Why I will chose Hon. Emmanuel Jime over Governor Samuel Ortom
By Comrade Emmanuel Akade
Benue state is at a crossroad. The 42 year old state has been struggling to fulfil her early promise and potential. What began on a beautiful note with a stellar performance from the first civilian Governor, Chief Aper Aku has deteriorated into a somewhat eternal struggle by his successors to replicate, or at least maintain his legacies.
Dr Samuel Ortom is the present Governor of Benue state. He was elected in 2015 in what was a protest vote against the then PDP government mainly because of non-payment of salaries to civil servants. Because of that huge animosity, there was very little interrogation into what Ortom presented as a candidate; an error that has cost the state very dearly. Next year however presents another opportunity to the over 5 million residents of the state, to either keep faith with the status quo or seek an alternative, more progressive route to liberation, actualization and glory for themselves and their children.
Suffice to note that there are 91 political parties in Nigeria and to the best of my knowledge, no less than 10 of them have presented governorship candidates in Benue state. They are Rev Frederick lkyaan – People’s Redemption Party (PRP); Dr Stephen Akuma – National Conscience Party (NCP); Bishop Jim Okewu – Action Democratic Party (ADP); Dr Samuel Ortom – People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Lady Comfort Angula – National Rescue Mission (NRM); Hon Emmanuel Jime – All Progressives Congress (APC); Hon. Terhile Ayua- Young Progressive Party (YPP); Hinga Biem – Social Democratic Party (SDP); Hon. John A’hemba Tseayo – All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA); Paul Angya – Labour Party (LP) and Dr Sam Inalegwu Abah – United Progressive Party (UPP).
Whilst all the candidates and their respective political parties are optimistic of emerging victorious, judging from history, size and onground structure of the politcal parties in the state, there is a high likelihood that the governorship race would be a two horse race with the APC and PDP leading the chase, or at best, three with SDP thrown in the mix.
If this is true, it will be a choice between Former Minister and incumbent Governor, Samuel Ortom, and Former federal legislator and current Managing Director of Nigeria Export Processing Zone Authority (NEPZA), Hon. Emmanuel Jime. These two have held both elective and appointive political positions therefore if one will be chosen over the other, it should be based on their performance while they held such responsibilities.
Laying this preamble, I would choose Jime over Ortom for these evidence-based reasons; reasons devoid of emotions, ethnic and religious bias, political shenanigans, vile falsehood and propaganda that is attempting to adulterate our objective senses of reasoning. The logic is simple and as found in Luke 16:10, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
Hon. Emmanuel Jime who is also a Barrister at law, began his political career at the Benue state House of Assembly representing the Makurdi North state constituency, and moving on to become the Speaker of the house. He assisted the then Governor, Rev Fr Moses Orshio Adasu in establishing Benue State University. In addtion to reactivation and upgrade of the College of Education Oju, they conceived the concept of the Tarka Foundation, naming it after Senator Joseph Sarwuan Tarka, one of the foremost politicians to emerge from the middle-belt in the history of this country.
The administration embarked on other projects like BENCO roof tile, and the Katsina/Ala fruit juice company, but were not able to achieve a great deal because the administration was dissolved by the military just under two years.
Within this same period, Governor Samuel Ortom was elected Chairman of Guma local government and whilst lofty projects were being anounced oin the mass media, his constituents witnessed none, neither did he commission before he left that office.
The next elective position Hon. Jime will get is being the member representing Makurdi/Guma federal constituency at the National Assembly. During this period, he made meaningful contribution to debates on the floor of the house, as well as sponsoring several bills bothering around emergency response to flood and removal of presidential pardon for convicted corrupt government officials which were aimed at combating the challenges of flood victims in Benue and across the country, and also the wantom corruption in public service.
Also very important was his debate on ranching as a panacea to the incessant invasion of Benue communities by pastoralist herdsmen. It is on record that Barrister Jime was the first to take this position, quoting from his submission, he said,
“The National Assembly must also enact a law on cattle grazing and vest the powers of enforcement of the law on veterinary officers and district authorities in all parts of the country, in line with the Uganda model.
The East African country is one of the earliest in the world to enact a far reaching legislation on cattle grazing.
The Cattle Grazing Act of Uganda was enacted on October 31, 1945. The law prescribes punitive measures against indiscriminate grazing of cattle on unauthorised lands.
Section 2(1) of the Act states inter alia: “no person shall cause or permit any cattle belonging to him or her or under his or her control to graze on any land in respect of which there is in force an order made by a veterinary officer prohibiting grazing or in respect of which there is in force any order or rule made by a district administration prohibiting grazing.
