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14 Apr 2018


By Kwaghngu Abrahams

As the clock ticks gradually but steadily towards 2019 with the general elections looming in the horizon, political permutations and realignments have occupied the centrestage in Benue and across the country. The Nigerian democratic experience have come with some high and low points, but one thing remains clear, that is the fact that democratic system of government offers the best means for the people of a given nation to realize their potentials, freely ventilate their feelings and set benchmarks for those aspiring to govern them and hold them accountable.
The political environment of Benue has never remain the same ever since Dr. Samuel Ortom, an acclaimed politician, farmer, businessman, industrialist, administrator, philanthropist and evangelist was voted into office in a landmark election against all odds. Dr. Ortom’s victory in April 2015 at the expense of a ruling party with a huge and intimating campaign machinery confirmed his acceptability, popularity and divine endorsement by the Almighty God who in His infinite mercy has always influenced decisive moments in his career. This divine influence has been a recurring decimal even since the Guma born politician and humanitarian was propelled into office as the Executive Chairman of Guma Local Government Area in 1991.
The clamour for Governor Samuel Ortom to continue in 2019 have been growing louder by the day. Various interest groups, politicians, leaders, captains of industry, elected and appointed officials, Benue indigenes in the Diaspora and other eminent personalities have been united in mobilizing support for Governor Samuel Ortom to get re-elected come 2019. Governor Ortom’s elevation of the interests of others above himself and his perseverant disposition in serving his people have been adjudged as some of the reasons for the wide spread support for this God fearing servant-leader. Ortom is a courageous defender of his people using lawful means to stand up to herdsmen invaders bent on taking over the ancestral land and heritage of the Benue people.
Governor Ortom is a leader who is readily described as a bridge builder. A man who unites his people towards a collective vision for progress, peace and harmonious co-existence. His bridge building initiatives cuts across partisan barriers, ethnicity, religion and social platforms. This much was confirmed at his historic confirmation by distinguished Senators who on 6th July, 2011 asked Dr. Ortom to take a bow and go. The Senators were impressed and moved by his sincerity, forthrightness, and humble beginnings as he worked hard to earn a living and equip himself academically. Senator Ehigie Uzamere moved a historic motion, asking the hallowed Red Chamber of the National Assembly to allow him take a bow without further questions. The distinguished Senators were unanimous in describing him as an authentic bridge between the poor and rich.
The administration of Samuel Ortom is one that is guided by fiscal discipline in the management of state funds. He has made transparency and accountability the watchword of his administration. In that vein, he has been updating the Benue stakeholders on the state of affairs of Benue at periodic meetings. One of the cardinal values of the present government is the practice of open door-policy and interaction with the people. The Government House, symbolically re-named as Benue Peoples House is to reflect the belief of Governor Ortom that government belongs to the people and they deserve unfettered access to their leaders at all times for consultation, interaction and communication. The Benue Peoples’ House is now truly living up to its public responsibility as it has become more accessible.
Governor Ortom is a forward thinking leader who strictly discourages all forms of thuggery and criminality. This informs why he was the first in the country to introduce a successful amnesty programme for repentant criminals who willingly surrendered their weapons in return for amnesty. Many of these repentant social deviants have been rehabilitated, trained with vocational skills and reintegrated into the society as law abiding and responsible citizens earning a living through legitimate means.
In the educational sector, the Ortom administration has been able to raise funds, paid counterpart funding for massive revamping, construction and equipping of the primary schools across the State. Modern school furniture and instructional materials are now available in these public schools. Development of human capacity of the primary school teachers is also given accelerated attention in the area of training and retraining to bring them at par with modern trends of imparting knowledge. This revolutionary approach is also replicated at the secondary school level. In the Tertiary educational sector, the state owned Benue State University, Makurdi now enjoys accreditation status in many programmes including the College of Medical Sciences. This paved the way for the graduation of many medical doctors who were unjustly stagnated for more than 12 years before the Ortom administration gave them a new lease of life. The School of Nursing and Midwifery is not left out of the administration’s reforms in the health education sub-sector. Its programmes have now been accredited and critical infrastructure provided for effective academic programmes.
Benue State as a food basket of the nation has seen a dramatic turn-around in agriculture within just 3 years of the Ortom administration. Modern initiatives such as dry season farming is being worked out for all year round farming. Improved seedlings, affordable supply of highly subsidized fertilizers for farmers, vibrant agricultural policies amongst others have been instituted in this vital sector. In road infrastructure, the administration has successfully mobilized contractors back to about 10 abandoned rural roads with many already completed while new road constructions are ongoing. Portable water supply have been restored to some selected council areas with work ongoing to extend supply to other areas. The Ortom administration has also given accelerated attention to promotion of industrialization of the state. Some state-owned companies have been slated for privatization to enable them function effectively and create jobs while MOUs have been signed with intending investors in agriculture, power, industrialization and manufacturing.
Governor Ortom has been committed to upholding the democratic principle of separation of powers. The prevailing harmonious relationship existing between the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary in the state is a testament of the Governor’s respect for democratic institutions and his belief in mutual respect among the different arms of government. Governor Ortom has made women and youth inclusiveness in governance a priority. Today, many women and youth now occupy key positions in government and in the civil service. Women and youths have not been excluded in appointments such as Commissioners, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants, and Permanent Secretaries. This inclusiveness has helped foster a renewed sense of belonging among the people.
The Ortom administration is not resting on its oars in working with security agencies and stakeholders to bring about lasting peace in troubled communities in the state. He remains committed in protecting the interests of his people while vowing that the Benue Prohibition of Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment law has come to stay for good and no amount of pressure from some quarters would make the people repeal the law. The anti-open grazing has been globally adjudged as the most acceptable means of livestock rearing that would finally prevent the herdsmen clashes with farmers and promote peaceful-existence in the State.
Dr. Ortom deserves a second term in office in order to completely anchor his developmental vision for the state. The first term of office of this energetic and proactive leader have been used to carefully introduce innovative policies and lay the foundation for rapid socio-economic development of Benue State. The Governor has focused extensively in building human capacity through increased funding of education and other skill acquisition initiatives designed to make the youths more productively engaged with relevant skills. The good people of Benue state would do well to support a fresh four year term for this trusted and confirmed leader come 2019.
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