Despite meeting an empty treasury, a huge debt burden in the face of dwindling crude oil price, which leads to low allocation from Federation Account added to low IGR, Governor Ortom has been able to intervene in several sectors as highlighted in the video.
By Godwin Akor
History was today made in Benue state as Governor Samuel Ortom dedicated the state to God in a grand style at the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, IBB, Square, Makurdi.
Governor Ortom who had declared a 14 day prayer for the state, lay flat on the ground to offer prayers to God for the states's redemption.
He listed the problems of armed robbery, kidnapping, raping, maiming, destruction of property and killing by herdsmen, political differences, drunkenness, unemployment, adultery, cultism as affecting the state and asked God to forgive the people of their sins.
The Governor prayed God to restore Benue's wealth and glory which evil forces had destroyed through sin and other evils in the past four years.
On behalf of the people he appealed for forgiveness, and pledged to do what was right.
As the Governor prostrated to pray, many of the people that attended the occasion of the dedication began to weep as other dignitaries including his wife, Dr Eunice Ortom; the Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu, Senators George Akume and Barnabas Gemade, the speaker of the Assembly, Mr Terkimbi Ikyange, and others who were on the pulpit with him knelt down.
The Governor also spoke about his achievements in the past one year and called for the people's understanding and cooperation.
He said apart from clearing arrears of salaries owed state and local government staff by the past administration with a N28 billion bailout, his administration has embarked on the construction of two new roads and completion of 12 others started by the previous administration.
"The last one year was busy and fulfilling and a year of uncommon achievements in service delivery. Together with my cabinet, we have carefully focused on my campaign promises, making every effort to translate my blueprint to reality. All I have achieved in 12 months is a result of collective effort and is beyond the expectation of those who laid booby traps for us. Now we can clearly see the hand of God in the governance of this state", he stated.
Governor Ortom said a N10 billion infrastructure loan was obtained from the Federal Government and noted that he has been able to effectively utilize the facility for the resumption of work on abandoned roads in the three senatorial districts.
In separate words of exhortation, Brother Gbile Akanni and Senior Pastor Paul Enenche of Peace House, Gboko and Dunamis International, urged Governor Ortom to purify his administration of bad eggs and keep doing God's will.
Our attention has been drawn to reports in the media credited to Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State that he and Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom had signed a grazing reserve agreement in order to get a World Bank loan.
Governor, Ortom categorically states that he has not signed any such agreement and is not even aware of the existence of such a deal.
The Governor believes that his Plateau State counterpart may have been misquoted because since their assumption of office, they have worked closely as colleagues but have not signed any such agreement.
He wishes to place it on record that when Governor Lalong with other All Progressives Governors paid him a sympathy visit on the incessant Fulani herdsmen invasion of the state last Thursday, he reiterated his stand on the establishment of ranches as the permanent solution and as the best global practice in cattle rearing as well as panacea for herders and farmers' clashes.
The visiting Governors were hosted at the New Banquet Hall of the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi publicly and those present including prominent sons and daughters of Benue State as well as journalists were present and all heard Governor Ortom’s position.
The following is what Governor Ortom said on the issue on that day:
"In those days when we had the land and the population was less. Just like I keep emphasizing, people who propose that we should do grazing areas and grazing routes, I tell them, yes, it can be done in other states, maybe. I don’t know, we are Governors of various states, but in Benue there is no free land, or is there any land anywhere for grazing? The truth is that in the fifties when cattle routes were carved and areas designated for grazing reserves the total population of Nigeria as at then was less than 40 million. By 2012 projection, Nigeria’s population was over 170 million and by by this year, it may hit more than 200 million. And likewise Benue state, we were less than a million people in the fifties. Today, we are over six million and we have farms and so there is nowhere that you can go and identify 10 hectares of land that is empty that people can go in and graze. There is nowhere in this state. I’m a farmer, four years ago when I wanted to acquire 500 hectares of land in my own village, it’s one of the remotest in this state where we believe that there is land. I went there and I had to settle more than 100 people to acquire the 500 hectares. So that is the challenge, the land is no longer there, the land that used to be, in the fifties, 923, 000 square kilometers is still the same land that we have and today in 2016 the land is even less but the population has grown. If you take away Bakassi that was given to Cameroon, it’s no longer the 923, 000 square kilometers. So this is the challenge we have and for us, we are not saying that people should stop raising cattle or breeding them but we must do it in a civilized way. All of us here are educated; we have traveled all over the world, to America, to Europe, and other parts of Asia. What is done is ranches, not grazing because it is impossible when development comes along the way it affects Nigeria and so we are emphasizing that we have no land for grazing."
