Connect with us

Opinion

RECOLLECTIONS: TIME FLIES AND CHANGES EVERYTHING

Spread the love

 

Advertisement

*Tivlumun Gabriel Nyitse was former Bureau Chief of the defunct “National Concord” Newspapers in-charge of the North Central and North East zones, with headquarters in Jos, Plateau State. He was subsequently Editor of the Benue State-owned “The Voice” newspapers and thereafter Managing Editor of the Benue Printing and Publishing Corporation, (BPPC). He served as Permanent Secretary for: Establishment; Information and Culture; and Government House Administration, variously and respectively, all in Benue State Civil Service. He holds a doctorate in Mass Communication and took up appointment as a Lecturer at Bingham University, Karu, near Abuja, in 2016, years after his retirement from the civil service. He was a Senior Lecturer in the University before his appointment as Chief of Staff to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, November 22, 2021. As he marks his first year on the job, he shares his experiences working at close quarters with the fourth in the line of military and civilian governors he has served, in his state.*

 

Advertisement

*By Tivlumun Nyitse, PhD*

On Monday November 22, 2021, in the new capacity-filled Banquet Hall of the Government House Makurdi, I took the oath of office, as Chief of Staff, (COS), to Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State. It was administered by the governor and I assumed office as his new COS. I succeeded the former holder of the office who had resigned his appointment to run for the governorship of the state, ahead of the 2023 general elections. The event marked my third tour of duty at the Benue State Government, House Makurdi. I had previously served as the Director of Press/Chief Press Secretary under the military administrations of Group Captain Joshua Obademi, and Col. Aminu Isa Kontagora (of blessed memory), between 1993 and 1999.

Advertisement

I had equally functioned as Permanent Secretary, Government House Administration, (PS-GHA) for almost seven years under the administration of former Governor Gabriel Torwua Suswam, who now a Senator of the Federal Republic. I operated in this capacity from June 2007 to January 2014. It is imperative to lay this background to foreground the fact that I have, over the years, garnered the cognate exposure and experience in the workings of government, within the Government House system. With such aggregated insights, many people around me spontaneously assumed that my brief as the COS, the to-go person, to the governor will be a walk in the park. How very wrong they were!

Samuel Ortom emerged victorious in the gubernatorial election of 2015. It was a classic manifestation of what pentecostals will describe as “God ordering one’s steps.” Ortom participated in the primary of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP), which produced Terhemen Tazoor as the party’s flagbearer. I also aspired to be governor under the same party, but lost at the primary election. Ortom believed he was unjustly treated in the primary where he emerged third, behind former Deputy Governor, Stephen Lawani. He thus crossed over to the All Progressives Congress, (APC). He was embraced by his new political family and handed the governorship ticket.

Advertisement

Having previously retired from my position as permanent secretary from the Benue State Civil Service, l left the state to join the services of the Bingham University, Karu, Nasarawa State in 2016. It was an opportunity to pursue a residual interest which I had nursed over the years, as an academic. I remained an active member of the PDP and one of the major stakeholders and elders of the party, nonetheless. This prominence was duly conferred on me as a former frontline governorship aspirant and a loyal party member. Indeed, in the build up to the 2019 governorship elections, I was pressured to aspire once again to the governorship. While I made the “consultation” rounds, Ortom crossed over to the PDP, convinced the APC government at the centre was not doing enough to check recurring herdsmen’s invasions in Benue State. Nigeria’s political tradition provides that if an incumbent holder of office crosses over to a new party, he is automatically granted the right of first refusal to any office he aspires to, in the new party. To this extent, Ortom was vested with the governorship ticket of the PDP.

Sometime in October 2021, Governor Ortom reached out to me. We had a conversation on the need for me to come back to the state and work with him as his COS. My first reaction was to ask him for some time to reflect on his proposition. After poring through some considerations, I honoured the invitation. Among other things, Ortom and I had worked together on some political projects before in Guma local government area, (LGA), where we both come from. Secondly, while we all aspired to the governorship position, we remained very cordial and held each other in high very regards. Therefore the decision to accept the was easy to make. Some people who didn’t understand my position felt I should have rejected the offer. Others applauded my humility in leaving my new love, the academia, to assist my brother in the home stretch of his service to our people. Understandably, local lore has described my inauguration on November 22, 2021, as the most-attended in a Government House facility, in ages.

Advertisement

Working with Governor Samuel Ortom in the last twelve months has been a potpourri of experiences in leadership and human resource management. It has been a new journey in work ethics and a complete curriculum in the new dynamism of political engineering processes. One is not really surprised that Ortom presents an enigmatic and novel dynamism in the running of government business because of his experiences in life which he is quick to share at any prompting. Governor Ortom is a case study in dogged determination and raw courage to change the course of his destiny. His street-wise philosophy and deep religious beliefs, are manifest in his day-to-day chores. To refresh our memories, not many Nigerians would do what Ortom did on the floor of the “red chambers” of the Nigerian Senate in 2011, when he was screened by the Senate following his nomination as minister, by the then president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Ortom while introducing himself on live television, told the whole world that he started life as motor park tout! As at when he was being screened, however, he was proud to hold a doctorate degree! Most people with his kind of background would have tried to deodorize their past, to make it smell nice. I have, since assumption of duty as his Chief of Staff, become a student of renewed humility. I had, hitherto, ascribed this toga to myself, but in Ortom I have probably found a much humbler personality. Here is a governor who is quick to apologise to his lowest of subordinates whenever he feels that his actions towards such staff or associates, were untoward. He’s not one of those who carries a chip on their shoulders. But behind this gentle and humble mien is a leader with a strong character and very deep in reilgious philosophy.

