2019 Benue Guber: Nyitse Pledges To Review Anti-Open Grazing Law If Elected

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2019 Benue Guber: Nyitse Pledges To Review Anti-Open Grazing Law If Elected

2019 Benue Guber: Nyitse Pledges To Review Anti-Open Grazing Law If Elected

From Msughshima Andrew, Makurdi

Dr. Gabriel Tivlumun Nyitse is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party
(PDP) in Benue state. He was Permanent Secretary, Government House
Administration until the end of January, 2014, when he voluntarily retired from the Benue
State Civil Service to contest the 2015 governorship election. In this
interview with 247ureports.com in his Makurdi residence, the retired
administrator said he has the key to end the crisis bedeviling the
state. He said if given opportunity in 2019, he will tackle security,
welfare of workers, youth and women development and also review the
anti-open grazing law to make it more friendly.

EXCERPTS:

In a few days time, your party, the PDP will be conducting its
primaries, as an aspirant, are you weary of the array of people
contesting with you?

ANS: The question is not about being weary but the issue is am I ready
for the party to select its candidate? Yes, I am ready because I have
done my consultations, my home work; I have gone round and spoken to
people that matter, stakeholders. So I should not be bothered. The
only thing that can be of worry is how transparent would the process
be because for everybody who is going to contest an election, it
either you win or you lose and if you win you win fairly and if you
lose , you believe that he process was also fair. Right now, we all
have a chance. It’s like a random pick. The people are there to decide
who they want to be the governor in 2019 under the PDP platform. All
these while, we aspirants have been conducting ourselves peacefully
and interacting daily with one another on a friendly basis, so I don’t
see how that can be a problem. I think we should be happy no matter
who wins as long as the process is free and fair. What creates problem
is when there are attempts to manipulate the process or perceived
manipulations by the powers that be to influence the outcome of the
contest. Then, there is always resentment. But in this case, the PDP
has learnt its lessons and now, they will be very fair, clean and
supportive of the process so as to produce an acceptable candidate.

Are you threatened that the defection of the incumbent Governor Samuel
Ortom from the APC to the PDP will reduce the chances of those who
have been in the party?

ANS: Outwardly yes but politically no because it is the people that
are going to decide who wins the ticket. For the people that are
coming from the APC to join us in the PDP, they are welcomed because,
in politics, it is said that the more the merrier but we shall all
play by the rules. If the governor were in the PDP all along,
probably, there wouldn’t be this array of aspirants but by the time he
crossed over to join the PDP, the process has gone so far and it
became almost impossible to ask other aspirants to wine down their
activities on their aspirations. But if he wins free and fair, then it
is fine but I believe we all have a chance. It’s like sampling and
everyone has a chance of being picked. But I believe that his coming
in has increased the activities within the party but not that it
diminishes our chances. I ran in 2015 and he defected after the
primaries and won and we have been in the party. We all have our solid
bases, we have known the terrain, we know what is and what should be
done irrespective of who and who is running. So the issue of the
governor coming in does not diminish our chances as it is.

If you clinch the ticket at the primaries and eventually win the
governorship, what cardinal projects will you implement to develop the
state?

Before I set out to run, I have a programme because I believe that
anybody who wants to govern a people like Benue must have something he
wants to come and do. I have an articulated programme, called “THE
BENUE ROAD MAP”, well thought out and well crafted in such a way that
you have a guide and this programme is designed in my first attempt at
this position to be governor of Benue state. But now the focus has
changed a bit because of the problems we are in now. My focal points
are that one, we must be sure that Benue is safe. Security of the
people is first as stated in the Nigerian constitution to protect the
life and property of citizens and Benue has been challenged in the
area of security in recent times.

Second is people’s welfare. I have a civil service background. I spent
22 year in civil service and I know what it is for a civil servant to
wake up and not know what his take-home is or when he will collect his
salaries at the end of the month. So we will treat issues of salaries
with great priority as well as pensions. This is because if you do not
address security and people’s welfare, whatever you do will not be
appreciated by the people. You can’t build roads, hospitals, schools
when people are starving and when people are not safe. So we will
tackle food and security, build confidence in government, people will
be happy and then we will begin to look at issues of Infrastructure.
That will be third. These include education, agriculture, health,
urban renewal. We look at Makurdi; is it planned, are they violating
the master plan, town cleanliness in Makurdi, Otukpo, Katsina-Ala to
rebuild confidence in governance and government. This is because for
people to support government, they must first believe in that
government and believe in its workability for them to even pay taxes.
People will only pay taxes when they are seeing results and benefits,
else they won’t pay.

