By Terver Akase
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom today moved to fufil one of his promises to the people – the promise of turning Benue to an industrial hub with emphasis on home-based agro industrialists.
The Governor visited agriculture equipment manufacturing factories owned by young Benue industrialists. What did Governor Ortom see and do when he visited the industrial sites? You will soon find out.
Chapter 4 (3) of the Benue State blueprint ‘Our Collective Vision for a New Benue’ focuses on Agriculture-Driven Industrialization. What this means is explained in the following subtitle of the chapter:
“Ortom Administration’s Initiative on Promoting Agro-Driven Industrialisation
i. Leverage our rich agriculture by setting up cottage processing units;
ii. Drive industrialisation, enhance food security, create jobs, reduce poverty, and enhance
inclusive economic growth;
iii. Stimulate agricultural growth through modernisation, diversification, genetic upgrade, disease control and commercialization of agriculture;
iv. Facilitate the establishment of organised markets for agricultural produce and products;
v. Establish Agricultural Credit Financing Schemes (ACFS);
vi. Reorganize and privatize moribund State-owned industries;
vii. Establish new industries both in Agriculture and Solid Minerals Sectors”
The Governor’s first port of call today was at TZ Engineers located on kilometer 6, Gboko road, Makurdi. Chairman of the company, Engr Terkura Dzomon, a graduate of University of Agriculture, Makurdi, told Governor Ortom that since he took over the running of the factory from his late father, he has ensured that the company expands. He said the major challenge facing the firm is funding.
TZ Engineers manufacture agro equipment such as threshers, harvesters, garri processing equipment, millers, bakers etc.
The Governor was visibly impressed with what he saw. He told Engr Dzomon that what he is doing in Benue is the same creative idea found in advanced countries. He assured the young industrialist that his administration would assist his factory to expand, produce more and better equipment as well as create jobs for the youths.
The Governor’s next stop was at a factory owned by Engr Vincent Unogwu located on kilometer 4, Uni Agric road, Makurdi. The factory specilizes in manufacturing threshers, feed mills, palm oil mills, hammer mills, baking oven, dough keading machines, garri processing machines etc. But again, the problem of poor funding reared its head.
Convinced by what he saw, Governor Ortom made the following declaration:
“From what I have seen, it is clear that in Benue State, we can manufacture different kinds of equipment especially in the agriculture value chain. My administration will support these efforts.
I’m impressed and encouraged”
No other declaration could have made a bolder statement than the one coming from the Governor himself. I looked at Engr Unogwu and the broad smile on his face said it all.
Governor Ortom told the young investor that his administration would collaborate with private sector investors with innovative ideas to enhance the economic growth of the state.
He commended the industrialists for their initiatives and urged them to submit proposals to government specifying what they needed in order to expand and sustain their outfits.
Later in the day, the Governor’s visit to local factories within Makurdi and his experience with the young investors was top of the list of items for discussion. Council gave full backing to the Governor’s move and deliberated on ways of enhancing the growth of local industries.
One of the incentives being considered by Council aside the promised funding is the feasibility of relocating the local factories to the Industrial Layout in Makurdi.
Imagine the number of jobs that will be created even if just 20 of such industries expand before the end of this year. And surely, their products will be labelled ‘Made in Benue’.
I will keep you posted about this development.