By Ephraim Adawa
Benue state is most certainly not in the best of positions today and all who live in her or have her at heart will certainly attest to this bitter truth; the leadership may be honest, just as it is trying to make the best of a totally abysmal situation. There is the case of an empty treasury inherited to the minus and also the unfortunate unprecedented fall in crude oil price.
Towards the end of Benue’s dark era when the people had lost all hope in the ability of the state to cater for its own, with salary backlog mounting while squandermania became the order of the day, there came a perceived flicker of hope through the wave of change that swept across the state epitomised by the person and character of Dr. Samuel Ortom.
Dr. Ortom like the biblical Moses came with a zeal that emboldened the hopes of a canan for the people, as he began restoring the peoples confidence from his blueprint anchored on five solid pillars.
Understanding the tides and times the seasoned industrialist cum politician took the lead to independence from oil by making one of the pillars of his administration agriculture. Benue has comparative advantage in this field with all potentials needed to explode in the sector available from Manpower to natural resources, save for the finance needed for take off. As such the need for alternative means of kick starting this sector.
Judging from the previous administration’s success at revenue generation which actually complemented the federal allocation which accounted majorly for the consistency in salary payment in the era when there was the blooming tax regime, the governor set out to engage the best hands to man this darling tool.
While contenders lined up for this all important task, including the former tax wand master, there came a seeming hot rush for a believed tax amazon (as she is addressed by admirers), one who came with an intimidating Curriculum Vitae and experience from the Federal Internal Revenue Service ( FIRS). She serenaded everyone with her robust social media campaign courting with her a non – negligible cult like followership.
Lo and behold Benue had found its Aaron in her. Mrs. Mimi Adzape -Orubibi was appointed the Chairman of the BIRS amidst several contenders. Mrs. Adzape – Orubibi did not just come to the table, she came with promises which rekindled the people’s hopes; promises of higher tax returns and more jobs as compared to the previous tax master.
In these there was the hope of Benue surely rising again.
Unfortunately it is months on and this flicker of hope is gradually dimming as the sate seem to have taken a one way gamble on a bad hand. She may have been overwhelmed by the razzmatazz that heralded the arrival of the Chairman and may have been blind to her incapabilities or the madame may have very well being a perfect con artist who took the state on fairy tale journey to an inexistent utopia.
Since the arrival of Mrs. Orubibi – Adzape there has been continual downward slide in the state revenue, such that one begins to wonder if the state had no activity at all or there was intentional attempt to hoodwink and fleece the state by same artists through under reporting of the state’s tax profile.
In all her months as boss, the acclaimed tax expert has only succeeded in perfecting an intense media campaign serenading the social media waves with nothingness while the state continues to hang in wait for the raise in Internally Generated Revenue to complement the pittance that is delivered by the Federal government.
The popular saying goes thus, to whom much is given, much is expected, this is why it will be proper to remind her that the trust built by her in Benue people is one which requires reciprocal action as it is soon dawning on the people that propaganda and media domination does not raise money.
Only recently was she everywhere on social media courtesy of her media hirelings who celebrated what they termed 100 Days in office. In all the money spent on hypes and propaganda the message and achievement accounted for in the several pieces written was the introduction of P.O.S machines in the receipt of tax. It was celebrated and claimed to be the best measure at blocking leakages however it has not translated into revenue generation.
It is time for BIRS to live up to its task by generating revenue and walk away from their new found love of town hall meetings and courtesy calls.
Ephraim Adawa is a public commentator based in Makurdi. He can be reached at email@example.com