Today's Spotlight broadcast on Radio Nigeria network news

 

The much awaited groundbreaking ceremony for the Makurdi Cargo Airport, which took place recently marked the beginning of a new era in the economic life of Benue State. The airport project is a partnership between the Benue State Government and CDC Consortium, as well as Chinese and West African investors. The Makurdi Cargo Airport is sited 28 kilometers north of the Benue State capital. It is projected to be completed in 2020.

It must be stressed that the Benue State Government is not using public funds to build the cargo airport. The project is purely a public sector initiative under a public-private partnership agreement between the investors and the Samuel Ortom administration based on the fact that the private sector drives modern economies world wide.

The government provides the enabling environment through provision of security, policy, monitoring and regulation. While campaigning for election, Governor Ortom had pledged to attract private sector investment to the state to create massive jobs, wealth and opportunities as government at all levels currently lack such capacity.

According to terms of the cargo airport agreement, a consortium of several participants has pooled together N32.3 billion for the project, which represents 85% equity, while the State Government is to provide the remaining N5.7 billion as it's own 15% equity contribution.
The fifteen percent equity will be paid by the State Government from the profit to be generated when the airport begins operations.The 85% funding provided by the consortium is not a loan to the Benue State Government which has granted a 25-year concession agreement for management of the airport to CDC Consortium.

The Ortom administration is sensitive to the plight of the people particularly workers who endure delayed payment of salaries, so it could not have embarked on a capital intensive project such as the airport.
However, the Makurdi Cargo Airport will enhance exportation of farm produce, improve transportation and create thousands of jobs for the people. It will also lead to springing up of industries in the area as well as provide avenue for training of pilots and aircraft engineers.
It will bring about the dualization of roads, massive housing projects, and rapid rural transformation to the host and surrounding communities.

The airport will offer a shift from conventional airports in the country as its designers took into consideration, the export market potentials of Benue, the neighbouring states and passenger volumes projected to grow in future.
Trading in goods contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product, GDP of Nigeria. This reality presents states like Benue with the opportunity to use their comparative advantage in agriculture to drive the economy. This is the direction Governor Samuel Ortom is moving.

As the Governor said during the groundbreaking ceremony, the Benue State Government is giving maximum support for the successful completion of the cargo airport believing that when it begins operation, the benefits will be unquantifiable for the people of the state.
With the coming on stream of the cargo airport, the post harvest losses Benue farmers face yearly will be reduced. The possibility of farm produce being exported to Europe, Asia, the Americas and other parts of the world has excited many people in the state.

Between now and 2020 when the project is billed to be completed, the necessary advocacy for increased agriculture production and facilities to enhance the necessary inputs to feed the cargo airport from its locality would be put in place.
Already, the Benue State Bureau of Rural Development and Cooperatives is aggressively constructing and rehabilitating roads in various communities of the state to enable farmers move their produce.

With the Makurdi Cargo Airport and numerous other efforts made by the Samuel Ortom administration, the future of the Benue State economy is guaranteed.
In the face of the current economic recession in the country the opportunities offered by this private sector driven initiative remain irresistible.

By Terna Injua, Harvest FM

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has inaugurated a research centre on malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs constructed in partnership with the Sustainable Development Goals at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital. He also donated six ambulances and thousands of exercise books and drugs purchased through the same partnership to sole administrators of six councils in the state.

Performing the ceremonies separately, Governor Ortom stated that the centre would provide the information necessary for government to formulate and implement policies that would reduce the diseases prevalence in the state.

He expressed delight that the although the project was initiated by the Federal Government under the 2014/2015 MGDs funding during the last administration it has been completed through the efforts of his administration.

Governor Ortom thanked the Federal Government for choosing Benue among the north central States to cite the project and assured that his administration would support the research centre to achieve the purpose it was established.
Governor Ortom however appealed to the Federal Government to provide the necessary fittings and additional equipment that would make the research centre a real specialist facility.

He equally charged the staff of the Teaching hospital to live up to expectation by providing the best service to patients and carry out research that would be useful to medical knowledge.

On her part, Special Adviser to the Governor on Sustainable Development Goals, Dr. Magdaline Dura expressed appreciation to Governor Ortom for his efforts in attracting projects that would benefit the people. Meamwhile, six local governments in Benue State have benefitted from the Sustainable Development Goals, SGDs, through the provision of referral ambulances, drugs and exercise books. They are Agatu, Oju, Ohimini, Tarka, Gboko and Ushongo.

Handing over the items to the benefitting Local Governments, Governor Ortom warned them not to use the items for commercial purposes but for the reasons they were meant for or face sanctions.

He stated that the commitment of his administration to providing quality health care to the people informed his decision to secure a N5.5 billion facility to pay as matching grant to SDGs and the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, which made it possible for them to provide the items and huge investment in the health and education sectors.

