Interview

Ortom’s milestones in governance

Gov. Samuel Ortom

By Elvis Ogenyi, Ph.D

MAY 29, 2015 inspired hope in Benue State. It was this day that a one time minister of the Federal Republic, Mr. Samuel Ortom took the oath of office as the fifth elected Governor of the state.

THE day marked the dawn of transparent governance which the court of posterity will fairly judge. But suffice to state that in the twilight of his administration, Governor Ortom has not abandoned the thrust of his administration which includes good governance, optimum revenue generation, improved security agriculture-based economy, investment upliftment, STEM-based education, improved healthcare delivery, gender-responsive policies and empowerment of women, youth and people with disabilities.

HE may not have taken the state out of the woods completely, but he surely scored very high at different fronts to mould a new and prosperous Benue State. From social institutions to rural infrastructure and the provision of agricultural incentives, Governor Ortom has earned unfettered adulation across the state.

THE enumeration of his profound deeds in governance may be difficult but mention must be the creation of institutions such as the Benue State Pension Commission (BEPCOM) modelled after the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and charged with pension payments to civil servants who retire from the services of the state and local governments in Benue State.

WHEN fully operational, BEPCOM will proffer solutions to the hydra-headed problems of pension in the state. The pain and grievances of pensioners, which are not peculiar to Benue, will be assuaged and settled once and for all, and Governor Ortom will earn his full applause for a good initiative.

THE Benue State Health Insurance Agency (BENSHIA) was established under the Benue State Health Management Law, 2018 as a health care financing agency to help in the actualization of basic healthcare provision which is a cardinal objective of the Ortom administration aimed at making quality healthcare accessible and affordable to employees of public and private establishments in the state.

AFTER an enrolment with the agency, employees are to contribute five percent of their salary while their employers contribute ten percent, both pooled into an insurance scheme for subscribers, their spouses and four dependants who will also benefit from special health care delivery funds from the Federal Government.

THE persistent violation and assaults of Benue farmers by rampaging armed herdsmen led to the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment law by the state government in 2017. While the law appeared unpopular at the beginning, it is noteworthy that no less than five state Governors later emulated Gov. Ortom to introduce a similar law in their various states.

THE Benue State Sports Marketing and Lottery Board was established by Edict no 33 of 2017 to regulate lottery operations and make the betting and gaming industry in the state more amenable and productive.

APART from making sports a revenue generating enterprise, the statutory task of the board also include a collaborative mechanism to stimulate investment, protect consumers, create a conducive and sustainable environment for overall growth of the Benue economy.

IT was eureka! In the state legislative arm of government as decades of a ridiculous appendage of the executive ended with the establishment of the Benue State Assembly Service Commission modelled after the National Assembly Service Commission of the Federal Government.

WITH the Assembly Service Commission, the legislative arm of government is duly motivated for enhanced service delivery and saved of needless bureaucracy noticeable with the traditional civil service.

IT will be a disservice to posterity if the inclusion of Governor Ortom’s novel political ‘tsunami’ which swept across the state to mark his emergence as the Benue first citizen is ignored. Nobody could contemplate the opposition dislodging the ruling party in the state in an election until Ortom, on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform came to power in 2015. And realizing he was in the desert, he returned to his natural abode and wetland of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, after some time.

THE implementation of the State Revenue Law, 2015 significantly raised the revenue profile of the state from N250 million to N500 million a month while the education sector is a notch higher in quality and focus based on a commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics( STEM).

With the Benue Peoples Education Project (BEPEP) Governor Ortom envisions educational development through accessible special revenue with the release of N7.6 billion for the construction and renovation of primary schools in the 23 local government areas in the state as a necessary catalyst.

In the health sector, the graduation of four sets of medical doctors from College of Medical Sciences of Benue State University, Makurdi is vintage while the School of Nursing which lost accreditation seven years before regained its glory. A Primary Health Care Board was also established leading to the creation of 42 functional primary healthcare centres across the state with, support from Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

NEVER has Agriculture fared better in the state. A farmers’ summit held in 2016, while Benue State Agriculture and Rural Development Agency (BNARDA) in conjunction with German International Cooperative (GIC) trained 13,020 farmers in special techniques to boost rice, soybeans, maize and cassava production.

THE training of 16,950 farmers by the state government enhanced the CBN-Anchor Borrowers programme with their access to financial incentives through Bank of Agriculture and Excellent Micro Finance Bank as a friendly incentive.

ASIDE from the award of contracts for the construction of six new roads across the Senatorial districts is the completion of ten abandoned road projects with the construction and flag-off of 55KM Makurdi-Yogbo-Udei-Udei road in February, 2022 by Governor Ortom.

TODAY, the vision for a seamless land administration has seen to a trans-generational legacy with technology application. The Benue Geographic Information Service (BENGIS) is a valuable component of Governor Ortom’s vision for Benue State.

IT is necessary to include the re-engineered Benue Television on the list of Ortom’s milestones in governance as well as the overhauling of the Information sector for optimum performance through appointments in the ministry and agencies of information, culture and orientation as well as incentives and funding.

 

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