From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi
The Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) has presented a five-year strategic plan that will improve the livelihood of communities in Benue State.
The plan named “HYPPADEC Medium Term Strategic Plan, (HMTSP) 2022-2027” will enable the commission to intervene in sectors of, health, agriculture, education, environment and among others.
Speaking at the stakeholders’ forum for the presentation of the proposed HYPPADEC Medium Term Strategic Plan (HMTSP) 2022-2027, which was held in Government House Makurdi, the Chairman, Council Policy Committee, Professor Sale Kanam said the programme should be of interest to every individual and community because it has a direct impact on the life of the people.
He said the objectives of the programme are to see that communities that are covered by HYPPADEC live in peace and experience a high degree of improvement in areas of health, agricultural production, education, road infrastructure, energy, water resources, security, housing and among others.
He said the midterm which would last from 2022 to 2027 had been fashioned to address most of the issues affecting communities and the welfare of the people under the HYPPADEC committee.
The consultant, Sam Juwe, while presenting the document lamented the dearth of health and school facilities in most communities, saying that most schools were closed down because of security issues.
According to him, most roads in the rural communities were in bad condition and do not permit access to the rural areas while the agriculture sector had also suffered among others, inadequate storage and processing facilities.
“We have also observed that less than 40 per cent of the population have access to power and safe water supply. So this plan will see how it can work with the state in these areas,” Juwe said.
He expressed optimism that at the end of the five-year plan, the people would see improved school and hospital structures that would enhance equality, education and health care, a well-skilled workforce, improved farming practices, well-set-up farmers’ cooperative societies, high-quality agricultural yields, enhanced livestock farming, develop commodity preservation facilities and elimination of farmers and herders conflicts.
He said the plan also targeted skills acquisition for youths in areas of ICT, laptop repairs and internet marketing to ensure that the youths are not only taken off the labour market but to empower themselves and create employment for others too.
Juwe called for community ownership of the projects to ensure their protection and sustainability.
Governor Samuel Ortom, represented by the Commissioner of Water Resources and Environment, Dr Godwin Oyiwona acknowledged the support of HYPPADEC in the construction of Idye Basin up to 500 meters, saying that the state is appealed that the commission should extend the construction to 700 meters and it graciously agreed.
He noted that the state was witnessing poor school enrolment because of the insecurity in the state and urged the commission to intervene so that Benue children could go back to school.
He also lamented the flood disaster which displaced over 116,000 people in Benue and urged them to appeal to the federal government to help in dredging the river Benue to make it deeper and able to accommodate more water.
The Managing Director of HYPPADEC, Abubakar Yelwa appreciated Governor Samuel Ortom for supporting and providing an enabling environment and ensuring their programmes do not suffer setbacks.
He said the essence of the forum was to enable stakeholders to make their contributions to develop a policy document that could be presented to the governors’ forum under HYPPADEC, saying that a lot was needed to be done for the communities to provide them with succour.
“We are dealing with severely affected communities. We have noted your observations and requests. We have over 1,805 affected communities and 225 political wards that are affected in six states of Kebbi and five others in the north central including Benue and it is our desire to reach them all,” he added.