Samuel Ioraernyi Ortom, Industrialist, businessman, politician, philanthropist, administrator, and employer, was born on 23rd April, 1961 in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.
The fifth Executive Governor of Benue State was enrolled into St. John’s Primary School, Gboko in 1970 but later transferred to St. Catherine’s Primary School, Makurdi in 1974 where he completed primary education in 1976.
Ortom was admitted into Idah Secondary Commercial College, Idah, Kogi State in 1976. He did two years in the school before his father’s retirement in 1979 brought an end to his dream of completing formal secondary school education on account of inability to pay school fees.
Before this happened he had given his life to Christ and instead of idling at home to bemoan his fate he girded his loins and got into the Gboko motor park as a tout.
It was in the park that a Good Samaritan taught him how to drive because of his honesty and dedication to duty. Another helped him to obtain a drivers’ licence and soon after, he became employed as a professional driver.
On recommendation, he became a driver and confidante of a prominent Gboko- based Christian leader and politician, SamuIhur.
One day after close of work he hung around voluntarily in the house of his boss waiting in his usual manner, to see whether his services might still be required. That wait opened another chapter in his life which was to contribute greatly in raising him to his current status.
As he sat on a bench outside the house, the wind blew a piece of paper towards him, which he picked up and read. It turned out to be an advertisement for enrolment into the National School of Salesmanship, Manchester.
After reading it, he decided to apply for enrolment into the institution by correspondence, thus launching himself into the world of acquiring knowledge and certificates by correspondence.
In this manner he obtained the General Certificate of Education, GCE, Ordinary Level, and quickly followed this up with a Diploma in Salesmanship.
Ortom later enrolled at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and obtained both the Interim Joint Matriculation Board, IJMB, certificate, in 1995, and a Diploma in Journalism in 1998.
Later, he attended Benue State University where he obtained an Advanced Diploma in Personnel Management in 2001 as well as Masters in Public Administration in 2004.
Ortom crowned his educational pursuits with a Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, from the Commonwealth University, Belize, also through distant learning.
His working experience spans the private and public sectors as well as partisan politics.
His stint in the private sector saw him rise from the position of Salesman to Sales Manager with Gyado Foods Co. Limited. Shortly after, he got elected as Executive Chairman of Guma Local Government Area in 1991 in which capacity he served until 1993 on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP.
His eventful sojourn in politics resulted in his holding several high ranking positions including State Publicity Secretary of National Center Party of Nigeria, NCPN, State Treasurer of the All Peoples Party, APP, State Secretary as well as Deputy Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Benue State.
Ortom was also Director of Operations of the PDP gubernatorial campaign in Benue State in 2007 and Director of Administration and Logistics of the Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organization in 2011. He was also elected National Auditor of the PDP.
In July, 2011, he was appointed Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ortom is the proprietor and was chairman, Oracle Business Limited, a business concern that produces Goshen bottled and sachet water; Oracle Oil Mills, Oracle Printing Press, as well as Oracle Farms Limited which specializes in mechanized farming and animal husbandry.
Oracle Business Limited acquired the moribund Benue State Government’s Plastics Company and has, since then, invested into turning it around. The company is into polythene extraction, production of sanitary wares, sachets for water packaging as well as polythene bags.
He was also chairman, Capital Prints Limited which handles commercial printing, publishing and documentation, as well as chairman, Achive Engineering Limited which is into civil and mechanical engineering.
These companies have offered employment to hundreds of youth across the length and breadth of the country.
Ortom was National President, Independent Print-Media Publishers Association of Nigeria, IPPAN, and at the moment its Patron.
He was appointed chairman of the governing council of Standard Organization of Nigeria, SON, where he served with commitment and dedication.
Perhaps the greatest manifestation of Ortom’s humaneness lies in the establishment of Oracle Business Limited Foundation which handles redemptive, restorative and empowerment services.
Through the Foundation, Ortom has retained the services of Bishop Murray Medical Centre, and Rahama Hospital, Gboko Road, in Makurdi, for the free treatment of patients suffering from hernia and snake bites.
Through the foundation, Ortom also reaches out to prison inmates, preaching Christ, offering love and care as well as paying fines of inmates who cannot afford to do so.
Another outreach of his has been the Oracle Driving School which turns out qualified drivers on a regular basis to enable them get employment.
The Governor is a recipient of several awards conferred on him by scores of organizations within and outside the country including, Best Performing Local Government Chairman, 1992.
He was also given special recognition by the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, at the national level. As Minister of State, Industry and Investments, he contributed in attracting several foreign investors into Nigeria and facilitated the employment of hundreds of unemployed youths.
His added responsibility of Supervising Aviation Minister witnessed increased supervision of projects as well as reduction of debts in the Aviation Ministry.
Ortom is a politician with a humane and sensitive spirit. When the people of Benue State came under sustained attacks by Fulani herdsmen, he suspended campaigns for his governorship ambition for one month so as to concentrate on efforts to resolve the crisis and bring succour to his people. His reasoning was that it did not make sense to continue with political activities in pursuit of his ambition when the people he wished to serve were under continuous siege with hundreds being killed.
He devoted the one-month period to collaborating with the state and federal governments as well as other relevant authorities to find a permanent solution to the crises. The Governor extensively toured the affected areas, donating relief materials to internally displaced persons. It is noteworthy that this collaborative effort yielded results as the attacks subsided while concerted peace building efforts are being put in place.
A dedicated Christian, the Governor is a widely travelled man who has visited several countries in Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Married to Chief Mrs. Eunice Erdoo Ortom and blessed with children, his hobbies include badminton, reading, philanthropy, farming, aerobics and evangelism.
His grass to grace story, which he recounted before the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, 6th July, 2011, during his ministerial screening was so moving that he was simply asked to take a bow and go. Senators were particularly stirred by the account of his background as a school dropout, motor park tout and someone who struggled to attain education through very difficult means.
After reading through his curriculum vitae, Senator Ehigie Uzamere moved a motion asking the Senate to allow him take a bow without further questions because of his sincerity in uncovering his background. The Senators described him as a veritable bridge between the poor and the rich.
Ortom resigned as Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investments in October, 2014 to contest for Governor of Benue State on the platform of the PDP. When he couldn’t pick that party’s ticket, he decamped to the All Progressives Congress, APC, where he eventually won the governorship election on April 11, 2015.