By Jimin Geoffrey
Governor Samuel Ortom has flagged off the N500 million agricultural value-chain development loan scheme for civil servants and political appointees in Benue State.
The Governor while flagging off the scheme said Benue as Food Basket of the Nation must live up to its reputation, stressing that every country in the world excels by utilizing its competitive and comparative advantage.
He 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 70s and 80s.
Governor 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.
Manager Bank of Industry, Boniface Awodi said Governor Ortom deserved applause for the arrangement and urged the beneficiaries to abide by the terms and conditions of the loan.