A consortium based in the United Kingdom in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporations is to establish an Ethanol plant in Benue State as part of the federal government's renewable energy policy.
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom made the disclosure on the Radio Benue Current Affairs programme, Issues of the Moment.
He said the stage was set for the signing of an agreement between major stakeholders including the State Government and the Consortium to that effect.
The Governor who said the project would be carried out in collaboration with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, stated that the Consortium was to invest $340 million for the project while feasibility studies had been concluded for its establishment. He said because President Muhammadu Buhari was so passionate about the ethanol project, he had agreed to come to the State to flag it off.
The Governor stated that another foreign company from the United States had also expressed willingness to invest in food processing in the State and that Government had decided to dedicate parts of Gwer West and Agatu Local Government Areas for that purpose.
He said government had signed Memoranda of Understanding with a lot of foreign investors who had indicated interest to invest in the State, saying his administration was determined to develop the industrial capacity of the State and promote the processing of primary agricultural products in order to boost the economy of the state.
The Governor said Russian investors had also indicated interest to invest in the development of the agriculture in the state and that he had already consented to their request to send representatives to Benue for further interface with the hope that a Memorandum of Understanding would then be signed.
He pointed out that he has continued to keep to the promises he made to the people of Benue State to encourage investment in Small and Medium Enterprises, as well as promote agriculture driven industrialisation in addition to enhancing security.
... SAYS CHIEFTAINCY COMMITEE ENCOURAGING CONSENSUS
The committee set by the State government for the implementation of the new chieftaincy law in is encouraging the adoption of the consensus and dialogue approach in the selection of new chiefs.
Governor Ortom made the statement during the program.
He explained that the adoption of the consensus approach was to ensure peace, harmony, and credibility in the selection process.
The Governor said in a situation where the adoption of consensus becomes impossible, the committee would resort to voting, stating that already, a time-table has been released and the actual process would commence next week with the selection of the third class chiefs.
He said as part of efforts to ensure fairness and equity in the implementation of the new law, the committee had organised a mock selection process in the Tiv speaking area as a prelude to the actual selection.
Governor Ortom said due process was followed before the new chieftaincy law came into existence and as such its provisions were sacrosanct and above any other conflicting traditional practice.
He stated that as the Governor, he has the veto power to accept any selection that was fairly and transparently conducted according to the provisions of the law or reject any selection that did not follow due process.
The Governor called on the chiefs to abide by the code of conduct enshrined in the law, warning that anyone who flouted the code would be sanctioned.
Contributing on the matter, State Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner, Mr. Michael Gusa, said the desire of the Ortom administration was to do what the people wanted pointing out that the mock selection was to encourage people to be fair with one another and be their brother’s keeper.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Titus Zam, appealed to the people to appreciate and support the good intentions of the Governor for the implementation of the new chieftaincy law in the State.
...JUSTIFIES CONSTRUCTION OF CARGO AIRPORT
Governor Ortom has explained why the Cargo Airport earmarked by the immediate past federal administration to be constructed at the Makurdi Airport did not materialise.
Speaking on Radio Benue live programme yesterday he explained that it was considered a security risk to have a Cargo Airport in a military airbase.
According to him, as the then supervising Minister of Aviation, he had an interface with the relevant authorities and was made to understand that the Airforce authorities stopped the project because of its security implications.
Governor Ortom said because the Makurdi Airport is not only a military airport but also headquarters of the nation’s Tactical Air Command, the authorities would not allow foreign airlines to fly in and out of the airport.
He explained that presently, for a commercial or private plane to land at the Makurdi Airport, proper authorisation must first be obtained from the Airforce.
The Governor emphasised that because the Makurdi Airport is not a civil one, there is restricted and limited access for civil or commercial planes due to the risk to military installations there. He restated that the Makurdi Cargo Airport project was a private sector initiative spearheaded by a Chinese Consortium to invest in the economy of the State.
The Governor said said the project was the product of his administration’s advocacy to attract investment and industrialization following which a number of foreign investors were willing to invest in different sectors of the State’s economy.
According to him, the Consortium was committing over N32 billion through the Chinese Exim Bank to fund the Cargo Airport project which would be completed in 36 months, emphasizing that the fund was not a financial commitment of the Benue State Government as was being alleged by critics of the project.
The Governor said the Cargo Airport had received supoort from the people of the State who appreciate the fact that it would turn Benue into a hub of economic activities.
He said it would provide training schools for air transport personnel, housing estates, clinics, shopping malls, road network for moving goods and services as well as jobs and wealth creation opportunities considering that the project site would become a mega city.
Governor Ortom lamented that the project had also received knocks from some critics who he said do not understand or appreciate what international trade entailed, pointing out that such critics were not being fair in assessing the progress the administration was making to salvage the impoverished economy it inherited from its predecessor.
He explained that because the project was sited in Benue State, the Chinese Consortium said it would not be fair for the State not to have a stake in the ownership and after discussing with the State Economic Team, it agreed to give the State Government 15 equity amounting to N5.7 billion.
According to him, the amount would be paid only after the completion of the project and from the dividends that would accrue to government thereof, stressing that at the moment, there was no financial obligation on the government except provision of the enabling environment for the investors.