Advertisement

I have always wondered where Ortom gets the energy to discharge the daunting task of governing a complex state like Benue. Ours is a state with very poor revenue base, almost 90% dependent on the federation account. We are contending with ethnic suspicion between the major ethnic groups in the state, while also managing an agitated pension populations. The civil service is restive, with a predilection for threats to down tools, at the slightest opportunity. Ortom has indeed demonstrated monstrous energy as the helmsman. He is one governor I have observed at very close quarters who has the capacity to hold a dozen meetings in one day without showing any sign of mental or physical fatigue. In the activities preceding the PDP primary elections in the state, he exhibited such elasticity of stamina and capacity. I was an active participant in the processes by virtue of my position as his COS. As the leader of the party in the state the buck stops on his table. He would never allow complaints from any of the local governments to fester, unresolved. Ortom never slept on any contentious issues brought before him.

Ortom would hold meetings up to 3am and he will be the first to resume work at 7am! On some occasions, he would indeed be observing spiritual procedures such as fasting and praying, during which he abstained from his meals. I recall an incident during one of those days of winding up late at work. We left the government house after 2am with a charge to reconvene at 7am, to resolve some issues concerning both the Guma state constituency and the Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency. Since we closed late, I took liberty to resume work by 8am. I miscalculated.

Advertisement

By the time I got to the Government House, the governor had already resumed and was rounding up another meeting which was not originally scheduled! And in spite of all these, he never betrayed any sign of drudgery. Ortom is indeed a bundle of energy. At slightly over sixty years of age, his energy level is exceptional. In a lighter mood, just as governor Ortom works very hard he also doesn’t joke with his meal regimen. Meet him at lunch time and you will agree that he’s got a very healthy appetite. Instructively, he probably eats just one major meal once in a day, filling in with fruits and vegetables.

Like I earlier indicated, I have worked with a number of governors both of the military hue, and the democratically elected. I declare emphatically that Governor Ortom’s memory is sharp and pointed. His capacity to recall issues, no matter how long in time they occurred, has continued to amaze me. He has a way especially with figures. His early experiences in life at the Gboko motor park where the existential credo was that of “dog eat dog,” where people had to be eagle-eyed must have bred this attribute. That apart though, Ortom before becoming governor of Benue State was an astute businessman whose interests spanned printing, manufacturing, farming, agro-business value chain and real estate. To this extent, he kept tabs on the numbers and figures emanating from these various business fronts. No matter how tired or distracted he appears to be, Ortom’s capacity for recall is one-of-a-kind.

Advertisement

His antenna instantaneously switches to the “alert” mode, especially when figures are concerned. If you take a memo to him, the first thing he looks at will be the figures. This may probably be because he doesn’t seem to be in love with very bulky documents. He prefers verbal briefs which speak to the issues
and he listens to every detail while taking mental notes. As a corollary to his virile cognitive capacity, Ortom often gives multiple appointments and remembers them all the following day. In his own way, he schedules them accordingly, doing so most times without the assistance of his protocol staff, even if they are within earshot.

Ortom is a very firm and fervid believer in God. He is eternally grateful to his Creator for his progress to contemporary prominence, with the hindsight of his very modest beginnings. Even if I had a hint of this before, working at close quarters with him has further enlightened me. His principles, beliefs and work ethic are derived from the teachings of the Holy Book. His grasp of the Bible is such that he quotes sections of it with effortless ease, while elucidating issues.

Advertisement

He describes himself as a mentee of “King David.” In line with his faith, Ortom reckoned that the state should have a distinct anthem of its own. This became germane after the public dedication of the state to God. The state anthem which is also and adoption and adaptation of a Christian song, was submitted to the state House of Assembly and passed in to law. Governor Ortom also ensures that prayers are offered before he leaves Government House to attend any engagement outside the state capital and on return. Most times, he leads these prayers.

Even as one from Guma LGA which is one of the frontline sections of the state most affected by the incessant attacks, one never really appreciated the magnitude of the havoc and destruction caused by serial herders attacks on the people of the state. In the last five years, massive killings by these marauding nomads have left at each attack a trail of grief and blood. Proof of these attacks and killings is the fact that about two million people including women and children are now sequestered in several camps for internally displaced persons, IDPs, across the state. Each time there was an attack, Ortom was moved to wail and lament over the massive killings and the destruction of farm lands by these AK-47-wielding herdsmen. Non-residents of Benue, people who have not had the opportunity to visit and see things for themselves, or who have deliberately refused to empathize with the governor, sadly mock him. Nigerians have indeed lost their sense of humanity. Indeed, the effects of the atrocities of these gun-totting herders on the economy of the state, is best imagined.

Advertisement

Amidst these challenges which have completely ravaged and destroyed the agrarian economy of Benue State, Ortom has recorded significant, albeit silent achievements in critical areas of the economy. These cannot be wished away even by his worst enemies. One never personally conceived of these striking efforts, especially in urban renewal untill I came to work closely with him. Considering the savagery visited on the state and the destruction of the very fabric of its economy, agriculture, Ortom has performed very well. If assessed objectively and without politicisation, he should be ranked among the top five performing state governors in Nigeria. And I say this without any fear of contradiction.

For example, sometime last year while commissioning township roads in Gboko, the national chairman of PDP, Iyorchia Ayu stated that, no governor in the history of Benue State has done the number and quality of roads Ortom has constructed in Gboko. Same goes to Otukpo and of course, Makurdi, the Benue state capital. Here, Ortom has constructed over 50 kilometers of asphalted roads. Some of these were recently commissioned by his colleagues, the “G 5” governors. They were in the state to lend their support at the flag off of the state campaigns for the 2023 general elections.