He stated that already, 18 primary health centers across the state were at various stages of completion under the 2015 MDGs/SDGs with modern equipment, furniture and consumables being provided.

In the area of water and sanitation, Governor Ortom said 18 solar powered boreholes have been completed and put to use in different part of the state while several others are undergoing construction in various places.

In her remark, the Special Adviser to the Governor on SDGs and NEPAD, Dr Magdalene Dura thanked the Governor for timely release of counterpart funds and assured that more of SDGs programmes would be executed across the twenty three Local Government areas.

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday disclosed that promotions always followed each time the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, visited the state.

He spoke during a session at which the Christian leader ministered to top government officials and other citizens at the New Banquet Hall of the Benue Peoples House, in Makurdi.Governor Ortom stated that he believed that Benue State would be uplifted from one level to another after the current visit pointing out that divine intervention in the state after its dedication to God in May this year had contributed to reduction in crime and enabled his administration to record several milestones.

According to him he and his wife were taking a walk down a street at the lowest ebb of their lives when they were attracted to one of the church buildings of the denomination and went in to worship and thereafter have witnessed one uplifting after another in their lives following that encounter.
He said after he made up his mind to run for the governorship of the state he approached the General Overseer who also confirmed that it was the will of God who would make his victory possible.

In his short address, Pastor Adeboye stated that the theme of his visit which was Divine Encounter was predicated on several experiences of individuals, families, cities and whole nations in the Bible.

He referred to the experiences of Moses, Abraham, Jericho and Israel who never remained the same after they had divine encounters with God and predicted that Benue State would also never be the same after the program.

Wife of the General Overseer, Pastor Folu Adeboye and other officials of the church have accompanied him on the visit.

The attention of the Benue State Judiciary under the leadership of the State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Iorhemen Hwande, OFR, has been drawn to reports of gun men's invasion of courts in the state that appeared in some national dailies on 3rd November, 2016.

Last Thursday, Governor Samuel Ortom was scheduled to receive six groups in the course of his day but he ended up receiving about double that number.
On the schedule of his engagement for the day, the visits were to start from 9.30 in the morning and wind up at 1pm.

The National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism will soon take off in Benue State with an offer to train up to 1000 students in the sector. 

The institute would take off at the Entrepreneurship Development Centre for the North Central Zone in Makurdi.

Director General of the Institute, Mrs.Chika Balogun, made the disclosure today during an interview with journalists shortly after Governor Samuel Ortom inspected facilities at the center.

Mrs Balogun said the institute would issue certificates to all the trainees that would enable them to secure jobs in the sector any where in the world. 

She stressed the need for the people of the state to take advantage of the training which would expose them to numerous job opportunities in the tourism and hospitality industry within the country and elsewhere in the World.

Also speaking, the Programme Director, CBN Entrepreneurship Development Centre, Mr.Lucky Onmonya, said the Centre was at the moment training 500 people through a tripartite agreement, adding that those trained had been fully equipped to be meaningfully engaged upon graduation.

Responding, Governor Samuel Ortom said he decided to lead a delegation to visit the Centre to see the level of work done preparatory to the commencement of activities temporary by the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism.

Governor Ortom who said the training of more people of the state at the institute would add value the lives of people in the state and promised sustained monitoring so as to ensure early completion of work.

The Director of the Benue State Council For Arts and Culture, Mr Terseer Aernyi, presented trophies and certificates won at the National Festival of Arts and Culture, NAFEST, to the Governor during the visit.

Governor Ortom and his delegation thereafter inspected on-going work at the Skills Acquisition Centre in Makurdi being constructed under the conditional grants scheme of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Governor Samuel Ortom today swore in a new Permanent Secretary, Dr Joseph Kumba, with a charge that he should eschew negative tendencies that weighed the state from moving forward.

Until his elevation, Dr Kumba was the Director of Public Health, in the State Ministry of Health and Human Services.

Performing the ceremony today at the Benue People's House, Makurdi, Governor Ortom said the appointment was based on the appointees sound character,integrity and track record of experience as a seasoned professional and technocrat.

He urged the New Permanent Secretary to shun all negative tendencies that weighed down the state the most prominent of which is corruption and congratulated him for what he described as the well deserved appointment.

The Governor assured him of government's assistance within available resources just like his other colleagues already on ground and stressed the need for the people particularly members of the State Executive Council to cooperate with him to succeed.

Responding, Dr.Kumba expressed gratitude to the Governor for finding him worthy to serve in such an exalted capacity in the State Civil Service and pledged to be of exemplary conduct.

He pledged total commitment to the service of the State and maintained that his primary concern would be to contribute to anything that would add value to the Ortom administrstion for it to succeed.