By Odeh Ageh
Celebration of one-year in office by governments at all levels reached a climax on May 29 with various activities to mark the occasion.
While political leadership was in the spotlight, the Fourth Estate of the Realm, the media, also joined in the frenzy in its own way. In its role as the watchdog of the society, the media carried out its duties in its traditional method of x-raying the performances of leaders and coming up with results of its assessment.
While carrying out the assessment on the present government in Nigeria, the media came out with its verdict on each state government.
Benue State on its part received its own verdict across national dailies and the over all assessment is a harvest of accolades, over sterling performances, for Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration.
Vanguard Newspapers rated Governor Ortom’s administration high in the critical sectors of the economy.
It rated the government high in security, using its Amnesty programme as its masterstroke. It said: “One of the major achievements of the administration was the offer of amnesty to armed groups and individuals in the state who were encouraged to surrender arms in their possession and in turn offered cash as incentives.
The newspaper also poured accolades on the state government in the area of infrastructure development in which it said the government “paid over N5bn as counterpart funding to international organizations for the development of critical infrastructure in the health sector.”
Vanguard heaped praises on the government on its efforts at developing education sector especially the construction and rehabilitation of schools of Nursing and Midwifery which had its accreditation withdrawn several years back, accreditation of the School of Health Science of Benue State University that led to the graduation of its students 12 years after enrollment as well as planned renovation and construction of primary education sector.
The newspaper further praised the government in the area of road construction in which it noted that “government awarded 24km Mobile Police Barracks Welfare Quarters Road, the Daudu Gbajimba Road, as well as the Mu Bridge and the 40km Gbajimba-University of Agriculture roads.”
The newspaper also heaped praises on the government in the area of “road construction” in which “the state government has awarded contract for eight roads to be constructed.”
Vanguard also noted that “cash crunch” was the bane of the otherwise focused administration.
Leadership, on the other hand, opined that what “earned the Ortom administration excellent rating in some quarters is his Amnesty Programme for criminals in the state.
The newspapers in agreement were also quick to add that despite the performances of the governor, the operations of his administration were hindered by paucity of funds occasioned by dwindling accruals to the state coffers from the Federation Account.
Referring to this state of affairs, ThisDay newspapers said “since its inauguration into office, the government has been bedeviled with problems of funds.”
According to leadership newspapers, while Ortom’s government swung into action in a way aimed at taking the state out of the woods “lack of funds because of dwindling federal allocations’ was its albatross.
Another issue that the paper agreed was slowing the administration down was attacks by herdsmen which they noted had taken a heavy toll on the state.
The rating is quite good for our democracy but the area that needs a rethink is where ThisDay came out with poor rating which does not really reflect the overall assessment by the same newspaper and similar others.
*Ageh is Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Benue State