyst for rural development. This sub-sector experienced a positive annual growth in capital allocations within the review period, however, the challenges of poor road network, limited water supply, perennial housing problems, inadequate power supply and dilapidated buildings both at State and local Government still exist.
In order to improve water and electricity supply, Government will reactivate small town water schemes and establish new ones, access and employ funds from international finance organizations for Rural Water facilities, lobby for the completion of the 330KVA power transmission station and partner the private sector for independent hydro and thermal power generation and distribution in the State. With respect to good roads and housing delivery, Government will engage reputable construction firms through BOT for roads construction and maintenance, lobby the Federal Government to improve on Federal roads within the State and enter into PPP arrangement with Mortgage Finance Institutions to build houses on owner occupier basis.

Section B:Human Capital Development
1. Education: This sub-sector presents one of the largest industries in Benue State. The sector is the State’s greatest asset and the bedrock in providing the needed human resource base for our bourgeoning public service and private sector. The quality of manpower in the system has a direct correlation with the quality of what is produced (graduates) by our educational institutions.
To ensure full Public Private Partnership and enable the Benue citizenry achieve functional and qualitative education at all levels, the candidate projects the full implementation of the existing legislation on the Free but Compulsory Basic Primary Education for All within the period 2015- 2019, expansion of facilities, capacity building and the resuscitation of primary education in all the Local Government Areas of the State. This is to be achieved via a PPP and beneficial collaboration with Donor agencies e.g UNICEF, World Bank, DFID, VSO, UNESCO, UNDP and Multi-National Firms. With regard to secondary education, achieve improved quality in Science, Technical and Vocational education to meet Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) via the aggressive recruitment of quality science and technical education teachers, provision of basic science and technical equipment in Government secondary schools, provision of computers and ICT equipment, implementation of special salary packages for science and technical education teachers.

The Government will work with tertiary institutions within the State to improve their carrying capacities and ensure that they are adequately funded thus positioning them to absorb more qualifying candidates. This will be achieved via collaboration with private partners in developing and expanding existing facilities and infrastructure to meet the carrying capacity of the schools. The timely payment of tertiary students’ sustenance allowance will be enhanced. To achieve a high level of Adult literacy and Special Education in the State by 2019, Government will enhance the Agency for Adult and Non Formal Education through improved budgetary allocations and collaboration with International/Local NGOs.

2. Health: A Healthy Nation is a Wealthy Nation. This explains why nations and States around the world often give priority attention to the health sector. Much as it is prioritized, the sector is so large that Government at all times adopts collaborative efforts with NGOs, CBOs, UN bodies and the private sector to intervene in the provision of the health needs of the people. The sector witnessed a positive annual growth rate within the period under consideration; however it still faces the challenge of inadequate drugs for treatment, inadequate standard laboratory equipment, poor basic infrastructure and unqualified personnel.
The overall objective of the candidate with regard to this sector is to enhance access of the population to improved health services and reduce rates of mortality and morbidity especially among the vulnerable segments of the Benue population. This will be achieved majorly through the collaboration with faith-based organizations to complement the efforts of Government by grant aiding their hospitals and health facilities. Other strategies will include the enactment of a comprehensive health insurance law, an anti-quackery law, revision and strengthening of the existing Drug Revolving, Referral and Exemption Schemes through PPP etc

3. Information and Communication: One of the challenges mitigating economic growth in the State has been the nature of information and communication flow. Government-owned media outfits are besieged with challenges ranging from inadequate funding, obsolete equipment, dilapidated infrastructure, inadequate staffing and training. The few privately owned media houses that exist are constrained by similar challenges. The targeted objective is to re-organize the entire State information system for effective management and allow free flow of information for participatory democracy. Key strategies which will be employed in achieving this objective will be to institute a feedback mechanism between Government and the governed, vigorously pursue the overhauling and repositioning of Radio Benue, BPPCL, Government Printing Department and Mobile Film Unit for effectiveness, pursue synergy with private concerns in information management so as to float viewing centres that would enhance the propagation of Government activities.
4. Social Development, Youth and Sports: The Social Development, Youth and Sports sub-sector encompasses Women, Youth, Sports and Social issues and is comprised of the most vulnerable groups in society. Women, Youth, Elderly and the physically challenged persons are yet to be fully integrated into mainstream society to develop their self –potentials and esteem. Within the base period, budgetary allocations to this sub-sector actually witnessed an annual growth decline. As a result, improvement in the status and quality of life of women is still a front burner issue, youths are yet to attain productivity and responsiveness, sports facilities are inadequate and social security for care of the elderly and less privilege has remained an issue.

