Samuel Ortom: Cry, my beloved governor

By Chidi Obineche

Benue State governor Dr Samuel Loraer Ortom has been in the eye of the storm smarting from a horrendous bloodletting in his state. Sensational killings by Fulani herdsmen which have left his state broken, stymied, and bruised, gradually snowballed into a huge security threat and pain. Caught in a vortex of anger and grief, the governor this week found his spine to confront the ogre, spinning tales and waxing in courage. Hedged on all flanks by the heart rending grief of his people, the carnage put him on the spot, on the cross and he bared a torrid fang soaked in blood. Weakened by the people’s flood of tears,  he is forced to take the untrodden path. “Let me tell you, I am not talking about politics now. Whether presidency or no presidency, governor or no governor; whether I am reelected or not, that is not my concern. My concern is how to stop the killings that are going on, because I cannot be politicking with dead people; I am not a dead man” he thundered.  By this, he deposes that he who smiles in a crisis has found someone to blame.  He was aloft with the secret ingredients of crisis management, which according to English writer Andy Gilman is “preventing the bad from getting worse”. He swam in the eternal words of  Varmed, the Austrian philosophical giant that exposes crisis as “ One unique opportunity to change your path, to explore new opportunities, to help you become the person you were meant to be”. He was quick with the facts, smart with the blame. He tried to pander to different shades, seeking to understand in real time, struggling to yield, tilt and navigate to perfection. He feigned emptiness, chanced on a thread that could be existential. This bloodbath, this massacre has opened a floodgate of inexcusables, forced men to think, and forged a leeway for men like him to get their pants on. The anger is like a tea –bag, a time down the road.

Ortom seems to remind us that no conflict can survive without your involvement and just like Peter Drucker said decades ago, “rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility”. And makes a crowned head uneasy. Ortom has violated the Noah rule: predicting rain doesn’t count; building arks does. He can seek hope via metrics. He may be off the fence, but he needs to look at the sky, learn another language to travel, understand the undercurrents and accomplish the most. This, Paulo Coelho laid bare with “Life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself at its most brilliant”. Ortom can be the vessel to implant in us that Change doesn’t come from Abuja. Change Comes to Abuja. The desegregation of our diversity can form a huge part of the march towards freedom and unity in Nigeria. This is because crisis sometimes breeds clarity. Even as a governor he can find a hero in him. Ortom knows that “your blood- their life can one day be “their blood- your life”. He may also be taunting the blood hounds that when you give blood you give another birthday, another anniversary, another day of sunshine, another night under the stars and that in itself may not call down power. It arises on a foundation of nonsense giving wings to its pseudoscience.  His grief reverberates with Thomas Harris admonition that “When the fox hears the rabbit scream, he comes a – running; but not to help”. This seems to be his fix, a clarion call for all to get involved with clinical coolness. This is the sacredness of his tears, a stamp of his power which wrenches the heart. It is the love he wants to give to his people but cannot. And it gathers in the corner of his eyes, the lump in his throat, and in that hallowed part of his soul. Cry, my beloved governor.

He was born on April 23, 1961.He completed his primary school education at St Catherine’s Primary School, Makurdi in 1976. He attended Idah Secondary Commercial College, Idah, Kogi state but dropped out after his father’s retirement. Thereafter, he became a tout at the Gboko Motor Park. He later obtained the General Certificate of Education as well as Diploma in Salesmanship. He obtained a diploma in Journalism at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He also bagged an Advanced Diploma in Personnel Management as well as Master of Public Administration from the Benue State University in 2004. Among other political offices he occupied includes National Auditor of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and a minister under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. He is married with children.

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Author: Uche Atuma