STATE BROADCAST TO THE PEOPLE OF BENUE STATE BY HIS EXCELLENCY, Rt. HON. Dr. GABRIEL TORWUA SUSWAM, EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF BENUE STATE ON THE OCCASION OF DEMOCRACY DAY CELEBRATION, 29TH MAY, 2012.

Posted: May 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
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My dear people of Benue State
1. Five years ago, precisely on 29th May 2007, our administration was
inaugurated for a four-year tenure. After our first term in office,
you found it worthy to renew that mandate which today we mark the
first anniversary. We thank you for the confidence you reposed in us
through a democratic process. Your
2. overwhelming votes for us ensured our victory at the polls. We
sincerely appreciate your support and assure you of our determination
to fulfill our electoral promises. Since our inauguration for a second
term in office exactly a year today, we were assailed with a retinue
of court cases from the other political parties who challenged our
victory at the polls. We are delighted that the various election
petition tribunals have reaffirmed our victory. With the distractions
of the court cases behind us, we are now poised to speedily move on
with our programmes in line with our electoral campaign promises.

As a responsible and accountable administration, the occasion of this
year’s Democracy Day celebration presents us the opportunity to once
again acquaint you with our activities and programmes.
2. We started our journey on 29th May 2007 with a clear vision and
mission to transform the socio-economic status of our dear state,
impact positively on the lives of our people and bequeath enduring
legacies for generations yet unborn. The challenges were enormous but
we dared to confront those challenges. Today, we can say with
confidence that we have largely succeeded in laying a solid foundation
for speedy growth and development of the state. The Modest
achievements we recorded were possible because of the generous support
and cooperation we enjoyed from most of you.
3. In the last one week, I directed all Commissioners to give
comprehensive up-dates on the performance of their respective
Ministries as part of the accountability press briefings coordinated
by the Ministry of Information and Orientation in the build-up to the
2012 Democracy Day so that you, the good people of Benue state will
be informed of our programmes and activities. That notwithstanding, I
still find it pertinent to restate here some of the development
strides taken by this administration in the last five years.

4. During our first four years in office we set about to aggressively
address the gross deficit in infrastructure which has posed a major
constraint to development. In the transport sector we embarked upon
the construction of roads to link up rural communities and create
accessibility between rural and urban centres with the overall
objective to ease access to markets for agricultural produce. Some of
the roads we embarked upon include the Anyiin-Ugba-Amaafu-Abaji road;
Orokam-Owukpa-Okpoga-Utonkon road; Eke-Elengbecho-Ugbokolo-Orokam
road; Adikpo-Ikyogen-Jato-Aka road; Ge-Ikyobo-Agbeede-Amua-Anshagba
road; Vandeikya-Koti-yough-Adikpo road; Otukpo-Utonkon-Igumale- road;
Zaki-Biam-Afia-Gbeji road; Ugbokpo-Oweto road; Oju-Obussa-Utonkon
road; Taraku-Naka-Agagbe road and the Zaki-Biam township roads. A
number of these road projects have been completed and were
commissioned by our dear President, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan during
his two-day official visit to the state on 8th-9th March.. We intend
to complete all the remaining road projects before the expiry of our
tenure. In addition we have also embarked upon the following road
projects:- Rehabilitation and reconstruction of the University of
Agriculture road; Sankera-Ayati-Sai road; Daudu-Gbajimba road and
Aliade-Mbakine-Obarike Ito road.

5. Another area that gripped our attention was that of potable water
supply to our people. My administration, therefore, awarded contracts
for the construction of the Greater Makurdi Water Works; new
Otobi-Otukpo Water Works, Katsina-Ala Water Works; Water Supply Scheme
for Anyiin town and Water Supply Scheme for Otukpa. Today, we are
happy to report that three of these water works projects have been
completed and were among the projects also commissioned by Mr.
President during his recent visit to our state. In the next few years
we will concentrate efforts on improving and extending the pipeline
distribution networks in these towns so that the water works can serve
the people in line with their design capacities.
6. Also, our administration has continued to pay attention to the
urban renewal programme which we embarked upon soon after our
administration came to office. Under this project, several hundreds of
kilometers of asphalt surfaced roads designed with pedestrian walkways
and solar powered street lights were constructed in Makurdi; Otukpo,
Gboko and Katsina-Ala. A Solid Waste Management Programme was put in
place with the purchase and supply of 27 No. refuse collection
tractors, six Iveco Eurocargo refuse collection trucks and four
Mercedes Benz waste collection trucks to collect solid waste on a
daily basis from the towns. Other beautification measures such as the
planting of flowers and trees to enhance the outlook and appearance of
the towns were also put in place.

