The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom on Thursday flagged off a N500 million agricultural value-chain development loan scheme for civil servants and political appointees in the state.
Speaking while inaugurating the scheme, Ortom disclosed that his administration has provided N400 million as loan to women, youths and civil servants in the state.
The governor explained that the loan facility was to encourage them engage in various economic activities to improve their livelihoods.
He also noted that Benue as Food Basket of the Nation must live up to its reputation, stressing that any country in the world which excels, utilizes its comparative advantage.
The governor said the famous groundnuts pyramids of Kano were largely produced from the Benue Valley and sold to multinational companies like UAC and John Holt for exports before the oil boom of the 70s and 80s.
Ortom stated that the need to diversify Nigeria’s economy away from oil makes agriculture one of the sure pathways for sustainable economy and quality livelihood, reaffirming his administration’s commitment to greater investment in agriculture.
He noted that the loan facility which is an arrangement between Benue State government and Bank of Industry is for a repayment period of three and two years for civil servants and political appointees respectively at only 5% interest rate.
The Governor said the “loan is neither a largesse nor national cake” but a credit facility that must be paid back in full at the end of its tenure and is tied to salaries of beneficiaries which would be deducted at source when salaries are paid.
According to the Governor, his administration had in the last five years, provided “N400 million as loan to women, youths and civil servants and other groups to encourage them engage in various economic activities to improve their livelihood.
“We must begin to develop a culture of savings, borrowing and paying back on time,” adding that “a new Benue, full of hope for the future, strong, prosperous and peaceful,” the Governor stated.