<<< By Tahav Agerzua >>>
Benue State Deputy Governor, Engr. Benson Abounu, yesterday led some members of the state executive council on an inspection of projects within Makurdi, the Benue State capital after which he spoke with journalists expressing satisfaction with the projects visited and also answered questions:
ABOUNU: I think if you look at our program, this administration is concerned about development of the state, development of the people of the state and development of the economy of the state and so if you look at all the projects they are development projects.
We went to the School of Nursing and Midwifery where there is massive construction, massive rehabilitation of the buildings, equipping the school for better learning and conducive atmosphere for learning. We all know that the health sector of any economy is one of the most important sectors and as a result, the training of nurses for effective health care delivery system is absolutely important and you need good health to develop.
We left there and went to the Entrepreneurship Development Centre and again, it is all about development because it concerns the training of youths from the entire North Central zone of Nigeria. We just graduated a set of 5,000 trainees just day before yesterday.
Benue State is hosting this centre on behalf of the North Central zone of Nigeria and it’s all about equipping and enhancing the development of the youths in order that they can become useful citizens of the country and also hold the economy of the nation together.
We left there and went to The Voice which is the state newspaper, again information dissemination is extremely important and this is something that has been closed down for close to 20 years or more and this administration decided that we must wake it up so that we can have effective information dissemination as part of our development project.
Again, we went to the Primary Health Care Board which is a basic requirement of the Federal Government of Nigeria that health care must be delivered to the grass roots. The board was set up last year and it’s a complete new board as a result they don’t have a headquarters for now and that is why we are providing the headquarters. You could see that this administration is all about development and so we have projects scattered all over the state and today I decided to go down personally to take a look at what is going on and quite honestly I can tell you that I’m very impressed. Very impressed because the level of work is up to expectation both in terms of quality and in quantity as a result I give a pass mark to the contractors and we are hoping that in the foreseeable future, a matter of months from now, we will have some of them commissioned for the necessary services that will be delivered to the people of Benue State.
Question: What is your direction in terms of man power to match the infrastructure before the end of your tenure?
ABOUNU: I think that’s a very vital question because we’re doing everything possible starting from the higher cadre to the lower cadre and that is why we went to the Schools of Nursing and Midwifery today because that is the intermediary stage of health care delivery system in terms of manpower which is very critical. Whatever happens from the top, you will discover that you need the nurses and the midwives to take care of the patients in terms of the management of the patient and of course the midwives to take care of delivery in hospitals and so on. But then even beyond that, there is a place we didn’t go today which is the College of Health Sciences at the Benue State University and which this current administration has poured a lot of investment into in order that we can train doctors since we came. Because of our intervention in the College we have been able to graduate three sets of doctors that had stagnated for almost 12 years. As I talk to you another set will be graduating next month, September, and so we are massively training people in the health sector to make sure that we have necessary manpower to deliver health care to the people.
In addition to that, we are also trying to partner with one of the state of the art in scientific medical health care delivery system in Nigeria operating in Abuja that would come down here for us to have the kind of thing you are talking about, a center that will be like a referral center like the kind of center you are talking about in India. It is on the drawing board; we’re trying to have two of them, one here in Makurdi and perhaps one in Aliade, respectively. So we are not leaving any stone unturned at all.
Question: You went round and at some of the projects you were pointing out some of the lapses in the structures, what would you like to be adjusted in these structures?
ABOUNU: The issue is that there is nothing that is full proof, there is no project that you will undertake in this life that is full proof, designs are there and the engineers and those who are implementing the designs are supposed to keep to the specifications but you will discover that once in a while they will be out of the way and as an engineer myself I had to point them out and luckily the site engineers are highly trained and as soon as I pointed them out they immediately agreed and they have decided that they are going to take care of them.
Question: We saw so many obsolete equipment at the Benue Printing and Publishing Corporation, what is your administration going to do about that for effective information dissemination?
ABOUNU: The printing machines which you saw there are what we call the analog machines and they are completely out of date. Now printing has gone digital where they now not only print on papers, they now print on wood, they print on metal and glasses, so you can see that now printing has gone digital and those equipment which you saw are completely obsolete. I asked the Government Printer and he said there is nothing they can do about them again. I even jokingly told him that when he retires maybe government should give them to him to go and set up his own business and he said no if government cannot repair them and bring them to use what more of him. So they are completely obsolete. As I talk to you, new equipment, modern equipment, have already been purchased and they are in a store there so as soon as the renovation work is finished they are going to be installed.