Advertisement

Very remarkable efforts too have been recorded in the areas of construction of rural roads, building of health clinics and the massive renovation of general hospitals across the state. New equipment like the MRI and Dialysis machines have also been acquired for the Benue State University Teaching Hospital. A general facelift has also been given to decaying structures in the institution. Unfortunately, Nigerian journalists have not been fair in reporting and acknowledging the achievements of the Ortom administration.

This is probably because Ortom has said on occasions, that he was “not interested in commissioning projects because of the massive cost of the ceremonies.” He believes that funds for such fanfare can be channeled in the construction of salutary projects which can impact the generalityof the people. Ortom’s endeavours, and indeed the advancement of Benue State post-2015, is best put into proper context, vis-a-vis the peculiar challenges and distractions of the state which has become the *status quo.*

Advertisement

After one year of working with Governor Ortom as his Chief of Staff, I can say it’s been a worthwhile experience thus far. Every opportunity or exposure one gets in life is a learning curve. The vistas and insights garnered working with government at such close proximity are not the stuff of courses or textbooks in government, political science or public administration. You have to be in the thick of it to appreciate that the line from point A to B, is not usually a straight one. Of course, like I said in my preliminary remarks, I am something of an “Emeritus” personnel of Government House. I previously logged about 13 years in the hub of government administration, much as I’ve never been a Chief of Staff before now.

I owe Governor Ortom deserved gratitude for pulling me out of the university system which I was getting to love, to come and share in the present experience, and to be part of his “first eleven team.” As his core personal aides, our duty is to support him to berth the ship of his administration, safely and soundly, after eight years of service to the good people of Benue State. Let me sum up by saying that history will definitely record Ortom positively when the story of Benue State will be written. He will be adjudged to have come, seen and conquered.

Advertisement

*Nyitse, PhD, journalist, administrator and communications scholar, is Chief of Staff to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.*

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Opinion

JURISTS, FAMILY, FRIENDS FETE JUSTICE JOHN FABIYI @ 77

Spread the love

 

Advertisement

*By Tunde Olusunle*

It was a Friday. The weekend was imminent and people, expectedly, were winding down after a busy week. The jum’mat service for Muslim faithful would also hold in the afternoon, that day. These, however, did not impact the zestful participation of guests at the 77th birthday public presentation of the biography of John Afolabi Fabiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, (JSC) of the Federal Republic. Fabiyi had distinguished himself in service to fatherland, logging nearly five eventful decades as a jurist par excellence, at the highest levels. He retired from service upon the attainment of the mandatory retirement age of 70, November 2015. To date, he remains the only Okun person to rise to the highest heights of the nation’s judiciary, an attainment worth celebrating in its own right.

Seven long years after Fabiyi bowed out of the nation’s topmost temple of justice, a colourful bouquet of eminent members of the “Bar,” the “Bench,” the political class and non-partisan guests congregated in Afolabi’s honour. Abuja was the venue and the sheer quality and diversity of attendees, was indicative of the high esteem the legal luminary continues to be held. Kudirat Motonmori Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun, a distinguished Justice of the Supreme Court, (JSC), represented the Chief Justice of the Federation, (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, at the event. Yet another revered JSC, John Okoro Inyang, was also present. Nigeria’s former Attorney-General of the Federation, (AGF), and Minister for Justice, Bayo Ojo, SAN, CON, was on hand to receive his colleagues from both sides of the legal profession, to the programme. Morning as the old adage says, shows the day. The date was November 25, 2022.

Education Minister under the Olusegun Obasanjo regime, who was also Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, Professor Tunde Adeniran, OFR, set the tone for the event with the opening prayers. Chief Bayo Ojo who chaired the planning committee of the programme, welcomed guests to the event and traced the history of his acquaintance with Justice Fabiyi. Ojo who began his career as a “State Counsel” in the Ministry of Justice of the former Kwara State, first came across Fabiyi in Ilorin in 1979. Fabiyi was a Chief Magistrate, while Ojo prosecuted criminal cases on behalf of the State, in courts presently domiciled in Niger, Kwara and Kogi states. Ojo would subsequently encounter Fabiyi in the High Court of the Kwara State Judiciary, before the latter relocated to Kogi State, after the 1991 states’ creation exercise.

The former AGF wrote the “Foreword” to Fabiyi’s biography, titled *Nurtured by Grace and Rectitude: Biography of Justice John Afolabi Fabiyi, JSC, CFR.* The publication was authored by James Bankole Adedoyin, a communications specialist and former permanent secretary in the Kogi State civil service, and Rufus Bamigbaiye Aiyenigba, national publicity secretary of the Social Democratic Party, (SDP). Chief Ojo notes that: “I am filled with very fond and enchanting memories of His Lordship’s fecund mind and unparalleled deep grasp of jurisprudential technicalities. I have a great deal of respect for him for his calm disposition and professional demeanour at the Bench.” Ojo challenged public servants in Nigeria to capture their experiences for the benefit of upcoming generations, by writing books. “People should document and publish their memoirs and biographies. They will serve as reference points for succeeding generations. Such records will remain invaluable reference points for ages to come.”

Joash Ojo Amupitan, SAN, a decorated professor of law and deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Jos, (Unijos), who is also from Okunland, reviewed the publication. Amupitan’s profound and rigorous, incisive and insightful, exhaustive, yet engaging performance-style review, could potentially pass for a university inaugural lecture. The 9000 word, 30-page document did thorough justice to the book, in its chapter by chapter dissection, and the general distillation of issues and spinoffs. Amupitan expressed delight at the privilege of reviewing a book on the revered Fabiyi, who he describes as a “High priest in the temple of justice.” Fabiyi’s *ratio descedendi* in several landmark cases, according to Amupitan, “remain as *locus classicus* in our courts even years after he retired from the Apex Court, the Supreme Court.”

