Ortom seeks World Bank aid on agric, poverty reduction
GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State has solicited for assistance from the World Bank, particularly in the areas of agriculture, poverty reduction and capacity building sectors.
Ortom in a statement issued by his Adviser on Media and ITC, Tahav Agerzua quoted the governor requested for the assistance when he paid a courtesy call on the Country Director of the bank, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly in her Abuja office.
“I see the World Bank as a partner for progress, for adding value to the development of the state particularly in agriculture and poverty reduction,” Governor Ortom stated.
“We solicit assistance in capacity building and other support programs, we’ll partner with you and fulfill our obligations.”
According to Ortom, the bank has a reservoir of expertise in several areas, which the state could take advantage of in its efforts to tackle challenges of development.
Meanwhile, the governor has said his priority at the moment was to pay workers June 2015 salaries and thereafter make efforts to clear the backlog of arrears even as he appealed to striking lecturers of the Benue State University to call off their strike.
He appealed to youths to eschew crime and rather serve God who he said had the power to uplift them even as he pledged to partner with the church to deliver on his mandate.
Governor Ortom pledged that his administration would fight corruption and reduce it to zero level in order to ensure that whatever is appropriated for projects will surely be utilized for that purpose.
In her response the country director, Marie-Nelly, disclosed that the bank had $4 billion available for investment in Nigeria in the remaining half of the year.
She listed areas of intervention to remove constraints to growth to include power generation and transmission, long term financing for sectors with growth potential and small, and medium enterprises as well as agricultural productivity.
Others, according to her, are quality health and education as well as efficiency of water supply.
In another development, the state House of Assembly has granted Governor Ortom’s request to source for ten N10 billion from the capital market to enable him pay salaries and attend to other pressing state matters.
The motion for the Governor’s request was moved by Joseph Ojobo, PDP and was seconded by Ianna Jato, PDP representing Katsina-Ala West constituency.
Jato said his support for the motion was premised on the ground that even the just passed 2015 budget has provision for deficit funding.
He however, cautioned against borrowing, as was the case with the out gone government and urged Ortom to devise other means of getting money.
Ruling on the matter, Speaker of the Assembly, Terkimbi Ikyange expressed appreciation to members for their quick response and action.
Reacting to the approval after the session, Bem Mngutyo (APC), representing Tarka State Constituency said the decision was to enable government move forward.
“Ours is to see how the government can move forward. The state is in a precarious situation where salaries are not paid,” Mngutyo maintained.
“Even if borrowing is not the best approach, it is pertinent to know that the best thing to do now is to borrow. Perhaps, we can step up ways of IGR because our situation seems to be worst than states that are newly created,” he added.
Also, Governor Ortom at St John’s Cathedral Gboko during a reception to mark the 60th birthday celebration of Bishop of Gboko Diocese, William Avenya, urged Christians to contribute generously to God’s work in order to reap manifold blessings.