By Ati terkula
To ensure the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as agreed by the United Nations General Assembly there was a definite resolve to build on the failures and shortcomings of the previous Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).
In this regard, there evolved the five transformational shifts which were namely; Leave No One Behind, Put Sustainable Development At the Core, Transform Economies for Jobs and Inclusive Growth, Build Peace , Open and Accountable Institutions For All, From Vision to Action; these pillars were upon which the 17 new goals were to take roots upon which proper adherence achievement of the goals and sustainable development was assured.
In keeping to this resolve as agreed by the Nigerian nation, Benue state has already shown dedication to the 5 transformational shifts as the Government of Samuel Ortom on inception set to work in ensuring that all these shifts were satisfactorily covered in all its activities and projects, no wonder it immediately set the pace for other states to follow with the State Development plan which embedded the SDGs and also put down all expectations of the state for 10 years as a guide to sustainable development.
Achieving the first transformational shift “Leave no one behind”, the Ortom administration has so far shown zeal to run an all encompassing government as projects instituted in the past 19 months have cut across all age grade and gender sensitivity properly catered for. It is thus not surprising that the state government through the state Project Support Unit had embarked on extensive consultations and town hall meetings to ensure proper spread of projects by this administration. These meetings have today culminated in the youth entrepreneurship centres seen springing up in Makurdi and Ado Local Governments as well as the maternal health care centre spread across all three geo political zones in the state.
It is common knowledge that there could be no better sustainable development than the advancement in basic infrastructure as roads and electricity as foundation for other development ventures especially in rural areas where these has eluded them. The Benue state government has not hidden its commitment in this regard with the electrification of numerous communities as well as award of contracts to open up rural communities including the continuation and recall to site of all abandoned road construction projects by the previous administration.
At the core of development is the transformational shift which advocates, transformation of economies for jobs and inclusive growth, which the Samuel Ortom administration in no doubt has shown zeal to achieving via promotion of agriculture and like policies to boost the state’s economy viz creation of jobs. The state governor, a farmer himself has often shown his support for farming even encouraging civil servants to venture into the enterprise as he has in this light at various times declared work-free days to enable workers get to their farms ( an action that has been duplicated by the Imo state government). To further encourage this it has gone further to not only add value to farmers yield through the construction and equipment of Sesame seed cleaning as well as orange packaging plants but also gone into a private sector collaboration aimed at apart from creating jobs and foreign exchange for the state will create direct market for farmers in the state.
Having in mind that all these will not stand the taste of time without a peaceful atmosphere, the state government had in its first days in office instituted the states amnesty programme to rid the state of illegal fire arms while granting amnesty to repentant confessors of violence. This move has thus far yielded positive fruits even as the state government has not rested on its oars at ensuring relative peace needed for development is achieved, with the introduction of the carrot phase of its instituted carrot and stick approach where unrepentant perpetrators of violence have already began fleeing the state.
It is evident that the Samuel Ortom administration is not wanting in the area of accountability as the state governor himself has availed the people of constant monthly radio interactive sessions which address all and sundry matters. He has thus operated an open door policy to encourage accountability which certainly allow for open and accountable institutions as prescribed by the SDGs charter.
With the forgoing it is certainly obvious to all and sundry that the state has moved from the era of academic blueprints to actionable plans evident in the direction taken by the governor to ensure poverty is totally subdued in Benue state. He has certainly from vision to action. This is even as the dwindling economy of the nation continues to affect development, the state is steadily moving from vision to action.
No doubt the governor was not only commended at the just concluded United Nations General Assembly but also given an opportunity to present the “Benue state Model” to other nations which have already began adopting and succeeding in the achievement of the 17 goals.
Ati Terkula is the Senior Special Assistant to the Benue State Governor On Media/ICT-SDGs