Thursday, 17 December 2015

What Ortom’s ‘Magic Wand’ Has Done In Six Months

Barely six months in office, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has conjured up developmental projects geared towards tackling the many challenges confronting the state by adopting a rapid fire approach which many consider to be out of the ordinary, SOLOMON AYADO reports.

Governor Samuel Ortom took over the mantle of leadership in Benue State on May 29, 2015 following the inauguration of his administration at the IBB Square, Makurdi.

The inauguration ceremony attracted almost the entire agrarian people of the state. This was so because the governor is deemed to be widely accepted as a man with the electoral requirement to lead the people. Because Ortom was overwhelmingly voted for by the people, much is being expected from him to meet the desire of the people for practical positive change.

Assuring that his administration would bring about the needed development and tackle the many challenges confronting the poverty stricken state, Governor Ortom in his inaugural speech had declared that his administration agenda will hinge on five cardinal development policies as encapsulated in the blue print titled “Our Collective Vision For A New Benue”.

According to him, the administration would prioritize good governance and revenue security; agriculture-driven industrialisation; science, technology, engineering, arts, Mathematics-based education and health services; investment in critical infrastructure; promotion of gender equality and empowering women, youths, sports and persons with disabilities.

It had always been a hapless practice in states and the entire country that once a new administration gets into government, laudable projects and policies of the previous administration are jettisoned. But Ortom had insisted that he would build on good policies for continuity and institute zero tolerance to corruption, severe impunity and nepotism. For any administration to leave footprints and lasting legacies that would uplift the state in the league of nations with core values to ensuring the welfare and general growth of the people, its policies must be people-oriented- the type that is favourable within the sensibilities of the populace.

The alarming non-industrialization of the state today has become a source of concern to many well meaning people of Benue who see the need to revamp moribund industries and initiate projects that would add value and have direct bearing on the wellbeing of the generality of the people.

However, six months since the administration of Governor Ortom came on board, it is indeed an obvious fact that the change administration has laid the necessary framework for good governance, even in the height of scarce financial resources, propelled by the empty and deficit treasury that was inherited from the economic recklessness of the immediate past administration.

To conscientise the people towards collective responsibility of ensuring development, it is pertinent to note that every action or policy of the present government is laid bare for onward contributions from the citizenry, unlike what was obtainable in the past. This has enabled the people to, not just offer profitable suggestions on government policies, but to also criticize it for the purpose of making it more viable.

For an underdeveloped state like Benue that suffered from political instability due to insecurity, coupled with total collapse of the economy and high infrastructural deficit, unemployment and general social deprivation, the Ortom administration has within the past six months worked to save the state from the fangs of political thuggery and economic deterioration.

For many, the initiation of the amnesty programme by the Ortom administration has scored an unbeatable point in the area of peace building and curtailing insecurity across the length and breadth of the state. In its realization, scores of war lords including a notorious gang leader, Terwase Akwaza fondly known as ‘Ghana’, surrendered to the programme and willingly submitted over five hundred different types of illegally possessed sophisticated weapons.

Asides using the carrot and stick approach in waning the powers of the armed persons, those that surrendered to the amnesty Programme have been trained in order to be properly integrated into the society. This has further enhanced the deliberate security measures put in place to broker peace between Benue farmers and herderdsmen within and around bordering communities of Taraba and Nasarawa, among others.

Similarly, to promote the administration of justice, the governor inaugurated the council on Prerogative of Mercy and granted pardon to more than 100 persons serving various jail terms. This is even as the information sector is boosted with procurement of 10 kilowatts FM transmitter for Radio Benue.

In order to revitalize agriculture and ensure that rural dwellers have accessibility to the township, the administration commenced the on-going construction of the Daudu-Gbajimba road. The release of funds for construction and equipping Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture laboratories. The rehabilitation of agriculture training centers at Mbatie and Otobi is remarkably in progress. This also brought relief to residents of Otukpo, Katsina-Ala and their environs. The Otobi and Katsina-Ala water projects is how very functional in providing water to the people, following the payment of N300m to the contractors.

Ortom’s magic wand has also done well in clearing the pensions and gratuities of retired civil servants, as well as the salary backlog suffered in the state. This has has ended the untold economic hardship which past administration subjected local government staff and primary school teachers to. The administration accessed N28 billion bail-out funds from the federal government. Although there were technical challenges associated with the e-payment system used for the exercise, government halted the e-payment system and quickly directed the cash payment of all workers. Documentation of pensioners is ongoing to settle their gratuities and allowances.

In the Judiciary, the administration has released funds for renovation of courts and judges quarters, procurement of vehicles for executive council members, House of Assembly and new judges.

While the state government has signed MOU with Chinese, German and American investors on infrastructure development, the revamp of the moribund industries would soon become a thing of the past. Several employment opportunities would be created for the teeming unemployed youths to boost revenue generation of the state. The list is endless.

At the moment, Benue state is gradually reclaiming its lost glory from its missing shadow. Governor Ortom has remained insatiable in his quest for good policies and their execution to chart a new way of development for the overall interest of the agrarian people.

Picking up from the total collapse of the economy, and exuding a sincerity of purpose to tackle the enormous socio-economic challenges facing the people, Ortom’s viable policies have just within the last six months, transformed the deteriorating face of governance by bringing uncommon growth to a state that prides its self as “food basket of the Nation.”

At the moment, the governor’s performance is a salient call for stakeholders to join hands with the his administration in breaking the jinx of changing the non-industrial status of the state, build sustainable peace and execute projects that would have direct bearing on the lives of the people.

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