Next is youth and women empowerment, this is very critical in any
society. For you to move to the next level, you must carry along the
most active members of your society which are the youths. What do you
do with them, they are on the streets begging, “Aondo a seer”, “Ranka
dede”, some of them have masters degrees, first degrees, NCEs. What do
you do to galvanise their energy towards effective development of the
state? So we will tackle all these issues to better the state.

Sir, you mentioned welfare and infrastructural development, most chunk
of government money come from federal allocation and with the recent
economic recession, how would you achieve all these?

ANS: For revenue, every government should be able to generate
sufficient IGR to support its programmes so what comes from the
federal allocation should just be a booster and support system. So we
will look at the revenue collection system of the state. Government
will focus there to generate money. It is a primary concern of
government to be self sustaining. To be self sustaining means you must
have enough money to take care of your own requirements. So we will
look at our revenue collection process and see where the loopholes and
leakages are and block them. But ideally, people are willing to pay
the taxes and revenue to government if they are sure that what they
are paying will be used for their interest. Benue is not an industrial
state, there are so many areas that revenue can be tapped without
necessarily inconveniencing the people but the people must be brought
on board to know that they must pay their taxes. So many nations of
the world do not have oil. They depend almost 80 percent on their IGR.
In Makurdi for instance, if you go to somebody’s house, you see many
cars parked. In Europe, if you park cars like that you pay. So, you
wont see the need to park so many cars except these footballers who
have so much money and keep on buying flashy car but you pay a lot of
money for these cars. So why can’t we pay taxes in Nigeria, because we
know that what is paid is being embezzled. So we will block all the
leakages and ensure that what is paid is remitted to government for
development of the state.

For now, Benue just go by the name “Food Basket of the Nation”. As a
governor, how would you put the state on that pedestal of real food
basket?

ANS: Let me explain the concept of the food basket of the nation. What
that means is that Benue is the only state that any crop grows. It is
not necessarily because our output is higher than the output of other
states. Most time we don’t understand this. Our oranges, mangoes are
the sweetest in Nigeria and almost all over the world. Benue yam is
the sweetest in Nigeria because of our soil. People produce soya
everywhere but our soya and beniseed produces more oil same as legumes
and cereals. Benue is the only place where all these crops can grow
well. So we need to have a culture system where people would be
encouraged to go into agriculture like before. These days, people have
moved in to the cities and everyone is in search of white collar job.
We will have to revert to encouraging people to go to the farm. We
will also open up the rural areas with rural road network, provide
electricity so that people don’t continue to migrate to the town and
ensure that those things that will encourage farming; tractors,
herbicides, fertilizers are provided at almost zero rate so that
people can have access to go and farm. This way, we can increase our
yield, get more revenue and the farmers will get more money to cater
for their families and health among other. But now, that is not
working because without access roads, there is no way we can do
agriculture. You must not tar these roads. Just make sure the roads
are motorable all year round. Provide asphalts on these roads and
culverts where there are small streams so that people can move their
crop and you will be amazed at what will happen. In fact, Benue can
make additional revenue if we boost agriculture.

To ensure that Benue remains food basket of the nation by increasing
its yield and that farmer stay in peace, one thing it has done,
powered by the people, was to enact the anti-open grazing law. When
you become the governor of the state, what will you do with this law
with all the criticisms it has receive from outside the state will you
repeal or continue with it?

ANS: Government is a continuous process so I won’t repeal it but we
shall take a second look at the law and review those areas that have
led to conflict and see how we can rejig the law and make it more
amenable or “more friendly”. All over the world, people contest
ownership of land but here is not the issue of contest here but that
of displacement and there is bound to be resistance. And the people
coming, what is their motive, is it just grazing, is it religion,
politics or what? We will look at all those things and take a second
ok at the law. A law must not be sentimental. A law must be made to
achieve a purpose. There is so much sentiments attached to the law.
Again, we will look at the target of the law. We must look at this law
dispassionately. It’s a good law, we will look at it and there is
provision for amendment of laws all over the world. So we will get
very learned people to look at it and advise government in any area
that is appropriate. We can do it without repealing the law because
the need for us to have our land is not negotiable. I’m a victim of
displacement. I’m an IDP because my people in the village are
displaced and a beautiful place I had built for myself to stay after
retirement was destroyed and burnt down. What I have tried to build
over the active years of my service is gone because of the crisis but
I don’t have to be sentimental because I’m a victim. So we will look
at it and rejig it in a way that it can achieve more results.

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