We do not take pleasure in responding to every critical view of the administration of Governor Samuel Ortom. It is the right of every Benue citizen to voice out their expectations. The governor himself has always said, such contrary views should be done decently and not with warped insinuations. And so when we respond, we only try to put records straight where such critics attempt, albeit laboriously, to twist truth on its head as it has become their pastime.
One ‘FafaSamie,’ yes, that’s the name he goes with on his cyber page. He made some sweeping conclusions, ignorantly on the stewardship of Governor Ortom. To his skewed mind, governor Ortom “could be the worst governor in Nigeria’s history to be elected not only in Benue state but in the entire country.” How spurious and ill-conceived can one be like this particular fellow in his judgement?
To put it correctly, it is uncharitable for anyone to accuse Governor Ortom of not showing enough capacity to protect Benue lives and property. That is a lie. It is a fact that the governor’s life has been threatened severally just because of his commitment for the Anti Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law. This law has provided the needed framework to safeguard the state from herdsmen, whose sole agenda is to not only invade and kill the people of the state but to also take over their ancestral lands. This law has been variously frustrated by agents working against the state because of the interests they represent. This has accounted for all the roadblocks to its implementation.
It’s on record that Governor Ortom was the first to sign the law prohibiting open grazing in Nigeria. He has remained the only one standing on this. States like Taraba, Abia, Ekiti wanted to follow. The pressure from external forces forced all of them to back down. Till today, Abia state governor has not signed the bill into law.
And so, for anyone who cares to know, Governor Ortom resisted all enticements to repeal this law just so as to remain on the side of the people who willingly gave him their mandate in 2015 and renewed same in 2019. He was ready to lose his second term bid if he must compromise the lives of the peoole that gave him their mandate to be givernor in 2015. It’s is the trust he does not take for granted. This is a show of capacity.
Governor Ortom is deeply worried by the spate of violence perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen and other criminal gangs across the state. These criminal gangs masquerade as clanish warlords, stoking fires in their own communities for their evil interests. These acts of criminality are products of a dysfunctional socio system that has been allowed to grow without being attended to. It’s therefore the collective efforts of the family, community and state to put an end to this. The governor has engaged traditional, community and religious leaders in the state to end this ugly trend.
Security of lives is a collective enterprise. And Governor Ortom has shown great commitment in ending the killing fields in Benue. Government is determined to fish out all criminal elements who fuel crises and punish everyone involved. But most importantly, it is incumbent on every Benue citizen, irrespective of political differences, to show commitment to this, not only to criticise. And let me ask: can our brother be bold enough to volunteer informations to arrest criminals who are stoking violence in his domain? This is part of his citizen’s rights to safety in his community.
Payment of regular salaries has commenced since 2018 to date and government is sourcing for funds to pay arrears of salaries and pensions.
Governor Ortom has, since 2015, placed premium on eduaction. As a critical sector, education is always on the priority of government. For example, over 700 primary school blocks have been renovated across the state under the joint partnership with UBEC. In some cases, new blocks are built. Governmnet schools have had their buildings also renovated to standard. Some of these schools include the Government College Makurdi and Government Girls College Makurdi. The Government Model Girls Secondary School Aliade has had the entire structures in the school rebuilt with a perimeter fence. More renovations of government schools are underway. This is to mention a few.
The hike in tuitions of tertiary institutions in the state may be as a result of compelling needs with the various institutions because of the dwindling economic fortunes of states.
Road projects have been completed. Many are currently being undertaken by the Ortom administration across the state in places like Gboko, Gwer West, Guma where Imande-Akpu-Origbo-Gbajimba is constructed. In Makurdi, the Mobile Barracks – Welfare Quarters – Terwase Agbadu is ongoing. There’s also the construction of Obagaji-Okokolo-Abian-Agagbe. Similar road projects like JS Tarka and Captain Downes road in Gboko among several others in the state have been reconstructed.
Benue has comparative advantage in the agricultural sector. The Ortom administration has partnered with the CBN and Bank of Industry for a 5% loan to Benue entrepreneurs and farmers. This is a way of building the state economy.
Unfavourable tax regimes are being tackled. The Executive Chairman of the Board of Internal Revenue Service, BIRS, Andrew Ayabam is working to cut off the activities of middlemen in tax collection. This is yielding results as offenders are arrested daily and prosecuted.
So when we criticise, let’s get our facts correct and not hide behind political differences with false insinuations.
Principal Special Asst on Media,
Governor of Benue State