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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Gov Alia Insists On 13% Derivation From Federation Account

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Benue State Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia has lamented that, but for lack of vision and underhand dealings by past leaders, Benue State should be enjoying 13% derivation from solid minerals found on the land.

 

The Governor made this known while addressing Benue diaspora community on a zoom meeting organised by the Mutual Union of Tiv in America MUTA, and the Idoma Association in the United States of America to enable them get firsthand information on the present administration’s general policy direction, security initiatives as well as the government’s drive in sectors such as agriculture, Mining, education, health, Banking and Finance as well as physical and digital infrastructure.

 

Speaking on the Mining/Extractive sector, the governor said although the state is the most blessed in terms of mineral deposits, the mining sector remains one area that has not been properly tapped, insisting that there was no coordination in the past allowing things to be carried out illegally in the sector.

 

“It is only when we came in on May 29th, 2023, that we made the Benue people realize they have solid minerals. Is it that they never existed before we came in? No, there were there. But those who knew; those who were robbing us, came in there and carted away what they wanted.

 

“It is so surprising to hear that it is our very own who were robbing us of the solid minerals. They knew the solid minerals existed there and invited the bad guys who came in behind closed those to rob us”.

 

He said the state government has placed a moratorium on Mining activities in the state in order to fish out the illegal miners, adding that Traditional rulers have been warned not to sign MOUs with the miners as was obtainable in the past, saying anyone found engaging those foreigners who come from nowhere to start mining in the villages will not be spared.

 

He regretted that Benue as a state with 34 out of the 46 mineral deposits found in the country is not enjoying the 13 percent derivatives as an oil producing state because of lack of coordination.

 

According to the governor, the need for coordination in the sector is what gave birth to the Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) under his administration, to serve as a link between the state and the federal government in the area of policy making and to address issues of illegal mining, thereby protecting such solid minerals for the government and people of the state.

 

Speaking the Educational sector and the strategies the government has put in place to breach the gap between the private and government institutions in the state, and on how he feel religious based organizations and private organizations can invest in the education system in the state, Governor Alia said, education is very dear to his administration and he is doing everything to revamp the sector.

 

According to him, what was on ground upon his assumption of office was terrible. In his words: “We met the Benue system in comatose but that of education was even worse and we are just trying to reinvent our educational system, with the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) already geared with programmes to reinvent the educational sector in the state.”

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He said his administration has created an Agency, Benue Education Quality Assurance (BEQA) under the leadership of Terna Francis, Ph.D,  and the agency is doing extremely well, adding that through the Agency, many discoveries have been made about the public schools, including the discovery of ghost teachers and ghost schools.

 

“The schools are so saturated with ghost teachers, and the system is saturated with ghost schools. Immediately we came into office, we were able to save N1.2billion from ghost teachers. We went further and it was discovered that it was not only ghost teachers, but existed ghost schools as well. And the least we found was that the ghost schools had 95 ghost teachers and the minimum Grade level of the teachers at those schools was Grade level 10. Just imagine how much they packed! And if we unveil to you those who have been involved in this corrupt system, you will be so shocked to hear names. Yet, this has been going on and on for ages.”

 

While calling for investment in the educational system in the state, the governor said his administration intends to go back to the basics by granting independence to missionary schools, reintroducing more vocational centres across the state to enable the students acquire skills, as well as intensifying training for the teachers.

 

Speaking on Security, Peace and Wealth Creation, as well as his plans for the return of the IDPs back to their ancestral homes, Governor Alia said, ”where there is no security, there will be no economy,” adding that this has been the problem of Benue as a state for some time.

 

According to the governor, the state has about 13 IDP camps and his campaign promises of returning them back to their ancestral homes still stands, adding that his administration is making inroads to address the situation.

 

On whether the people have started returning back to their ancestral homes, the governor said that has not happened permanently but there is an improvement, appreciating the federal government for capturing Benue state in the PULAKA initiative, aimed at resettling the IDPs back to their ancestral homes.

 

He said the security situation in the state is a combination  of both herders and militia groups, especially in the Sankera axis of the state, accusing some elites of inviting the Fulanis back to the state with the notion that the Anti-Open Grazing law is no longer in force.

 

Also asked to comment on the new policies introduced by his administration in the Health sector, the governor said for the fact that there is still shortage of skilled man power in the sector, his administration has started investing in the medical Doctors of Benue State origin schooling across different universities in the country through a bound agreement, so that by the time they graduate, they can still give back to the Benue state society for a period of time.

 

He said merging the school of Nursing with the Benue State University was not a wise decision, as the school would have been of better value, offering other health certificate courses, and not only degrees.

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He called for more collaboration, partnership and investments to enable the government to revamp the Primary Health Care Centres and Clinics in the villages so that healthcare services can be easily accessed by the people of the state.

 

On Banking and Finance, the governor highlighted the need to drive the Banking Sector in the state, lamenting the absence of Benue sons and daughters as top Banking Executives across any of the banks in the country.

 

He said the state is suffering from the collapse of Lobi Bank, especially as it was aimed at helping local farmers and businesses to thrive, disclosing that the government is trying to see if there will be an alternative.

 

“The state is not fortunate to have bank Executives and it is a challenge. On our own, we have been granted the license to bring back Benue Microfinance finance bank but since there were challenges, it has been changed to Novus Microfinance Bank. However, Benue is near empty in this regard. There are no investments in the Banking Sector in the state at the moment. It is a challenge. Even to get loans, our people are not properly educated in this regard. And we need individuals who can come in and teach our people.”

 

While regretting that most big towns in the state don’t have banks, the Governor said it is the plan of the present government to take the Novus Microfinance Bank to even the villages, where certain government grants can be obtained through the bank by the time it is properly set up.

 

Speaking on the digital and physical infrastructural development in the state, governor Alia equally told the Benue Diasporans that immediately he came into office, he declared an emergency on infrastructure in the state because everything had collapsed, as a result of lack of maintenance culture.

 

“There was no maintenance on the few existing ones that were put in place. It is now that our government is doing everything to turn Makurdi from a glorified village to a Capital City. The government is doing very deep investments in lighting and road infrastructure, to ensure that what is done lasts for a long time.”

 

He said his administration plans to make a pronouncement on rural infrastructure in the next few months, aside the ongoing works on the township roads and underpasses, adding that rural electrifications too will be constructed, even as talks are ongoing with the Federal Government to see how River Benue can equally be dredged.

 

According to the governor, the government is also looking for partnership to ensure the reticulation of water within the major cities in the state, just like it has signed an MOU with Sinoki for the Production of Solar systems to serve as a substitute for the epileptic power situation in the state and country.

 

The governor revealed that Air transportation is not so functional, saying he understands the state has an airplane but its whereabouts is still been looked into .

 

“If the government has better investment opportunities in the air transport sector, it will look into that. There is nothing wrong with having an airport but there is a need for an improved economy,” Governor Alia stated.

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