By Andrew Hwande
The governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, is indeed a brave man. The circumstances surrounding his elections as governor in 2015 under the umbrella of the All-Progressive Congress (APC) is a story for another day.
The question is, who is Samuel Ortom? A man with principles or a man without principles? These questions ran in my mind as a result of his recent posturing regarding the state of security in the county and the constant attack on the personality of President Muhammadu Buhari.
As a governor, don’t get me wrong; he has a right to say things the way he perceives them. However, I am not convinced that he has that right to turn the truth on its head, especially with the farmer/herders’ conflict in Benue State. I think this obsession with President Muhammadu Buhari started in 2018 when he sense possible defeat for the ticket of the APC for the gubernatorial elections on account of poor performance. And since then, all hell has been let loose, like President Muhammadu Buhari is the chairman of the APC.
I like to call a spade a spade. Governor Samuel Ortom is the most intellectually deficient individual to govern Benue state. He is uncouth; he is cunny, deceptive and highly skilled in divide and rule. I say all of these after a critical assessment of Benue State before he became governor and what is obtainable in the state six years after.
Workers are owed several months salaries; pensioners are languishing in abject poverty due to the non-payment of their pension and gratuity, there is a dearth of infrastructure, the educational and health sectors are in a deplorable state.
Most times, I wonder how and where he gets the guts to issue public statements castigating the federal government’s efforts in addressing the security challenges in the state. Is he mindful that his actions have led to an unprecedented level of poverty in the state and a factor for the frequent clashes between farmers/herders? Is he also mindful that his land grabbing drive and desire to take over the cattle ranching business in Benue and North Central could also be another factor why there seem not to be peace in Benue state?
Samuel Ortom is a typical example of a dirty politician that thrives in grandstanding. He is in my opinion only clever by his diversionary methodology from his atrocities. The recent one that got me wondering was when he said the Nigerian government didn’t go after Fulani militiamen as it went after Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho.
The governor said, “I see a lot of lack of commitment on the part of the Federal Government in ensuring that we have security in this country. I will give an example: recently, the Federal Government has demonstrated the capacity by going after Nnamdi Kanu, leading IPOB. I am told he was even arrested in a foreign land with the cooperation of Interpol and so on.”
In my opinion, this is quite a callous statement from the governor of a state. He should know better about the dynamics in the security sector and the government’s efforts in this regard. I am not surprised, to say the least, owing to the cantankerous nature of the governor and his penchant for sponsoring ethnic militias in Benue and some states in Northcentral.
The case of the late notorious militia leader in Benue State, Terwase Akwaza, aka Gana, who met his end on his way to a reception put together by the governor in Markurdi, the state capital, indeed calls to questions on the sincerity of Governor Samuel Ortom in addressing the security challenges in the state. It is also baffling how a governor can throw caution into the wind in categorising the Fulani ethnic group. This is also a story for another day.
I would, at this point, advise Governor Samuel Ortom to come out and tell the world that all the noise he has been making about Fulani herders is to give a dog a bad name to hang it. He must also say to the world how much of Benue money he has invested in cattle rearing. To consolidate his grip on the business in the North Central, he must do all to paint the herders in a bad light and also pitch the people against them.
This is the summation of it all and the obsession of governor Samuel Ortom with herders and President Muhammadu Buhari. And against what he has made the unsuspecting members of the general public believe. But for how long does he intend to continue in this deceit? As funny as this might sound, the governor recently commissioned a borehole as his capital project. In an attempt to divert attention from the backlash, he brought a new dimension to the security situation and tried to lump Igboho and Kanu’s arrest as a most suitable topic, and not the fact that he cannot govern Benue state.
For Governor Samuel Ortom, it’s one day, one lie. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the attacks on farmers in Benue state were planned by his team to attract public sympathy and divert attention from his crass ineptitude. Governor Samuel Ortom is a man without principles. After all, he is a professional driver with a Diploma in Salesmanship. Such a man cannot be circumspect in his public conduct.
Hwande wrote this piece from High Level, Makurdi.