Governor Ortom remains resolute on what he said in the presence of Governor Lalong and his other counterparts last Thursday and at several other fora. He reiterates that he did not sign any grazing reserve agreement for any reason.
Governor Ortom says the bill on cattle ranching which is before the Benue State Executive Council will soon be sent to the State House Assembly for passage into law.
Media and ICT.
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has announced the payment of 38% subsidy on fertilizer for farmers as the 2016 farming season kicks off in the state.
Governor Ortom made this known at the official launch of this year's cropping season/fertilizer sales and distribution ceremony which took place at Tse-Ukegher (NYSC Farm) Nyiev, Guma local government area of the state.
He said the State Government had approved the procurement of 5,100 metric tonnes, an equivalent of 170 trucks of assorted brands of fertilizer and 10,000 litres of liquid fertilizer to be supplied directly to farmers by selected competent fertilizer vendors at the subsidized rates.
"In line with the aforementioned, the state's farmers are to visit stores nearest to them in any of the 23 Divisional Agriculture Offices across the state and pay N4,000.00 only per 50kg bag of fertilizer or N2,000.00 per litre of liquid fertilizer", he stated.
Governor Ortom said his administration had also paid the entire counterpart funds required for the FADAMA Three additional financing, explaining that when fully implemented, the programme will impact on more than 5,000 farmers of the state in improving their production capacity, income levels as well as their livelihood.
He disclosed that the State Government had also paid its counterpart funds' requirements for the implementation of the IFAD-Benue State Assisted Rice and Cassava Value Chain Development Programme with 3,000 farmers already taking part in the programme.
He added that the early flag-off of this year's farming season was a deliberate decision of government to ensure that farmers get and apply fertilizer and other farm inputs at the right time.
Earlier, Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr James Anbua, thanked Governor Ortom for placing agriculture on the priority list of government and affirmed that the opportunity offered by the early launch of the 2016 farming season would be maximised by all stakeholders in the agriculture subsector.
Mr Anbua disclosed that the State Government had approved that 3,750 hectares of land in 11 land development sites be cleared and allocated to farmers this cropping season for massive production of soya beans, beniseed, rice, cassava and yams.
Others who spoke at the ceremony included the Chairman, Benue State House of Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Hon. James Gbande and the Chairman, Guma local government area, Mr Sam Agah.
Governor Ortom later cut the tape to officially declare open the 2016 farming season and demonstrated the planting of different crops on the farm.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has assured the children of the state that his administration will continue to implement policies and programmes that can guarantee their future.
The Governor has also promised that election into the Benue State Children’s Parliament, BSCP, will be conducted next month.
He stated these during this year’s Children’s Day celebration at IBB Square, Makurdi.
The Governor also read President Muhammadu Buhari’s message in which the President reassured Nigerian children of government’s protection, saying that his administration remains resolute in rescuing all the missing Chibok girls.
“Government is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of every citizen including children. This is because it is our primary responsibility as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Child Rights Act 2007”, the President stated.
Speaking earlier, Benue State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Barrister Mwuese Mnyim, said the theme of the 2016 Children’s Day, ‘Protect the Rights of the Child in the Face of Violence and Insecurity: End Child Marriage’, reflects the social context where the country’s children live and grow. She said the Ortom administration would continue to take the lead in promoting the rights of children.
In an address on the occasion, the Benue State Children’s Parliament, appealed to Governor Ortom to help in restoring the lost glory of the Parliament beginning with the conduct of the election of new officials. The children thanked Governor Ortom for evolving measures to address the problem of child kidnapping and trafficking.
Governor Ortom and his wife, Eunice later presented awards to winners of various contests.
This year’s children’s day was celebrated after two years of its postponement.
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, today signed the 2016 appropriation law of N150.7 billion with a pledge to respect the doctrine of separation of powers.
Giving the assurance while signing the law, Governor Ortom said he would not interfere with activities of the legislature and judiciary.
He said for the purpose of checks and balances, the executive arm of government should prefer a situation where the other arms operate independently but emphasized that their synergy would bring about faster development.
The Governor stated that his administration would comply strictly with provisions of the budget which has recurrent and capital expenditures of N66.592 billion and N84.148 billion respectively stressing that lawmakers should ensure its implementation through oversight functions.
He pointing out that part of the problems of the state emanated from lack of budget monitoring and directed the director of budget to ensure that extra budgetary expenditures do not arise, warning that if there must be such a thing, he must be informed so that approval would be given for a supplementary budget or other legal adjustments.
Earlier, while presenting copies of the budget to the Governor for his assent, the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Terkimbi Ikyange, had explained that it was increased from the initial N133.3 billion to N150.7 billion due to some ongoing projects in the ministries, departments and agencies.