Another subsection goes further to prescribe for the impoundment of offending cattle by a veterinary officer or district authority. In the case of Benue in particular, or Nigeria in general, it could be a second class traditional head.”
With submissions such as these and efforts of civil society organisations, the struggle for an anti-open grazing and ranches establishment law was born which culminated into the passage of the law by Governor Samuel Ortom on 22nd May 2017. However, the law in the hands of the governor has been, but just a tool for propaganda. Rather than seek concrete stepwise measures to ensure successful implementation of the law, the law which was passed on the insistence and unanimous support of all Benue people has been given a political undertone to discredit the governor’s politcal opponents in the eyes of the electorate. The passage of the law nothwithstanding, the ultimate good of the law is in the implementation and who fits best to actualize this then he who started it all together. This is another solid reason why I will chose Jime over Ortom.
Besides the joy of the signing of the anti open grazing law, Ortom’s time as Governor could be at best described as poor. His administration has imbibed and refused the let go of the biggest fraud in the history of the state when the wage bill was hiked to N7.8 billion; a figure which guarantees no less than N3 billion being lost on a monthly basis into private pockets through ghost workers.
When Governor Ortom was in the APC, he blamed the PDP for the irregularities in the wagebill. At some point he alledged there was a cabal sabotaging the system. He said, “The state government is worried as to why the wage bill keeps rising instead of coming down, in spite of deaths and retirements in the service. Series of measures have been put in place to address this issue, including biometric data capturing and salary verification exercise. We think that there is a cabal that is milking the state and feeding on the salary wage bill; but let me tell you, the Commissioner of Finance is going to address the press on this matter.”
The PDP through Former Governor Gabriel Suswam responded by saying, “It is rather funny and absolutely ridiculous that the government would claim it is paying over N7.8 billion as wage bill. At the time I left office, I paid N2.7 billion. I have the document of what this government paid from June to September 2015 and it is not different from what I paid. So at what time did they start talking about N7.8 billion which is rather too ridiculous. There is something fundamentally wrong with that.”
If PDP was the issue, one would have expected Governor Ortom to solve the wagebill problem through the various screening committees he constituted for that purpose when he was in APC but that was never to be. Now that he has joined the PDP, it’s expected that if the cabal was in the APC, it would be a nice time to expose them and reduce the wagebill for the benefit of the common Benue man. This also has not and doesn’t look like happening. It therefore leaves no doubt that Ortom is, in one way or the other, involved with the cabal sabotaging the progress of Benue state in that regard.
The wagebill problem has resulted into several months of unpaid salaries, pensions and gratuity despite several fiscal intervention from the federal government. Ortom has also plugged the state into unimaginable debts amounting to over N50 billion, investing them in projects that have only been completed on the staples of radio Benue without any physical presence just as it was when he was Chairman of Guma local government council.
In all fairness, Ortom has some achievements such as renovation of Government girls college, renovation of School of nursing Makurdi, release of N300 million for final accreditation of Benue State University College of Health Sciences, and also the glory he shares with counterpart funded projects with donor agencies accross the state, but this is not enough considering the monies that have accrued to the state. Just as the bible says in Luke 12:48, “To whom much is given, from him much is expected”
On the other hand, Hon. Jime’s time as a member of the House of Representatives saw tremendous social investment in both self sponsored and attracted projects to his constituency and Benue at large.
Jime’s self-sponsored projects includes a block of two classrooms in 3 schools in his constituency, and an ICT centre for Community Secondary school, Makurdi. His scholarship scheme saw about 1000 beneficiaries in his constituency and accross the state over a period of eight years. Law graduates were awarded N100k, while others got between N10-N20k. He also attracted he establishment of two health centres at Shagev and Mbalagh council wards; 5 motorised and 7 manual borehole, and for someone elected primarily to make laws, his contribution to the infrastructure of his constituency was impressive.
Lastly, Jime’s practicable disposition towards fairness and altruism, equity and responsibility is an advantage. Even as Govenor Ortom mentions transparency, accountability, justice, fairness, reconciliation, peace and unity as his mantra, the reality of his leadership style and administration is that of highly political manoeuvring, media-run propaganda, poverty of critical reasoning and, total disregard or poor consideration of long term effects and consequencies of instinctively and carelessly taken decisions on the overall fortunes of the state.
Benue state stands a better chance of development under the leadership of Hon. Jime than what is obtainable at the moment with Governor Samuel Ortom. This conclusion is dispassionate and was not arrived at by mere feeling, but through Jime’s time-tested personality, integrity, consistency and performance.
[contact-form][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”true” /][contact-field label=”Website” type=”url” /][contact-field label=”Message” type=”textarea” /][/contact-form]