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26 May 2016


As we look forward to May 29th 2016, i consider these noteworthy.
By Abraham Kwaghngu
May twenty-ninth last year was a remarkable day in the history of Benue when a humble and God-fearing man, Samuel Ortom, took the oath as the fifth democratically elected Governor of the State at the IBB Square, Makurdi.
The entire Square was full to capacity with people drawn from across the State and all walks of life to witness the inauguration.
This is obviously due to his humane background and a leader who many believe to have been sent to rescue the State from poverty, starvation, hunger, ignorance and insecurity.
Sadly, the administration met a deficit treasury, with a collapsed economy, salaries had not been paid for several months, tertiary institutions were closed, pensioners were owed for months, while there was general insecurity.
Governor Ortom, pained by the situation on ground, quickly settled down and hit the ground running, unveiling a blue-print, “Our Collective Vision for a New Benue,” which focuses on security, health, agriculture, industrialisation among others.
One year after, Governor Ortom has left no one in doubt that he is justifying the mandate freely given to him by Benue people especially the purposeful, focused leadership he has brought to bear in the running of government with the fear of God, Prominent to note is the introduction of amnesty programme which led to recovery of over six hundred arms and light weapons, thousands of ammunitions while over seven hundred youths embraced the programme, which has enhanced peace in various parts of the State.
There were also conscious efforts to tackle Fulani invasion of the State in addition to procurement of twenty pick-up vans for security surveillance in the State and provision of vehicles for NDLEA to support its operations.
Also worthy of note is the fact that Governor Ortom secured funds from the Federal Government through bailout with which salaries of workers owed by the past government were cleared.
Aside that, Governor Ortom had within the period paid counterpart fund to Universal Basic Education Commission and for projects of sustainable development partners like lEAD, UNDP among others who had left the State due to the failure of the past government to meet their terms of agreement with them.
Funds have also been released for the completion of ten road projects across the State that were abandoned by the past government with two new ones awarded and is progressing speedily on them.
Governor Ortom also took proactive steps by paying money for accreditation of courses at the College of Health Sciences, Benue State University, Makurdi to enable medical students who were stagnated for about twelve years, to graduate and already this has led to the graduation of forty doctors carrying out health services to people.
Contract for total renovation of School of Nursing and Midwifery was also awarded with work almost completed while accreditation of courses at the School will start in earnest and admission of students will commence after three years of non admission.
Taking into cognizance that agriculture is the mainstay of Benue and industrialisation, Governor Ortom awarded contract for the construction and equipping of laboratories at Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture, Yandev, with a nev policy for procurement of fertilizer at highly subsidised rate to Benue farmers as well as facilitation of two billion CBN Agricultural Loans for disbursement to Benue farmers and signing of agreement with Torra KFT Company for the completion and takeover of the Wannune Tomato Factory.
Governor Ortom also approved the renovation of Ministry of Justice Headquarters in Makurdi and the High Court in Otukpo, inaugurated Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy and granting of amnesty to over one hundred convicts and support to Makurdi Medium Security Prison.
In the area of information, Governor Ortom has procured and installed ten kilowatts transmitter at Radio Benue to ensure its wider coverage while work on renovation of Benue Printing and Publishing Company, BIPC, has commenced.
Promotion of peace between farmers and herders as well as deepening of inter-state peace building efforts as reflected in the meeting of the two Governors in Makurdi and Taraba is part of the laudable achievements.
Mindful of the scarce resources, the Governor took a bold step during the period by trimming the number of Ministries from seventeen to thirteen and Special Advisers from twenty-eight to twenty, while the usual practice where government retreat were held in Obudu Cattle Ranch, Cross River State has been stopped.
Government had during the period collaborated with the National Information Technology Development Agency towards beefing up ICT in Benue State.
Also, government has ensured restoration of water at Otobi and Katsina-Ala towns, allocation of three hundred million naira for completion of Assembly
Complex, signing of MOUs with China, Germany, and American investors on infrastructural development, Constitution of Benue Internal Revenue Service
Board and Management for effective revenue drive.
Women, youth and sports as well as people living with disabilities also received attention from government through reinvigoration of Benue State Rehabilitation Centre, Apir, with provision of vehicles and other support, given support and vehicles to privately-owned Old People’s Home at Judges Quarters, Makurdi, revitalisation of Lobi Stars Football Club through reconstruction of its Board and better funding of its operations.
In keeping with his promises of ensuring accountability, transparency, probity, and openness in running of government, Governor Ortom has regularly convened a stakeholders’ meeting where progress made so far and issues affecting the State are tabled for solutions.
As a government that is poised to fight corruption to its knees, the administration also set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to look into the finances of the State in the last eight years and billions of naira were found to have been stolen from government coffers while the report has been submitted to anti-graft agency to ensure that the monies are recovered and those found wanting are prosecuted to serve as deterrent.
Residents of Otobi and Katsina-Ala now enjoy potable water and small businesses are beginning to boom while life is gradually coming back in villages where road constructions are being carried out.
In view of these many achievements, we appeal to Benue people to understand the financial situation facing the country, which Benue is not an exception and be patient with the administration to enable it overcome them.
It is through sustained prayer, support, cooperation, and togetherness that the dream of putting smiles on the faces of Benue people would be achieved.

Hon Kwaghngu Abrahams is the Senior Special Assistant to Benue State Governor on Special Duties.
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