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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo/File Photo

A former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo says he is in Benue state to see how his mango plantation has started, thank Governor Samuel Ortom for his encouragement; thank the community for accepting his project and give the workers the way forward, Concise News reports.

The 82-year-old as well says his farm in Howe, Gwer East Local Government Area will employ over 1,000 workers in Benue.

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Obasanjo made the disclosure on Monday in Howe during a visit to the farm to inspect the progress made so far.

He said that the plantation would produce and process finished products such as juice from assorted fruits and oil from the seeds that could be used by pharmaceutical companies among others.

“I have come for four things, first to see how the farm has started, thank the governor for his encouragement; thank the community for accepting us and lastly give the workers the way forward.

“The workers are from this community. The mangoes will start producing between three to four years time. We have about 140 hectares of land for the project.’’

The former president said that factories for processing fruits would be built and over a 1,000 people would be employed at completion.

He said that the oranges, mangoes and other fruits produced by farmers in the state would not enough be enough to run the factories, hence the need for the plantation.

Governor Ortom of Benue, who accompanied Obasanjo on the visit, said the state government was ready to facilitate the enabling environment for investors to invest.

Ortom said agriculture remained the only permanent gold mine in the country, stressing that it was even far more than oil.

He said that his administration would support the private sector and promote development and provide employment for the Benue people.

Obasanjo lays foundation for Catholic Church special school in Benue

Earlier, ‘OBJ’ laid foundation of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi School for “Children with Special Needs” in Igbor, Gwer East local government area.

The school, the first of its kind, is being built by the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi.

Igbor is situated on Km 15 along Makurdi/Aliade road, few kilometres away from Ayati pilgrimage venue of the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi.

Obasanjo, at the ceremony, regretted that people with various forms of disabilities, who needed special attention from the society, were often neglected.

He, therefore, commended the Catholic Church for ” always remembering the needy”  and patterning with the government to provide some essential services to the society.

The former president blamed what he termed “lack of meaningful development” on the “absence of spirituality and morality in governance”.

He said that the Church needed to work together with government for the overall development of the nation.

“Those who need special attention among us are always neglected. That neglect leaves them helpless.

“As a country, we shall never be where we deserve to be unless the Church, spirituality and morality work together with governance,” he said.

According to Obasanjo, only agriculture can guarantee overall development and progress in Nigeria.

“In any state in Nigeria, whether it is oil producing state or oil consuming state, we all eat and oil is a wasting asset, the oil that we take from the ground today is gone and gone forever.

“But the land where we produce food is a renewable resource. The land you used today can be fertilised and used next year and will even produce more yields.

“I believe that one of the things that we must be emphasising in this state and all states today is that there is no alternative to agriculture in Nigeria,” he said.

The former president pledged to personally supervise the school project and support it.

Governor Ortom, in his remarks, commended the Catholic Church for its partnership with government toward the development of the state.

Ortom said that the Church had been “very supportive” of government policies and programmes, adding that the government and the Church would continue to complement each other.

In his welcome address, the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Most Rev. Wilfred Anagbe, said that the decision to establish a school for people with disabilities was to give them a sense of belonging in the society.

“We want to give this people a sense of belonging. Our society is too materialistic and we sometimes forget those who are not useful to us immediately, but they have life in them and that life must be upheld.

“For us in the Church, life is valuable and meaningful,” he said.

The school is the first for people with disabilities in the state since Benue was created in 1976.