The joy that flowed across the length and breadth of the agrarian communities of Benue state when the Governor-elect, Chief Samuel Ortom of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was declared winner in the April 11 governorship election depicted a liberation of the suffering of the people. SOLOMON AYADO writes on the burden to ensure political stability and enhance rapid development
It is definitely an obvious fact that the vulnerable electorates are conversant with the stratagem of campaign promises of smart politicians who offer unrealistic manifesto during campaigns to appease for votes. The party lords build bridges where there are no streams; they shower the electorates with rare gifts, all in the sake to rate a conviction of their candidature preference.
Also, it is evidence that during campaigns, crafty politicians who have mastered the act of oratory and public speaking invent choice and appealing words to diffuse the turbulent minds of the people. They propagate and amplify half-truth campaign messages which ordinarily can be very unrealistic after the votes are cast and the candidates are elected into the desired offices.
Empirical facts have shown that politicians who are not attuned to the people at the grassroots suddenly relocate to villages during campaigns. They attend weddings and funerals, naming ceremonies as well as local markets to devise easy opportunities to deliver their campaigns messages. This tricky reach-out mechanism normally works favourably because the locals are poor and could easily mortgage their conscience for easy benefits.
However, investigations have further revealed that immediately after the electioneering campaigns, when the political heavyweights win the support of the electorates to acquire votes to defeat their opponents, they suddenly put up a new deceptive shed and quickly consider their attendance to local meetings as seriously downgrading especially to their acclaimed urbanized personalities.
This, to a large extent has hampered rapid development of both urban and rural areas. The politicians forgo their initial promises to enhance progress and however, imbibe globetrotting, purchase of exotic vehicles and foreign body outfits to perpetually intimidate the electorates so as to instil fear.
Ortom’s journey to Govt House
Comparable to the person of the Benue state governor-elect, Chief Samuel Ortom of the All Progressives Congress (APC), he is a core grassroots politician who rose through the ranks. His working experience as a professional driver, salesman and motor park tout cut across various stages before he was elected as executive chairman of Guma LGA of the state.
He has been state publicity secretary of the National Centre Party of Nigeria (NCPN), state treasurer of the All Peoples Party (APP) and state secretary, as well as deputy state chairman of the PDP, in the agrarian Benue state. Ortom served as Director of Operations of the PDP gubernatorial campaign in Benue state and director of administration and logistics of the Goodluck/Sambo presidential campaign organization in 2011.
Ortom became the PDP National Auditor before he was appointed minister by President Goodluck Jonathan where he served as minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investments, as well supervising minister for aviation, respectively. These steadily uprising and previous demeanour of the governor-elect has predicted he will perform wonderfully.
But before then, pundits had questioned the severe impunity with which the previous administrations piloted the affairs of the state and stated categorically that a poverty stricken state like Benue required a practical leader that would manifest physical but rapid development especially to the grassroots.
Indeed, since the inception of democracy in 1999, Benue State ruled by two democratic governors had witnessed physical and political developments but analysts have insisted that the progress is negligible and there is more that is needed to be done so as to equal the state with several advanced entities in the country.
This is because the education, industrialization and agricultural sectors of the state have completely crumbled, coupled with the non-payment of salaries of state workers by the administration of the outgoing Governor Gabriel Suswam.
Considerably, the general political attitude of the people is another thing that is worrisome. Stakeholders and party thugs including women and youths have resorted to begging and cheap blackmail as means of livelihood. They strive on peddling rumours and derive economic gains from the bunch harvest of their purposeful widely speculated allegations and falsehood.
Tasks before incoming governor
Moving forward, Ortom had quickly after he decamped from the PDP to APC explained that his defection was borne out of his vision and mission to reposition Benue and enhance the desired development. He insisted that he is committed to impacting a ‘change’ that will redeem the lost glory of the predominantly farming state.
This desired development, according to Ortom, would include giving priority to protection of lives and property, establishment of industries, creation of job opportunities to the unemployed youths, women empowerment, eradication of corruption, enhancement of modernized agriculture, as well as harnessing of human potentials among others.
“Let me reiterate my pledge to govern with the fear of God which would entrench core values including transparency, accountability, fairness, justice, humility, integrity, truthfulness, selflessness, integration, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace and unity which shall make development inevitable,” Ortom stated during his acceptance of his victory.
To justify the candid intent to move the state forward, Chief Ortom, had few days after his declaration as governor-elect embarked on a seven-day visit to the Peoples Republic of China at the invitation and sponsorship of two firms, Hongye International Limited and CGC that invited him to tour their facilities in China.
Accompanied on the visit by a delegation from the state which includes APC Board of Trustees member, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the purpose of the visit was to commence discussion with Chinese businessmen and women towards establishing partnerships for the development of the agrarian Benue state.
While on the trip, the governor-elect visited four provinces and Beijing where he toured the agro and coal power plants as well as water treatment, airport, road construction, dredging, and irrigation facilities in the four regions of China. The indication is to pull home the establishments to develop the state.
Fears over delivery
However, there are political watchers who believe that Ortom would not enhance the actual development which the state desires. They believe that the fact the administration of the outgoing Governor Gabriel could not deliver creditably in most of the sectors may definitely be extended to the incoming government of APC which, positive ‘change’ is her slogan.
Contrary to this position, a public affairs analyst, Mr. Elijah Fave in an interview with LEADERSHIP said he is very optimistic that the APC and Ortom would dwell on physical development that would practically boost the agricultural strength of the state and ensure economic stability.