The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has joined the National Assembly in calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to extend its January 31st deadline for use of the old Naira currency notes.
Governor Ortom bared his mind Wednesday, January 25th, 2023 when he received the Governing Council of the Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi, led by its chairman,Hon. Edith Chidinma Uwajimogu who led a delegation of the Council and Management of the University to pay a courtesy call on the Governor at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
The Governor also repeated this call when he later met with the Branch Controller of CBN in Makurdi, Mr. John Odekina and his team who presented the new naira notes to him.
Governor Ortom told the CBN Branch Controller in the State, Mr. Odekina to convey to CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emiefele that he should consider the appeal by the Senate that the deadline for the use of old Naira notes be extended to July 31st, 2023.
He said this has become necessary in order not to put more pressure on the rural dwellers who do not have access to banking operations.
Governor Ortom explained that he was concerned about the short duration for the withdrawal of the old currency notes, stating that rural dwellers who also do business transactions have limited access to financial services and a majority were not even aware of the currency change with the non availability of new currency notes.
According to Ortom, “Even as Governor, I have not seen any new Naira notes even though it is six days to the deadline. What will happen to the man in the village? I join the Senate in calling for the extension of the change of the currency from the old to the new ones.
“Let them look at this critically, so that we don’t throw our people into more hardship and problems. Our people are already distressed. There are distressed people in this country, everybody knows, economic hardship, banditary, killings and all that have made life very tough for everybody.
“Maybe Mr President is not aware, let him be aware that people are going through pains. I am not talking about political parties, whether APC or PDP, or APGA or whatever. People are going through pains in this country. If we don’t say it, we are liars, we are hypocrites,” Ortom stated.
Responding to the issues raised by the Chairman of the JS Tarka University Governing Council, Hon Nwajimagwu, Governor Ortom noted that acquisition of the University land was on a faulty foundation as the host community was not properly compensated for the land.
He said the State Government had already set up a committee to look into the issue of land between the University and its host community and directed the Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Solid Minerals, Hon. Bernard Unenge who is heading the committee to step up efforts to find an amicable resolution.
The Governor pledged that the State Government will involve the University Management so that the community will not lose everything and the University too will not be hindered from operating.
On the appeal for the reconstruction of the road linking the University from the Makurdi-Abuja highway, the Governor encouraged the University Governing Council to factor it into the budget of the Federal Government, stating that due to paucity of funds, the State Government was handicapped to intervene.
Earlier, Chairman of the JS Tarka University Governing Council, Hon. Uwajimogu told the Governor that although the name of the University formerly Federal University of Agriculture was changed to become a conventional University, its core mandate remained agriculture driven academic programmes.
She appealed to the Governor to intervene in the challenges the University was facing, particularly on land issues with the host community as well as the condition of the road linking the institution.
Acting Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Paul Annune in his remarks also called on the Governor to intervene in some of the challenges the institution was facing.
The State Deputy Governor, Engr. Benson Abounu and other members of the State Executive Council joined the Governor to receive the delegation.