June 13, (THEWILL) – Dr. Robert Orya is the governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Benue State. In this interview with KAJO MARTINS, the former Managing Director of NEXIM Bank speaks on his agenda for Benue and other issues. Excerpts:
What is your winning formula for the forthcoming governorship election in benue State?
Well, I’m so sure I am going to win and become governor next year. I have the competence, capacity and exposure. I know how to expand and create money. Some of my opponents only wait on Federal Government revenue from Abuja, not minding that such revenue sources are dwindling. But for me, I know what to do internally to create money for the state. That is why in my manifesto, I have said that I will weave the economic development of Benue State around the private sector and not what is coming from Abuja.
I am not going to call names, but imagine that during an Economic Council Meeting (ECM) in Abuja and the current governor of Anambra State, who was the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Charles Soludo, speaks on economic policy. Tell me, who among these aspirants will be there when Soludo is speaking? What will they say other than to excuse themselves to go to the toilet? You know that I have the capacity to rival Soludo because it is my area of specialty on whatever economic policy. Therefore, I’m simply the best governorship candidate Benue needs now.
Why do you abandon the PDP for the Young Progressives Party?
When I was contesting the governorship seat in the PDP, from day one, I made it clear that it is not because the governorship seat has been moved to my area, Ushongo Local Government Area, but that I’m a prominent indigene of Benue State who has worked with financial institutions, has the right connections and network to transform the state. So when it became an issue of zoning, I chickened out of it because all the PDP meetings that were held with aspirants in my presence, I used to ask what the agenda is all about. There is no place in Benue, especially in Tivland, that this position has not been zoned to before.
Benue State is in a critical economic situation and we need to transform it and provide all that is needed for the people and not talking about zoning at the moment. The two major political parties have been zoning the governorship position since 1999, but what they done with it?
What is your package for Benue youths given their numerical strength and active participation in politics?
My aspiration to be governor of Benue State is basically for the youths because they are in the clear majority of Benue population. We are in a democracy, which is a game of numbers and the youths have been disenfranchised and neglected. They are used and later seen as a burden and dropped. Our youths have become slaves in this country. We should be able to give them jobs. The agriculture value chain alone can provide that they need.
We have not been able to give our children the relevant technological innovations and skills to go to the national and international arena and compete effectively. We have the Benue State University, Makurdi that has been existing for about 30 years and yet it doesn’t offer engineering courses. Today, you find our children there graduating in mass communication, sociology and all that. Is that what we need now?
Can we make our children be more productive under this kind of scenario? So, we need to be able to encourage them to acquire skills, save them from a consumption and begging mentality and let them feel that it is better for them to be productive and self reliant.
Sports is one of the biggest and money spinning and employers of youths all over the world. What is your plan for sports development in Benue State?
Well, I know that Benue youths are talented in sports, entertainment, creative economy and others. My administration, if voted, will open up Benue to the outside world. In 1999 when we had the World Youth Soccer Championship, at that time, Aper Aku stadium was in the standard that Makurdi or Benue state would have been made a center but it could not make it because at that time, there were no standard hotels in the state. So, all the facilities that needed to be put in place to be able to attract national events to Benue and to support our children as much as possible were not available . My administration will organise sporting tournaments for Benue youths and the women to be engaged. Right now, Benue has only Miss Mlumun Ordega that plays for the nation which when she is playing on the pitch, most lovers are proud. I’m one of the people that financed a lot of tournaments, such as lawn tennis at Makurdi Club for two years and most of the youths who participated in that tournament have gone very far. So, Benue under my watch will promote sports, entertainment and the creative economy for the good of all in the state.