Samuel Ortom at 61: From a humble genesis to apex leadership


By Abrahams Kwaghngu

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State clocks the Biblical three-scores and one year on 23rd April, 2022. Samuel Ortom grew up in the years of fervent nationalism in the independence era when the nation’s founding fathers from the regions across Nigeria were driven by an uncommon passion fueled by patriotism for a greater country where ethnic and tribal sentiments are suppressed for the common good.

He faced hard circumstances that helped strengthen him and prepared him for the great leadership roles God ordained for him. He had his first unpleasant experience in 1979, where his first two years academic journey in Idah Commercial Secondary School in Kogi State was unceremoniously cut short following his father’s retirement from the Nigeria Police. He was unable to pay his school fees. Faced with a choice of choosing a life of crime, he chose to move into the Gboko motor park where he began work in the motor park doing odd jobs among the drivers, loaders and motor park unions.

His dedication, honesty, and Christian virtues eventually attracted destiny helpers to him as a good Samaritan taught him to drive while another helped him to obtain a Driver’s License which got him employed as a professional driver of a renown Gboko based Christian leader and prominent politician, Pa Samu Ihugh. This employment may have played a defining role in Samuel Ortom’s life. The relationship between the young Ortom and Pa Samu blossomed as it went beyond an employer and employee. Ortom with a natural instinct to learn, was soon able to learn many vital lessons from his Boss, lessons in political and Christian lifestyle.The life of Governor Ortom is a source of inspiration as his humble beginning confirms the truth in the Biblical injunction in Zechariah 4:10 which says: Do not despise these small beginnings…

The Governor’s journeys through different facets of his life are also marked by his often-dramatic victories. His determination to obtain formal education despite formidable obstacles again confirms that perseverance pays off when one maintains focus on set objectives. Divine providence enabled him to apply and complete his secondary education, obtained Diplomas in Salesmanship, Journalism, Advanced Diploma in Personnel Management as well as Masters in Public Administration. He crowned his academic conquest with a Ph.D in Conflict Management from the Commonwealth University, through Distant Learning.

His Christian lifestyle, political and business career, accomplishments marked valuable episodes in his life that brought out his determination to succeed through perseverance and his unshakeable faith in God often see him snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in decisive periods. There are enduring lessons to be learnt through his rise as a Local Government Chairman, State Party Treasurer APP, Secretary, Deputy Chairman and National Auditor of PDP and Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria following the rare honour bestowed on him by the Nigerian Senate on 6th July, 2011 during his ministerial screenng as the Senate asked him to ‘take a bow and go’ on account of his sincerity and humble beginning at a local motor park in Gboko.

The humanitarian and philanthropic leader has over the years paid for high cost of medical treatment of thousands of snake bite victims running into hundreds of millions of Naira in parts of Benue’s rural communities as well as granting educational scholarships to many Benue youths through the Oracle Business Foundation. Also, as a successful entrepreneur and industrialist, he employs thousands of youths through his companies and farms in Benue State. He was the first Governor to pioneer the establishment of ranches for livestock through a law passed by the Benue State House of Assembly, a law that has since become a model in the country being adopted by some States across the country as a solution to violent incursion of herders into farming communities. Most importantly he introduced the fear of God in governance having laid the foundation by dedicating Benue State to God in 2015.

He has always drawn inspiration from John 3:27 which says: “John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven”.

Also in Job 36:11-12 which says: “If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.

But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge”.

These two Bible verses emphasized on the hand of God in the affairs of men and obedience to His commandments.

As our leader, defender and torch bearer attains 61, let us sustain prayers for his long life, good health and divine wisdom as he maintains his firm stand on the side of justice, equity and fairness even as many people and groups continue to mobilize support to see him at the ‘Red Chambers’ of the Senate come 2023 to continue his crusade for good governance. Happy 61st birthday to our Leader.

…Hon. Kwaghngu is the Principal Special Assistant, Special Duties to the Governor