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By Rommy Mom

In the last four weeks or so, a gale of anti Ortom wind has ‘literally” blown off Tiv community listserves! Interrogation after another has followed. This is very interesting. We can after all argue this is democracy, and having given our mandate to Ortom, we should be looking over his shoulders, just so we not shortchanged.

The barrage of negative commentaries, and manner of it, if you look critically is a little too early. Ortom deserves time to deliver and at an appropriate time we can pass judgement. It’s like this: you give man a task to run for run for 48 months, i.e. 4 years, he has barely completed 2 months we all falling over ourselves as to who will make the most damning statements. In all honesty, is the period not a little too short for we passing judgment?

I am an apostle of managing expectations in this dispensation given the past the past administration battered our country/economy and the results have also trickled down to the states. Revenue is almost nil given what was obtained was nicely siphoned out. Salaries were owed for months, contracts unpaid, infrastructure in a state of comatose. The situation is bleak and not encouraging for the present administrations, both states and federal, all across the country. For heaven’s sake, is there a man who can turn this around in 60 days as we expect of Ortom?

Look at the encouraging signs of the Ortom Government.

Ortom is the ONLY Governor that Benue has ever produced to date, that consistently speaks about accountability, transparency and anti-corruption. He hardly speaks publicly without the word accountability mentioned. This is big. Yes it’s just a speech, but this where it starts from, and that is what we have to hold on in assessing, either mid-way or at an appropriate time. We should encourage Ortom and partner with government towards translating his words into actions. At this stage, this is the proper thing, except if our commentaries are politically motivated or out of malice, in which case, I will dare to question our love for Benue.

I am particularly encouraged that Ortom has in the realization of lack of resources, and given the leakages, is addressing issues at curbing cost of governance. Ministries have been rationalized. Same with number of key and Special Advisers. The usual retreat for government officials in Obudu and other exotic locations, has for the first time taken place in Makurdi, in the government house. These are encouraging signs we should applaud and make inputs as per further means of reducing cost that will free up funds for salaries and other projects.

Talking salaries, Ortom has been in power for 2 months, and salaries are now being paid again, whether borrowed from banks or from the federation account is no excuse not to applaud this. In the past, same monies borrowed or from federation account were not used in the payment of salaries! How Ortom finally pay off what is still being owed and inherited from the past administration, I think should be the concern of us all, and we should make inputs.

This is where our payment of taxes and other levies comes in. We are all involved. One cannot emphasize this point enough. Benue is in trouble as Nigeria is, owing to complete flight of resources and dwindling oil revenue. Benue must come up with a resilience plan at rescuing itself. We cannot make any headway in development from federal allocations alone. What can we do for Benue should be the cry now and not what Benue can do for us. Our part is to pay our taxes and other levies, maintain government properties in our care, serve diligently when and where called upon, make inputs and demand transparency in expenditures in a constructive manner.

However the news in Benue today is that Ortom is inflating wage bill because he is positioning to enrich himself from it. Please read again. Is this how we want to distract a person we gave the mandate to? Not that he is stealing, but the Prophets of Benue know he is positioning himself to steal! This is rather uncharitable. What are the facts on the ground? Ortom has reportedly commence biometric audit of the staff strength so as to ascertain the wage bill. This is commendable. We know the state is littered with ghost workers!

It’s been written and rehashed even by very the knowledgeable amongst us here that Ortom has committed the sin of purchase of cars for government officials. Pray, if all the outgoing Commissioners and State Assembly members left with their cars, are the present crop of officials to go without them.

I read the argument that appointed officials already have cars so why purchase cats for them. For real? I believe if a Commissioner, God forbid should be involved in an accident owing to intensive use of their private 2nd hand vehicles, we are very likely to descend on Ortom for failing to purchase vehicles for state officials. Commentaries against this should relate to the cost of the cars. So far non to the best of my knowledge has been made.

So much on the issue of whether Ortom validly won the APC primaries, was consensus candidate etc. This is before the courts, best to leave the court to decide on that. Yet a man who comes into the saddle of governance at this critical time needs encouragement, prayers and constructive inputs towards success.

Let’s not push Ortom to distractions, we all will be the losers, plus our dear Benue, the only one we have. There is however a thin line, a critical one at that, between constructive criticism and destructive criticism that is meant to simply harass, in this case, a public officer and distract him/her from service and the job s/he is elected to do.

The commentaries on Ortom should be sit away from this. If politically driven and with malice it serves no purpose. This is cardinal because if Ortom fails, Benue is worse off and we all fail. The Benue project belongs to us all. It is not Ortom’s alone. Criticizing Ortom in a manner to cause him to be distracted, even if it serves political exigencies is not in our overall interest nor profitable.

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