58 Hearty Cheers To The Man Who Never Backs Down
Chief Dr. Samuel Ioraer Ortom, industrialist, farmer, businessman, politician, philanthropist, administrator and employer, was born on 23rd April, 1961 in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.
He was enrolled into the St. John’s Primary School, Gboko in 1970 but moved to St. Catherine’s Primary School, Makurdi in 1974 where he completed primary education in 1976.
Chief Dr. Ortom was admitted into Idah Secondary Commercial College, Idah in Kogi State in 1976. He did two years in the school before his father’s retirement in 1979 brought an abrupt end to his dream of completing formal secondary school education on account of inability to pay school fees. Shortly before this happened, he had given his life to Jesus Christ.
However, instead of idling away at home to mourn his fate he girded his loins and got into the Gboko motor park as a tout.
It was in the park that a Good Samaritan taught him how to drive because of his honesty and dedication to duty. Another helped him to obtain a drivers’ license and soon after he became employed as a professional driver.
On recommendation he became the driver and confidant of a prominent Gboko-based Christian leader and politician, Pa Samu Ihugh.
One day after close of work he hung around voluntarily in the house of his boss waiting, in his usual manner, whether his services might still be required.
That wait opened a chapter in his life that has contributed greatly in raising him up to his present status.
While sitting on a bench outside the house the wind blew a piece of paper which was an advert for enrolment into the National School of Salesmanship, Manchester, towards him.
He picked it, read, and decided to enroll for it by correspondence, thus launching himself into the world of acquiring knowledge and certificates by correspondence.
In this manner he obtained the General Certificate of Education, GCE as well as Diploma in Salesmanship.
Chief Dr. Ortom enrolled at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and obtained both the Interim Joint Matriculation Board Certificate, in 1995 and Diploma in Journalism in 1998.
He also attended the Benue State University where he obtained the Advanced Diploma in Personnel Management in 2001 as well as Master of Public Administration in 2004.
Dr. Ortom crowned his educational pursuit with a Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D, from the Commonwealth University, Belize, through distant learning.
His working experience spans the private, public as well as political spheres.
He rose from Salesman to Sales Manager with Gyado Foods Co. Limited, before his election as Executive Chairman of Guma Local Government Area from 1991 to 1993 on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, SDP.
In the political sphere he has been State Publicity Secretary of the National Centre Party of Nigeria, NCPN; State Treasurer of the All Peoples Party, APP; and State Secretary as well as Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, all in Benue State.
Dr. Ortom was also Director of Operations of the PDP gubernatorial campaign in Benue State in 2007 and Director of Administration and Logistics of the Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organization in 2011.
He was PDP National Auditor before his appointment as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in July 2011.
Chief Dr. Ortom was proprietor and chairman, Oracle Business Limited the firm that owns Goshen Water which produces bottled and sachet water; Oracle Oil Mills, Oracle Printing Press, as well as Oracle Farms Limited which handles mechanized farming and animal husbandry.
Oracle Business Limited acquired the moribund Benue State Government’s Plastics company and is sinking N1 billion into turning it around. The company is into polythene extraction as well as making of sanitary, sachet water, packaging and polythene bags.
He was also chairman, Capital Prints Limited which handles commercial printing, publishing and documentation as well as chairman, Achive Engineering Limited which is into civil and mechanical construction.
These companies have offered employment to hundreds.
Chief Dr. Ortom was National President, Independent Print-Media Publishers Association of Nigeria, IPPAN, and at the moment is the patron of the association.
He was appointed chairman of the governing council of the Standards Organization of Nigeria, SON, where he served with commitment and dedication.
Perhaps the greatest manifestation of his humaneness lies in the establishment of Oracle Business Limited Foundation which handles redemptive, restorative and empowerment services.
Under the Foundation Chief Dr. Ortom has set aside funds in St. Theresa’s Hospital, Makurdi and Rahama Hospital, Gboko Road, Makurdi for treatment of hernia and snakebites free of charge to the patients.
Through the Foundation, Chief Dr. Ortom has reached out to prison inmates, preaching Christ as well as offering love and care while paying the fines of many who couldn’t.
Another outreach of his has been the Oracle Driving School which turns out qualified drivers on a regular basis.
The Governor-elect is a recipient of several awards including Best Performing Local Government Chairman, 1992; those of the Nigeria Union of Teachers and Nigeria Labour Congress in Benue State as well as Selfless Service Award by the National Union of Benue State Students, University of Calabar.
He was also given special recognition by the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers at the national level.
As Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, he has contributed immensely in the attraction of huge investments into Nigeria and facilitated the employment of hundreds.
His additional responsibility of Supervising Aviation Minister has witnessed increased supervision of projects in the aviation sector.
Chief Dr. Ortom is a politician with a humane and sensitive spirit.
When the people of Benue State came under sustained attacks by Fulani herdsmen he suspended the pursuit of his governorship ambition for one month.
He stated that it did not make sense to continue with political activities in pursuit of the ambition when the people he wished to govern were under continuous siege with hundreds of them killed.
He said he would devote the one-month period to collaborate with the state and federal governments as well as other relevant authorities to find a permanent solution to the crises.
Chief Dr. Ortom indeed went about donating relief materials to the displaced and collaborating with others in seeking to end the crisis.
It is noteworthy that his collaborative efforts have yielded results as the attacks have subsided while concerted peace building efforts are being put in place.
A dedicated Christian, Chief Dr. Ortom is a widely travelled man who has visited several countries in Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Married with 10 children and four grand children his hobbies include badminton, reading, philanthropy, farming, aerobics and evangelism.
His story which he told before the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, 6th July, 2011 was so moving that Chief Dr. Ortom was asked to take a bow and go.
Senators were stirred by an account of his background as a school dropout, a motor park tout and one who struggled to attain education through very difficult means.
After running through his curriculum vitae, Senator Ehigie Uzamere, moved a motion, asking the Senate to allow him to take a bow without further questions because of his sincerity in uncovering his background.
Senators described him as a veritable bridge between the poor and the rich.
After running a frenzied campaign, He was elected governor of Benue State on April11, 2015 .
Once again Governor Samuel Ortom proved himself a selfless leader when he decided to go against the establishment and take sides with the massacred Benue people against the overlords and oppressors. This decision nearly causing him his political survival, sturdy and unshakeable. He fought and spoke for those whose voice were taken away by the oppressors and their agents. He refused to back down even when all odds seemed against him, this earned him a mandate renewal with a resounding victory at the just concluded General elections where against all odds and wishes of the established power blocs, the people who dubbed him "Defender" re-elected him for this resilience and dogged stance.
58 Hearty Cheers to a man who never says never!!!!
Ati Terkula is a Senior Special Assistant to Governor Samuel Ortom on Media and ICT-SDGs