Amupitan contends that *”Nurtured by Grace and Rectitude: Biography of Justice John Afolabi Fabiyi, JSC, CFR,* is a complete rendition of the life and accomplishments of a great jurist and a silent philosopher.” According to Amupitan, Fabiyi “has in his own way, contributed to jurisprudence in Nigeria and nation building.” The reviewer noted, that the biography highlights Fabiyi’s “consistent and unflinching commitment to the pursuit of justice, as against technicalities.” The retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Amupitan also avers, remained “uncompromising in protecting the constitutional principle of fair hearing.” Fabiyi is equally celebrated for his “astute defence of the rights of the oppressed.” Amupitan proffers that Fabiyi “courageously reprimanded the powers that be when they were found wanting in the treatment of those under authority, like the celebrated case of the “Unilorin 44.”

Advertisement

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun conveyed the felicitations of the CJN who could not attend the event because of impromptu engagements. The CJN and indeed justices of the apex court, she said, holds Justice Fabiyi in the highest esteem because of the selflessness, forthrightness and courage which underlined his professionalism and service to the nation. Fabiyi’s precepts, the CJN noted, remain lampposts for his former colleagues and successor jurists. Justice Okoro Inyang noted that John Fabiyi has remained a patriarchal figure for many of his colleagues, in and out of service, and the minimum tribute to pay to him on the occasions of his birthday, was to endeavour to be physically present. He wished him many happy returns of the milestone.

Fabiyi the celebrant expressed gratitude to God, for creating him a human being in the first place, and for taking him through his life’s trajectory. His classmates at the Nigerian Law School, (NLS) in 1969, included: Justices Niki Tobi, JSC and Akanbi Oniyangi, (both of blessed memory). Justices Festus Tabai, JSC (Rtd); Victor Omage, Justice of the Appeal Court, (JCA, Rtd); Muri Okunola, JCA, and Ade Akanbi, retired Chief Judge, (CJ) of Lagos State. His heart was filled with happiness that biographers found his story worthy of serious documentation, apart from articulating a grand ceremony, the type that was staged on that day.

Advertisement

He thanked his colleagues in the Supreme Court, the judiciary and the legal profession at large for honouring him with such consideration and affection. A one-minute silence was observed in memory of Justice Fabiyi’s wife, Christiana Omowumi, who passed on, September 12, 2018, after being married to Fabiyi for 47 years. Coauthor of *Nurtured by Grace and Rectitude,* Adedoyin noted that he and his coauthor, Aiyenigba, set out to “write a book on a little known legal colossus.” In the course of data gathering, and at the book launch, however, Adedoyin said they “encountered other legal legends and luminaries.”

Dignitaries at the event included Yemi Akinseye-George, SAN, professor of law; Duro Adeyele, SAN; Wole Olanipekun, SAN, CON, (represented by Anthony Aikhunegbe Malik, SAN); Abdulwahab Mohammed, SAN, and I.S. Muhammad, SAN. From the Kogi State judiciary came: Justice Josiah Majebi, Chief Judge of Kogi State; his predecessor; Henry Olusiyi and Alaba Omolaiye-Ajileye of the Kogi State Judiciary. Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) High Court, Husseini Baba Yusuf, was represented by Justice C.O. Agbaza. The informal “Kogi State contingent” to the event was understandably rich. Governor of the state, Yahaya Bello, was represented by his attorney general and commissioner for justice, Mohammed Sani Ibrahim, SAN. Royal personages who graced the ceremony included: Oba Solomon Dele Owoniyi, (Obaro of Kabba and Chairman, Okun Traditional Council) and Oba Segun Ayeni, (Olujumu of Ijumu). There were also Oba Anthony Bamigbaiye, (Olu-Adde of Ekinrin-Adde) and his wife, Olori Bridget Fehintola Bamigbaiye Idowu, with Olori Funmilayo Otitoju on the royal delegation from Ekinrin-Adde, Justice Fabiyi’s place of birth. Yeye Funmi Bodunde, Yeye Oba of Iyara was also in attendance.

Advertisement

Smart Adeyemi, CON, Senator representing Kogi West and Shaba Ibrahim, an attorney and Member representing Lokoja/Kotonkarfe federal constituency, headlined the political class. Gen Julius Oshanupin and his wife, Esther; Navy Commanders Lawrence Fabiyi, (younger sibling to the celebrant) and Jerry Omodara, (Rtd), Security Adviser to the Kogi State governor, were also present. Victor Adewale Omofaiye, Kogi State Commissioner for Environment; Bola Fabola, prominent Kogi-based attorney and his wife; Dr Femi Ajisafe, seasoned agricultural economist; Badaki Aliyu, President, Iyara Development Association, (IDA) and Dr Remi Odutola made it to the fete. Ayo Anjorin; prominent hospitality industry professional and his wife; Eric Fiki, a former state parliamentarian; Sadiq Ainoko, a former commissioner in Kogi State, and Fred Olutekunbi, businessman, equally featured at the event.

Justice John Afolabi Fabiyi, JSC (Rtd) was born November 25, 1945 in Ekinrin-Adde, Ijumu local government area, (LGA), Kogi State. He attended Baptist Primary School, Ekinrin-Adde, and Baptist High School, Igede-Ekiti, Ekiti State, for his foundational education. He proceeded to the Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU) to study law, graduating in 1969. The following year, 1970 he was called to the bar. He began his working life in Kano, at the famous *E. Noel Grey and Co Legal Practitioners* in the renowned commercial capital of northern Nigeria. He joined the *Magisterial Bench* of the old Kwara State in 1975. He rose to the position of Chief Registrar of the Kwara State High Court and was appointed Judge of the High Court in 1984. Following the creation of Kogi State in 1991, he moved to the new state as a High Court Judge.

