Some students from Benue State have reviewed the performance of the state government in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs.
The students reviewed the various projects embarked upon by the state to achieve the goals.
“We are delighted to announce that the hitherto, ‘not well served communities’ can now access medicare right in their neighbourhood without having to travel distances for medical attention,” the National Union of Benue State Students, NUBESS, said in a statement by its president, Agoh Basil.
Read Mr. Basil’s full statement below.
The National Union of Benue State Students, NUBESS, is the umbrella body of students of Benue State extraction studying in various tertiary institutions of learning. Although the union is apolitical, at one time or the other, we have engaged the government, particularly on issues of welfare, articulating our position as stakeholders in the Benue project.
We do this with the conviction that history will not be kind to us either for our actions or inactions. It is trite that turning a deaf ear to injustice is a tacit approval to the perpetuation of same. Consequently, we have resolved not to sit on the fence but speak out as we have done in times past on issues that would further the cause, not just of students of Benue State origin but the people of the State generally.
Without much ado, we hasten to remind you, gentlemen of the press that early this year, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Government in Benue State took turns in addressing members of the press at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) House, Makurdi on their achievements since the coming on board of the Governor Samuel Ortom led administration in the state. Also, be reminded that this government without being immodest came into being by popular vote and by May 29 would have spent two of its four years mandate.
Arising from the briefings, we have painstakingly followed the claims made by the Honourable Adviser to Benue State Governor on Development Corporation, SDGs and NEPAD, Magdalyne Dura, and have reached a conclusion as contained in this text of press statement. This is in view of the centrality of the office in coordinating activities that would give us the future that we want.
Our decision is specifically informed by issues of Post 2015 Development Agenda, which are considered as a successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by the UN General Assembly as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Official Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted on 25th September, 2015 has 92 paragraphs. Paragraph 51 outlines the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the associated 169 targets.
Broadly speaking, SDGs cover issues such as ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change and protecting oceans and forests. Coordinating partners and activities that would result to the achievement of these goals at the state level is the responsibility that the office of the Special Adviser to the Governor of Benue State on Development Corporation, SDGs and NEPAD is saddled with.
So, how has SDGs fared in Benue State in the nearly two years of Ortom led administration?
It is on record that Benue State is the first State in Nigeria to access the funds meant for implementation of SDGs. This was achieved by the payment of counterpart funds by the state government through the office of the Special Adviser, Development Corporation, SDGs and NEPAD. The funds, which were meant for the construction of at least one Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in every single local government area of the state, supply of equipment, water in the PHCs and the development of skills acquisition centres have been judiciously put to use.
NUBESS has found out with satisfaction that the office of the Special Adviser on Development Cooperation, SDGs and NEPAD has been able to extensively intervene in this area, through the construction of fully equipped modern Primary Health Care Centres with referral vehicles and drugs. For too long, primary healthcare service has been neglected and the construction of 23 new ones equipped with modern facility is a serious boost to access to primary healthcare by our populations that are scattered in the hinterlands, which are most often neglected.
We are delighted to announce that the hitherto, ‘not well served communities’ can now access medicare right in their neighbourhood without having to travel distances for medical attention. In trying to improve the health of the people, the office has also completed and handed over the HIV/Malaria and Tuberculosis Research Centre to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi.
The office, has also made significant efforts in improving water and sanitation as seen in its intervention with the provision of hand and solar powered bore holes, rain water harvesters and provision of VIP toilets to communities in the state.
We view the construction of the imposing Benue State Centre for Enterprise Development and Innovation (BENCEDI), Makurdi and Skills Acquisition Centres in Apa Agilla and Gbajimba in Ado and Guma Local Government Areas respectively as fundamental, when put to proper use for the much-needed skills by the rising army of unemployed minds some of who have what it takes to get a white collar job.
Indeed, SDGs under Ms. Dura has constructed and installed machinery for the Orange Cleaning and Packaging Plant in Ushongo and Yandev towns, the Soybeans Cleaning and Packaging Plant in Wannune Tarka, the Benniseed Cleaning and Packaging Plant in Oju, and Garri Processing Plants In Ogwule Kaduna and Ogoli Onyangede in Agatu and Ohimini Local Government Areas respectively with the attendant effects of boosting the local economy and to gainfully engage our people thereby also reducing unemployment and crime. It also serves the purpose of value addition for the huge agricultural produce obtainable in Benue State.
One salient achievement by the SDGs is its partnership with Google Nigeria through its vendor, Mind the Gap on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis to train 2,691 youth in Digital Marketing skills. The internet system today provides a whole lot of opportunities and directing young people’s attention to such opportunities would no doubt enable them grab same and break from their economic quagmire and to some extent become employers of labour while providing for themselves and family.
We have also observed remarkable milestones by SDGs through the construction of classroom blocks, construction and supply of steel framed desks and benches and supply of exercise books to all schools in 6 participating Local Government Areas of the state (LGAs) including Agatu, Ohimini, Oju, Ushongo, Gboko and Tarka. It is unfortunate that even in the 21st Century, pupils sit on bare floors to receive instructions from teachers while teachers could barely manage to have seats robbing them of a conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning. The exploits of SDGs in this regard is a sure step to the attainment of basic education and improve our literacy rating.
We pause here to say that Ms. Dura deserves our support to even do greater things for the attainment of the future we want. We remember with fond memories her participation at the 2014 National confab where she no doubt made us proud by her apt contributions in the course of the national assignment.
In conclusion, SDGs did not make spurious claims as to its achievements in the period under review; there are verifiable evidence to the claims.
May we add by calling on the Benue State Government to address the problems of students’ welfare. For too long, we have not collected scholarship unlike our comrades in the past who had the privilege to benefiting from this initiative of our state government to alleviate the challenges faced by us.