Let Benue State Be Great
- Have you paid even half your bills?
- Can you say for a fact that none of your friend is struggling today?
- Do you see your neighbours all comfortable and in lack of nothing?
Our state has existed to embezzle and siphon the little that is meant to serve as inputs for actual farmers. People have become millionaires from state funded fertiliser subsidy regime. Every past governor and commissioner of agriculture will explain and argue otherwise. They may even sound so convincing; you start believing their lies. But ask yourself:
Have the farmers ever been truly helped and set on the path of prosperity?
If the answer is no, then they have nothing to explain. The only one who should explain failure here is the farmer; if they had received their inputs on time and yet the rains did not fall, or some insects attacked their farms or they did not put the inputs to use. We are living dangerously deceitfully and it can only hurt us more.
So what do we do?
- My uncle has been growing soya beans for the past twenty-six years without any input from government. His market has been the same for the duration; he does not even know which factory his yield supplies. My in-law is a rice farmer, he does not even know what he contributes to the national grid and do not even imagine his yield can also become what is today packaged as foreign rice. If today our state government can embark on a pilot scheme to document and relate directly with farmers in the category of my uncle and in-law, any intended input and improvement to their farming will be more realistic, practical and sustainable. Therefore, the government should rollout a simple model farmer’s database scheme for the 23 local government areas and capture two thousand-three hundred farmers who shall be developed into model farmers. Whatever is established in the short and medium term to have worked with these farmers will be escalated in record time to accommodate thousands of farmers even at a cost to the new farmers to be absorbed. This equals increased revenue and enhanced GDP.
- Benue State government should as a matter of legislation, state of emergency and doctrine of necessity as the food basket of the nation introduce ‘operation feed the State’ club in all secondary schools. The task is simple; every club gets a tiny grant to cultivate or rear what the government adjudges to be the most suitable crop or animal to be reared within their school vicinity. Make ‘operation feed the State’ club scheme a chain of those who farm, those who handle preservation, those who market and those who handle catering services for the schools a serious business that goes with constant training organized and managed by qualified Agriculture, economics, commerce, accounting and home economic teachers who themselves are constantly trained on best practices. Make it competitive with towering reward for winning schools in various categories, you will be amazed how the scheme will change our young people’s attitude to farming, raise income for the state and schools and become a viable scheme for sustaining the school feeding initiative. Transform Akperan Orshi college of Agriculture to become the hub of the scheme as well as a research centre for improving seeds and breeds. In the long run, no one will school in Benue and graduate to abandon their long standing culture in farming to go about begging for jobs. Apply the model to other sectors like ICT, Fashion & Design and leadership and see if our education system in the state is not adjudged a model to be adopted in the country.
- Create cost effective leagues in all sports to be managed by the primary education board at the local government level. With the sole incentive of building local government teams to compete for state honours and eventually make a state team that will turn out talents that are globally attractive. Makurdi potentially has world class sporting facilities that are currently wasting and not getting improved upon because of lack of use. If we go through the ranks to arrive at state teams that are of pure talent and good age, harnessing them into Olympians and world athletes should be easy. When this yields, we will be earning in hard currency, which equals increased revenue and per capita income. If you doubt me, go study UK football leagues.
- Imagine that all the government of the day focuses on is to get the moribund industry up and running to optimal capacity. Would it hurt Benue people? Wouldn’t Benue people celebrate that governor that made these functional more than even those who built them? And the solution is simple, bring in experts anywhere in the world I do not care, but let them earn their money by undertaking a forensic assessment of all the moribund industries with reports down to details of who owes who and what contractor supplied substandard machine. What is precisely needed to get these industries back on their feet and running with even potential for revenue analysis. To keep Benue wealth within Benue, assemble the very many wealthy, experienced and existing technocrats/entrepreneurs from the state in an economic summit and share the forensic reports on the moribund industries. Offer tax holidays and other ease of doing business incentives for all those willing to take over these businesses at their realistic cost value and run them for profit. Unemployment would be addressed, in the medium term, revenue and the state GDP will simply be wonderful.
So lets us not for a minute think our solutions are in foreign trips, but even the foreign trips will make more sense if we first get our acts together. How a governor dresses will not matter to most, and where he poses for photographs will not even make news even in idle cycles. A Pentecostal pastor dressed like a catholic priest will no longer be a subject that occupies meaningfully engaged Benue youths on social media. That is when no youth will be available to be used as a social media attack dog because no one will even be attacking anyone. Politicians will up their game to be about competence and not just deep pockets. ‘Godfatherism’ will go to a whole new level of who has who to lure investors better.
Thank you all and God bless our efforts as we commit to making Benue State work better for us and our children.