Criticisms have continued to trail the sale of eleven companies owned by Benue State Government, as the Indigenes describe the move as, ‘faulty’ and ‘ill-timed’ coming prior to preparations for political campaigns.
It should be noted that early this week, precisely on the 10th April, 2018, the State Government through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry advertised bids in one of the national dailies for sale of companies deemed as moribund including, Benue Links, Makurdi Modern Market, Taraku Mills, Mega Foods, Benfruit, Wannune Tomato plant, Benkims Plastic, KatsinaAla Yam Flour, Agricultural Development Company, ADC, Fertilizer Blending Plant, Otukpo Burnt Bricks and Benco Roof Tiles.
However, negative reactions have enveloped the air especially on social media platforms as the Indigenes have kicked against the action, maintaining that it is as a wrong step in the wrong direction.
Some of them who also, spoke to our reporter on grounds of anonymity, said it is ruse to hound wick Benue people to believe that government is concerned about their interest.
“Government is just waking up now to its responsibility. Why did they not take this step before now? It is a way to raise money for campaigns. There are more serious issues to tackle at this time especially the huge salary arrears that has been the biggest albatross of this administration,” they fumed.
It could be recalled vividly that at the outset of the Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration, he embarked on tour of all the defunct industries in the state, promising to revive them.
However, more than three years of the government, nothing has been done.
Meanwhile, reacting to the insinuations that the companies are to be sold to raise funds for the governor’s second term bid, the State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry TersooKpelai dismissed it with the wave of the hand, saying that there is no such plans, adding that it is not meant to raise money to offset salary arrears of workers.
Kpelai explained that the eleven companies would undergo partially or wholly privatization anchored on the principles of bringing efficiency, effective performance and economic prosperity of the state.
He said the companies listed for privatization were established for over a decade but most of them have not been operational for the last six years and even the ones that are sparingly operational, do so at loss.
Kpelai added that most of the enterprises listed for sale have remained comatose for decades serving as monuments and not adding any economic value to the State, stating too that, the privatization law provides the retention of not less than twenty percent equity by the State indigenes.
His words; “privatizing had therefore become the only option since government has developmental challenges with slim resources. Privatizing these enterprises will bring efficiency and effective performance as investors will bring in capital, new technology, skill and better management expertise among others which will make enterprises more profitable.
“These enterprises if run profitably, will provide job opportunities for our teeming youths, create wealth, boost the state Internally Generated Revenue, IGR and create value chain across sectors of the Benue economy”
The Commerce Commissioner disabused the minds of those who hold negative views about the privatization to re-address their thoughts, averring that economic policies are driven by facts and prevailing societal challenges and not only on the basis of sentiments or assumptions.