By Tor, Shiekuma Felix
On 1st June, 2015, Dr. Samuel Ortom log booked his first appearance in Benue state Government house, now Benue people’s house, as governor. This attracted phenomenal applause from Benue natives, who acknowledged him as their long awaited ‘messiah’. Moreover, people were keenly holding up to discern him occupy the plum office. Like a blink of an eye, today he is 50 days old in office.
Even though we are yet to spot his comprehensive development blueprint, he has started taking into effect his words of honor. Key
political appointments are made, others are legally processing. Highly informed decisions on critical issues pertinent to the common wealth of the Benue natives have been taken. The cash drought that scourged the land for a lengthy period of time as a result of unpaid salaries is receiving utmost attention.
Hooligans and their patrons have been called upon to surrender their sophisticated weapons of operation and get compensation. This is just to make Benue state a threat-free environment for investors, who have been inveigled by our business-oriented governor to come and aid us in breathing life to Benue state’s dead economy. Similarly, superfluous numbers of Ministries and Special Advisers have been scaled down. This is a way of scrimping and saving money for other operations and bringing our economy from the brink of extinction.
However, the tempo of development that people were anxiously laying over to see and feel has to some extent been hamstringed by multifarious hurdles. This piece is therefore premeditatedly scripted to give a thumbnail sketch to that effect, because many people have already scowled their countenance, with slanderous assertions.
The unaccountable and wicked debt bequeathed to Ortom-led administration by his predecessor is the greatest challenge that temper with the velocity of development in the Benue state. The debt profile of Benue state surged to over N90 billions in the last report issued by the governor via his media and publicity adviser, Tahav Agerzua. In addition, more debt is hoped to be discovered as they dig deep into the financial records of ministries. To make it crystal clear Gov. Ortom met an empty treasury. This happened in the face of unprecedented internally generated revenue accrued to erstwhile administration via traditional sources.
On the top of mammoth debt, the past administration did not pay state workers for a lengthy period. Pensioners on their part put on wry face because of government inability to disburse their retirement benefits. Awarded projects were also abandoned; in fact, most of these projects are at their embryo stage.
Every rational being would give his thumb up that money is the anchor that sustains every administration. In the absence of money, government cannot meet up with her financial obligations. To make it more pellucid, it is quite unfeasible to run any responsible government and record development with an empty strongbox. Government plans, initiatives, programmes and policies requires appropriate finances to be actualized or put into effect.
It is therefore not time to crucify Gov. Ortom’s change team, because they found themselves in a tight corner. It is not yet time to hold Gov. Ortom accountable to his words of honor. The profligacy attitude exhibited by the past leadership crippled Benue in terms of development. This is why things seem not to be advancing. The visionless team spearheaded by the whilom governor shoved people into untold quagmire. In this regard, it is good for people who trusted Gov. Ortom and his team members to exercise patience so as to allow them manage this uninformed financial crisis.
The dwindling allocation exuding from federal government is not something to write home about; considering the debt on ground and financial demands of the state. Most states are also victims of this but if Benue State under Suswam’s watch had prudently managed state’s strongbox, we would have been guffawing by now.
Another conspicuous challenge is over-expectation on the side of the masses. People expect Ortom’s led team to transmute Benue state into London within the tick of a clock. The change crew is neither magicians nor miracle workers. Even magicians perform all the preliminary incantations before arriving at a desired result. So Political and economic holes excavated by umbrella for the past 16 years cannot be leveled up within a blink of an eye. Time is very kernel in restoring Benue state from apparent death.
It is very easy to dismantle raised structures but reconstructing the extirpated structures requires careful planning and dedication on the part of government. Moreover, annihilation is easily executed than revitalization process. This is the most reason why time frame is very central in reviving a pulverized economy, like that of Benue state.
It is indeed a back breaking task to declare free and compulsory education in Benue state in the presence of shallow rooted economy, as some Benue people are anticipating. This is applicable to other empowerment programmes and innovations people are keenly hanging back to see. Even though the change trailblazers are working below expectation, time shall tell whether recessive economy was an excuse for their underperformance or not.
Some faultfinding people who believed in conservatism had already taken subjective criticism to crowd-pleasing social networks; quibbling Gov. Ortom for not immediately carrying into effect his pre-election pledges. Some maintained that they lost hope in him because of his low performance. However, they are criticism failed to capture any of the newly inaugurated governors that bring to pass their swearing-in vows. This connotes that their opprobrium lacks substantial facts to convince any rational being to come to terms with their position. It therefore means time has not yet come to convey Benue change band to Golgotha for crucification.
The numero uno (number one) citizen of our great country, Nigeria, is as well confronted by multifarious criticisms; exuding from people who believe in quick and less laborious success. Some complain of his sluggish approaches in delivering his campaign promises. Others attribute his low performance to old age. However, the obvious reason that paralyzed his development tempo is skin-deep nature of the federal coffer. So it is obvious that Gov. Ortom is not the only person in the web of under development; his Oga at the top is also part of it.
Verily, Fulani eruption should not be left out when scripting about Gov. Ortom’s challenges in office as governor within the duration under review. In order to experience the desired development, insurgency must first be tackled. This is more so because an unsecured environment is not a ground for meaningful development. It is as well good to get through one’s head that tackling incursion of this magnitude has financial implications. Nevertheless, the thirst for socio-economic maturation has not come yet because Fulani incursion has to some extent challenged the execution of development-centered projects and programmes.
Moreover, government has a constitutionally recognized responsibility of safeguarding lives and properties of her citizens. Because of this legal obligation, Gov. Ortom invested much of his time, energy and resources to ensure that his subordinates are not thrown into servitude; that their lives and properties receive the desired protection. This became a priority because a governor cannot rule over trees, it must be human beings and if the masses’ lives are under threat, good governance becomes impossible.
The whole Benue people should have it at the back of their minds that leadership is a herculean task; full of hurdles. Like I said earlier on, good planning and time is very instrumental in every successful leadership. In this regard, the well meaning people of the food basket state should continue exercising patience and praying for the full execution of the long preached change agenda. Let us give Gov. Ortom-led crew time and see how they can paint a color other than black on the walls of the state.
Tor, Shiekuma Felix can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org