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Unemployment triggering insecurity in Benue – BIPC MD



The Managing Director (MD), Benue Investment and Property Company, (BIPC), Dr Raymond Asemakaha, has attributed the high level of insecurity in the state to unemployment.

Asemakaha stated this on Saturday, while playing host to members of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, (NUJ), Benue State Council, in Makurdi.

According to him, more than 4.8 million people in the state, predominantly youths, are unemployed, a development he said was triggering insecurity and other forms of criminalities in the state.

He disclosed that the company, in collaboration with the sate government, would establish Micro and Nano businesses to take the teeming unemployed population off the streets.

“Because Benue Sate does not have a private owned company that can employ up to 100 persons at a stretch, it is affecting our teeming youths, it is affecting the state.

“As we speak, Benue State has over 6.3 million people. By the labour law, when you are 18, you are already an adult. Currently, we have about 4.8 million people that are on the streets and do not have jobs,” he said.

According to him, by next month, the company will be launching Benue Palm Oil and water factories, to provide job opportunities for the youths.

“What we want to do is to ensure that at every quarter, we employ 60 people, and by that, we will be reducing the unemployment rate in the state.

“The State’s GDP is 5.8 billion, and since the state does not have any private company that produces, even if it saves N20 billion, it moves in form of capital flight.”

He expressed disappointment that people were only flooding the state to take away its resources and not to invest, saying the government was currently devising ways to retain cash flow in the state.

According to Asemakaha, about 63.8 per cent of small private companies in the state are dormant because of lack of support from previous governments.

He said he was however happy that Gov. Hyacinth Alia’s administration was diversifying the economy, a development he noted would help tackle security challenges.

Asemakaha said that between 2019 and 2022, the company posted total losses of N1.6bn because of the myriad of challenges bedeviling the state, and even the world at large.

He also disclosed that he inherited unremitted taxes of N2.1 billion, gratuity of N49 million, and several months of unpaid pensions.

“When I arrived, we carried out a forensic audit of the company and discovered that the company posted losses of N1.6 billon.

“In 2019, the company posted losses of N840 million, in 2020 it was N334 million, in 2021 it was N174 million and in 2022 it was N118 million. Even in 2023, the company posted losses.

“We also met unremitted taxes of N2.1 billion, N49 million unpaid gratuity and several months of unpaid pensions. But we are not looking at the negatives, we are looking at the corrective measures for now,” he said.

He said he had however, started paying gratuity and pensions of retired staff of the company.

Asemakaha further disclosed that within his 100 days in office, he had revoked allocations of a 33-room building, 88 units housing estate, and a 64-units housing estate, all in Makurdi.

He explained that he also recovered seven additional properties that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) confiscated, but was yet to give the title papers; adding that the commission also recovered money on behalf of the company.

“I have also revoked 88 BIPC houses in Niyman and 64 in North Bank, all in Makurdi. By next week we are taking action, we will seal the houses.

“One of the reasons is that we borrowed N900 million from the Federal Mortgage Bank to build those houses in 2007 and some in 2011.

“Till today, BIPC is paying the loans that those beneficiaries have refused to pay. Though since the beginning of the exercise, we have recovered N49 million so far,” the MD said.

On Benue’s outside assets, the MD disclosed that the state owned properties in Lagos and Kaduna states.

According to him, the property in Kaduna has no papers yet, and that though the sum of N50 million was removed from the company’s account to process papers for the Lagos property, no single title paper has been obtained.

Asemakaha also disclosed that upon assumption office three months ago, he suspended all the management staff in order to carry out an effective forensic audit of the company, but promised that they would all return to work next month when BIPC would also go digital.

He therefore, appealed to the media to support the activities of the company for the overall development of Benue State economy.

Earlier in his remarks, Mr Emmanuel Antswen, Chairman, Benue Correspondents’ Chapel, said the visit was to ensure sustainable working relationship between members of the chapel and the company.

Antswen also assured that the chapel would continue to promote the company’s activities and support the MD to succeed.

Dorathy Aninge

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