The Governor's Senior Special Assistant on Diaspora Affairs, Mr. Peter Ichull and I arrived St. Louis, Missouri earlier today ahead of the 2016 Convention of the Mutual Union of Tiv in America, MUTA tomorrow, from where we will proceed to attend the Convention of the Idoma Association, United States Incorporated taking place in Houston, Texas also this weekend.
As I sat down a short while ago to review my activities during the day, I looked at Governor Samuel Ortom's speech to the two important Benue diaspora events and one aspect of the Governor's address caught my attention. In that part of the speech, Governor Ortom has appealed for greater unity among Benue people, home and abroad as the only way forward for a new Benue. The Governor has gone on to reaffirm the resolve of his administration to give youths of the state the needed platform to realise their dreams and to encourage every Benue person to make contributions to the governance of the state.
Let me quickly add that Samuel Ortom is one diligent Governor who does not only ensure that he sees his speeches before events but also often makes great input leading sometimes to the speechwriters having to rewrite the entire scripts as a result of the Governor's professional additions or subtractions, as the case may be.
So while I looked at his address to the US events, I said to myself that truly, Benue did not make a mistake in electing Ortom as Governor at this time.
THE UNRECORDED FACTS...
Benue State earned the deserved title of Food Basket of the Nation not much with the use of tractors and other sophisticated agriculture equipment but chiefly with the use of manual farm implements like hoes and cutlasses.
Over the decades, our people have demonstrated uncommon courage and determination to keep the national food basket filled so that the people of the country can have meals on their tables. It therefore goes without saying that a people who do this must come to reckoning. The place of the Benue man and woman on the national map of the country deserves a bolder imprint. The task of keeping the Benue flag flying at the summit of Nigerian states is the responsibility of its people, especially youths of the state.
THE GOVERNOR AS A FARMER...
Benue couldn't have got a better choice than a man whose second most important activity after governance is farming. Governor Ortom goes to farm nearly 5 times a week (after he closes from office). He told a gathering of Benue people recently that he had seen a vision that Nigeria will someday soon return to agriculture as the biggest export commodity as it was in the past. He said Benue must therefore begin early preparation for such a time. The Governor added that as it was with the groundnut pyramids in Kano in the years gone, majority of which came from Benue (but were sadly not reported as such), so shall it soon happen that the north central state would live up the true meaning of its creed 'Food Basket of the Nation'. He ended his address by urging his people to get ready.
THE GOVERNOR AS ENTREPRENEUR...
Not many states are lucky to have a man who was trained in the art of business management as Governor like Benue does. Managing resources of a state requires prudence, focus and selflessness, and that's what Governor Samuel Ortom has been doing in the past one year. The Governor has introduced cost saving measures and plugged leakages in the system which previously bled the state.
Governor Ortom has on many occasions told youths of Benue that the state has given its people so much, and it is therefore high time the people gave back to the state.
After working under Governor Ortom for many months now, I am convinced more than ever before that politics is not strong enough to deprive us of our humanity, identity and strength in unity as a people. We know who we are as Benue people. We are descendants of parents who stood for the truth, had respect for elders and constituted authority. We are children of noble men and women who, even when not rich, could resist the lure to blackmail one another for pecuniary benefits. We are offsprings of parents who watched one another's back and served as their brothers' keepers. We are children of a generation of people who boldly corrected a neighbour's erring child without being rebuked by parents of that child.
What we see now in the state when youths take to the keyboards of their handheld gadgets to hurl insults at elders and leaders in the name of politics is not only alien to our culture but also destructive and condemnable.
I am optimistic, and my optimism stems from the confidence of Governor Samuel Ortom, that hope is not lost for Benue. The Governor believes that the current tough times will not last forever. He therefore expects his people to brace themselves for greater days ahead after the present economic 'storm'. Governor Ortom however expects the bright future not to come without a price. That price is our patience and ability to make sacrifices of the moment.
Governor Ortom is aware of the huge expectations that have accompanied the current change administration and is determined to guarantee a safer future for the Benue child. The Governor is setting the stage for a better environment for education, better healthcare and better job opportunities.
I see hope that things will surely get better in Benue State.
Terver Akase is the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Benue State