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REPORT OF CSOs VISIT TO BENUE STATE, GOVERNOR- ELECT, DR. SAMUEL ORTOM.

18 May

By Asan Gabin Bennedict

The Coalition of Civil Society Groups in Benue State paid a courtesy visit to the Governor-Elect, Dr. Samuel Ortom at his residence in Makurdi the State Capital. The CSOs presented quick win targets for the Governor-Elect to address within his first 100 days in office.

Presenting the document titled: “Benue CSOs/Media Coalition 100 day in office target for Dr. Samuel Ortom, Governor-Elect, Benue State of Nigeria”; the Team-leader Mr. Rommy Mom, said setting 100 days target for the incoming administration to meet has become imperative for the civil society in the state, as it is believed that meeting these targets will set the administration on the path of achieving the much needed expectations of the citizens of the state. Mr. Mom thanked the Governor-Elect for the invitation to input and partner towards the much needed development in the State.

The Team-leader noted with regret that,  had the Civil Society Groups in the State partnered and engaged previous governments in the State in setting realizable agenda, and monitoring same and demanding accountability in a more effective and efficient manner, the State would have progressed much more development wise. He said the least the CSOs could do is their resolve to promote and protect the mandate given to the incoming Ortom administration by the people of Benue State by engaging actively with the new government

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Mr Rommy Mom presenting the 100 days Target Document to Ortom.

In his response, the Governor-Elect Dr. Samuel Ortom, thanked the CSOs Coalition in the State for harkening to his call to all citizen to participate and make meaningful contributions to his administration. He assured the CSOs of his administration’ zero tolerance for corruption and an open door policy that will enhance accountability. He promised opening up space for government/CSOs collaboration, partnership and engagement. By so doing, he promised to reduce the agenda of the Civil Society into actionable point for ease of implementation and monitoring.

The Governor-Elect reiterated the fact that he holds noting sacred as the mandates given to him to govern the State and he promise to do so with the fear of God and respect for the people of the State who are the mandate givers. He further acknowledges the fact that he is human as such susceptible to human frailty and imperfection and call on CSOs to be disposed to advising and correcting his government objectively for maximum gain by the State.

SUMMARY OF ISSUES SET-FORT BY THE CSOS FOR THE GOVERNOR-ELECT TO ATTAIN WITHIN HIS FIRST 100DAY IN OFFICE 

FINANCES/RESOURCES

Reliance on federal allocations is now almost a call for a death sentence on the state. Federal allocations are insufficient to take care of salaries, outside of other recurring expenditure.  There will be zero finances for infrastructure and other projects.

In the circumstances, it must be acknowledged that Benue is in a deep pit that would need some filling. Given the above situation, the partners set up the following targets for the new administration.

  • Within the first 100 days the Ortom government should endeavor to inform the Benue people of the true and actual state of finances of the state in plain language and explain the challenges that lay ahead. 
  • In the first 100 days, the administration should convene a technical meeting regarding the state of Benue’s finances to be attended by indigenes of Benue knowledgeable in economics, development, and resource generation. 
  • Within the first 100 days, the Ortom administration should convene and hold a Donor conference in Benue for the four big players in development (World Bank, EU, UNDP and the DFID) for the possible channels of synergizing and partnering with a view to proffering solutions to the challenge. 
  • Tax Regime is an area that was also looked into by the CSO/Media partnership. The resolution for the Ortom administration is to, within 100 days, address the issue of BIRS with a view to regaining its lost glory. In getting citizens to pay their taxes in a dignified and humane manner rather than in a thuggish manner, community groups should be co-opted to help in addressing and creating awareness on the need for people of Benue to pay their taxes. 

HEALTH

The Benue health sector is in a crisis. It is an emergency. There is a dearth of nurses with current statistics at 1 nurse to approximately 60 patients as against 1 nurse to 3 patients. As it were, the School of Nursing in Benue has lost its accreditation a while back, and can no longer produce nurses. As retirement takes its toll, the vacuum is in one word, frightening. The school of health technology that produces community health assistants is gradually becoming a curse. The Assistants now set up quack clinics in the hinterlands and hurry citizens to their deaths, capitalizing on the absence of nurses and doctors.

The story is no different with Doctors. The medical school in Benue state university suffered the same fate as the School of nursing and to date is unable to produce doctors, though recently accredited.

