The newly inducted Governor of Benue State, Nigeria, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia, has ordered the placement of ‘Post No Debit’ on all bank accounts of the state until further notice.
Fr. Alia in his inaugural speech at his swearing in ceremony on Monday, May 29 declared that the state accounts would remain frozen “until all signatories are changed,” warning that “any bank that violates this instruction does so at its own risk.”
He added that his administration would undertake a review of the anti-open grazing law passed during his predecessor’s administration.
Fr. Alia, who described the law as controversial, said it needed to be reviewed to accommodate current realities.
“We are inheriting an anti-open grazing law, whose implementation has become controversial.
“Having gone through some period of implementation, it is fit and proper for us to review the law to identify the lessons learned, hold the gains made, if any, and reform to accommodate current realities.”
The law which has been passed in some southern states of Nigeria bans the movement of cattle by herders in public places as a measure of curbing the persistent clashes between herders and farmers. But the decision has been criticised by most northern governors including the federal government.
The new governor, also said he recognises the plight of workers in the state and promised to prioritise payment of salary and pension allowance
Read Fr. Alia’s full address below
My fellow citizens of Benue State,
Today marks a new beginning in the history of our beloved state as I take office as your governor. I stand before you with a sense of humility and purpose, fully aware of the enormous challenges that lie ahead.
But I am grateful for the trust you have bestowed and conscious of the sacrifices borne by all of you to make this happen. I am particularly excited at the promise of Hope which our newly minted administration represents.
During the campaigns, we traversed the length and breadth of our State and I personally saw, firsthand, the appalling situation of our people.
Town after town and village after village, you waited for hours on end for our campaign train to arrive. That wait was not for Fr Alia or my Deputy Barr. Sam Ode, mni. You were waiting for Hope. Renewed Hope. And I want to assure you, Benue: Hope is here!
We are faced with a situation of sustained insecurity, dampened morale from non-payment of salaries, pensions and gratuity, dilapidated infrastructure, a broken economy, an even more broken civil service, massive unemployment and underemployment, endemic corruption, and malaise. The list is long!
These are all indicators of a crisis – a deep rooted crisis. And it calls for action – bold and swift. I assure you, Benue, that as a government, your government, WE WILL ACT!
We were unambiguous in our Victory Speech at the polls: that our State, Benue, is broken and needs a reset. The moment is here. And the time is now. A New Benue is Possible!
One of the most pressing issues facing our state today is insecurity. We cannot achieve any meaningful development in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. As your governor, I am committed to working with security agencies and the Federal Government to ensure the safety of lives and property in our state. We will also work tirelessly to address the root causes of insecurity, such as poverty, unemployment, and social exclusion.
The state of our economy is another area that requires urgent attention. We can safely say that our State is on economic life support requiring intensive care. We will prioritize job creation and economic empowerment by promoting private sector-led industrialization, with a particular emphasis on agriculture. We will also work to improve the business environment in the state by enacting investor protection laws and streamlining procedures to make it easier to do business in Benue State.
We took a cursory overview of the state of our infrastructure and found every facet to be comatose and non-performing due to deliberate gross negligence.
We reviewed the state of water, health, education, sports, electricity, roads, public housing, telecommunications, and commerce infrastructure, amongst others, and found a highly unacceptable level of abandonment and decay. For the avoidance of doubt, no parastatal or extra-ministerial department of the Benue State Government, saddled with responsibility for public scrutiny, accountability and transparency was even minimally funded to deliver basic services. Consequently, public infrastructure has remained in a deplorable state of decay, and we are forced to start at ground zero.
In view of this uncanny state of affairs, Government would immediately set in motion, machinery for clearing blocked drainage systems in Makurdi metropolis to address avoidable flooding, pending when a comprehensive solution would be found to the perennial flooding of the state capital. To provide immediate succor to the army of unemployed youth in the state, we shall execute this exercise through a public works scheme or direct labor.
In addition, we have commenced discussions for revamping the moribund Benue Microfinance Bank and repositioning it as a vehicle for microcredit delivery in the state. This would domesticate the delivery of microcredit to the poor as a cardinal pursuit of our administration.