7. My dear people of Benue State,
We have reached a stage in our journey as a State in which we must
return to agriculture and restore it to its pride of place as the
mainstay of our economy and major employer of labour. We have already
prepared the stage for this with the introduction of needed
infrastructure such as roads, bridges, culverts, electricity supply,
health clinics and hospitals in the rural areas where most of our
agricultural production takes place. We have already procured and
distributed 147 tractors to our farmers and the State Tractor Hiring
Agency at subsidized rates and favourable payment terms to boost the
capacity of our farmers to engage in large commercial farms as opposed
to the small scale subsistence farms. We have continued to provide
fertilizers to our farmers at highly subsidized rates as part of
incentives to farmers to boost productivity. Similarly, we have
injected N1billion through the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme
into Agriculture so that our farmers can have access to credit
facilities. This money was recently disbursed directly to the loan
beneficiaries to assist in financing various aspect of agriculture
from farming to processing to create a value chain. We are on the
verge of accessing another N2billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria
for further disbursement to farmers as loans for agricultural
activities. We have started reviving our agro-processing factories in
order to increase the shelf-life of our agricultural products and give
the required value addition to our agriculture produce. In the next
three years we will continue to encourage the establishment of poultry
farms, livestock production and fish farming as part of our
agricultural and wealth creation strategy. Already the State’s
piggery production project which is being done with the technical
co-operation of Iowa State University has become a reality. The
piggery breeder stock has arrived Benue State and is ready for
propagation and distribution to farmers. Plans are underway to
establish a meat processing plant to complement the expected expansion
of the hog operations in Yandev. It is our intention to capitalize on
the comparative advantage we enjoy in agriculture to create wealth for
our people and bring about the much needed economic development. I,
therefore, call on our people especially the youths to take advantage
of the various incentives already in place to meaningfully engage in
any aspect of agriculture.

