Friday, 22 April 2016

A TOAST TO ORTOM AT 55



By Terver Akase
"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no help at all." -- Dale Carnegie



The above words of renowned American writer and teacher, Dale Carnegie aptly tell the story of the present Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ioraer Ortom, a man who rose through the ranks of life to occupy very high offices in the land.

According to another American writer, Casey Stengel, "There are three kinds of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who ask, 'What happened?”. Samuel Ortom obviously belongs to the fist group in Stengel’s classification. The 55 years Governor Ortom has so far spent on earth have brought smiles to the faces of many and wiped tears off the cheeks of thousands over the years.

Born on 23rd April, 1961 in Guma local government area of Benue State, young Ortom who rose from humble beginnings, ultimately overcame poverty and launched himself into local, state and national reckoning.

Governor Ortom’s story is that of determination, focus and burning desire for success. It is the same thirst for success and greater success that led the former Chairman of Guma local government area, top party official and Minister to aspire to govern his state.

So it came to pass that the revelation God made to Samuel Ortom way back in 1992 and reaffirmed in 2012 was fulfilled on April 11, 2015 when the people of Benue State came out in their thousands to vote for him as their Governor.

First to aspire on Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, platform and later flying the flag of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ortom was clearly up against the tide as he faced the candidate of the then ruling party. The rest is history. Today, Samuel Ortom holds the record as the fist candidate of an opposition party in Benue State to defeat the candidate of the ruling party.

Widely regarded as a reliable bridge between the poor and the rich, Governor Ortom has positively impacted on many lives in Benue State and the country at large. Before he became Governor, Ortom was proprietor and chairman, Oracle Business Limited the firm that owns Goshen Water which produces bottled and sachet water; Oracle Oil Mills, Oracle Printing Press, as well as Oracle Farms Limited which handles mechanized farming and animal husbandry.

He was also chairman, Capital Prints Limited which handles commercial printing, publishing and documentation as well as chairman, Achive Engineering Limited which is into civil and mechanical construction.

The companies have offered employment to hundreds of people. One of the greatest manifestations of Governor Ortom’s humaneness lies in the establishment of Oracle Business Limited Foundation which handles redemptive and empowerment services.

Under the Foundation, Dr. Ortom set aside funds at Bishop Murray Hospital, Makurdi and Rahama Hospital, Gboko Road, Makurdi for free treatment of hernia and snakebite patients.

These were among numerous other indelible qualities of this humble son of Benue that endeared him to the people of the state who overwhelmingly gave him their mandate as Governor on April 11 last year.

Though he inherited an empty and deficit treasury, Governor Ortom did not let that fact discourage him from hitting the ground running with good governance by bending over backwards to tackle salary arrears owed workers and attending critical issues.

These included immediate payment for the requirements for the accreditation of the College of Health Sciences at the Benue State University which eventually led to the graduation of 40 medical doctors who had stagnated at the school for 12 years.

Today, a number of projects are ongoing across the state while numerous others are in the process of being awarded.

Applications for the construction and rehabilitation of 700 primary schools in the 23 local government areas have been received by the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, and bidding for the contracts will soon commence.

The Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, has deservedly rated Benue as the first state in the payment of marching grant for primary education projects.

This feat has been achieved following the efforts made by the Ortom administration which set aside N7.6 billion in collaboration with UBEC for the 700 school projects.

Within the same period, Benue State has become the first state to achieve the 2015 Round of MDGs/SDGs Conditional Grants in Nigeria for the construction of primary health centres, skills acquisition centres among other projects in over 30 communities of the state.

The payment of counterpart funding has also led to 116 completed and ongoing water projects in four local areas through BERWASSA.

Governor Ortom has approved contracts for the facelift of 64 post-primary schools across the state. Work on the School of Nursing and Midwifery is near completion ahead of the reaccreditation of the institution even as the College of Health Technology Agasha which had similarly lost accreditation is also receiving attention.

Contractors have been remobilized to site on ten roads abandoned by the previous administration while work has commenced in earnest on two new roads in the state – the Mobile Barracks – Yaikyo – Apir road and the Origbo – Imande – Akpu – Gbajimba road.

Time and space constrain us to mention the few above but there is much more.
Sanity has returned to public service in Benue as financial leakages are plugged in compliance with the change mantra of the present administration which has demonstrated capacity to probe impropriety.

Governor Ortom has left no one in doubt regarding his zero tolerance for corruption as shown in his administration’s efforts to recover N107 billion looted during the previous government.
This achiever, industrialist, philanthropist and administrator par excellence has turned 55 and has chosen to thank God and dedicate his stewardship for the state to the Creator instead of organising a lavish birthday party where the meagre resources of the state will be spent.

There is therefore every reason for the people of Benue to join the Governor in praising the name of God for his life and praying that he receives greater wisdom to enable him steer the affairs of the state.
Happy birthday Governor Samuel Ortom.

Mr Akase is Chief Press Secretary to the Governor.

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