By Sunday Iduh
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has said his administration was committed to tackling all issues that affects rural communities in the state.
The governor made this known Monday during the signing of the state’s Rural Development Policy document at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
According to Governor Ortom, “rural development in Nigeria is very key in economic development. There are several advantages that will accompany if our rural areas are developed. One key thing is the migration from rural areas to the city. If we have a developed rural economy, where things are working, not everybody will migrate from rural areas to urban areas.
He explained that majority of the people in the rural areas live and work in the rural areas, stating that, It was unfortunate that today, most of the rural areas are deserted not just because of economy, or trying to find where to live but security challenges have forced them to migrate to urban areas, to the extent of some becoming Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) while some have found comfort with their relatives.
The governor described planning as a key tool to achieving great feat in any task.
“This policy is very apt and that is why we said that we should have a policy to help us plan and execute.I have always said that when you do not plan, you have already failed. Planning is very important. There must be a working document to help you accomplish the task you have,” he stated.
Governor Ortom commended the team for doing a great job and expressed optimism that the Ministry of Rural Development and Cooperatives will take steps for the actualization of the policy for the overall benefit of the state.
The Commissioner for Rural Development and Cooperative, Victor Ukaha, in remark, disclosed that the governor had mandated the ministry in June, 2012 to develop a rural development policy document for the state.
He disclosed that due to the enabling environment that was created by the governor, the ministry, in conjunction with other stakeholders have come up with a rural development policy document for Benue State.
Speaking at the ceremony, a policy consultant, Sam Yua, who commended the ingenuity of the governor for the state to have a rural development policy stated that if the policy was adhered to, the rural areas in the state will develop like urban areas.
“From the research, the poverty indices of the people at the rural areas are quite high. The poverty in the rural areas is due to lack of adequate knowledge. To address this, enlightenment campaigns are needed to assist the people in the rural areas. If the people become knowledgeable, they can be able to choose a profitable venture that can improve the rural economy,” he stated.
He explained that various stakeholders – traditional rulers, academia, local government chairmen, women and youth groups were consulted in the formulation of the policy.
Yua said supportive infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water among others were needed to drive rural development. He also disclosed that institutional frame work was needed to determine what would happen in terms of regulations.
The policy consultant maintained that, the only way that rural areas can develop is to make every local government area a rural development agency. “The local government chairmen need to devote a certain percentage of their budget for development,” he added.