From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
The Governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State, Emmanuel Jime, has identified prolonged absence of long-term strategic planning, poor and short-term economic decision making, and weak institutional framework as some of the factors responsible for the State infrastructural plight.
Jime who said this during a two day retreat organized by the party for campaign directors, deputy directors and Advisers in Makurdi yesterday, promised that even in the face of dwindling resources, his government must explore co-financing, partial concessions, “Design-Build-Finance-Operate & Maintain”, as well as several other contracting routes.
He added that his administration will draw private entity investment and companies in delivering massive infrastructure and Services, especially Private, Public Partnership (PPP) in the key sectors of Water supply, Waste management, transportation, healthcare, housing, energy and tourism and so on in the state.
The APC guber candidate said he will revisit the wage bill and pension issues, to get a real sustainable wage bill, as well as correct the abnormality in the way pension fund has been managed in Benue state.
“The pension fund is a monthly deduction from workers pay, and a revolving fund net of the monthly wage bill that should be managed separately. We might consider a retirement benefit bureau/department with trustees that will oversee the management of pension as a social security fund.
“We will look into reforming BIRS and transforming the IGR sector with a view of achieving a closer integration of the informal sector with the formal sector, not only to improve the transparent management and administration of tax but also, to expand our capacity to mobilise domestic resource in meeting public finance obligations. We will eliminate issues of double taxation, improve wealth distribution and promote measures that encourage start-up entrepreneurs.
“We improve the image of Benue as a favourable destination for local and foreign direct investment and an attractive partner for international development cooperation. This will enable Benue state leverage on numerous multilateral social empowerment programmes from the World Bank and African Development Bank that go to selected states that show the seriousness and readiness to collaborate with international agencies working to reduce
poverty and environmental issues.
“We shall approach health for all by developing a database on the health status of Benue citizens for medium and long-term planning. For example, the complications from diabetes that result in amputations have a devastating effect on families and the productivity of the state.
“Our public healthcare policy will follow such pragmatic steps to plug Benue into global health improvement programmes by making a case for Benue state. As part of healthcare for all, we shall establish Accident trauma and emergency outposts across the three zones.
“We will tackle the acute youth unemployment by improving skills and the performance index of N-Power intervention programme and tie sequestered funds such as the ecological funds to job apprenticeship programmes that provide young people with the opportunity to become employable. Incentives will be put in place for contractors on all medium and large-scale projects to employ skilled workers from a database by the state. In this way, we can monitor concrete figures on jobs created.
“We shall engage in massive urban regeneration to improve the quality and ambience of our major cities in Zones A, B & C through joined-up approach in programming. This will improve health social services and improved quality of cities as cosmopolitan centres with good sanitation and well laid-out pavements for small business ventures.
“We will invite public memorandum and input from our pool of experts in formulating a long-term policy position that provide a framework in securing our farmland and response to farmer /herders conflict”, Jime promised.