Undoubtedly, Ikyôgen Cattle Ranch remains one of the best legacies of late Governor Aper Aku’s administration in Benue State before the government was truncated by the military coup in 1983.
Aku, the first civilian governor of Benue State, had during his about four years, three months reign (completed his first tenure and was kicked out by the military a few months into the second term) established multiple industries to ease the development of the state, some of which include, the Taraku Oil mill, Otukpo Burnt Bricks, Benue Cement Company, as well as Ikyôgen ranch among others now listed for privatization.
Over the years, some of the viable legacies of the late governor whom admirers referred to as, ‘the man who saw tomorrow’, became abandoned by successive administrations in the state, a development which recently necessitated the current Benue State government to put up 25 of its moribund assets for sale.
The Ikyôgen cattle ranch, located in Kwande Local Government Area, falls into the category of moribund property that the government considered bringing back to life again through privatization.
The Ikyôgen ranch, eclipsed by the ever-breathtaking Mount Vandetum and immersed by the Avenga stream, provides ideal serenity for animal grazing.
Indeed, it used to be a tourist site and still would be if revived. The ranch in its heydays served the protein needs of the people of the state and the country in general as patronizers trooped in from different parts of the country to either buy or sell and in some cases, they came on sightseeing.
The ranch, in addition, provided a farmhouse for staff of the ranch and the Ikyôgen tourist village.
Today, however, the story is no longer the same as Ikyôgen has over time metamorphosed into a rural settlement alongside its decaying resort. The resort was developed following the establishment of the ranch.
There is also a unique waterfall at the Ikyôgen ranch said to be modeled after the famous Obudu cattle ranch situated in Cross River State. With its beautiful hills, lush green vegetation, and mild weather condition, the ranch is home away from home for holidaymakers if put to use.
But, for over three decades, Ikyôgen cattle ranch has been abandoned and now serves as farmland for the host community, a dream farfetched from the founder’s motive.
A government official who preferred not to be named told our correspondent that when the late governor first established the ranch, exotic cattle were imported from outside the country and kept in the place.
“The place was a beehive of commercial activities. The animals, including cows, at the ranch, were foreign breeds and very big in size. But after the military took over power, the next administrator of the state didn’t pay attention to the ranch.
“And that was how that beautiful idea was crippled. Now, the government wants to give it out for proper use. I believe if given to the right people, the ranch would become a money-spinner for the state,” the official said.