Commentary on Chief Dr. Ortom’s public declaration
<<< By Tahav Agerzua >>>
There has been a global debate on whether leaders are born or made. Whichever side of the debate one takes, the truth remains that when a good leader emerges; he or she is noticed and appreciated. Such is the story of Chief Dr Samuel Ortom, the immediate past Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment who is a governorship aspirant in Benue State on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Rising from humble beginnings to acquire qualitative education and venturing into business and politics, Dr Ortom has demonstrated the qualities of the ideal leader for modern day society.
He has proven time and again that he is a man of integrity to be trusted with leadership positions.
Over twenty years ago the former minister whose Tiv surname means ‘workman’ won election as chairman of Guma local government area, the youngest in the state, on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, SDP. His numerous achievements in that office still stand today.
As Chairman, Chief Dr Ortom gave special attention to the health, education and agriculture sectors as well as workers’ welfare and provision of infrastructure.
He completed the Gbajimba Comprehensive Health Centre, rehabilitated those at Tyulen, Abinsi, Unzughul, Udei and Yogbo and constructed clinics at Uvir, Nzorov, Mbadwem, Mbabai and Mbawa council wards while supplying drugs and initiating a doctors’ visiting scheme to the clinics.
He ensured timely procurement and distribution of assorted fertilizers to farmers,
establishment of crop nurseries at Daudu, Gbajimba and Unzughul, and refurbishment of the local government tractor.
In the education sector Chief Dr. Ortom settled the backlog of inherited teachers’ debts, ensured constant payment of their emoluments, promoted 500 teachers and established 22 literacy centers.
He constructed the Inundu Bridge, rehabilitated the Gbajimba-Iordye, Umenger-Keana, Akaakuma-Uikpam, Yelwata-Udei, Tomatar- Tse Abi-Ginde roads, as well as provided a network of township roads in Gbajimba, constructed the Guma Beach Hotel, Gbajimba and Senior Staff Quarters, and sunk tube wells in all districts.
Chief Dr. Ortom facilitated several peace meetings between the warring communities of Guma and the neighboring Awe local government areas and also ensured a harmonious relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government as well as the traditional institution throughout his tenure.
He introduced a mechanism for increased internally generated revenue, ensured participation in all organized trade fairs and initiated training of youths in small and medium scale enterprises with Gbajimba as pivot centre.
On workers welfare Chief Dr. Ortom ensured prompt payment of salaries and staff emoluments and allocation of residential plots to staff in Gbajimba.
Chief Dr. Ortom is a recipient of several awards including Best Performing Local Government Chairman, 1992 conferred on him by the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Benue State Council; those of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Nigeria Labour Congress in Benue State as well as Selfless Service Award by the National Union of Benue State Students, University of Calabar.
He was also given an award as a special ambassador by the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, at the national level.
A true party man, Dr Samuel Ortom held various positions in political parties of different dispensations including State Secretary and Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Benue State and went on to become PDP National Auditor before his appointment as Minister in July 2011.
Chief Dr. Ortom was also Director of Operations of the PDP gubernatorial campaign in Benue State in 2007 and Director of Administration and Logistics of the Goodluck and Sambo Presidential Campaign Organization in 2011.
The people of Benue State have over the years expressed their appreciation for Chief Dr. Ortom’s contributions to reducing unemployment through his firms, which have offered hundreds of jobs to youths in the state and beyond.
These include the Oracle Business Limited, the company 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.
The Oracle Sheer Butter Company held Nigerians spell bound at a recent NAFDAC workshop in Makurdi where it displayed its array of international products ranging from animal feeds to sheer butter oil.
Through the Oracle Business Limited Foundation, Chief Dr. Ortom has set aside funds at the Bishop Murray and Rahama Hospitals, all in Makurdi, for the treatment of hernia and snakebites free of charge to numerous patients. The foundation expended over N50 million on snakebites alone in the last three years and saved close to 200 hundred lives.
It has also reached out to prison inmates and paid the fines of many who couldn’t even as it provided relief materials to flood and communal violence victims and succor for the downtrodden as well as scholarships to indigent students of schools ranging from primary to tertiary institutions.