Persons living with HIV are left behind regarding access to healthcare and other such services.

The Ortom administration should therefore, in 100 days, seek to:

  • Aggressively commence the process of halting the rot in the healthcare system by the development and implementation of a clear plan to address the issue of accreditation of the school of nursing through the provision of a well-equipped educational facility.
  • Appoint technocrats into positions in the health sector and not politicians.
  •  Develop a health master plan that will involve civil society. 

AGRICULTURE

Benue State which is “The Food Basket of the Nation” has become a food basket without food; an empty food basket. This remains so despite the fact that the soil and weather are naturally suitably regulated to support a wide variety of arable and plantation crops, livestock, forestry, wild life and fishery products.

The Ortom administration should therefore, in 100 days, seek to:

  • Timely distribution of herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers and improved seedlings to farmers across the State.
  •  Government should encourage partnership with land owners and carry out massive land clearing for cultivation.

PEACE, SECURITY AND JUSTICE

There is an urgent need to redeem the peace and security situation in Benue State. This is the only sure way of entrenching development and enhancing the living condition of the Benue people. Unfortunately, these fundamentals for livelihood have become a scarce commodity in the State.

The Ortom administration should therefore, in 100 days, seek to:

  • Set up a peace and reconciliation committee with a mandate of peace building and advocacy for harmonious co-existence amongst communities across the State, borders and neighbours.

A community-policing scheme will be evolved in conjunction with the State Police Command, Local Vigilante Groups, the National Security and Civil Defence Corps, who will be trained on relevant community policing techniques.

  • The immediate resolution of the dispute between government and the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria with the view of preventing the incessant industrial strikes by the union to enhance access to justice and speedy prosecution of offenders.
  • The unsatisfactory working conditions of judicial staff, including non-payment of salaries, which is responsible for low morale, should be addressed by the government peremptorily.
  • The State Executive Council should initiate a Bill for a law prohibiting public grazing in the state with a view to bringing to rest the crisis between herdsmen and farmers in Benue State

WATER AND SANITATION

The importance of water in all the fairs of human endeavour cannot be overemphasized hence the aphorism: “water is life”. Government should prioritize water supply in quality and quantity.

The Ortom administration should therefore, in 100 days, seek to:

  • Government should setup a committee to assess the cost of reticulation of water in Makurdi and urban areas in order for the public to have a firsthand cost will put the Greater Makurdi Water Works to maximum use.
  •  Government should establish community health clubs in primary and secondary schools to deepen the culture of sanitation.

CITIZEN’S WELFARE

The Benue resident is today almost living a beggarly life owing to lack of resources. This is because the state is one where most salaried workers are employed by the government which then proceeds to deprive them of salaries for months at a time.

In 100 days therefore, the Ortom administration should:

  • Endeavour to pay outstanding salaries by at least 70%. We shy away from insisting on 100% given the dire financial circumstances of the state.
  • Provide refuse bins across the state especially in commercial areas and markets to stem the spread of diseases through waste and dirt. In the long terms an incinerator to burn waste should be installed in large towns in Benue state.
  • The issue of the Makurdi Greater Water Works should be spread open to the Benue people to unravel the mystery of 16 years of work on a water project that has never yielded tap water. The people have a right to know and thereafter be realistically expectant regarding the next steps.
  • Cost of governance should be drastically reduced starting with the number of people on the entourage that follows the Governor to Abuja or on other trips. At present the Benue person funds each Abuja trip by over N15m per trip for the Governor. These huge amounts if reduced drastically can be plowed into the economy of the state over a period of time.
  • The incoming administration is called upon to make appointments based on expertise, merit and skills and resist the urge to patronize party members if Benue is to forge ahead.
  • Closely related to 5 above is the suggestion that the number of ministries be reduced and merged to enhance efficiency, financial probity and an all-round better administration.

SPORTS

All over the world sporting activities have become economic development means order than the leisure it use to be. With the teaming crop of unemployed youth the development of this sector will enhance employment/economic development of the State and curtail crime amongst youth.

In 100 days therefore, the Ortom administration should:

  • Government should set up a committee to resuscitate sports activities in all public & private primary and secondary schools in the State.
  •  Government should direct all LG Councils to initiate, adequately fund and prudently manage sports clubs to enhance sports development.
  • Government should encourage the private sector (companies and individuals) to form sports clubs for sports development.
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Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Governanace

 

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