Advertisement

In November 1998, Fabiyi was elevated to the Court of Appeal, becoming “Presiding Justice” of the Ibadan Division of the Court in 2006. He was appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria March 4, 2009, and retired from service November 25, 2015, having attained the age of 70 stipulated by law. He is credited with the expansion of the “horizon of jurisprudence in Nigeria.” He was erudite, upright and uncompromising. It is to Justice Fabiyi’s credit, that he is one of select Nigerians who were decorated with three different national honours, under various governance dispensations: *Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic,* (OFR); *Commander of the Order of the Niger,* (CON) and *Commander of the Federal Republic,* (CFR).

*Baba,* as his more fondly and fittingly addressed these days, inspired two of his six children, including Adetutu, to study law, like him. Very well travelled across the world, he finds delight and pleasure having his children and their children, around and about him. As *Bobagunwa* (Adviser-at-Large and Adviser Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary) to the *Olu-Adde-in-Council) of Ekinrin-Adde,* he keeps an eye on developments in his home community and offers counsel. The colourful reception was co-mastered by Omoyemi Olumudi, also a diligent member of the legal profession.

Advertisement

Tunde Olusunle, poet, journalist, scholar and author, is a Member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE).

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Opinion

2023: The President Nigeria Needs

Spread the love

With campaigns on-going for various elective positions in the 2023 general elections it is imperative at this time to reflect on the type of person Nigeria needs to elect to the office of President. What really are the expectations of Nigeria?

Advertisement

Without a doubt, Nigerians want to have a country that works; that can provide the basic everyday needs of her citizens; whose leadership is imaginative, creative and can transform Nigeria from being perpetually “a country with great potentials” to one where those potentials become a reality with actual gains and positive results in all spheres of life.

We need a President under whose watch and inspiring leadership we can change the narrative about Nigeria being a potentially great country; a President that will ignite the engines of growth which will result in actual gains and true greatness.

Advertisement

We need a builder who will not only position Nigeria on a new trajectory towards the realisation of her full potentials but will set the tone for the sub-national units to emulate. In 2023 and beyond the narrative must change in a remarkably different way by electing a President who can build the Nigeria of our dreams.

The only way to decide who best meets these requirements amongst the Presidential candidates is to examine the track records of each of them.

Advertisement

This determination can be best made not through blind emotions, anger, hatred, envy, insults or protest but by a calm, sober and dispassionate assessment of the antecedents and track records of the candidates who seek to be our President.

We have reached a defining moment for Nigeria when we must seize the opportunity to lift our country out of the throes of backwardness so that it can join the league of developed nations.

Advertisement

Many formerly under-developed countries like ours have since left us far behind in the development index.

We have gone past the time of rhetoric and bare campaign promises (and politicians the world over are notorious for promises not kept) but must assess each candidate by what he had done before in public office as a pointer to what he is likely to be able to do in the higher office of President.

Advertisement

Manifestos and debates have their place but much more important is the ability to fulfil campaign promises supported by past records.

The President that Nigeria needs in 2023 and beyond is one that can build our country to the standard we all desire and expect it to be as demonstrated, not by mere rhetoric but by evidence that all can see.

Advertisement

The candidate that best meets this description is, without a doubt, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu the APC Presidential candidate.

The evidence spans various spheres of what it takes to build a nation to greatness. With Tinubu, Nigeria will break away from backwardness and be positioned irreversibly on the path of development and greatness.

Advertisement

He proved this in Lagos when he assumed the office of Governor in 1999 by laying a foundation which his successors have continued to build upon in diverse spheres to the admiration of all fair-minded persons. A few illustrations will suffice.

PART 2
Before 1999, Lagos used to have the infamous distinction as one of the dirtiest and most disorganised cities in the world but under Tinubu as Governor and till date the situation has changed. In spite of the challenges of an ever increasing daily migration, Lagos now wears a new look with good roads, improved infrastructure and institutions like LAWMA, LASTMA, etc, that are being emulated by many States and even the Federal Government on issues like Justice Sector Reform.

Advertisement

New areas of development have been opened up in the Lekki axis with beautiful aesthetics and a well-planned environment hosting the newly commissioned Lekki Deep Sea Port, Dangote refinery and an on-going international airport.

Eko Atlantic City has transformed hitherto erosion ravaged Bar Beach to a model city comparable to Dubai and other dream destinations across the world to the extent that the United States of America is building there perhaps one of its most expensive missions in the world.

Advertisement

Tinubu as Governor identified the best brains (something he is known for) to help him actualise his vision for a new Lagos and they gave a good account of themselves.

Today one of his former Commissioners is the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; some are Ministers and many others hold high offices in government – both elective and appointive. None of his contemporaries has achieved this.

Advertisement

PART 3
With his party AD controlling only Lagos State in 2003, Tinubu through his sagacity and deft political manoeuvring transformed it to AC, ACN and ultimately APC which is now the ruling party in Nigeria – this mostly at the expense of PDP whose leadership were consumed in arrogance, wickedness and misrule, believing the fake promise of ruling for 60 years.

They were swept away after 16 terrible years for which they owe Nigerians an apology and atonement, not asking for their votes.

Advertisement

Tinubu harnessed the energy of the youths in Lagos by providing them with employment opportunities in state institutions established by government and private sector enterprises enabled by an investment-friendly environment.

Whereas many governors run their Local governments through Sole Administrators or Caretaker Committees in flagrant breach of section 7 of the Constitution, Tinubu maintained fidelity with the Constitutional requirement that the system of local government in Nigeria must be through democratically elected local government councils.

Advertisement

By ensuring periodic elections into the 57 Local Governments and Development Area Councils in Lagos State, Tinubu opened up more opportunities for youths to be actively engaged in governance thereby preparing them for participation at higher levels. One of his Local Government Council Chairmen rose to become a Senator.

