Governor Hyacinth Alia of Benue disclosed on Sunday that his administration inherited N359 billion as debt from the past administration of Samuel Ortom.
Mr Alia disclosed this at an interdenominational church service to commemorate Nigeria’s 63rd independence anniversary.
The church service was organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Benue State chapter, at the Methodist Cathedral, South Bank, Makurdi.
The governor, a Catholic priest, said that despite the debt burden, he was determined to reposition the state by providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“What we inherited was nothing to be proud of, but we will do what will make us all proud. I inherited over N359 billion in debt,” he said.
He regretted that the state lost billions of naira worth of agricultural produce and other property to herders’ attacks on farmers.
Mr Alia said the condition of rural dwellers following incessant herders’ attacks and fuel subsidy removal had become worrisome.
He said his administration would find ways to support farmers by providing seedlings, fertilisers, and other forms of support to enable them to work effectively in the coming farming season.
“My colleagues call me the governor of the richest state in Nigeria, and I agree with them because we have numerous mineral deposits; we have the best yams and soya beans, among others.
“We will create billionaires in the state through our farms. We have everything it takes to do it, ” the governor said.
Mr Alia ordered an immediate end to illegal mining in the state.
“The foreigners illegally mining gold in Kwande, Logo, Konshisha LGAs, and other places in the state should desist from it immediately. This is an order,” he said.
He decried the spate of kidnappings and other criminal activities in the state, pledging to tackle them.
The governor said his administration was training 10,000 youths in information technology for improved digital knowledge.