From Uja Emmanuel, Makurdi
When Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom assumed office in 2015 , he was confronted with series of challenges of governance.
The challenges were corruption in civil service, irregular payment of workers salaries, over bloated wage bill, dilapidated primary and secondly school structures and poor road network.
The most glaring was insecurity occasion by herdsmen’s attack on harmless farmers, which created over 500,000 internally Displaced Persons ( IDPs). The huge responsibility of feeding and accommodating the IDPs was Benue State government.
Out of 23 local Government areas, herdsmen occupied about 15, especially those closed to the boarders and along river line.
Over 400 people were killed by the herdsmen, with property worth #100 billion destroyed. This created a huge humanitarian crisis.
On January, 1,2018, 73 people were killed in Logo, Makurdi and Guma local government areas when herdsmen launched coordinated attacks.
Ortom went back to the drawing board with his team and he is gradually tackling the challenges.
On poor infrastructure in schools, the governor has taken advantage of SUBEB grant and used the funds to renovate, upgrade and equip over, one thousand five hundred primary and secondary schools.
More bids were being open for another round of contracts for rehabilitation of more primaries schools .
On projects, Ortom used the same method, by partnering with the United Nation for intervention in Millennium Development Goal( MDG) projects which has provided health centres across the three senatorial district.
Irregular salary payment is a thing of the past. Civil servants are paid as when due, unlike when its took two months to be paid one month.
The governor has taken steps to eliminate corruption by introducing E-payment is all transactions. There is no more cash payment.
One of the challenges which Ortom had successful tackled is Anti – Open grazing Prohibition Law. The law proscribed punishment for any one found rearing animals in the open.
The law has brought peace between farmers and hearders in Benue State.
Headsmen are no longer grazing openly on crops with impunity as was the case between 2015 and 2017, although there are isolated cases.
Ortom has stepped up construction of urban and rural roads, especially in Gboko, Guma, Ukum and Otukpo.
Makurdi has witnessed the opening of more access roads in new layout because of the population.
However, there is the challenge of pensioners. Recnenty, Benue state House of Assemby passed the Pension law and immediately Ortom has signed it into law and the board is headed by former Head of Service Terna Ahua, who has assured that very soon the issue of pension would be a thing of the past.
The governor is also hoping that relief may soon come the way of public workers through bank facility.