By Bridget Ikyado

The Leadership Newspaper Governor of the Year Award conferred on Governor Hyacinth Alia of Benue State is a testament of the great strides by the administration within the few months of taking up the responsibility of providing purposeful leadership to a state that was practically grounded to its knees by the previous administration.

This unprecedented honour is coming soon after the Benue State House of Assembly passed a vote of confidence on Alia for his effective management of state resources and purposeful leadership.

In the words of the organisation, the governor was recognised for his “exceptional leadership” and tremendous transformative achievements.

Indeed, when Alia was traversing the nooks and crannies of the state canvassing for votes, his message was to deliver purposeful leadership, and the people of Benue entrusted the Reverend gentleman to lead them to glory.

The Leadership Newspaper is one of the most reputable media organisations in Nigeria, and for it to select the governor out of the 36 governors in the country for this award, six months into the administration, is by no means a huge honour not only to him, but also the good people of Benue State.

Indeed, governor Alia’s six months in office has witnessed a downpour of commendable transformative achievements which have ignited hope, improved livelihoods, and rekindled the spirit of optimism amongst Benue people.

The Leadership Newspaper highlighted some of the governor’s achievements in line with the priorities of his administration as enshrined in his blueprint.

They emphasized timely delivery of over 100 trucks of fertilizer and distribution to farmers at subsidized rates, fostering agricultural revolution and growth.

The media house also acknowledged the approval of new retirement age and length of service for primary and secondary school teachers, the recovery of numerous looted vehicles, tens of hectares of land, and several landed properties belonging to government from the previous administration, as well as approved training of 10, 000 of Benue youths in ICT, by the state government in collaboration with tech giants Google and Microsoft which is ongoing. This is a calculated move to create local and global job opportunities for the teeming youths and to enable them to become self-reliant.

The “Light-up Makurdi” street light project is especially gaining momentum and enhancing urban infrastructure.

Other achievements highlighted by the newspaper include the construction of 16 roads measuring 15.39 kilometres within Makurdi metropolis, and procurement of 100 buses to the state transport company, Benue Links, to ease movement and cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal on the people.

Payment of salaries and pensions has been consistent on the 25th of every month, significantly improving the livelihoods of Benue people.

The prompt payment of gratuities at 100% upon retirement within 4 weeks is another milestone in this new administration and the eradication of the menace of ghost workers.

These are by no means exhaustive, as the governor has within the last six months, partnered with security agencies to end the lingering security challenges in parts of the state.

This partnership has led to the flagging off of “Operation Enduring Peace III,” a military exercise to enhance unity and security across the state.

Governor Alia has also partnered Federal ministries and agencies, as well as donor agencies, to provide regular humanitarian interventions to alleviate the sufferings Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and aid security operations.

This has facilitated the commencement of construction of cluster houses for the resettlement of IDPs, of which 10,000 hectares of land has been cleared, and work has commenced.

There is also ongoing rehabilitation work at the Benue State Secretariat to ensure conducive atmosphere for workers. The State Government has also begun a capacity-building initiative for civil servants in China to enhance productivity and service delivery in all sectors.

As part of measures to address the problem of flooding, the government is also targeting the removal of illegal structures, especially on waterways, and ensuring that people adhere to proper town planning framework.

To guarantee proper scrutiny of government commitments, debts, and contracts, the governor has directed all MDAs to have such units.

It is important to state that the governor recently commissioned the newly reconstructed Upper Area Court in Otukpo, which was furnished by the former Deputy Governor of the state, Engr. Benson Abounu, in an effort to enhance the activities of the judiciary.

The transformative leadership of the governor has also been felt in the education sector, where great strides are being made towards repositioning the sector, from primary to tertiary level. In this respect, the governor has set up visitation panels to assess the needs of all the state-owned tertiary institutions for necessary intervention.

For the government of Governor Alia, the health of the people is as important as any other sector. Not only has the administration taken proactive steps to prevent the spread of the anthrax virus by vaccinating animals in all the 23 local government areas of the state, it also put in place bio-security measures to avert any future occurrence.

Benue is the first in Nigeria to implement the Revised Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) 2023 for resident doctors at the revised rate.

The reintroduction of the Medical Bond Scheme for medical students of the School of Health Sciences, Benue State University, Makurdi, by approving monthly stipends of over N100,000 per students ,and.also the approval of the payment of N100,000 monthly allowances for each Doctor-Corps member serving in Benue State, as well as increasing the monthly allowances of all other corps members posted to our dear state by N15,000 monthly.

The Governor called on all professional health workers of Benue origin to come home and contribute to the growth of the health institutions, insisting that the precarious state of the health sector in the state was the reason the state government under his watch decided to place all medical doctors on National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in state, on the monthly allowance of N100, 000.00 to serve as an incentive for them to stay back after the orientation course to serve the state.

Furthermore, the allocating of a substantial 15% of the 2024 budget to healthcare, amounting to ₦33.88 billion,the Governor’s commitment aligns with the Abuja Declaration made by African Union countries in 2001,many states have not attained this.

The reconstruction and modernization of the Benue State House of Assembly Complex with modern facilities and completed remodeling of the Benue State House of Assembly Clinic with state-of-the-art amenities to ensure quality healthcare for officials and staff.

The Benue State University Teaching Hospital is currently undergoing structural and technical transformation to ensure optimal healthcare delivery,so is the opening of the Muhammadu Buhari Mother and Child Hospital which has boosted the health system in the state with the aim of reducing the maternal mortality rate and offering prompt and almost free services to women and children below the age of 5.

Payment of examination fees for all students in government-approved public secondary schools in the state sitting for the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) examinations, respectively. This would also serve as a stimulant for creating a literate and proficient society, which ensures that our people are provided with opportunities for lifelong achievements.

And now both the Government House and State Secretariat have been connected to the 33KVA to provide uninterrupted power supply for the first time ever,as the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi, and the ICT Training Centres of 10,000 youths at Benue State University, Makurdi,are also connected to 33 kVA for constant electricity supply.

One of the most remarkable achievements of the governor is the fact that he has been able to manage the resources of the state with prudence, and discharged government’s financial obligations without
resorting to external borrowing.a

Let it be on record that the government inherited a broken system, but gradually fixing it without borrowing a penny from anywhere.

The recognition of Reverend Hyacinth Alia as the Best Governor in 2023 by the Leadership Newspaper will also heightened more expectations from the people, and which the governor is staunchly committed to deliver.

It is a call for more service to Benue people and a testament of the great strides of the governor in the last six months. It is also a very clear signal to more successes ahead.

Bridget Ikyado is the
Principal Special Assistant to the Benue State Governor on Media, Publicity snd Strategic Communications

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