By Abrahams Kwaghngu
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. – Eccl 7:8
The expiration of the first mandate given to Governor Samuel Ortom in May 2015 by the Benue people signifies a transformational and foundation building phase in his social contract with the people of Benue State. Governance is a complex system whereby competing socio-economic needs of various segments of the people have to be accommodated.
The first term of the Samuel Ortom administration in the State has been marked with unexpected challenges and the regrettable invasion of the ancestral land of Benue by suspected armed herders. Never before has any state of the federation being in the national and international spotlight on account of the unfortunate destruction of lives and property that trailed this invasion especially in January 2017. But with the concerted peace initiatives of the Ortom administration and the re-energized efforts of the security agencies, the menace has since been drastically curtailed.
The Governor’s first term in the hot seat also offers an opportunity for him to critically identify the pressing areas the state is facing challenges. In addressing some of these challenges, the then established culture of godfatherism and insecurity prevailing at that time made it tasking for him to fully implement his vision for the state as he had to grapple with the decision of either pitching his tent with the people or to enjoy the passing comfort of fraternizing within the confines of godfatherism. He opted to cave in to his personal conviction and fear of God, by resolving to suffer temporary persecution by standing by his people with the end result of liberating the state politically from the bondage of godfatherism.
Despite the initial challenges that welcome Ortom on assumption of office, today, there is virtually no sector that has not felt the impact of the Ortomatic revolution. The education sector at all levels have been revamped and repositioned for enhanced service delivery, with Benue pupils and students winning national laurels in academics. Over 700 primary schools have been rehabilitated, reconstructed and equipped to benefit the Benue child. The tertiary institutions in the State have been overhauled with over 152 medical Doctors graduating so far from the Benue State University. The School of Nursing and Midwifery is now an NUC accredited degree awarding department of the College of Health Sciences. Civil servants salaries are now been paid promptly since January 2018 as plans remain underway to clear the arrears.
The Colleges of Education in Oju, Katsina-Ala, School of Health Technology Agasha, the Benue State Polytechnic, Ugbokolo amongst others have all undergone drastic transformation in terms of equipment and infrastructure. The agriculture sector, health, rural roads and electrification have all felt the impact of the Ortom administration in his first term despite the orchestrated attacks, persecution and other acts of political and official intimation the Governor has endured for standing up to the status quo.
More developments would be witnessed by the people of the State as the 2nd term unfolds. Being a transformational and creative thinker; the Governor must have identified areas of improvement as well accommodated the inputs of the Benue stakeholders in charting the State’s developmental agenda. There is bound to be more engagement and synergy with development partners beyond what was witnessed in the first term where the Governor mobilized the political will to raise funds to pay counterpart funding in education, health, water projects and sanitation and other socio-economic initiatives designed to enhance public welfare.
The Ortom administration would raise the benchmark in service delivery in his 2nd term beginning from 29th May, 2019 as he always expects more from his appointees and other government bureaucrats. This is based on his passion to ensuring that the Benue people deserve the best service from their elected and appointed leaders. Instructively, in his previous private endeavors and while serving as a Party administrator and during his stint at the federal level, he has mastered the art of setting standards, performance evaluation based on timelines, prudence and is gifted with identifying efficient, effective and forward thinking human resources. The second tenure of the administration would witness an injection of more vibrancy in government machinery.
Governance is a collective venture, as such; Ortom’s first term witnessed high level engagement, consultations and accommodation of stakeholder’s views in piloting the state. This collaborative system of governance ensures that the Anti-Open Grazing Law emanated from the people just as it positively projected the State in the international spotlight with the Governor receiving national and global commendation for his courage and foresight.
The end definitely justifies a difficult beginning based on scriptural endorsement.
Kwaghngu is Principal Special Assistant, Special Duties to the Governor