By giving opportunities to youths to participate in legitimate endeavours Lagos State has witnessed a massive decline in violent crimes and other vices.

Advertisement

The new look Oshodi, formerly a den of robbers, attests to the success of Tinubu and those he helped successively to occupy the position of Governor of Lagos State. I can go on and on but I believe the point is clear.

His many other accomplishments are common knowledge.

Advertisement

PART 4
Of all the front-line Presidential candidates Tinubu is the most religious tolerant. Amongst the candidates he scored the best grades in the University and exhibited exceptional intelligence unmatched by any of his co-contestants.

The challenges facing Nigeria today were faced by Tinubu in Lagos State, though on a smaller scale. However, by establishing a standard and laying a good foundation, Lagos has surmounted most of the limitations to become the fifth largest economy in Africa. You can imagine what Nigeria stands to gain if and when he leads as President.

Advertisement

This is one in a life-time opportunity for Nigeria and we must not allow it to slip through our fingers. Tinubu has the vision and capacity to build the foundations of a new Nigeria in the same way that Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, Mahathir Ibn Mohamad of Malaysia and Paul Kagame of Rwanda pulled their respective countries from poverty to prosperity.

PART 5
I am not unmindful of the various criticisms and reservations that some have expressed against Tinubu and I do not imagine that he is a saint. No one is perfect. Curiously, many of the opponents agree that he will make a good President but continue to rehash the reservations.

Advertisement

These, I dare say, no matter how well embellished they are with crude jokes, mockery, photos and videos – real or fake, are not weighty enough to deny Nigeria the benefits that a Tinubu Presidency can bring.

It is commonly said that Tinubu is not a good public speaker and is slow or sluggish in speech. When God decided to free the children of Israel from captivity in Egypt he chose Moses who was slow in speech and a stammerer. He did not choose an orator.

Advertisement

Despite his self-confessed lack of eloquence, Moses successfully took his people from Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and led them safely to the promised land.

Some say that Tinubu was indicted or convicted for a drug-related crime in the United States of America in 1993 but the US government issued a statement in February 2003 to say that their government has no criminal record against Tinubu.

Advertisement

It simply makes no sense for any Nigerian nearly 20 years later to continue to contest or contradict the unequivocal official statement clearing Tinubu of links with any crime in far way US.

To do so is to imply or suggest that the U.S. statement is false, which will be very ridiculous, to say the least.

Advertisement

Again, it beats my imagination that people are insisting that Tinubu must display his primary and secondary school certificates even when he has provided to INEC his Chicago State University certificate, a qualification higher than the minimum required under our Constitution.

The only logical deduction from all these accusations, even from among many who do not doubt the leadership acumen of Tinubu, is that these are all they can hang on to in their desperate opposition to his candidature.

Advertisement

It is the same reason they continue to bandy about allegations in the libellous TV documentary, “The Lion of Bourdillon”, for which its publisher has publicly apologised to Tinubu.

In conclusion, my strong advice and appeal to Nigerians is that they should disabuse their minds of sentiments, bitterness or hate and, for the good of our country, elect a President who can transform Nigeria, not a debating champion.

Advertisement

That transformational leader who has demonstrated capacity by a wide margin is Senator Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is the President that Nigeria needs in 2023. He deserves our votes.

Sen. (Prof.) Oserheimen A. Osunbor, Ph.D, D.Litt, KSC, FCArb, FNIALS, Rhodes Scholar.

Advertisement

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Opinion

Recollections: Time Flies And Changes Everything

Nyitse
Spread the love

Tivlumun Gabriel Nyitse was former Bureau Chief of the defunct “National Concord” Newspapers in-charge of the North Central and North East zones, with headquarters in Jos, Plateau State.

Advertisement

He was subsequently Editor of the Benue State-owned “The Voice” newspapers and thereafter Managing Editor of the Benue Printing and Publishing Corporation, (BPPC).

He served as Permanent Secretary for: Establishment; Information and Culture; and Government House Administration, variously and respectively, all in Benue State Civil Service.

Advertisement

He holds a doctorate in Mass Communication and took up appointment as a Lecturer at Bingham University, Karu, near Abuja, in 2016, years after his retirement from the civil service.

He was a Senior Lecturer in the University before his appointment as Chief of Staff to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, November 22, 2021.

Advertisement

As he marks his first year on the job, he shares his experiences working at close quarters with the fourth in the line of military and civilian governors he has served, in his state.

By Tivlumun Nyitse

Advertisement

On Monday November 22, 2021, in the new capacity-filled Banquet Hall of the Government House Makurdi, I took the oath of office, as Chief of Staff, (COS), to Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State.

It was administered by the governor and I assumed office as his new COS. I succeeded the former holder of the office who had resigned his appointment to run for the governorship of the state, ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Advertisement

The event marked my third tour of duty at the Benue State Government, House Makurdi. I had previously served as the Director of Press/Chief Press Secretary under the military administrations of Group Captain Joshua Obademi, and Col. Aminu Isa Kontagora (of blessed memory), between 1993 and 1999.

I had equally functioned as Permanent Secretary, Government House Administration, (PS-GHA) for almost seven years under the administration of former Governor Gabriel Torwua Suswam, who now a Senator of the Federal Republic. I operated in this capacity from June 2007 to January 2014.

Advertisement

It is imperative to lay this background to foreground the fact that I have, over the years, garnered the cognate exposure and experience in the workings of government, within the Government House system.

With such aggregated insights, many people around me spontaneously assumed that my brief as the COS, the to-go person, to the governor will be a walk in the park. How very wrong they were!

Advertisement

Samuel Ortom emerged victorious in the gubernatorial election of 2015. It was a classic manifestation of what pentecostals will describe as “God ordering one’s steps.”

