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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Why Ortom Must Go – By Terfa Naswem 



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Thomas Jefferson who was the third President of the United States once said that, “the welfare of the whole is the proper purpose of the state”, but this has never been the case in Benue State since Samuel Ortom became Governor in 2015.
When Ortom was denied the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship ticket, he entered through the ‘window’ and got it on the Platform of All Progressives Congress (APC). Rt. Hon. Emmanuel Jime who was supposed to be the gubernatorial candidate initiated a legal action against Ortom that would have sunk Ortom. Senator Joseph Waku (of blessed memory) also had a case at the same time against him.
Jime and Waku withdrew their cases against Ortom after a reconciliation committee constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari mediated the crisis. Ortom was very happy with Buhari for coming to his recue and was ready to do anything at that time to please him.
One of the agreements that led to Jime to withdraw the case was for Ortom to serve only a single term and return the ticket to him to complete the remaining one term zoned to Minda,  Zone B.
When Fulani herdsmen in February 2016 attacked Agatu LGA of Benue State and killed over 300 people, Ortom saw nothing wrong in that. Since he was in good terms with Buhari for saving him, he never blamed Buhari or wanted anybody to blame Buhari for the attacks. Even if one had suggested the issue of mass burial at that time, such would become his enemy.
In mid-2017 and towards the end, Ortom reached a level where he felt serving one term would not satisfy him and was pleading with Buhari to still allow him contest in 2019 but Buhari insisted that the agreement must be kept.
When the issue of the Benue State Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Bill was initiated, and taken up by Movement Against Fulani Occupation (MAFO) among other groups, Ortom never supported the bill. When the issue went on further and he realized that signing the bill into law would be his only saving grace, since he performed poorly and saw it that APC might not issue him a re-election ticket, he signed the Bill to become law. He then started looking for issues to hit on Buhari and APC so that he will gain cheap sympathy from the some ignoramuses Benue people who are not only gullible but strong-willed to swim in ignorance and negligence, and then leave APC back to PDP.
When the 2018 New Year Day attack by herdsmen on Guma and Logo LGA of Benue State took place, Ortom used it as a very good avenue to hit hard on Buhari after exploring Buhari’s vulnerability of being sympathetic to his fellow Fulani.
Ortom politicised and over dramatized the law and the mass burial of 73 bodies held on Thursday, January 11, 2018 just to gain support from Benue people and sympathy ahead of his re-election.
Ortom also knowing too well that his amorphous and abysmal governance would also make him lose his bid for the ticket in APC, he then used the issue of Fulani herdsmen attacks and Anti-Open grazing law to defect to PDP.
According to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Ortom made over N402.05bn in 42 months from June 2015 to Nov. 2018 and deliberately refused to clear the backlog of salaries, gratuities and pensions of Benue State civil servants and pensioners.
Here are some pertinent questions that need pertinent answers:
1. If Ortom truly cares about the people of Benue State like he claims, why didn’t he organize an official mass burial for the over 300 people that were killed in Agatu by herdsmen?
2. Between 300 bodies and 73 bodies, which number actually deserves an official mass burial?
3. If Ortom truly cares about the people of Benue State, why has he refused to clear the backlog of salaries, gratuities and pensions?
4. If he claims he used N402.05bn to fight Fulani herdsmen, can he give us a comprehensive report of how the money was spent?
5. Now that Ortom needs re-election and refuses to clear arrears while he is spending billions for his re-election through other means, what guarantee do Benue State civil servants and pensioners have that he would clear such if re-elected?
The worst thing that will happen to Benue State is for Ortom to win his re-election. When he comes back, he will first recover the billions he spent for his re-election before beginning to make fresh cash for himself to finally leave office for his successor to carry the burden of his failed government. To make matters worse, he has brought in Sen. David Mark and Dr. Iyorchia Ayu  as his new godfathers who will also be sucking their own milk from the state treasury as payment for supporting his re-election.
David Mark who has been in the National Assembly since 1999 to 2019 and as a Senate President for 8 years has not developed his own Local government not to talk about Zone C in general.
Iyorchia Ayu was the godfather of Sen. George Akume during his reign as the governor of Benue State. Ayu also also contributed to the underdevelopmemt of Benue State.
How can this group of people now as Ortom’s godfathers make any significant impact on Benue State when they have no track record in terms of infrastructural development?
These are the reasons why Ortom must go or the people of Benue State will enter one chance and will be in an irredeemable damage.

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