Benue State stands out clearly as one of the educationally advanced states in the country. Literacy level is high, and enrolment of Benue State indigenes in Nigerian universities is also high. The State and Local Governments and the voluntary agencies have established thousands of primary schools in different parts of the state to cater for the educational needs of the people .
Table 7.3 presents the primary and secondary school enrolments over the years. There are, in addition, a school of Nursing and Midwifery, one Advanced Teachers' College at KatsinaAla and another at Oju, a Polytechnic at Ugbokolo, a College of Advanced and Professional Studies at Makurdi, Institute of Christian and Management Studies at Mkargboko, and two Universities (Federal University of Agriculture and Benue State University) at Makurdi.
Health Services in Benue State are rendered under various departments which include the Directorate of Hospitals and Clinical Services, Social Welfare, Directorate of Pharmaceutical Services, Nursing Service, Public Health Care and Diseases Control. Subunits include Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPi), Onchocerciasis (River blindness), Malaria, Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Schistosomiasis (bilharziasis), TB and Leprosy Control, Guinea Worm Eradication, Epidemic diseases surveillance, notification and control, such as CSM and cholera, AIDS control, family planning and drug abuse control. Medical facilities and personnel are grossly inadequate.
For example, by January 1997, the State had a total of only 114 doctors (including eleven consultant doctors and eight dental surgeons), twentyfour dental technologists, and 1,429 staff nurses and midwives. The state has a Federal Medical Centre, eight governmentowned hospitals and two dentoophthalmic clinics. Thereare, in addition, eight missionary hospitals, nine private hospitals, 336 primary health care clinics, and 257 health posts.
The biggest problem is that most of these health facilities are located in a few urban centres while some densely populated rural areas do not have even a dispensary, making them disease prone areas. Diseases that have reached epidemic proportions include onchocerciasis (river blindness), guinea worm, malaria, yellow fever, and typhoid. Benue state health problems and diseases are due mainly to infections which are bacterial, viral and parasitic as well as those related to pregnancy, child birth and nutrition. Other problems include shortage of drugs, dressing, vehicles and ambulances, office furniture and equipment, et cetera.
Transportation and Communications:
Benue state is accessible by land, air and water. The rivers Benue and KatsinaAla require only dredging of the inchannel deposits and the building of modern river ports at Makurdi, Tyuren, Buruku and KatsinaAla to turn them into busy inland waterways during the high discharge period of JulyNovember. At the moment, the waterways are wasting away. Ships are sighted very occasionally offloading cargo for Benue company at the Abinsi jetty.
The eastern rail line connects Makurdi, Oturkpo, Taraku, Utonkon and lgumale with the rest of the country. Altogether, about180km of rail line traverses the state. There is a proposed 120km rail line from Oturkpo to the Steel Plant at Ajaokuta in Kogi State.
Road Transport: The location of Benue State in the centre of the country plus the presence of bridges on two large rivers, the Benue and KatsinaAla, make the state a major crossroads centre. Two major highways connect the Eastern States to the North and North East.
The local communities, with the aid of the now defunct Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), the Benue Agricultural Development Authority (BNARDA) and Benue Electricity and Rural Development Authority (BRRDA) are important in rural roads development. There are about 1,400km of tarred roads (apart from township roads) and over 2,000km of earth roads. These roads form an intricate network, connecting all the local government and district headquarters, towns, major markets and other centres of rural population.
Postal services are extended to all the major towns and local government headquarters in the state. In addition, fast mail service (e.g. DHL, UPS, etc) exists in Makurdi, Gboko, Oturkpo, KatsinaAla, Vandeikya and Adikpo. Makurdi and Oturkpo enjoy automatic/digital telephone exchange, while telephone services are extended to Gboko and KatsinaAla. There are Federal controlled radio and television stations in the State capital. The local daily newspaper, The Voice, reports local, national and international events.
Tourism and Recreation: Benue State possesses immense tourism potentials which are yet to be exploited. Since some of the tourist attractions are best selected by the tourist, Benue State in her bid to develop tourism embarked on infrastructural development necessary for the overall wellbeing of the tourist.
The programme of road development, hotels, postal, telephone and Email services, electricity, potable water, recreational facilities and the general hospitality of the people will eventually open up the state to tourists. An amusement park and Zoo have been developed at Makurdi. There is a wild life park at lkwe where a conference hall and chalets have been built to serve tourists. Tourist attractions in the state may be grouped into natural scenic, historical monuments and festivals.
Natural Attractions in Benue State include hills and ranges such as Kyogen, Abande, Ngokur, Mkar, Ushongo and Haaga. There is a heavily wooded natural trench at TseMker which is believed to be inhabited by dangerous creatures including Pythons. Gungul is a waterfall on River KatsinaAla near Gbeleve. The border stretch adjoining the ObuduCameroun ranges features not only quasi temperate climate but also a beautiful scenery of forests, dissected hills, dykes, dozens of fast flowing streams and incised valleys. In the dry season, the water level in both the Benue and KatsinaAla rivers falls, giving rise to beautiful sandy river beaches and clean shallow waters. The waters are excellent for recreational boating and 5 swimming. At Orokarn in Okpokwu LGA, occurs the Enumabia Warm Spring.
Historical monuments in the state include the Royal Niger Company Trading Stores at Makurdi and Gbeleve near KatsinaAla; the tombs of the first '' Dutch missionaries at Haaga and Sai in KatsinaAla ' LGA; the tombs of the legendary politician, Mr. J. S. rl Tarka and past three Tor Tiv in Gboko town; and the trench fortifications in Turan district of Kwande LGA which were dug by the Tiv to ward off Chamba invasions in the 19th century.
At Utonkon, is a thick forest with tall giant trees, the centre of which used to Iserve as a slave trade market, but is now the site of i. numerous shrines and a 10day periodic market. )f Swern is a shrine site at the foot of the Cameroun range in Kwande LGA from where the Tiv were said to have originated.
IThe socioreligious festivals of the people, often it marked with colourful dances, dresses and songs il are also of tourist value. The Alekwu ancestral festival of the Idoma people, for instance, is an occad sion when the local people believe their ancestors ireestablished contact with the living in the form of masquerades.
The lgedeAgba is a Yam Festival, e marked every year in September by the lgede peon pie of Oju and Obi LGAs. Among the Tiv, the Tiv e Day, marriage ceremonies and dance competitions il (e.g. Swange dance) are often very colourful. Kwaghhir is a very entertaining Tv puppet show.
Social life in Benue State is also enriched by the availability of diverse recreational facilities. o Apart from parks, beaches, dancing and masquers ades mentioned above, the big hotels in Makurdi, Gboko and Oturkpo are equipped with several i\ indoor sporting facilities. There are golf clubs, the Makurdi Club, Railway Club, Police Club and Air Force Club, where, apart from the sale of drinks and :snacks, various types of games are played.
There e is a standard Arts Theatre, a modern Sports y Complex which includes the Aper Aku Stadium, which has provisions for such games as tennis, basketball, volleyball and handball, an indoor sports d hall and Olympic size swimming pool in Makurdi. it Smaller stadia exist in Gboko (J. S. Tarka Stadium), i\ KatsinaAla, Adikpo, Vandeikya and Oturkpo. The BCC Lawn Tennis tournament attracts players from s all over the country. Benue State has two teams in r, the professional soccer ranks, Lobi Stars in Division y One and BCC Lions in Division Two.