Ortom participated in the primary of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP), which produced Terhemen Tazoor as the party’s flagbearer. I also aspired to be governor under the same party, but lost at the primary election.
Ortom believed he was unjustly treated in the primary where he emerged third, behind former Deputy Governor, Stephen Lawani. He thus crossed over to the All Progressives Congress, (APC). He was embraced by his new political family and handed the governorship ticket.

Advertisement

Having previously retired from my position as permanent secretary from the Benue State Civil Service, l left the state to join the services of the Bingham University, Karu, Nasarawa State in 2016.

It was an opportunity to pursue a residual interest which I had nursed over the years, as an academic. I remained an active member of the PDP and one of the major stakeholders and elders of the party, nonetheless.

Advertisement

This prominence was duly conferred on me as a former frontline governorship aspirant and a loyal party member. Indeed, in the build up to the 2019 governorship elections, I was pressured to aspire once again to the governorship.

While I made the “consultation” rounds, Ortom crossed over to the PDP, convinced the APC government at the centre was not doing enough to check recurring herdsmen’s invasions in Benue State.

Advertisement

Nigeria’s political tradition provides that if an incumbent holder of office crosses over to a new party, he is automatically granted the right of first refusal to any office he aspires to, in the new party. To this extent, Ortom was vested with the governorship ticket of the PDP.

Sometime in October 2021, Governor Ortom reached out to me. We had a conversation on the need for me to come back to the state and work with him as his COS.

Advertisement

My first reaction was to ask him for some time to reflect on his proposition. After poring through some considerations, I honoured the invitation. Among other things, Ortom and I had worked together on some political projects before in Guma local government area, (LGA), where we both come from.

Secondly, while we all aspired to the governorship position, we remained very cordial and held each other in high very regards. Therefore the decision to accept the was easy to make.

Advertisement

Some people who didn’t understand my position felt I should have rejected the offer. Others applauded my humility in leaving my new love, the academia, to assist my brother in the home stretch of his service to our people.

Understandably, local lore has described my inauguration on November 22, 2021, as the most-attended in a Government House facility, in ages.

Advertisement

Working with Governor Samuel Ortom in the last twelve months has been a potpourri of experiences in leadership and human resource management. It has been a new journey in work ethics and a complete curriculum in the new dynamism of political engineering processes.

One is not really surprised that Ortom presents an enigmatic and novel dynamism in the running of government business because of his experiences in life which he is quick to share at any prompting.

Advertisement

Governor Ortom is a case study in dogged determination and raw courage to change the course of his destiny. His street-wise philosophy and deep religious beliefs, are manifest in his day-to-day chores.

To refresh our memories, not many Nigerians would do what Ortom did on the floor of the “red chambers” of the Nigerian Senate in 2011, when he was screened by the Senate following his nomination as minister, by the then president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Advertisement

Ortom while introducing himself on live television, told the whole world that he started life as motor park tout! As at when he was being screened, however, he was proud to hold a doctorate degree!

Most people with his kind of background would have tried to deodorize their past, to make it smell nice. I have, since assumption of duty as his Chief of Staff, become a student of renewed humility.

Advertisement

I had, hitherto, ascribed this toga to myself, but in Ortom I have probably found a much humbler personality. Here is a governor who is quick to apologise to his lowest of subordinates whenever he feels that his actions towards such staff or associates, were untoward.

He’s not one of those who carries a chip on their shoulders. But behind this gentle and humble mien is a leader with a strong character and very deep in reilgious philosophy.

Advertisement

I have always wondered where Ortom gets the energy to discharge the daunting task of governing a complex state like Benue. Ours is a state with very poor revenue base, almost 90% dependent on the federation account.

We are contending with ethnic suspicion between the major ethnic groups in the state, while also managing an agitated pension populations. The civil service is restive, with a predilection for threats to down tools, at the slightest opportunity.

Advertisement

Ortom has indeed demonstrated monstrous energy as the helmsman. He is one governor I have observed at very close quarters who has the capacity to hold a dozen meetings in one day without showing any sign of mental or physical fatigue.

In the activities preceding the PDP primary elections in the state, he exhibited such elasticity of stamina and capacity. I was an active participant in the processes by virtue of my position as his COS.

Advertisement

As the leader of the party in the state the buck stops on his table. He would never allow complaints from any of the local governments to fester, unresolved. Ortom never slept on any contentious issues brought before him.

Ortom would hold meetings up to 3am and he will be the first to resume work at 7am! On some occasions, he would indeed be observing spiritual procedures such as fasting and praying, during which he abstained from his meals. I recall an incident during one of those days of winding up late at work.

Advertisement

We left the government house after 2am with a charge to reconvene at 7am, to resolve some issues concerning both the Guma state constituency and the Makurdi/Guma Federal Constituency. Since we closed late, I took liberty to resume work by 8am. I miscalculated.

By the time I got to the Government House, the governor had already resumed and was rounding up another meeting which was not originally scheduled!

Advertisement

And in spite of all these, he never betrayed any sign of drudgery. Ortom is indeed a bundle of energy. At slightly over sixty years of age, his energy level is exceptional.

In a lighter mood, just as governor Ortom works very hard he also doesn’t joke with his meal regimen. Meet him at lunch time and you will agree that he’s got a very healthy appetite.

Advertisement

Instructively, he probably eats just one major meal once in a day, filling in with fruits and vegetables.

Like I earlier indicated, I have worked with a number of governors both of the military hue, and the democratically elected. I declare emphatically that Governor Ortom’s memory is sharp and pointed.

Advertisement

His capacity to recall issues, no matter how long in time they occurred, has continued to amaze me. He has a way especially with figures.

