From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Special Adviser to the Benue state Governor on Special Duties, Mr. Abraham Kwaghngu, has assured that by 2019, Benue people will be begging Governor Samuel Ortom to contest again.
He also speaks on the achievements as well as the challenges of the Ortom- led administration, the threat by the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore to mobilise its members to resist the Anti -Open Grazing Bill recently passed into law and accented to by the governor.
It has been two years of the Ortom -led administration in Benue state. The opposition is saying it’s been two wasted years. How would you react to that assertion?
Well, so far so good, I think those who say this government has not performed are not in touch with their people back home. They are obviously people who are living outside the state and perhaps who do not come home regularly to appreciate the positive things that are going on in the state at the moment. I want to say emphatically that within the last two years, the governor has performed and done a lot of things which have touched the lives of the people positively.
Like you know, when we came in the Benue State University was shut. This government reopened that University and was able to graduate over 150 medical Doctors who were stagnated for over 12 years in that institution. That is a feat. To be able to graduate that number of Medical Doctors from that university is not a joke. That apart, the governor was able to access and pay counterpart fund to Universal Basic Education Board, UBEC, to carry out renovation and construction of over 700 schools across the state.
In every community you have one or two classrooms built or renovated. We all know the condition of primary schools in the state before now, they are there on the ground for you to see, that is a big feat. And then a lot of hospitals and clinics across the state are being built by the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. The governor was able to access counterpart funds for that purpose. A lot of skills acquisition centers have been built.
Work is currently ongoing in several rural roads in the state, go to the rural communities and the rural dweller will testify to this. This is not rhetoric but tangible projects for everyone to see. Even the roads that were abandoned by the last administration are being constructed; they are there for you to see.
And in terms of peace and security especially in Sankera axis of the state, the governor has been able to restore peace in that area of the state where people were hitherto been killed, women and children in their numbers and the people were always fleeing from their homes for fear of attack.
But today the government has been able to restore peace in that volatile area and the people have all returned to their homes and going about their farming businesses and making a living out of it. That is an achievement we cannot take that for granted given the situation we met on ground.
Going by your submissions on the achievements of the administration in the last two years, what do you think of 2019?
2019 will certainly be about the people and I can assure you that when Governor Ortom completes his four years the people will be begging him to run in 2019 because what he has been doing for the state has never happened before given the level of transparency in governance, the openness in the running of government. He has restored peace and security in the state and went further to hand the state over to God. And you know that anyone with God is sure of victory because he only rules in the affairs of men. You know that with God all things are possible. If a man can disappoint you, God will never disappoint and abandon His own, that is the story of Governor Ortom who has handed everything about the state and himself to God.
Recently there was an outburst by the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, an umbrella organization of Fulani herdsmen, over the recent signing into law of the Prohibition of Open Grazing in the state. What is your take on the development?
Well, it is a matter of law; due process was followed in the entire thing. An executive bill was sent to the State House of Assembly which deliberated on it and also organized public hearings on the bill where all stakeholders had their say on the bill including the herdsmen without any contrary view and thereafter the House of Assembly sat and passed the bill. And on the day of signing the bill by the governor, he also called all stakeholders to witness the signing who unanimously gave their support. The law is about the protection of the lives and property of the people of Benue state who were being killed and maimed in their hundreds in their ancestral homes without any form of defense whatsoever. The people of Benue state are solidly behind the governor and the government on the issue. They are unequivocal on this matter irrespective of their tribal and political divide. Benue people have collapsed their political differences to stand with the governor. In fact, the people have formed a shield in defense of the governor on this matter and they are resolute in their defense of the governor which is the first time it is happening in the history of our state. So it is now a subsisting law and I don’t think any individual or group can come out now to kick against the law which enjoys general acceptance.
What has been your experience working with the governor in the last two years?
I must tell you of a truth that the experience has been wonderful. It’s been the best experience I’ve had in my life.
I’m working with a man who has the fear of God, who believes in due process and diligence. One who does not believe in anything that is evil and strives to address the challenges of the people, and despite the obvious challenges, he always ensures that things are done rightly. I’m truly fulfilled working with him in this administration.