To ensure an increase in the number of Girls Secondary Schools and thus provide greater access to the Girl child, redress discriminatory practices against women and ensure women empowerment and full implementation of the 30% affirmative action by 2019, Government will upgrade and maintain boarding facilities in each of the three(3) proposed Government Girls Secondary School, establish three (3) functional Centers for Women Literacy and Home Management in each of the senatorial zones and appoint more qualified women into positions of responsibilities across the State to meet the 30% target amongst other strategies. With respect to Youth Empowerment and Self Actualization, Government will pursue the gainful engagement of Youths and development of talent through active collaboration with the Federal Government for full engagement of Benue Youths at the ultra-modern North Central Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Makurdi; establish one (1) Community Entrepreneurship Center in each of the three senatorial zones to access micro credit by the trainees.

In the area of Sports, pursue the identification of Talent and Investment in Sports Development. Targeted is the completion of the AperAku Stadium, upgrade of the stadium complexes in Katsina-Ala, Gboko, and Otukpo, improved local competitions and participation for laurels at national sporting events. Specific strategies to be employed in achieving these are partnership with the private sector to complete and provide world class facilities at theAperAku stadium complex on Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) for sports development in the State, development of Sport Academies and standard Mini Stadia in Otukpo, Gboko, and Katsina-Ala for sports development in the three senatorial zones of the State.To ensure Social Security and Care for the Less Privileged and achieve the projections of a full Integration of socially disadvantaged groups into mainstream society, the strategies to be adopted will be to liaise with NGOs and CSOs to assist in funding and building capacity for orphanages and socially disadvantaged care centers, renovation of the few existing rehabilitation centres in the State, establish one ultra -modern rehabilitation centre in each of the three senatorial zones of the State; establish a directorate and define modalities for care of Elderly Citizens.
Section C: Environmental Development Sector

1. Environment: The recent flood disaster that plagued five Local Governments in Benue State no doubt exposed the unforeseen environmental danger bedeviling the State. There are also other several environmental issues such as air and water pollution, deforestation, poor sanitation, bush burning and general environmental decay. These natural and man-made environmental hazards need to be tackled headlong.
The objective is to ensure a well-structured emergency preparedness, environmental renewal and sustainability. A legal framework for a friendly eco system, a sanitation law and beautification of Makurdi, Gboko, Otukpo and Kastina-Ala townsare projected. Specific strategies to be adopted to achieve these include encouragingafforestation and re-forestation, construction of public conveniences through PPP, entrenchment of a comprehensive waste disposal policy via PPP and the establishment of a man made canal in Makurdi for erosion control and tourism.
Section D: Administration Sector

1. General Administration: The General Administration sub-sector encompasses Government House administration, Office of the Deputy Governor and Office of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), which makes up the executive arm. The coordination of administration in the State is done by these organs. Executive decision on the smooth running of the State are taken at Executive Council Meetings to fast track the wheel of governance and productivity in the State. In a nutshell, the totality of Government policies and programmes are initiated and executed under General Administration. This sub-sector witnessed a positive annual growth within the review period, however, the competing needs of the people vis-à-vis the cost of administration has exerted and still exerts a lot of pressure on the purse of the State.
The objective of the candidate in this regard is to ensure a timely implementation of Government policies and programmes whilst reducing the actual growth of spending in this sub-sector from 10% to 5% by 2019. This will be achieved via the prioritization of Government policies and programmes with timelines as well as close supervision and monitoring of the bureaucracy to remove bottlenecks.

