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Samuel Ortom: Executive flip-flopping when the centre no longer holds

Samuel Ortom was born on April 23, 1961. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from the Benue University and a Ph.D from the Commonwealth University, Belize, which he earned through distance learning.

Tope Adeboboye

His face hardly feigns defiance; neither does his demeanour depict the rebellious persona.

Add that to his perpetually timorous mien, and it becomes easily fathomable why not too many folks were taken aback by Samuel Ortom’s flip-flop of the passing week.

Last Monday, the Benue State governor announced his withdrawal from the All Progressives Congress (APC). “As for party, I’ve been given the red card and I’m now outside the pitch,” he declared. He then met with leaders of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja 48 hours later, alongside some other APC leaders seemingly desirous of returning to their erstwhile political abode.

Then on Thursday, following a meeting with APC’s new Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, Ortom sang new tunes.

“I am here in APC, a member of APC. I’m still flying the flag of APC and I only said I was given a red card,” Ortom said.

His short-lived defection was a as result of his falling out with his political leader, Senator George Akume. Everyone knows that all has not been well between Ortom and Akume. Only recently, Ortom sacked members of the Benue State Executive Council believed to be Akume’s loyalists. In spite of all that, however, Ortom had been evasive on his political future. Just last week, his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, adamantly insisted that his boss would remain in the APC.

In truth, Ortom’s sudden acquisition of nerve and courage on Monday appeared somewhat strange. Millions of Nigerians had expected something drastic from the governor many months back, in the light of the circumstances in his home state. But Ortom, many would assert, hardly comes across as one that could easily win a medal for his proactivity.

When rampaging Fulani herdsmen started invading his state with weapons of war and tools of terror, burning villages, despatching thousands of innocent and defenceless villagers to their graves, Ortom assumed a helpless pose. At the time, many expected a battle cry from the handicapped governor, but he donned a victim’s powerless posture. Some other governors not only shouted, but also took proactive measures to safeguard their lands and their peoples from the killer herdsmen

Ortom apparently relied on his law prohibiting open grazing of cattle and other livestock, which took effect in Benue State on November, last year. But the law pitted him against the Miyetti Allah Hautal Kore. The group not only challenged the legality of the law in court, it also threatened to mobilise its members nationwide to storm Benue to protest its implementation. Since the law took off, Ortom and his people have not rested from criticisms and physical attacks.

Right now, there are stories of land grabbing and re-christening of communities already conquered by the herdsmen in Benue State.

Of course, the Federal Government’s commitment to decisively tackling the violence unleashed on harmless communities by herdsmen has been questioned. But a state’s chief security officer should be much more than a crying baby, many have argued, urging Ortom to do more.

The situation reminds one of the Britons in the Middle Ages. When the invading Roman soldiers who conquered Britain were recalled to their country, the land of the Brits was left vulnerable. Raiders and pirates from Hibernia, now Ireland, started raiding the coastal communities, taking Britons as slaves. They were joined by the Picts and the Scots.

Bereft of a strong king or leader, the Brits looked on helplessly for hundreds of years while assorted savages pillaged and plundered their land and their people.

To be fair, even Ortom’s foes would not accuse him of complete muteness. The governor has, on several occasions, charged the Federal Government and the security agencies to arrest and prosecute the leadership of the Miyetti Allah for the crimes perpetrated by herdsmen in Benue. The Federal Government has been largely apathetic to such cries.

However, pundits believe that the last may not have been heard of Ortom’s political shilly-shallying, as he weighs up his options for 2019 and mulls where his bread might be buttered more between the APC and the PDP.

Samuel Ortom was born on April 23, 1961. He holds a Masters of Public Administration from the Benue University and a Ph.D from the Commonwealth University, Belize, which he earned through distance learning. His political voyage has seen him crisscross different parties, including the National Centre Party of Nigeria, All People’s Party (APP), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and APC. He was Minister of State for Trade and Investments during the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Beyond politics, Ortom is described as a humanist who does huge philanthropic works through his Oracle Business Limited Foundation.


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Posted by on Jul 23 2018. Filed under Benue, Governors, Headlines, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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