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Samuel Ortom: A Governor And His ‘Rebellion’! By Ozodinukwe Okenwa


The Executive Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ioraer Ortom was born on the 23 April, 1961. He is an accomplished politician, businessman, administrator and philanthropist. He was the Minister of State, Trade and Investments during the infamous presidency of Goodluck Jonathan. Before that appointment he had served as the PDP National Auditor. And before that he had worked as the Director of Administration and Logistics of the Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organization in 2011. In Benue state he had served in different political capacities prior to his appointment as Minister and election and re-election as Governor.

A politician with a big heart Ortom strikes one as a courageous no-nonsense Governor, unique in his ways, in many ways imaginable. Among the 36 state Governors in Nigeria this strong man represents a scintilla of hope for change in our corrupt mediocre way of doing things, our notorious way of leadership. No doubt, he takes his guber mandate and duty seriously and manifests certain love for his terrorized traumatized people and their collective welfare.


Since it is generally agreed globally that the primary purpose of governance is the security and welfare of the people the Benue state Chief Executive is providing quality leadership that is ghastly lacking at the centre. If performance and competence are to be used as yardstick or measuring mechanism to score the 36 state Governors Ortom would definitely come out top at best. Or at worst he would be found inside the first three bracket.


Indeed, Nigeria was blessed with old-generation politicians — patriotic, noble, efficacious. The Azikiwes, Awolowos and Tafawa Balewas left legacies of hope for a great nation under God or Allah. Alas, the new-generation politicians have succeeded effortlessly in squandering what is left of hope and greatness of a nation endowed naturally by Providence.


The present-day politicians have made name and money illicitly for themselves as smart crooks, irredeemably corrupt and pathetically egocentric elements. They thrive in organized heist, subterfuge and mediocrity. They prosper heartlessly in crime! Since Nigeria has degenerated into a criminal enterprise crime and corruption pay handsomely!


Governor Ortom appears not to be a fan of the underwhelming Muhammadu Buhari, the embattled President and Commander-in-Chief of our equally underwhelming Armed Forces. He has demonstrated this on more than one occasion calling out the retired General and telling him his failings. A classical case of ‘power’ telling truth to power!


The President himself during a live interview with the Arise TV crew in Abuja not too long ago had criticized Ortom’s critical position saying he (Ortom) was unfair to him. Yet Ortom is unrelenting in his caustic attacks against the heckled federal administration.


Recently the voluble Governor featured on Channels TV programme in Lagos. He shot from all cylinders sounding undiplomatic and anti-establishment. He hit very hard at President Buhari enumerating his presidential shortcomings. Describing him as the ‘worst’ President in terms of management of security of lives and property Ortom accused him of nurturing a secret Fulani agenda!


Following the controversial interview Gov. Ortom is having a running battle, nay bitter feud, with the presidency. The presidency through the aging Shehu ‘Garbage’ had reacted angrily to what Ortom said. Shehu lambasted Ortom calling him names and accusing him of sowing the seed of ethnic discord similar to the Rwandan genocide! He said the Governor was a serial defector with an ‘undistinguished’ political career!


Governor Ortom hit back almost immediately berating Shehu and concluding that Nigeria was fast turning into a cow Republic! He declared that Buhari had never condemned the atrocities of his armed and dangerous Fulani kinsmen out to pillage and destroy lands and crops. Ortom accused the presidency of seeking wittingly or otherwise to plunge the nation into avoidable crisis.


Governor Ortom alleged that the Federal Government were planning to cause a crisis in the state in order to find an alibi to declare a state of emergency paving way for his ouster. Buhari and his enablers are capable of doing anything including sinister plots and agendas but now that Ortom had exposed their plan in advance anything executed in that regard would be resisted by the good people of Benue state.


And over the weekend the Governor upped the ante during an interview with the BBC Pidgin. He made it clear that the Fulani Nationality Movement, (FUNAM), a terrorist group that allegedly attacked him in the past with the intent to commit murder, had said that Nigeria was the only country they had. That was a lie from the pit of hell. The average Fulani is a vagabond with more than a dozen ancestral countries.


His words: “They call the attackers unknown gunmen but for me, I know that they are Fulani people coming to kill us. And the presidency is involved in this agenda….The Fulani people have claimed that they want to capture the entire country….Like I always say, if the Federal Government has the power to stop secessionists like Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho, then they should have the power to stop banditry in the country too….What is the difference between the Buhari administration’s approach to insecurity and the Taliban agenda in Afghanistan?”


For his crusade against the murderous Fulani herdsmen Gov. Ortom had suffered assassination attempts and threats to his life! He was nearly killed while visiting his farm some months ago. But he has remained intrepid and focused.


And adding his voice lately to the raging controversy the Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Senator George Akume, a former Governor of Benue State, had urged the EFCC and the ICPC to dust up the administrative files of the incumbent Governor with a view to thoroughly investigating him. Calling for public apology from Ortom for using ‘foul language’ against Buhari and for “operating outside the set rules of engagement between the state and the federal governments” Akume looked like a pathetic figure under pressure to do a bidding.


Senator Akume said the investigation should centre around the application of the total federal allocations to Benue State from May 29, 2015 to date. Subtle intimidation or concern for probity and accountability?


Well, our position is that if there is anyone to be investigated it should be Akume and the executive and legislative criminals in the ruling APC. What is Akume’s record as Governor of Benue State? Was his stewardship stellar or excellent? Hell no! Akume was corrupt and he stole billions from Benue state before relocating to Abuja to continue the stealing spree!


Governor Samuel Ortom is a ‘rebel’ but one with a noble genuine cause. His executive ‘rebellion’ has cemented his legacy as an administrator with the welfare of his people at heart. Long before his retirement in politics he would be remembered as that one man who looked a dictator in the face and refused to blink.


We salute his staying power, courage and determination! Long may he live!!


SOC Okenwa

[email protected]


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