By Terna Doki
We listened with utter amusement as Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom on Wednesday took to a Live Phone-in Radio programme on Harvest FM Makurdi to display his leadership incompetence.
For listeners, it was yet another round of monotonous excuses, outright falsehoods and propaganda to mask his crippling failure as governor of the State.
Anyone who tuned in, thinking Mr. Ortom would use the radio Live interview at this auspicious time of campaigns to list the achievements of his administration was left most disappointed.
The governor spent almost three quarters of his talk time on a blame game and his now too familiar whine about herdsmen and ‘invaders’. But even with his “Defender” propaganda, Mr. Ortom made no convincing case on how he can keep the state safe, if reelected.
Rather, he compulsively admitted that the peace enjoyed in Benue now is due to Operation Whirl Stroke Commissioned by the Federal Government. Yet, it’s the FGN Ortom has been castigating on every campaign podium over the same matter.
Asked to explain the absence of physical development in the state, the governor was candid enough to admit he has not completed any development project undertaken by his Government. He shamelessly claimed this reality is propelled by an agreement he reached with State stakeholders to concentrate on salary payment.
One wonders which salaries the governor concentrates it’s payment, as state workers and pensioners are still in arrears of many months’ wages even with federal bailouts, Paris Club Refund tranches, special intervention funds, budget support funds and bogus loans. Could it be, he was talking about the workers in his ever expanding businesses expire, in Benue and China, suspiciously financed from the state’s treasury?
But throughout the two- hour radio program, most callers reminded the governor, workers are owed for up to 11 months. The pain, anguish and frustrated ran deep and soaked the voice of almost every caller, to the extent some went into open pleading on unpaid entitlements.
Not done with the lame excuse for his inability to execute capital projects or pay salaries, the governor made a wild, contradictory claim that his administration is ‘up to date’ with salaries. Even if Mr. Ortom’s education has impeded his ability to comprehend standard phrases and engage in logical reasoning, one expects that with the benefit of his Education Commissioner and Press Secretary in the studio, the governor would be properly schooled on what it means to be ‘up to date.’
Mr Governor needs to understand you can’t be ‘up to date’ when you owe salary arrears.
For a man yet to come to terms with the limits of incapacity, we are not suprised the governor in today’s interview, yet again blamed everyone else, including members of his own handpicked cabinet whom he branded Judases, for his dismal records as governor. Such buck- passing, as has become his official stamp, makes redemption for the governor, even by his few ardent supporters impossible.
A sick man must first admit his ailment before treatment can commence. Not in the world of Samuel Ortom who started off blaming Gabriel Suswam, then President Buhari, then Senator Akume, then nomads; and now his own appointees for his crass ineptitude.
Whilst the governor saw no qualms calling his appointees, some of whom were in the studio with him Judases, it might interest him to know the people of Benue consider him the ultimate traitor that has dashed their hopes and aspirations.
As he clearly displayed on air, Governor Ortom has never understood the responsibilities of a governor or leadership beyond making appointments, declaring vague holidays, drawing funds and spreading patronage to a clique. It is the reason he spent time on air in some queer display of dubious philanthropy, gifting keyboards, music speakers and other mundane stuff to callers who begged for favours; all in bid to posture as a benevolent leader.
This provides an insight into his understanding of governance. He does not see the role of a governor beyond the power to grant cronies favours. Or wait for those he has deprived and hardship has battered to come grovelling for assistance.
If Governor Ortom’s display of incompetence disgusted listeners, his flat out falsehood numbed them even more. He claimed he inherited a wage bill of N8.5bn in 2015. The governor’s memory may be short, but it is not so for the people of Benue. Mr. Ortom had in several media interviews upon taking office, admitted that the state’s monthly cost for wages was N7.8 billion.
And it is the reason Ortom embarked on series of staff audits, which laid off workers in thousands. Such fake exercises gave rise to the popularised ghost workers syndrome in the state. Today, Ortom reverses himself by claiming he inherited a monthly state wage bill of N8.5 billion.
But as recent as 2017, his predecessor in office Gabriel Suswam told reporters he handed over a wage bill of N2.7bn to Governor Ortom. And it was with the same payroll he handed over to his successor that he used in paying salaries for June, and July 2015.
Perhaps now that Ortom and Suswam are in the same political camp, they might wish to sit together and iron out a harmonised monthly wage bill based on their transition notes – even if it amounts to N107 billion.
The saying that even a dead clock offers the truth at least twice a day rang out loud during Ortom’s radio misadventure where he reeled falsehood after falsehood. He at least had some honour to admit that under his administration, not a single Benue indigene has gotten employment into the state civil service. And in spite of his sack of genuine workers, wage bills have kept soaring.
It’s left for Benue peope to calculate the maths and work out how a government with no any new civil service employees has grown its salary expenses from under N3bn to over N7bn.
The drabbest joke in the governor’s outing was his flat attempt at sarcasm, that Rt Hon. Emmanuel Jime is not in the running for the office of governor and that it is the Benue APC leader Senator Akume. While we note the governor’s satanic obsession with Senator Akume, we need not remind Mr. Ortom that Barr. Emmanuel is engaging the citizenry across the length and breadth of the state to pitch his vision to lift Benue out of its current ruins.
For Emmanuel Jime, the task to salvage Benue is urgent and he is approaching it with an unbowed zeal and commitment. The Jime/ Ode ticket, as soon as it comes to office in May 2019, will crack on with repositioning Benue in the areas of Security; Agriculture, Education, Infrastructure development; Healthcare delivery and public sector reforms among others.
Perhaps Mr Ortom has been too busy searching for cattle to round up, he has not taken note of the #JimeOde2019 movement sweeping across plains and valleys of Benue. #
Doki, a member of the Jime/ Ode Campaign Organisation 2019, (JOCO) writes from Makurdi, Benue state.