Gov Samuel Ortom of Benue has flagged off the N500 million agricultural value-chain development loan scheme for civil servants and political appointees in the state.
Performing the ceremony on Thursday in Makurdi, Ortom said Benue as the nation’s food basket must live up to its competitive and comparative advantage.
He said the famous groundnuts pyramids of Kano State were largely produced from the Benue valley and sold to multinational companies such as the UAC and John Holt for export before the oil boom of the 1970s and the 1980s.
Ortom stated that the need to diversify Nigeria’s economy, away from oil, made agriculture one of the sure pathways for sustainable economy and quality livelihood.
He reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to more investment in agriculture.
He said that the loan facility, which was an arrangement between the Benue Government and Bank of Industry (BOI), was for a repayment period of two years and three and years for civil servants and political appointees, at five per cent interest rate.
He said the “loan is neither a largesse nor a 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 has 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.
BOI Benue State Manager, Mr Boniface Awodi, said Ortom deserved applause for the arrangement and urged the beneficiaries to abide by the terms and conditions of the loan. (NAN)