2. Structure of Government:The duplication and overlapping functions in the Government machinery has increased the overall cost in the public service/overheads. There is therefore the need to create and maintain a manageable and efficient structure of Government that eliminates waste and ensures efficiency. An overhaul and reorganization of the structure of Government for effective service delivery within one year is projected. This will be achieved by streamlining the number of Ministries, Department and Agencies with a view to making same more efficient, focused and result oriented.

3. The Legislature and Justice Administration: A myriad of challenges exist that inhibit access to justice despite commendable efforts by past administration. Courts are still insufficient, some infrastructures are in a state of decay, working conditions are unsatisfactory and most of the procedures are still quite cumbersome. The legislature still faces complex institutional challenges such as complete absence of financial autonomy, absence of Assembly Service Commission Law and Training. All these challenges have thus far prevented the legislature from performing its constitutional duties especially that of enacting high impact legislations.
The projection is to sustain the provision of improved facilities and updated court procedures for effective dispensation of justice, establish an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) structure and the provision of a conducive working condition for the Legislature amongst within the period 2015- 2019. This will be achieved through the restructuring of the State Judicial System, re-organization of the State Law Reform Commission, implementation of the Assembly Service Commission law amongst other strategies

4. Traditional Institution: It is a truism that the Traditional Institution is the custodian of the culture and tradition of the people. Besides, the Institution also plays a critical role in maintaining peace and security within its domain while performing other ancillary functions. Regrettably, the 1999 constitution does not recognize these lofty roles played by this institution. Consequently, the constitution does not ascribe any specific function to Traditional Institutions in the country. This has been a major challenge to the Traditional Institutions in the country in general and Benue State in particular.
A clear definition of the role of traditional rulers within the framework of the State is projected. This will be achieved by the enactment of a law to clearly specify the functions, duties and responsibilities of traditional rulers in the State before 2019.

5. Inter-Governmental Relations: It has been recognized that the interface between the State and Local Government is a sin qua non for the realization of the set goals of Government. The present administration has been able to harness this relationship, however much still needs to be done in this regards.
To ensure that the State and Local Governments are on the same page in terms of the philosophy of governance, a Local Government Development Committee comprising the Governor, Local Government Chairmen, District and Kindred Heads to actualize this projection will be instituted.

6. Public Expenditure Management (PEM): Investments made in facilities that ensure efficient PEM has witnessed a decline in actual Capital expenditure annual growth rates. This has led to the continuous problems associated with procedures for allocating and managing resources efficiently in the State. The situation report still acknowledges that despite commendable efforts in the budget formulation process, systematic procedures for reporting reliable, timely revenue and expenditure information, at the MOF and in MDAs, there are still gaps in the Cash forecasting and debt management capabilities, as well as weaknesses in the external audit and reporting system. This has ensured that the desired levels of consistency, responsiveness, accountability and transparency in the management of public resources are yet to be achieved.
There also exists the challenge of conflict of roles by the State Planning Commission and Projects Implementation and Monitoring Unit, which has further slowed down activities that should have ensured effective feedback mechanism of policy reviews and qualitative evaluation of progress made so far.
A strengthened public expenditure management processes which will be accountable and transparent has been projected amongst other objectives. A key strategy to achieve this is tostrengthen the quarterly accountability reporting system by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

7. Project Monitoring, Evaluation and Implementation: A reviewed policy guide line for effective Monitoring and Evaluation of Government projects and a harmonization of all M& E activities into one body are projected. To achieve this a re-design of the monitoring guidelines as well as an evaluation framework for M & E directorate using objectively verifiable indicators that would measure policy targets against actual performance will be embarked upon whilst all M&E activities will be warehoused at the Benue State Planning Commission.

