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Six months of Ortom administration in perspective

Written By Idoma Television on Sunday, December 20, 2015 | 8:50:00 PM

On May 29th this year, a new administration headed by Governor Samuel Ortom administration was inaugurated on May 29, 2015 at a colourful ceremony in Makurdi, Benue State capital.

The overwhelming mandate given to Governor Ortom in the last April governorship election underscores the people’s desire for positive change that could improve their standard of living in various ways.

The Governor, in recognition of his divine mission, announced the five pillars of his administration’s thrust in his inaugural address as good governance and revenue security; agriculture-driven industrialisation; science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics-based education and health services; investment in critical infrastructure; and promotion of gender equality and empowering women, youths, sports and persons with disability. He also made a strong commitment to rule with the fear of God, fight corruption, crime and gangsterism to make Benue a safe haven for investment and for citizens to feel safe enough to pursue their legitimate concerns.

Six months down the line, the Ortom Administration can be said to have not only laid the necessary framework for good governance, but his achievements are laudatory given the paucity of funds and other serious challenges it inherited.

He has made full disclosure stance the cardinal focus of governance. Every action or intention of government is laid bare in the public domain not only to ensure that the people are properly carried along, but also that they can offer constructive criticism. The administration has also scored high in the area of peace building and curtailing insecurity across the state with the introduction of the amnesty programme. Over 400 different types of sophisticated weapons were recovered in the process. Perhaps, the biggest catch of the programme was the surrender of Terwase Akwaza, alias Ghana, a notorious gangster who had been declared wanted by the police and army. His gang alone surrendered about 100 assorted rifles and thousands of ammunition. In addition, about 700 youths who submitted themselves to the programme were trained at a re-integration retreat to make them responsible citizens.

In a related development, Governor Ortom has, through deliberate measures, enhanced peace between Benue farmers and herders. Also to promote lasting peace along the Benue-Taraba corridor, he held peace and security meetings with his Taraba counterpart. It is also on record that it took the intervention of the governor immediately he assumed office for the industrial action embarked upon by various staff unions of Benue State University, Makurdi, which had already lasted for months, to be called off. For the first time since its establishment about 12 years ago, the College of Health Sciences of the University successfully graduated the first set of its medical doctors.

The Ortom administration made this possible by meeting all the requirements necessary for the accreditation of the College after many years of non-accreditation. For three years before the Ortom administration, the accreditation status of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Makurdi was withdrawn. The Governor speedily worked towards providing all the requirements for its accreditation.

In the information sector, Governor Ortom procured 10 kilowatts FM transmitter for Radio Benue to boost the reach of its signals, in addition to supporting the African Independent Television (AIT) to establish its radio and television stations, Makurdi.

The administration has also commenced road construction jobs, for example the Daudu-Gbajimba road; interfaced with the contractor handling Otobi and Katsina-Ala water projects to give relief to the residents of Otukpo, Katsina-Ala and environs, as the taps are now running again; and addressed the backlog of salary areas inherited from its predecessor through a N28 billion bailout fund from the Federal Government.

Investigation also shows that the state government has been releasing N394 million and N117 million for payment of state and local government pensioners respectively since last May, while the Governor has directed the Head of Service to carry out proper documentation of the other recently retired persons for the purpose of addressing their arrears.

Realizing the urgent need to boost the state’s internally generated revenue profile, the Ortom administration has reconstituted the state’s Board of Internal Revenue Service, and providing it with the necessary legal framework to step action. The Governor has equally met with several prospective local and foreign investors, as well as other stakeholders like Benue Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, impressing on them that Benue is a safe haven for investment.

As a government run by humans with natural limitations, the administration cannot be expected to be perfect. Periodic review of its policies and programmes in line with the feedback from the people should be expected.

We implore our people to desist from rumour mongering or spreading hate messages, which are anti-development. The people are encouraged to offer constructive criticisms that can assist government perform better.
Ogbole is Director, News and Current Affairs, Radio Benue, Makurdi
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