LAST week, the Chief Press Secretary to the State governor, Mr. Terver Akase, announced that his principal, Governor Samuel Ortom has been nominated for the African Newspapers of Nigeria’s Platinum award. African Newspapers of Nigeria, ANN Plc is the Publisher of Nigeria’s oldest surviving Newspaper, the Nigerian Tribune. The award will be presented to the governor today during a ceremony at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos. The announcement to that effect by Mr. Akase and his swift reaction to the news which he sent through a press release no doubt underscored the seriousness the governor attaches to the award. Since he took over the mantle of leadership of the state, Governor Ortom has been carefully selective in accepting awards to be conferred on him by individuals and organisations. For the governor to have accepted the Nigerian Tribune’s Platinum award means therefore, that, the African Newspapers of Nigeria has convinced him beyond reasonable doubt.
To buttress the fact that the governor is thrilled by the award, his Chief Press Secretary confirmed in the statement he issued that he would be personally present at the event in Lagos to receive the award. The Nigerian Tribune which was established in 1949 by the then Premier of Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, has clocked 70 years. The publishers have decided that at this time in the newspaper’s illustrious history, some Nigerians, including Governor Ortom, should be celebrated and encouraged in their selfless service to humanity. The newspaper is to present to Governor Ortom, the 70th Anniversary Platinum Award for exhibiting uncommon courage in governance and protection of humanity. The letter nominating the Governor for the award signed by the chairman, African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, Dr.Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, said Governor Ortom has merited the award for profound reasons.
She listed some of them as the governor’s unrivalled zeal and sense of responsibility in the protection of lives and property of Benue people. According to Awolowo-Dosumu, the governor has remained firm in his position irrespective of ethnic compositions especially at a time many leaders were playing politics with the carnage perpetrated in the state by marauding herdsmen. Dr. Dosumu noted that the governor had the choice of consolidating his second term ambition in the All Progressives Congress, by supporting the Federal Government on the issues. To the ANN chairman, some of the issues include herdsmen’s attacks and the establishment of Ruga or cattle colonies in Benue for which the governor, unlike many of his colleagues, chose humanity above political consideration and self-survival.
She said even though Governor Ortom was vilified while doing everything possible to shield his people, he persevered, adding that posterity would judge the governor fairly for such an action. Another area the ANN Plc also considered Governor Ortom for the award is his administration’s efforts in the agriculture and youth empowerment sectors. The conferment of the Nigerian Tribune’s Platinum award on the governor is therefore significant in many ways. First, it shows that the Ortom administration’s efforts have been recognised and appreciated by the top echelon of a top media organisation on the African continent. The award is also in recognition of the people of Benue State who have stood firmly in support of the Ortom administration’s policies and programmes especially the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of 2017.
Again, the people of Benue stand solidly behind Governor Ortom because he has always consulted them before taking major decisions on behalf of the state. Already, arrangements have been put in place to make the Nigerian Tribune Platinum award on Governor Ortom in Lagos historic and memorable. The Benue community in Lagos has been notified to welcome their governor who would interact with them. Since this is the first time Governor Ortom will be interacting with the Benue community in Lagos following his re-election, his desire would be to see Benue indigenes there in great numbers. We congratulate Governor Ortom on this well deserved recognition by the African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc and urge him to sustain the tempo of the good things his administration has been doing for Benue people and other Nigerians.
- Dr. Iornumbe is a public affairs commentator based in Makurdi, Benue State.