By Solomon Ayado
As at the time of this report, there is no sign of visible effort for the take off and, or complete the project. So far, the project has gulped about N628, 889, 919.
Suswam is actually the first governor who deemed it fit to practically erect a building for the take-off of a state owned television station.
BTV, as fondly called, is located beside the Radio Benue broadcasting house on Old Otukpo road in Makurdi. The contract for the project was awarded about seven years ago; work on the project had commenced speedily, but was later abandoned midway.
The provoking reason behind the establishment of this wonderful outfit was basically on the grounds that there is only one television station in the whole of Benue state – the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Makurdi. This situation was considered a hindrance to information dissemination in the core agrarian state regarded as the ‘Food Basket of the Nation’.
The abandoned television station was also conceived to enhance reception of interesting indigenous programmes and also promote local languages.
When LEADERSHIP SUNDAY visited the abandoned television complex, situated inside the premises of Radio Benue, opposite the popular Aminu Isah Kontagora theatre complex, it was observed that the one storey-building, partitioned with administrative and management offices is obviously getting dilapidated. The state of the building is despicable and unkempt, just as the entrance and entire premises are gradually over grown by weeds. The signpost mounted at the entry point, with BTV inscription is completely faded and totally unreadable.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY recalls that Governor Gabriel Suswam had at the inception of his administration maintained that he will not share public funds to individual but execute projects that will have direct bearing on the lives of the people. While explaining the need for a state television outfit, Suswam stated that the state had no other television broadcasting outfit that will serve as alternative to the Makurdi NTA station.
The commissioner for Information, Mr Justin Amase, however, said that construction work on the television project had reached 80 percent completion. He said transmission and broadcast services were yet to commence due to defective studio and inadequate antenna height.
“Permit me to underline the fact that concerted efforts to overcome these challenges are being pursued vigorously. Towards this end, I am pleased to inform you that the governor has graciously approved the release of the sum of N48.9m only for the completion of the project and for its license renewal and digitalization.” Amase stated.
Worried by the no-visible sight of take-off, the Benue state Assembly House Committee on Information and Orientation had resolved to launch a full scale probe into the circumstances that had led to the delay in commencement of operation by the station.
After an oversight visit to the project site, the chairman House Committee on Information and Orientation, Hon Christopher Afaor revealed that equipment for the station worth N48.9m have gone bad because it was left in the container for too long. The committee said it discovered during the testing transmission for the station that reception signal is poor which, according to it, was attributable to the wrong positioning of the transmitters below, instead of above sea level.
According to the committee, the Ministry of Information has secured the approval of N54m from government to take care of the defects on the project with cash backing and described the condition of the project as ‘terrible.’
It was after tensed deliberations from members that the house, led by the speaker, Terhile Ayua directed the Committee on Information to carry out a full scale investigation into the project and report back to the house.
The assembly therefore directed the committee to find out why, after so many years with lots of money spent, the Benue State Television has not taken off. The committee is also to obtain the technical feasibility study of the project and submit a report to the house.
Furthermore, the committee is to ascertain the qualification and competence of the consultant to the project as well as the terms of engagement. Additionally, it is to establish the level of funding of the project so far and any other matter that is related to the delay in the take off of the project.