Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, has returned from a week-long official trip to the People’s Republic of China.
Briefing Journalists on his arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Monday, the Governor said, his visit to the technological advanced country, has exposed Benue State to avalanche of business opportunities that could help lift the fortunes of the state.
“The principal reason I went there is to interact with Chairman Wu, who is the core investor in Igumale Cement Factory in Benue state.
“We inherited the project which was started around 2004 during Senator George Akume’s tenure and it continued during Governor Suswam’s administration.
“When I came, I saw that it was a viable project and we have done everything that is needed on the part of government to ensure this project takes off.
“Unfortunately, there has been delay from the core investor from shifting equipment, so I was very concerned, and on his invitation, I went there, we discussed and it was agreed that the remaining equipment be shipped to Nigeria.
“I told them very clearly that since we have fulfilled our conditions, there shouldn’t be any further excuse because all that is required of the state government we have done and so if by October, this is not done, I will be forced to review the business with them”, the Governor explained.
The Governor also explained that, he visited a Chinese investor who is a specialist in seed improvement, “especially in grains and rice in particular”.
He explained that, an average yield per hectare in Benue State was about two tonnes. “But here are experts who are good in rice production to the point of producing 7, 8 tonnes and are working on improving it to hit 15 tonnes per hectare.
“So, I felt that this is an encouragement, especially for us as the food basket of the nation, so we are working on improving on our rice production and this will be good news to our people”.
Ortom also took time to explain how his trip would tremendously improve the production of cassava in Benue State.
He said, “Nigeria is having deficit in the production of starch which is used by the paper industry, brewery industry and the pharmaceutical industry. Up till today, with the full advantage we have in cassava production, we are still importing cassava, which is the main raw material for starch production.
“We made contacts and we have gotten an investor who is willing to establish a plant in Benue state to ensure that they are off-takers for those who are producing cassava. This will go a long way in helping build the economy, because I believe that we must go into processing our primary products in this country”.
On the assassination of his Principal Special Assistant on knowledge, Economy and Investments, Dr Tavershima Adyorough, the Governor said he had already mandated the Security agencies, “to go all out and fish out the killers, because this cannot be allowed to continue”.
Reminiscing the personality of late Dr. Adyorough, Ortom said, “he worked with me while I served as a minister as my personal assistant and then I found him worthy when I won election as governor to be my Principal Secretary Assistant on Knowledge Economy and Investments.
“He is someone who is well knowledgeable and well-trained and for him to be assassinated at this time when we need people with broad knowledge to support us to succeed in our hard times, it is very sad. This is something I am not going to take lightly”
When asked about the ultimatum given to Fulani herdsmen by the Middle Belt Renaissance Forum, Governor Ortom said there was no reason for some youths to say they were giving ultimatum to anyone.
“We are a law-abiding state. We were faced with this issue of herdsmen. What we did was to do the right thing, by ensuring that we go through due process and put a law in place. The law is not meant to give ultimatum to Fulani men to leave the state.
“Any man breeding cattle or livestock is free to do livestock business in Benue state. What is required to do is to ranch. We knew it was a new law when it was, we needed to prepare, so we have given people up to November for them to prepare and ranch there.
“So that is a useless ultimatum, I have already directed the security men to go after those youths because I believe it is political and meant to destabilize my government.
“We have no hand in that and people should go about their normal businesses. There is nothing like ultimatum in Benue state. Everyone in this country should disregard that threat.
“It has nothing to do with Benue state government and we are on top of the situation. We are ready to deal with anyone who is out to foment trouble in our state”, he added.