Governor Samuel Ortom’s knee-jerk response to valid questions on his six-year maladministration of Benue State bears his usual vitriolic trademarks of being long on recitative rhetoric and short on logic.
The task of laundering Ortom’s permanently stained reputation garments now falls on one Nathaniel Ikyur who once functioned as a reporter in Abuja for a few national dailies but is now domiciled in Makurdi as Ortom’s “principal” Special Assistant on media. Any discerning individual will not envy Ikyur’s task. He has been saddled with the herculean responsibility of marketing an irredeemably bad or at best a substandard product.
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There is a dangerous trend within Ortom’s circle where it seems they have conspired among one another to demonise anybody who thinks outside their myopic horizon. For any opponent of Ortom’s tragic performance as governor, there is a ready label. The common labels are “Buhari apologists”, “Miyetti Allah”, “crumbs eaters” “enemies of Benue”, etc.
The most annoying part for me is the idea that clearly half-educated people and sub-provincial local champions should lead opinions and recruit otherwise sophisticated people into their choir of hate. To them, it is okay for their principal to openly insult the President of Nigeria employing near treasonable words but it is a betrayal for Benue citizens to call him to account for his six-year stewardship. It is “speaking truth to power” for the governor to perpetually play the victim by singling out the security challenges in Benue as the reasons for the absence of development.
It is true that Nigeria has been ravaged by previously unforeseen security challenges under the Buhari presidency. The president himself is the first to admit the frightening state of affairs. However, to continue basking in this reality as if the insecurity exists only in Benue State amounts to hiding behind a finger.
Mr Ikyur seems to be excited at the president’s mentioning of his principal in passing during the Arise TV interview. He is orgasmic like a “dis-virgined” teenager because in his head, all the rubbish they spew against the president has got to him.
Another worrisome dimension is the effrontery by Ikyur to mention Zulum and Ortom in the same sentence. It’s like comparing Somalia with Dubai. In two years, Zulum has delivered 560 projects. The president in a recent visit which lasted only five hours had time to only inaugurate seven.
Ortom celebrates the rehabilitation of a few roads in some townships in Benue and touts these tokens as what the people should be grateful for. Recently, he brought in four governors to inaugurate a 4km-resurfaced road in Gboko town. The joke on the street is “one kilometre for one Governor.”
Ortom and his hirelings dodge every opportunity to engage in dispassionate debates. They will always answer a simple question such as “what has your governor done about the poor infrastructure in the state?” with an answer such as “you are angry because you were sacked from teaching service board.” Another answer is “you are a disgruntled APC apologist.” Yet another will be “you are a Fulani agent.” Interestingly, none of these stereotypical slogans answer to the grave situation in Benue.
Nathaniel Ikyur is quick to pronounce labels on everyone who opposes Ortom. He calls such people “eaters of crumbs.” The debate, however, isn’t about what pattern the reward system is but what every elected official has done with resources available to them. For Ortom, the resources have been regular monthly FAAC, bailout funds, budget support, Paris Club debt refunds, commercial loans, intervention funds, grants from donor agencies, IGR, etc.
Should Ortom be allowed to keep drumming the passage of a grazing law passed in 2017 as Benue’s El-Dorado? Is there nothing else to talk about? Can we have Ortom’s scorecard and cross match it with the resources he has received?
Ortom, who prides himself as a crusader for justice and speaker of truth to power, does not have the nerves to take questions. Even if he has been allowed to get away with his malfeasance so far, he should at least know that he is governing a state of very educated and cosmopolitan people.
Ikyur should please tell Ortom it is time to account for six years of stewardship and a further painful two years to follow, if he does not change his style by doubling down to build people-oriented legacy projects for posterity. Enough of this litany of excuses!
Dan-Mogan Ihomun is President, Benue Patriotic Front (BPF)