The Pillar Ortom Is Building In Education

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It was a Steven Spielberg that said only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers. And like Nelson Mandela, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State believes that education is the most powerful weapon which one can use to change the world.

He believes in the statement that was credited to Aristotle which is, educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. Governor Ortom put this into practice when on May 29 2015 he mounted the saddle and saw that the Benue State University was shut-down for over five months, he made sure that the school is back today, after he negotiated with the authorities.

The governor moved for the accreditation of the School of Health Sciences. Therefore, fulfilling one thing he told his people of Benue State before he was elected as governor: He is experienced unlike newcomers that would be bent on undergoing a tutorial, a workshop or a seminar before starting their work as governor.

Upon meeting a very dwindling economy when he assumed office, persons like Senator George Akume had commended the governor for his stance in making education one of the 5 pillars of his government, when he came to celebrate Christmas with Ortom at Ortom's home in Gbajimba. The governor has not said a word without mentioning the need for the people to go to school.

At his hometown, he reiterated that it's only education that will empower them to pursue careers and gear up to anything, any position, in their future life. Governor Ortom does not only believe in education, but also has modalities put in place in making sure that every child in the state he governs has a basic education.

On February 14, 2016, the governor made public the Government of Benue State preparedness to invest N7.6 Billion in Primary Education. This is coming when the country's aim to achieve the Universal Basic Education was defeated.

It was at the thanksgiving mass and launching for the building of St.  John's Catholic, Church, Mbazemba, near Adaka, a suburb of Makurdi that the governor made the intention known.

There was the move to make sure that the schools his government is investing in heavily have equal teachers that will man the activities of lecturing. From primary to secondary levels in the state, the government spurred to boost the teaching profession in the schools with a heavily number of 16,000 teachers. With this move, Governor Ortom makes one to recall T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King.”

A statement in White’s work reads, “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

The governor knows that primary school is the epicenter of knowledge and he wants the children in Benue State to learn and form the base for a greater future, hence the primary schools should have a larger proportion of the teachers with 10,000 assigned to them, while the secondary should relax with 6,000.

It was not out of place when the governor's budget for this year was christened “Budget of trust, confidence and credibility.” There is a confidence in the people that at least 400 primary and 44 secondary schools across the state will be wearing a new look soon.

The governor is achieving in his basic education move for the children in Benue. Nigerians know that a once notorious gang leader called Tawase Agwaza alias' Ghana' who was terrorising a part of Benue and that of Taraba State, who surrendered over 84 weapons, did that because of the educational preachments of the governor.

You may call it amnesty, but the truth remains that “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library,” a Frank Zappa once said. Governor Ortom has gone to college and graduated and now, he has gone to library and wants residents of Benue State to join him.

The educational programme of the governor goes to re-orientate not just the primary and secondary schools students, but also Tiv people, farmers and herdsmen even in Agatu (the idoma side of Benue state), to dialogue instead of fighting and killing themselves in the farms due to misconceptions.

With the good works that Governor Ortom is doing in Benue State, it is evidence that he has been in politics for over thirty years. He has garnered much experience having experienced toughness to attain the educational height he enjoys today. He has a PhD! He was a Local Government Chairman and has headed several positions at the PDP party level and the State, before he was elected governor on the platform of the All Progressives Alliance (APC). He was Auditor of PDP and then, a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Governor Samuel Ortom needs the people's cooperation to achieve and sustain the numerous works he has started in Benue State. The assemblage of persons he has called around him in order to strategise on how to move education in the state to the next level should not disappoint. The Technocrats, Politicians, Traditional rulers and all sorts of people he has called together should venture into stringent research to move Benue State forward.

Written by Odimegwu Onwumere.
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