Chief Dr Ortom, as Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment struck a formidable working relationship with the Minister, Dr Olusegun Aganga and staff of the ministry to formulate laudable policies that have led to the creation of thousands of jobs for Nigerian youths, revival of trade ties with foreign partners and widened the horizon of investment opportunities for the country.
The receipt of investment commitments of over $12 billion in the petrochemical, fertilizer, and refining sectors, improvement in the installed capacity in the cement industry, ease of doing business, investment of over $3 billion in the sugar industry as well as resuscitation of automobile plants are some of the landmarks recorded during his tenure as Minister.
The Ministry developed the National Enterprise Development Program, NEDEP that was commissioned by Mr. President as a national platform to comprehensively address the constraints small businesses face in Nigeria.
It also initiated the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP, which was launched by Mr President as the flagship program to rapidly industrialize Nigeria.
Chief Dr Ortom while serving as Supervising Aviation Minister contributed to restoring calm, reducing debts, and Nigeria securing category one status in the sector. The former Minister undertook the repairs of Abuja International Airport runway and secured approval to construct a second one. He also met with military authorities in the efforts to resolve security issues stalling the execution of the Makurdi Airport Cargo terminal and made contributions towards the resumption of flights into Benue State.
The new auto policy under the Goodluck administration’s transformation agenda is now working. On May 29th this year, Mr. President launched Nissan products that were certified by Nissan Japan as fit to be used in Nigeria. Hyundai also rolled out their new products in the country two months ago. Peugeot automobile has similarly concluded plans to commence work on its new plant in Nigeria while Innoson with Chinese partners are producing made in Nigeria vehicles in Nnewi.
Now, this performing son of Benue State has decided to respond to the yearnings of his people to go back home and make himself available to be elected as the next governor of the state. The torrents of calls on Ortom from Benue people are built on his experience in politics spanning over 30 years at the local, state and national levels, his fear of God, his extensive exposure and contacts, as well as his contribution to the economic development of the state through the Oracle Conglomerate and its Foundation.
Several groups have stepped forward to endorse Chief Dr Ortom for the office of governor and have invested in the project through the donation of vehicles and other materials for the coming campaigns as a demonstration of confidence in his aspiration and capabilities.
The people believe that Ortom is the man whom the cap fits.
The governorship aspirant has enumerated good and inclusive governance, provision of security, agriculture-driven industrialization, affordable and relevant education as well as health care, critical infrastructure, high speed Internet access, water, energy and transportation as key strategic sectors that he would address as governor.
He stressed that in line with international best practices his administration would also support gender, women, youth development and people with disabilities.
The output of these strategies, he said, would be job creation and improved standard of living for the people of Benue State.
Chief Dr Ortom pledged that he would bring the experience and contacts gained while serving in the Federal Executive Council to bear on governance in the state if given the mandate.
The former minister is the only governorship aspirant who has constituted a one hundred and forty-member policy and strategic committee to fashion out a blueprint for his administration. This again demonstrates the seriousness he attaches to the business of governance.
Dr Ortom has said and I quote, “If God has brought me out of poverty which He enabled me to fight and defeat, yet a lot of Benue people are still in poverty, then, I am poor. This is why I seek the mandate of my people so that we can collectively fight and defeat the poverty, ignorance and disease afflicting our state through the formula God gave me,” end of quote.
That is the philosophy which drives this humane son of Benue State, a conviction built on the zeal to affect millions of lives in positive ways.
That is the quality of Dr Samuel Ortom, his story and mission; the man who seeks to lead Benue state with humility, focus and transparency anchored on the fear of God.
His story which he told before the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, 6th July, 2011 during his confirmation as Minister was so moving that Chief Dr. Ortom was asked to take a bow and go.
Senators were stirred by an account of his background as a school dropout, a motor park tout and one who struggled to attain education through very difficult means.
After running through his curriculum vitae, Senator Ehigie Uzamere, moved a motion, asking the Senate to allow him to take a bow without further questions because of his sincerity in uncovering his background.
Senators described him as a veritable bridge between the poor and the rich.
Mr. Agerzua is Media Adviser to the Ortom Governorship Organization.