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Benue paradox: The Taraku Mills example

The 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) has mandated States to generate internal revenue to compliment Federal Allocations in order to ensure the wellbeing of their people. The Tax Order Act of 2015 shows that States in Nigeria have no fewer than 26 sources of revenue generation.
For Benue, available data shows that less than half of these sources are utilised. Scanty but equally available data also shows that the highest contributor to Internally Generated Revenue in Benue State is the Personal Income Tax. Scanty, because BIRS as a whole does not have data of IGR of Benue State beyond 2015! This is a State that struggles to pay even salaries of her workers, but yet the highest revenue generating source for the State is PERSONAL INCOME TAX (or PAYE)! If you are looking for the definition of injustice, there you have it.
For a State that is agrarian, it is such a shame that we have not been able to take advantage of the agricultural potentials with which we are richly blessed. But once upon a time, we had a governor who had beautiful dreams for our dear State. Governor Aper Aku had within four years envisioned and birthed, among others:
1. Taraku Mills, Taraku, Gwer.
2. Owukpa saw Mills, Owukpa
3. Ber Agbum Agro Center, Ushongo.
4. Otukpo Burnt Bricks, Otukpo
5. Agro Millers Limited, North Bank, Makurdi
6. Benue Cement Company (BCC) Limited, Gboko
7. Ikyogen Cattle Ranch, Ikyogen, Kwande.
8. Ikwe Holiday Resort, Gwer.
9. Benro Packaging Company, Gboko.
10. Benue Breweries Limited, Makurdi
11. Sheraton Hotels, Makurdi
12. Modern Market Makurdi
13. Lobi Bank Limited, Makurdi
14. Aper Aku Stadium, Makurdi
15. Benue Printing and Publishing Company
16. College of Education, Oju.
17. Benue Bottling Company Limited (BBL), Makurdi.
18. The Makurdi Modern Market, Makurdi.
Ostensibly, Governor Aku had envisioned that more youths would be gainfully employed, and for the agro allied industries, the farmers who formed majority of the rural population would have ready markets for their produce and the government would also generate plenty of revenue to boost the socio-economic sector of the predominantly agrarian and civil service propelled state.
Taraku Mills, for one, i am reliably informed, supplied all parts of northern Nigeria with vegetable oil in its hey days. Here is a company that has been adjudged to be capable of producing the finest grade of all forms of edible oil, different kinds of flour, brewers grit including all forms of animal feeds and diet.
Certainly, for industries such as Taraku Mills, the basic intention was to add value to agricultural production, Benue being a rural state, so that other economic activities related to farming and agriculture could gradually pick up to enable the populace survive on agro-allied economy. But today, it is safe to say that this noble dream for the State that was laid by the first civilian governor, has been abandoned by subsequent governors and then personalised by the current man at the helm of affairs; the dreams of Benue State as they once were, have become the dreams of a private business empire, owned by the very man who superintends over the affairs of the State!
We deserve better.
The next governor must be somebody who is a FIXER. If you can’t fix, then there is no point to run for governorship in the next election. We know our problem. Benue does not need a leader who will come and outline bags of excuses for us why things are not working. Benue needs a rugged fixer to make things work and to grow our economy. We do not need someone who will fail to start and complete a juice factory within 8 years of tenureship. We do not need someone that will fail to complete a ‘greater makurdi water works’ project to full operational capacity within 8 years of tenureship. We do not need a person that will give us an audio cargo airport within 6 years (and counting) of tenureship. We need a FIXER. Make Benue work for us, not excuses. Just help us to revive the dreams and legacies of Late Aper Aku. Give us a functional Taraku Mills and other such industries. Make things work for us. Build for us a robust economy that will reduce over-reliance on Federal Allocation for our growth and development.
We must compel the candidates to show us their workable manifesto that will give us a sense of direction, not this blind trust that has taken us from bad to worse to worst, in that order, since after Aku.
May God help us!

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