Ortom, his own Albatross

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There is no doubt Governor Samuel Ortom is a big name in Benue and Nigeria’s politics. From a humble beginning as Guma local government council Chairman in 1992, Ortom steadily climbed the political ladder to become a minister of the Federal Republic and two term governor of Benue state.

This is no mean achievement. The self acclaimed “Tse Party”, (literally meaning old, veteran or seasoned politician) has demonstrated this status in so many ways.

However, the Benue political master dribbler has dribbled everyone including himself this time around to score an own goal.

In 2015, Ortom could not secure the governorship ticket of the PDP, the party that has given him many opportunities including various positions in the state and national Executives of the party as well as a minister when it was in power in the state and national levels. The Guma born politician was then brought into the APC and handed the governorship ticket in a controversial manner.

He nevertheless, went ahead to clinch the victory against PDP’s Terhemen Tarzoor, chiefly because of his promises to right the wrongs of the previous administration led by Dr. Gabriel Suswam.

More sympathetic to him (Ortom) was the fact that he wept in a Church in Otukpo that Benue civil servants were owed four months salaries, a thing he wondered why a governor could do.

Ortom mounted the saddle on the 29th of May 2015, and barely two years in office, there was nothing tangible to show for it but excuses and blames why he could not record visible milestone. This led to a strong disagreement with his all time benefactor, Sen. George Akume, leading to Ortom’s exit from the party in 2018, to return home, the PDP.
He had blamed his benefactor for not allowing to work.

Back in PDP, months and years went by, without his hitherto obstacle, Akume, Ortom’s performance seems worse. Meanwhile, upon assumption of office in 2015 as Governor, he spared nothing to send his predecessor, Suswam to jail through a Kpojime Commission of Inquiry which leveled allegations of corruption against Suswam.

Many believed Ortom’s onslaught against Suswam was due to the fact that Suswam frustrated his (Ortom) governorship ambition. Ortom indeed, made Suswam to spend 73 days in DSS custody, making concerned citizens and groups to raise against the illegality.
But when he returned to the PDP in 2018, the matter became dead and both of them won their elections as Governor and Senator respectively.

Instead of focusing on the demanding job of a Governor, Ortom took to propaganda, deceit, blame game and blackmail, to cast aspersions on his opponents including the release of funny telephone conversations between him and particularly Akume. He would provoke Akume to say a lot, only for the conversation to be leaked.

Former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu was not spared of Ortom’s political battle. This led to Ortom’s joining the G-5 Governors to demand for Ayu’s head. Ortom forgot that Ayu comes from Gboko, a strategic place needed to become Senator as Ortom sought. He made the likes of Hon. John Dyegh to decamp from the APC to join forces with him to actualize his ambition.
Dyegh had enjoyed three terms in the House of Representatives on the ticket of the APC.

As if that was not enough, Ortom had disregard for the people of Benue such that he called them drunkards. He owed civil servants far more than any governor in recent history. Pensioners became beggars.

One would have thought Ortom would consolidate on the infrastructure especially roads he started tarring in Gboko, but it appears he has short fuse for political tolerance.

Few days to election, he grabbed the title of “Nyamkyume i Tiv”, meaning the dangerous wild animal of the Tiv, apparently to dread his way to the Senate in style with deceptive applause from his praise singers, a stunt he enjoys.

At las, the D day came last Saturday and the people who were patiently waiting, gave him the real red card with their votes, sending him off the radar to the Senate.

Whether he likes it or not, come May 29, he would retire with the title, “former governor” while those he had wished to retire may still be in active politics even with higher responsibilities.

Going by what he wished for people, Ortom’s retirement on the 29th of May is not enough. He should be made to account for Benue’s homongous funds that accrued under his watch, yet did not transform Benue even a little.

Ortom’s defeat should serve as a lesson to those who are reckless with power. Power should be for the benefit of the people, not for self aggrandizement.

Credit: Facebook | Tersoo Zamber

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