Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Benue That We Want

As the State and indeed the nation moves towards the general elections with the emergence of gubernatorial hopefuls from the various political platforms, it is instructive and incumbent on us to articulate the Benue that we want to help bring to the consciousness of the aspirants what we really want.

The Benue dream has been articulated by many for various reasons ranging from pork profits to transition to political hibernation at the national assembly. That the Benue people deserve a better deal is not new in the politics of contemporary Nigeria. Previously regarded as second class citizens in the then Northern Nigeria political equation when it was alleged that her stool was the resting feet of regional leaders, the state has evolved into a strategic decider of Nigerian politics that deserves the best. The self worth of the average Benue indigene and resident has no less been degraded to status that is abysmal in the Nigerian state. As we move to 2015, Benue deserves the best in leadership and resource sharing formula for the following reasons.

First, Benue produces one of the most hard working labour forces in the country and deserves a leader that will be in the fore-front of job creation to absorb the teeming graduates of her advanced level institutions both private and public that are too many to be mentioned. As a state that is home to indigenes-by-birth and residential status from various parts of the country, the next governor must be prepared to create competitive opportunities as is obtainable in other leading states of the federation.

Second, the Benue Diaspora whether locally or internationally must be accommodated in the scheme of things or affairs that affect the state. A Benue Diaspora Commission will have to be established by the incoming governor in 2015 to cater for the needs of indigenous professionals who want to return home either as retirees or on career advancement option. This is most important because it will be recalled that when Benue State University was established, the bulk of the Benue academia that started the university were returnees from politically-stagnated careers from federal universities that had gone political in considering their promotion criteria instead of academic productivity. Today, the story has not changed as many Benue indigenes still suffer the same fate in various federal and state universities. Therefore, those willing to ease out of the federal might should be given the opportunity at the state level through the Benue Diaspora Commission.

Third, as far back as the 1980s, an Elder Statesman, Engineer Pius Igbax, had advocated a Benue Database for the Skilled and Unemployed in Benue from which the state government can source for her labour force. Although this was not recognized at the time, technology and local needs have made it pertinent in the current times to have such a tool in our hands through the facilitation of the State Government. There are some positions in which political affiliation is not a requirement but merit which such a database or commission can provide .Some would say the government is all-knowing like god or an oracle in deciding whom to appoint, they do not forecast who will abuse the office. That is why referee reports come in for appointees from such databases.

Fourth, thankfully all my first three points are dedicated to the benefit of the youths. Now we have to look at the mainstay of the Benue Economy which is Agriculture. A new Benue governor will have to take a cursory look at agriculture in the State and effect a change. It is not about bringing in tractors that are ecologically unfriendly to our agricultural systems. It is time for a Benue governor to stand up and demand for the establishment of a fertilizer company or industry in the state through federal concession or foreign direct investment (FDI). Yearly, our farmers don't have enough of the product which must be adequately addressed through the establishment of a fertilizer factory in the state. Some would rightly argue whether the presence of a cement factory in Gboko means accessibility and affordability to the product in the state? Everybody knows that the cement is readily available and quite affordable to builders in the state and so the same would apply to a fertilizer factory in the state. Again, there is the problem of storage facilities from agricultural produce in the State.

Fifth, there is the need for the establishment of agricultural processing factories to be established based on a public-private initiative by a new Benue Governor in 2015.This does not imply that some are already in existence in the agrarian state even though they have being suffocated by politics of recognition. A good example is the tomato and fruit processor in Wannune and many others that have been comatose for nearly 8 years translating to 2 terms of an allegedly unfriendly administration. Benue people need to be saved from this political bigotry for the sake of the value added chain to the agricultural products and jobs that will be created.

Sixth, there is the need for the establishment of a Commission to cater for the elderly that are above 60 years who have not served in public service. Such a Commission will provide a monthly stipend in the form of a social security with branches at the local government levels. One interesting fact is that most of those who supported and sponsored children that are today running the state were not employed in the public service and so it will be a way of saying thank you to them for raising their scions in the service of the state. This is because some of the elderly some are abandoned due to economic hardships. Suffice it to say that when such goodwill is extended to the elderly in the state, the younger generation will be more willing to pay taxes to the State's internally generated revenue (IGR) base, knowing full well that the state is caring.

Seventh, there is the need for the establishment of research and development (R & D) units in the state's ministries, departments and parastatal. This will readily provide an interface between policy makers and researchers from universities, polytechnics and colleges of education to move the state forward. We are in an era of diversification of the economy from oil and like Israel and Japan, we have to start looking at our human resources that can be harnessed through research and development (R & D).

The Benue that we want deserves an even development, state allocation notwithstanding. For instance, there is the need to seek a degree awarding status for College of Agriculture, Yandev which is the oldest advanced learning institution in the state and a campus of the Benue State University in Adikpo or Vandeikya that deserve such an institution on the basis of senatorial zone location of universities since all other zones have one or more of such. It is hopeful that the Benue of our dreams is realizable from the many and few perspectives stated above by any winning candidate from the various contesting political parties. Indeed the Benue that we want begins today.

-Tyokumbur wrote in from the University of Ibadan.

No comments:

Post a Comment