By Titus Foga
Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States once said, “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance”.
This typifies the life of Samuel Ortom, the 5th democratically elected Governor of Benue State. Since he came to power, he has continued to demonstrate uncommon characteristics of a true nationalist.
His unvarnished passion for his state and country has so portrayed him erroneously in the eyes of many as a stubborn leader.
His boldness and fearless posture for consistently confronting the leadership at the centre and desperately finding measures to protect his people and state has further made him look like such. But this is a wrong judgement.
Ortom has demonstrated other distinctive leadership traits, sedulously practising all these as a leader.
Take his signature cap (colours) for instance. It is the ‘Unity Cap.’
The multicolours on the Unity Cap symbolises first, the three traditional colours of the dominant ethnicities in his state. These are the black and white which represents the Tiv. Red and black for the Idoma nation while the Igede that is the third-largest tribe in the state has its colours of blue and black well imprinted. The nation’s green white green colours wrap up the unification message Governor Ortom preaches.
The Governor of the Food Basket state is so proud of his heritage that hardly can one see him, home or overseas without him adorning his signature cap beautifully made with the unity colours.
The designers of these attires and the cap in particular are local artisans from this state.
Moreover, the producers of these attires, the local artisans are fully patronized and are making good returns as hundreds of these dresses are occasionally ordered by the Governor and his administration for special government functions.
This means that the Governor to a large extent, has sufficiently demonstrated his adherence to patronizing local products.
Furthermore, the magnitude Ortom’s administration is patronizing Innoson Vehicles is equally a pointer that he indeed is poised to encourage home business.
Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Co. Ltd. is a Nigerian automobile manufacturer with headquarters in Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria. It is founded by Chief Innocent Chukwuma Nwala.
Findings have shown that between 2017 to date, over a hundred Innoson Vehicles, have been purchased and supplied to Benue state Government for use by its officials and traditional rulers.
Just last week, the State Executive Council, approved the purchase of yet another 30 Innoson Charis Brand to be assigned to officials of the state.
These motivational gestures Governor Ortom is helping to build our economy and has depicted him as a true nationalist who keeps demonstrating his commitment to supporting Nigerian-made products.
In addition, the Benue state government over the past six years has succeeded in redirecting the thinking of the people back to the farm. The governor believes that the state has an advantage in agriculture and must be maximally utilised. Civil Servants and political appointees have continued to make gains with the proceeds from their farms. This is beginning to help them stop their overreliance on buying food, and in some instances, processed commodities in the market for consumption. A good percentage of the people of the state now cultivate their farms.
Although the government’s decision to declare public holidays during the cropping and harvest seasons were resisted, for over two years now, many civil servants and Government appointees are feeding their families from the food they are producing on their farms. This, it has been discovered has yielded tremendous results to the benefit of the people who took advantage of it.
Despite the challenges occasioned by activities of marauding Fulani herdsmen across the state, there is still evidence of huge harvests among some Benue markets. Although this could be better seen if the federal government takes steps and attend to the cries of Governor Ortom to ensure that majority of the farming population of the state stuck in Internally Displaced camps away from their communities are aided to go back to their ancestral lands.
This has been the Governor’s consistent anger against the federal government of President Muhammadu Buhari. It has never been personal. Ortom like many other people feel, and rightly too that the President has exhibited unsatisfactory conduct in handling the insecurity challenges affecting the state, nay Nigeria. This is what should be understood.
Ortom’s anger is ably justified. He has continued to ask why invading killer herdsmen are being pampered while a section of his people are habitually being prevented by same Fulanis from accessing their land for cultivation.
Thus, when a leader is consistent in promoting his heritage, standing for his people and carving a niche for himself for vowing to die for same people, then, he can only be believed to be an ideal nationalist.
It is with this in mind that I conclude that Governor Ortom stands out unarguably
as a true nationalist in leadership. And so I ask, could such a man so deeply in love with his state and nation be considered otherwise just because of political considerations? The answer, as far as I know, is a big no. He is one leader whose love for Benue and Nigeria is unparalleled. Let’s support him
Foga is a Public Affairs analyst and contributed this piece from Makurdi.