His early experiences in life at the Gboko motor park where the existential credo was that of “dog eat dog,” where people had to be eagle-eyed must have bred this attribute.

Advertisement

That apart though, Ortom before becoming governor of Benue State was an astute businessman whose interests spanned printing, manufacturing, farming, agro-business value chain and real estate.

To this extent, he kept tabs on the numbers and figures emanating from these various business fronts. No matter how tired or distracted he appears to be, Ortom’s capacity for recall is one-of-a-kind.

Advertisement

His antenna instantaneously switches to the “alert” mode, especially when figures are concerned. If you take a memo to him, the first thing he looks at will be the figures.

This may probably be because he doesn’t seem to be in love with very bulky documents. He prefers verbal briefs which speak to the issues
and he listens to every detail while taking mental notes.

Advertisement

As a corollary to his virile cognitive capacity, Ortom often gives multiple appointments and remembers them all the following day.

In his own way, he schedules them accordingly, doing so most times without the assistance of his protocol staff, even if they are within earshot.

Advertisement

Ortom is a very firm and fervid believer in God. He is eternally grateful to his Creator for his progress to contemporary prominence, with the hindsight of his very modest beginnings.

Even if I had a hint of this before, working at close quarters with him has further enlightened me. His principles, beliefs and work ethic are derived from the teachings of the Holy Book.

Advertisement

His grasp of the Bible is such that he quotes sections of it with effortless ease, while elucidating issues.

He describes himself as a mentee of “King David.” In line with his faith, Ortom reckoned that the state should have a distinct anthem of its own.
This became germane after the public dedication of the state to God. The state anthem which is also and adoption and adaptation of a Christian song, was submitted to the state House of Assembly and passed in to law.
Governor Ortom also ensures that prayers are offered before he leaves Government House to attend any engagement outside the state capital and on return. Most times, he leads these prayers.

Advertisement

Even as one from Guma LGA which is one of the frontline sections of the state most affected by the incessant attacks, one never really appreciated the magnitude of the havoc and destruction caused by serial herders attacks on the people of the state.

In the last five years, massive killings by these marauding nomads have left at each attack a trail of grief and blood. Proof of these attacks and killings is the fact that about two million people including women and children are now sequestered in several camps for internally displaced persons, IDPs, across the state.

Advertisement

Each time there was an attack, Ortom was moved to wail and lament over the massive killings and the destruction of farm lands by these AK-47-wielding herdsmen.

Non-residents of Benue, people who have not had the opportunity to visit and see things for themselves, or who have deliberately refused to empathize with the governor, sadly mock him.

Advertisement

Nigerians have indeed lost their sense of humanity. Indeed, the effects of the atrocities of these gun-totting herders on the economy of the state, is best imagined.

Amidst these challenges which have completely ravaged and destroyed the agrarian economy of Benue State, Ortom has recorded significant, albeit silent achievements in critical areas of the economy.

Advertisement

These cannot be wished away even by his worst enemies. One never personally conceived of these striking efforts, especially in urban renewal untill I came to work closely with him.

Considering the savagery visited on the state and the destruction of the very fabric of its economy, agriculture, Ortom has performed very well.

Advertisement

If assessed objectively and without politicisation, he should be ranked among the top five performing state governors in Nigeria. And I say this without any fear of contradiction.

For example, sometime last year while commissioning township roads in Gboko, the national chairman of PDP, Iyorchia Ayu stated that, no governor in the history of Benue State has done the number and quality of roads Ortom has constructed in Gboko.

Advertisement

Same goes to Otukpo and of course, Makurdi, the Benue state capital. Here, Ortom has constructed over 50 kilometers of asphalted roads. Some of these were recently commissioned by his colleagues, the “G 5” governors.

They were in the state to lend their support at the flag off of the state campaigns for the 2023 general elections.

Advertisement

Very remarkable efforts too have been recorded in the areas of construction of rural roads, building of health clinics and the massive renovation of general hospitals across the state.

New equipment like the MRI and Dialysis machines have also been acquired for the Benue State University Teaching Hospital. A general facelift has also been given to decaying structures in the institution.

Advertisement

Unfortunately, Nigerian journalists have not been fair in reporting and acknowledging the achievements of the Ortom administration.

This is probably because Ortom has said on occasions, that he was “not interested in commissioning projects because of the massive cost of the ceremonies.”

Advertisement

He believes that funds for such fanfare can be channeled in the construction of salutary projects which can impact the generalityof the people.

Ortom’s endeavours, and indeed the advancement of Benue State post-2015, is best put into proper context, vis-a-vis the peculiar challenges and distractions of the state which has become the status quo.

Advertisement

After one year of working with Governor Ortom as his Chief of Staff, I can say it’s been a worthwhile experience thus far. Every opportunity or exposure one gets in life is a learning curve.

The vistas and insights garnered working with government at such close proximity are not the stuff of courses or textbooks in government, political science or public administration.

Advertisement

You have to be in the thick of it to appreciate that the line from point A to B, is not usually a straight one. Of course, like I said in my preliminary remarks, I am something of an “Emeritus” personnel of Government House.

I previously logged about 13 years in the hub of government administration, much as I’ve never been a Chief of Staff before now.

Advertisement

I owe Governor Ortom deserved gratitude for pulling me out of the university system which I was getting to love, to come and share in the present experience, and to be part of his “first eleven team.”

As his core personal aides, our duty is to support him to berth the ship of his administration, safely and soundly, after eight years of service to the good people of Benue State.

Advertisement

Let me sum up by saying that history will definitely record Ortom positively when the story of Benue State will be written. He will be adjudged to have come, seen and conquered.

Nyitse, PhD, journalist, administrator and communications scholar, is Chief of Staff to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.

Advertisement

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Read Stories