Alia: Laying foundation for bountiful harvest in Benue
By Bridget Ikyado
When on May 29, 2023 Reverend Fr Hyacinth Alia took the oath of office as the Executive Governor of Benue State, he vowed to run a robust administration that would massively transform the state, ensure equity and development.
He also vowed to provide a well secured environment for people to pursue their means of livelihood and attract investments for employment in all sectors.
On this note, the Governor came into office with a clear 7-Point Agenda. These covered security, agriculture and rural development; commerce and industry; human apital and social development; infrastructure, environment, and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and political and economic development.
“You were waiting for Hope. Renewed Hope. And I want to assure you, Benue: Hope is here!,” he told the people at his inauguration.
One hundred days after, the administration is making significant progress in transforming Benue State, and many observers have thumped up the steady progress the administration has made so far.
The Governor has not only embarked on projects to meet the infrastructure needs of the state, but also set up machinery to reform the civil service, tackle insecurity, and support people displaced by years of conflicts.
The actions of the governor indicate a season of renewed hope for Benue which, under previous administrations, was left with bastardised governance structure, collapsed economy, decayed infrastructure and a disillusioned civil service.
The first action Governor Alia took after assuming duty was to freeze all government bank accounts, to enable the administration determine the true financial status of the state.
He blocked financial loopholes and used Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to pay salaries, wages and gratuities, without recourse to loans. It was a complete departure from the past practice when the previous administration borrowed money to pay salaries.
The governor has also commenced massive rehabilitation of the state secretariat and the Assembly complex to provide a conducive atmosphere for workers and lawmakers to operate.
The Governor has brought sanity to the civil service by weeding out ghost workers from the payroll, saving over N1.2 billion hitherto siphoned monthly from the state treasury. This has enabled the government to pay workers unfailingly, on the 25th of every month.
This has become a great relief to workers and enhance their productivity.
It is pertinent to state that civil servants and pensioners in the state had endured years of non-payment of salaries and wages poor to his administration.
In line with his pledge, the Governor has since commenced the construction of affordable houses for low-income earners. A total 100 housing units are being constructed in Makurdi to boost access to affordable houses for low-income earners.
Within the first 100 days in office, Alia has also begun the training and empowerment of 5,000 women to raise their skills to strengthening the local economy, take families out of poverty and create generational wealth and self-sufficiency.
Similarly, the administration has selected 10,000 Benue youths to receive six months free training on ICT to enable them function optimally in the digital world and become dependent on their digital skills for survival.
Following the removal of fuel subsidy and the attendant hardship on the people, the administration has efficiently utilised the Two Billion Naira it received from the Federal Government to provide palliatives.
Out of the amount, quite a chunk of market women are to receive N50,000 each to enhance their businesses.
It will also be used to pay the examination fees for final year secondary school students in public schools sitting for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and National Examination Council (NECO) examination.
This gesture will no doubt reduce the financial burden on parents, and encourage the students to pursue their studies without distraction.
Similarly, the governor has ordered the procurement of 100 buses for Benue Links, the state owned transport company, to provide affordable transportation to the public. The government has also purchased and distributed rice to indigent households across the state.
On infrastructure, the administration has commenced rehabilitation of 16 roads in the state and reactivated street lights in Makurdi to enhance security.
In the area of agriculture, the government had ensured prompt distribution of assorted subsidised fertilizer to farmers, to ensure bountiful harvest and reduce farming cost.
He also ordered the removal of illegal checkpoints which have been contributing to price hikes in markets.
One of the major problems he inherited from the previous administration was the the huge number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were neglected in spite of their pitiable condition.
The first step taken by the governor was to enhance access to emergency and health care for the IDPs through the provision of food, nutritional supplements, and improved access to portable water and sanitation services.
Governor Hyacinth Alia has already put in place framework for the resettlement, reintegration and rehabilitation of the IDPs, to rebuild their lives and contribute to economic and political development of the state. The programme will be driven with the support of donor agencies.
The institution of Benue State International Cooperation and Development Coordinating Unit will ensure deployment of resources and expertise in a timely, efficient and accountable manner to fast track the transformation of the state.
The Alia administration has lived up to its billing as it pursues looters of government property, leading to the recovery of vehicles, tens of hectares of land and numerous landed property from officials of the immediate past administration.
All these and more are the foundation for Benue’s growth and transformation laid by the Fovernor and on which his administration has been pursuing its renewed hope agenda.
So far, the Governor’s able lieutenants are more emboldened by his openness and commitment to service and have been contributing to the transformation agenda.
Certainly, the first 100 days of the administration of Governor Hyacinth Alia have sowed infinite seeds for the state to reap. With patience, the harvest will be bountiful.