8. Culture and Tourism is another area that we intend to focus on in
the next three years. Indeed culture is another area of the State’s;
comparative advantage. We have a rich cultural heritage. Our
traditional songs, dance, music and drama would be developed to
attract tourists and also serve as a veritable platform for the film
industry. We have decided to revive festivals like Kwagh-hir puppet
theatre. Already the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has been tasked
to work out a road map for the development of tourism in the State in
which festivals such as those of fishing festivals and other arts and
Kwagh-hir,culture platforms can play their respective roles and be
used to creatively engage and reward the people’s artistry.
9. We have given rural transformation priority attention in the last
five years. This is in part due to the fact that close to 80% of our
people live in the rural areas. Between May, 2007 and May 2012 my
administration completed and commissioned several rural electricity
projects across the three Senatorial Districts of the state. On the
whole a total of 292 communities have benefited from our rural
electricity projects.This has no doubt helped stimulate economic
activities in the rural communities with the resultant positive impact
on poverty reduction, employment generation and wealth creation.
10. We have also invested significant resources in health care
provision in the State in the last five years. The Benue State
Teaching Hospital project has been completed and commissioned.
Arrangements are in top gear to secure accreditation of the hospital
from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to enable the Medical
Students complete their medical programmes in the Hospital. Also, the
16 General Hospitals in the State are being renovated while Health
Personnel, including Medical doctors have been recruited for the
Health Management Board.
11. The search for the required finance capital to fund our
development drive and infrastructure provision led us to the capital
market where we sourced a development finance bond of N13billion to
help finance some of our projects. This bond has already been acquired
and was used to among others complement funding of such projects as
the Water projects, road projects and the Benue State University
Teaching Hospital project.
12. We have also overhauled our internal revenue generating machinery
to enable us harvest more from our Internally Generated Revenue
sources. In the next three years we intend to gradually rely more on
Internally Generated Revenue to drive our development in order to
break the unhealthy dependence on accruals from the Federation
Account.
13. This administration introduced taxi services in Makurdi the State
capital in 2008 to reduce the suffering of commuters and as part of
our urban improvement strategy. I am glad to note that private
operators have keyed in on this scheme and have massively complemented
the efforts of Government. We have already procured and allocated
tricycles in support of urban mass transit in the State. We however,
appeal to the taxi operators to have the confidence to begin to move
round the town to pick passengers as is done in other cities in the
country. The taxi operators should desist from the present practice of
staying only at specific spots within the city. On our part we will
support the taxi service and cause it to be extended to the other
urban towns in the State.
14. In the last five years this administration had paid serious
attention to the issue of the maintenance of peace and security. We
have consistently assisted the police and other law enforcement agents
with operational vehicles, communication gadgets and Armoured
Personnel Carriers to enhance their overall operational efficiency and
response in the fight against crime. This has paid off handsomely as
we have been enjoying some modicum of peace in the State. It is
however, regrettable that this peace is being intermittently disrupted
by the violent attacks on our farmers especially in Gwer West and Guma
Local Government Areas by armed gangs and Fulani cattle rearers.
The armed gangs use sophisticated weapons and cause large scale
destruction of lives and property. I have meaningfully engaged all
relevant parties in order to create understanding and put a stop to
these attacks. It is our hope that with the measures put in place, the
incessant clashes between the Farmers and Fulani Herdsmen will soon
become a thing of the past. I wish to however, advise all community
leaders at our boundaries with Nasarawa State to report activities of
these armed attackers to security agencies for prompt action.
15. Let me acknowledge the fact that this State has a major resource
in its youth. This resource is at present underutilized. Youth
unemployment has reached unacceptable levels in the State. It is in
our desire to arrest this state of affairs that the State Government
has established the Benue Youth Development Agency to see how best we
can harness our youth resource. This Agency will take off as soon as
the enabling law is passed by the State House of Assembly. As part of
strategies to create employment for the youth, we are partnering with
the Bank of Industry to jointly raise N1billion which will be issued
as loans to youths to establish micro and small scale enterprises.
16. My dear people of Benue state, as we celebrate our democracy, it
is imperative to caution on the need to preserve our hard-earned
democracy by avoiding acts that are capable of eroding the gains we
have recorded. There is the need to constantly engage in discourse and
robust dialogue which are basic ingredients of democracy. It is
unfortunate that some of our people have in the guise of opposition
politics continued to perpetrate violence and mischief. I wish to
appeal to you all irrespective of your partisan inclinations to shun
violence and embrace dialogue and peace in all situations as violence
can only retard our development. I wish to use this opportunity to
particularly appeal to the opposition parties to join hands with our
administration to build a greater Benue for ourselves and for our
children. On my part, I hereby restate our commitment to the people of
Benue State -that our administration will work assiduously towards
providing good governance anchored on improved standard of living,
enhanced material welfare and maintenance of peace and security.
17. This address would be incomplete if I fail to pay tribute to all
those whose contributions have ensured our success thus far. Our
teeming supporters, leaders of our great party, the PDP and the
opposition parties. I salute the House of Assembly for the cooperation
and harmonious relationship that exists between the legislature and
the executive arms. I also appreciate the Judiciary for its
stabilizing role in the polity. I salute the various functionaries of
Government, the traditional institutions and the Civil Servants for
their support and cooperation. I must not forget to acknowledge
religious leaders whose prayers and wise counsel have no doubt helped
to sustain our democracy.
18. I wish you all Happy Democracy day celebration.Thank you and God bless.

Comments
  1. Suswam Tingir, do the electorates in Guma a favour by completing the project of Daudu-Gbajimba road before you leave.

    Like

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