Our educational system is the bedrock of our future, and we will invest in it accordingly. We will prioritize the training and development of our teachers and provide them with the necessary tools and resources to deliver quality education. We will also work to ensure that our children have access to quality education that reflects the demands of a modern economy, regardless of their socio-economic background.
We recognize the crucial role that women, youths, and children play in our society, and we are committed to creating opportunities for them to thrive. We will prioritize their empowerment and inclusion in all aspects of our development agenda.
To all Benue workers, please listen to me:
We recognize the plight of our civil servants and pensioners who are owed salaries, pensions, and gratuities. We must strike a healthy balance between caring for the generation that toiled for this State (am talking here about pension and gratuity for our pensioners,) paying our serving employees a living wage and investing in the future of our children through revised curricula that meets the demands of a modern economy.
The Bible has it very clear, “a laborer deserves his wage”
We will prioritize and address the issue by ensuring that all verified arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuity, are paid promptly without further delay!
We will not do this alone.
It is desirable that our Development Partners have a shared vision of our Strategic Development Plan for a Greater Benue. We know that there is no one-best way for development partnerships. It is on a case-by-case basis. This is the reason why engagement early in the game will be paramount. We have already started that engagement process before today and we will continue.
I assure our Donor Community and Development Partners that greater efforts will be invested in monitoring & evaluation activities to ensure that donor funds are appropriately channeled in an auditable manner. We will run an open, accountable, and transparent government. In-fact, we shall make these our Economic Articles of Faith!
Politically, our state has been disconnected from the Federal Government because of bad politics. I commit to reconnecting Benue State to the proverbial ‘National Grid’ of Nigerian politics in order to harvest the benefits derivable there from.
For our fellow contestants in the other political parties, I want to say to you loud and clear: the period of campaigns is over. It is now time for governance. I am not a Governor for APC. I am the Governor of Benue State. I want to extend a hand of fellowship to you all. Please join hands with us so we can build back Benue better than it ever was.
To the Investor Community, we are aware that Benue already lost its investment status owing to bad governance. What is also true is that the whole world is waiting to invest in Benue, but they are waiting for the enablers.
A clearly articulated investment vision with defined projects pipeline, a supportive legal and regulatory framework and value proposition at individual project level are the basic preconditions for investor attraction. These enablers are what our administration will prioritize. So, to all potential investors, we want to say to you that Benue is open for business.
May I announce that effective immediately and until further notice, all Government Bank Accounts in all Banks are hereby frozen. A ‘Post No Debit’ instruction shall remain in force until all Signatories are changed. Any Bank that violates this instruction does so at her own risk.
My fellow citizens of Benue, I make no pretentions to having the magic wand to actualize the many beautiful plans I have for this state. I am not setting out to be a lone-ranger governor – all- knowing and all-powerful. I will listen to you and work with you to achieve the Benue of our dream.
I am full of hope that a new Benue shall arise from the present morass of stagnation and backwardness and assume her rightful place in the comity of great societies. My hope lies in the imaginative power of our people and their undying spirit.
So, today, I call on every one of us to commit to building a new Benue – a Benue all of us can feel proud to call home.
Let our children and our children’s children, a thousand years from now, recount with pride the brave efforts of this moment. Let it be recorded that we did what needed to be done to secure a happy future for future generations.
Now is the time for Benue to make that change of direction. Now is the time for us to combine the creative imagining of our youths with the wisdom of our sages to regain altitude and soar to higher heights.
The journey ahead may be steep and hard, but we trust in the living God “who strengthens us in our weaknesses…” May he guide and protect us at each step of the way.
I remain quite indebted to all of you.
To my very dear mother and the entire family, I love you.
To all the great elder statesmen of Benue, beginning with the APC leadership, for your dogged support to liberate the people of Benue from poor governance.
I thank the leader of our great party in Benue State, Sen. Dr. George Akume, the honorable Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.
I want to also thank the Tactical Air Command, which prayed for me at Mass this morning for a smooth takeoff in God’s presence.
I thank my dear friends and supporters all over the globe for their unwavering support.
Let me also thank the concerned APC youths who ensured our town was clean yesterday.
God bless you.
God bless Benue State, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Thank you all!