Ortom: Quintessential existentialist

The Great Defender of the Benue Valley, His Excellency Governor Samuel Ortom, celebrates yet another birthday next Sunday about 30 days to be out of office, having been in the saddle for eight years. This is a tribute to a very special man, an unusual, exceptional, bold and courageous homosapien I have ever met. Very much an under-celebrated special breed of his generation, but has enjoyed so much of exceeding grace of God to become what the world knows him as today. This is a man by share providence who has excelled where most of his peers met an end of the road to their great dreams. Ortom’s great vision to become governor had been in incubation 20 years before he eventually assumed the governorship of his cherished home state in 2015.

If a man stands for nothing, he can fall for anything. Our comrade, friend and brother stands for whatever he strongly believes in, even if he stands alone. He knows his onions and he is ever committed to whatever he is convinced to be the best of altruistic intentions. People deserve sincere and honest feedback, when they are still able to receive it. Good deeds should be reiterated, which will serve as an encouragement in the face of hostilities from people who extol whatever perceived human shortcomings far above their sterling qualities. Perfection is only found in our creator.

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Existence precedes essence and humans have free choice to create purpose and give meaning to life and living. An existentialist creates his own identity and attributes meaning. It is a philosophy that drives what a man stands for as it stresses the importance of human experience. Corollary to this is acceptance of responsibility for the results of their own actions. This philosophical premise best explains the persona of Governor Ortom. Adoption of his social roles in challenging the forces that desire the conquest of the Benue people may have shaped the public image of his personality. A leader deserving applause from a section of society and thumb down elsewhere for standing firm. He is a hero of the Benue people who will be better appreciated after he takes his glorious bow out of office to his future endeavours.

An illustrious son of Benue and highly revered, Senator David Mark, describes Governor Ortom as “an uncommon political leader and a man of the people,”a brave soldier committed to the well-being of Benue people.’’ In contemporary Nigeria, Ortom’s political trajectory made him a household name, frequently making the headlines along with his Rivers State counterpart and friend.

Samuel Ortom, a man prepared for leadership came into office with a grand plan of an agrarian revolution to take the ‘Food Basket‘ of the nation to higher heights as a critical source of economic advancement of Benue State. However, force majeure occasioned by the herdsmen crisis and flood; the key elements for his agricultural drive for food security which is land and people were under serious threats. The implications of all of these ugly developments was a serious distraction as the governor struggles daily to have a people to govern. His deft political moves averted a genocide; a deliberate mass killing of a large number of people from a particular ethnic group with the aim of destroying the Benue people and seizure of their land as well as their heritage. This tangible achievement I believe prompted a general of regular Nigeria Army, Senator David to describe a combatant civilian governor as “a brave soldier.’’ Today, a tangible number of Benue citizens are still in IDP camps either chased away from their ancestral homes by herdsmen or flood. The pain in the neck for Governor Ortom is the limited resources of Benue to handle a full restoration programme for the displaced persons and for total security of the Benue valley. He has done his best in the circumstances and posterity will surely vindicate him and Benue people value his rare heroisms.

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Governor Ortom is a role model to many, and his life and leadership style deserve a study in courage, patriotism, humility, selflessness, human decency and moral uprightness. He is readable like a book. His perseverance, persistence, focus and entrepreneurship stand him out as a man with the midas touch. He is kindhearted and amiable in his human relations, devoid of any iota of arrogance of power. His nationalism and love for our country is incontrovertible.

Ortom is a man of faith, child of Covenant who believes in God as the hallmark of his life and living. His commitment to the things of God is taken seriously just as he commits himself to the services of humanity. His devotion to God is exemplary. I have been privileged once or twice, to be a part of his usual morning worships with his aides and associates. What I found striking is the prophetic nature of a song (by Aunty Faith) which we usually sang to close the morning ministration.

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“We are able to go up and take the country (Benue)

To possess the land from Jordan to the sea (Benue valley)

Though the giants may be on our way to hinder…….

God will surely give us victory…….’’

The giants in the herdsmen and the flood really hindered, with failed threats and attempt on his life; but if not for God who was on Ortom’s side, when man rose against him. To God be all the Glory!

  • Ojomu is ex-Peoples Democratic Party spokesman

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