Sunday, 22 February 2015

Tarzoor, Ortom in Final Battle for Soul of Benue


Political parties in Benue State, like other states of the federation are on the home stretch in their quest for control of relevant political offices through the elections.



As is the case in most states the race for the governorship slot in Benue State is obviously between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), represented by former Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Terhemen Tarzoor, and former Minister of State for Trade, Industries and Investments, Samuel Ortom, of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Although the candidature of the APC flag bearer, Ortom, is still being challenged in court by House of Representatives member, Emmanuel Jime, an aspirant in the party, the party has refused to let that diffuse its dream of knocking off PDP from the number one political office in the state.

For Tarzoor, the victory dance is still to come, despite proves that the state is predominatly PDP. He has been all over the place trying to sell his agenda to the people across all zones.

The PDP flag bearer has repeatedly sang a particular line of song: "It is not going to be business as usual," insinuating that he intends to approach governance from a different stand point to make it impactful on the state in a short time. He said once some critical sectors of the economy is touched, others would follow in that course.

An economist, Tarzoor has been preaching the concept of "Deliberate unbalancing" of the Benue State budget which is enshrined in his working document, "Yes we believed in Benue".

According to him, "It is already researched, everything is already known, but there are some areas that are given less attention. But I tell you that in economics there is this concept of Deliberate Unbalancing of the budget. Deliberate unbalancing because the funds are not enough and you don't need to spread resources to all the sectors uniformly because these sectors differ but some could radiate growth to the others."

Explaining further, he said: "If you develop the agricultural sector, it is capable of communicating growth to the other sectors; if you develop the educational sector it is capable of radiating growth to the other sectors. Deliberate unbalancing here that the meager resources of the state would be concentrated to the sectors that if growth is achieved in, it will communicate to the other sectors."

The former speaker, who has said he would operate an open -door policy for people of Benue State, said, "wherever you are, you are free to come and contribute your quarter" to the development of Benue.

He observed that some of the critical areas that need "urgent emergency declaration" and which are the five cardinal areas of his agenda for the state are the areas of health, education, industrialisation of the agricultural sector, tourism as well as pension reforms which would serve as a way of encouraging the older ones to retire.

Tarzoor believes that with his policy on pension reforms civil servants would not see retirement as a nightmare, but would look forward to retirement which would be a sweet relief.

He is optimistic that these cardinal areas have links with other sectors, saying, "if I focus on these, even if I achieve in these areas alone, I will be satisfied."

Without taking anything from the present government, he said, "For the present government, so many things have been done, so many on the way to be completed, so many completed but then, I know there is still value to be added, because government is a continuous process if I come in there, I will concentrate on these areas because I know that they would add value to what the state governor, Gabriel Suswam has done."

Tazoor stated that as far as he was concerned the state has moved from where it was when Suswam took over about 8 years ago, insisting "we have made progress, it must not be holistically, but it will be in some certain areas that were his own focus too, that he may progress in these areas and another government would come; complement on these sectors and move to another direction and give or take we are moving."

At different fora, Tarzoor said he would only promise the electorates those things that are achievable when he is elected governor.



On his own part, the APC flag bearer, Ortom, may still be applying some of the methods used by past leaders, including plans to ensure that the state have an airport of its own.

He said: "My development agenda will ensure that we move our people out of poverty, ignorance and disease; that market men and women generate profit; students have excellent study environment and scholarships; women are politically and economically entrenched in leadership and decision making positions, youths and people with disabilities have jobs."

His development agenda also includes that civil servants are reinvented, teachers are motivated, retirees have their dignity restored, the poor are made rich, the sick are healed, and minorities are protected and given a sense of belonging.

In his mission statement, he said his vision for the Benue people would be to provide them with Good Governance and Revenue Security, thus he pledged to ensure transparency and accountability in governance, establish community policing system, and upgrade the Benue Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) by making it a Commission for revenue security.

Ortom further promised to reform the civil service and lift the embargo placed on employment, create jobs so as to engage the youths, reorganise the pension office and address the problems of pensioners at both state and local government levels.



According to him, "I know that there are many challenges but the most notorious one is the issue of unemployment. As we're sitting here some of you are also affected. It's either you have laboured to train your brother or your sister or your own children.

"Today, they have graduated, but they are still depending on you. You go out on the street and you'll find a number of graduates that are in the labour market. Of course, it's also said that an idle mind is the devil's workshop."

The former minister is also of the view that if the issue of unemployment is checked it would also reduce the insecurity in the state.

"I believe that there are other challenges like insecurity are facing us today; if we were able to curb the issue of unemployment in the society we would have succeeded in reducing challenges that we are facing today in Benue and in Nigeria.

"Having also had the opportunity of working for the last three years as Minister of state Industry, Trade and Investment, and looking at the challenges we have and having the opportunity of touring the globe especially in America, Europe and Asia I've seen what is happening.

"For instance, China with a population of over a billion people is able to contain the issue of unemployment to a large extent. We need to learn from the example of China and do something that will add value to our state," he insisted.



He, however, noted that his agriculture-driven industrialisation programme would be carried out in partnership with the organised private sector with leverage on the rich agricultural potentials of the state, adding that this would be achieved by setting up small, medium and large processing factories that would enhance food security, create jobs, provide employment, reduce poverty, and enhance the economic growth of the state.

The APC candidate noted that his programme would also stimulate agricultural growth through modernisation, diversification, genetic upgrading, disease control and commercialisation of agriculture.

His administration intends also to facilitate the establishment of organised markets for agricultural produce and products, establishment of Agricultural Credit Financing Schemes (ACFS) since Benue is the "Food Basket of the Nation"

Ortom stressed that his government would re-organise and privatise state-owned industries, establish new ones both in the agricultural and solid mineral sectors as well as establish a bank to make international financial transactions and provide credit guarantee services to facilitate access to capital by SMEs.


But, in the area of industrialisation in particular, he noted, "As governor of Benue state I will encourage industrialisation that will add value to our primary products".

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