8. Internal Revenue Generation (IGR): Despite the commendable efforts geared towards improvement in the internal revenue generation profile, as well as the State’s abundant human and natural resources, she has heavily relied on Federal allocations for its finances over the period 2008-2011. There is therefore the need to further boost IGR so as to reduce the over-dependence on Federal allocations and increase the funds available to the State Government to carry out its developmental activities. The strategies to achieve this are full implementation of the BIRS Law, full computerization of BIRS, motivation for BIRS staff, establishment of Revenue Courts, close gaps in the processes of IGR collections and constitute a Board to effectively oversight BIRS.

9. Synergies Between NGOs, CSOs, Multi-National Organizations and International Organizations: Synergies with International Development Agencies (IDAs) have impacted positively on the health, economic, social and political well being of the citizens. However, the State has faced challenges in its counterpart obligations, which have become a major hiccup in her development efforts
The overall objective is to sustain Government efforts in recalling, attracting, and maintaining International Development Partnership programmes with NGOs, CBOs, and CSOs through international collaborations for the overall advancement of Benue State.
Policy formulation that would strengthen and sustain the presence of IDOs in the State, facilitation of the return of IDOs that left the State but had direct impact on the people and the timely remittance of counterpart obligations to the IDOs are projected. Specific strategies to achieve these projections are to enact legislations that would cement bi-lateral foreign and internal obligations, facilitate the take off a Directorate for International Cooperation and Linkages in the State and to employ the services of competent consultants to lobby IDOs to return to the State and cultivate new partnerships.
10. The Civil Service: The Civil Service is the driver of all Government programmes and policies. While successive administrations have tried to motivate the service through the frequent payment of salaries, promotions and adequate training, provision of conducive atmosphere; it is still observed that the service is over bloated and largely unproductive, resulting in an astronomical increase in wages. Besides, workers still face teething challenges which has continued to inhibit their performance. These challenges include inadequate training, cases of delayed promotions and payment of arrears arising therefrom, lack of conducive working environment and unsettled retirement benefits. There is therefore the urgent need to tackle all these identified gaps to improve the conditions of service and productivity of workers.
A motivated and professionalized Civil Service that is more efficient and dedicated to work is projected by 2019. This will be achieved through the complete overhaul of the service to make it more efficient and result oriented.

11. Security: The Governor Suswam led administration has radically transformed the security landscape of the State. Crime wave which was hitherto problematic in the State has been drastically reduced since 2007, while the preponderance of communal conflicts and disputes over land, which claimed valuable lives and property has equally been brought to an all-time low. Be that as it may, more still needs to be done to protect and secure the State. The increase in crime wave in neighbouring States and the fear that some of such criminals may want to run to the State to find a safe haven has become a major challenge. Besides, the greatest threats to security in recent years have been the upsurge in the attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen on local communities in the State. This has affected socio-economic activities in the affected communities in particular and the larger Benue society in general. This unfortunate situation has been exacerbated because existing institutions –formal and informal of policing the State and ensuring peace and security are yet to optimally arrest the situation.
A sustained logistic support for the Nigerian Police and other security outfits as well as continued dialogue between a coalition of the affected States and Federal Government for a lasting solution to the Fulani invasion challenge has been projected amongst others. This will be achieved through the continuous provision of facilities for the efficient functioning of security operatives in the State and the maintenance of the constitution of a team of experts, eminent personalities and traditional rulers to continue dialogue with the Federal Government and find lasting solutions to the Fulani invasion challenge.

12. Pension Administration: Successive administrations in the State have not been able to frontally address pension and pension related matters. Due to this, Government owes many retirees pension, gratuity and death benefits. The pension expenditure profile of the State has been on the rise and this can be adduced to the recent influx of retirees as well as the increasing statutory obligations of the State to fund local Government pensions. The budgetary allocations for pension administration will need to be reviewed upwards to address the pension challenges confronting the State. The current trend has some implications on the public service as a lot of civil servants who are due for retirement are always reluctant to do so for fear that their retirement benefits would not be paid after exiting from the service.
To clear all gratuity, pension arrears, and death benefits by 2019, the strategy will be to employ the services of reputable consultants, synergize with Banks to buy up gratuity and pension arrears.

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