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Governor Ortom: The emerging Moses of Benue State

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A Nigerian governor, who sacrificed his personal comfort for that of his people is Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom. His first term in office was characterized by unrest caused by incessant attacks and killing by herdsmen, leading to explosion of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). In face of the heat, Governor Ortom stood by his people, laughing last today. BABATUNDE ODOFIN examines how he weathered the storm.

Since Benue State was carved out of the defunct Benue-Plateau State by the regime of the late General Murtala Ramat Muhammed on February 3, 1976, the state has been governed by 16 governors and administrators, covering military and civilian administrations. Each governor and administrator left the Government House in Makurdi, the state capital with report cards which today live in the memories of an average indigene of the state acclaimed as Food Basket of Nigeria.

Of all the governors, the incumbent Mr Samuel Ortom, who had served the country as Minister of State Trade and Investment, occupies a special chapter in the history of Benue State administration. Aside that he won governorship elections in 2015 on the platform of the then new political party, All Progressives Congress (APC), he won his second term on the ticket of the opposition party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP).

The movement was attestation of Governor Ortom’s political muscle in a country where an incumbent governor was denied ticket for second term in Lagos State in the 2019 governorship elections, which ushered in Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. But beyond Governor Ortom’s political strength, what worked for him and which is still working for him in the heart of his people, is his undisguised love for Benue State and his people.

His eventual change of party from APC to PDP was said to have been stimulated by his obstinate adherence to the general interest of his people in face of certain orchestrated plot to tamper with the security and peace of the people whom he had taken a oath to protect come rain come shine.. Governor Ortom put his feet firmly on the ground and insisted that he was ready to flow and sink with his people.

Even when some carrots were said to have been offered him, he responded with a declaration that he would never compromise his people because of a pot of porridge. The result was his return to the PDP, a party under whose government he served as minister during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Governor Ortom is not a regular politician, regarded as an opportunist who rode to the Government House with the instrumentality of his wealth and strong connection with corridor of power, especially at national level. However, he is a tested administrator also exposed to different sectors of governance long before his rise to his current office.

He does not play on words to entertain the people; rather he speaks with figure, facts and authority, all of which are difficult to ignore or controvert. His submission on ranching, for instance, remains a blueprint to resolving herdsmen versus famers’ accumulated tension in the country. Drawing reference from other countries of the world, Ortom pointed out that over 200 million cattle are reared in India and Brazil respectively as against Nigeria’s less than 200 million.

In an interview, he revealed his discovery in Swaziland where major export earning is beef reared through ranching.  In the US, Kenya and Ghana, according to him, grazing is non-existent.  Specifically, he recalled government policy against grazing in Ghana. “In Ghana, last year, they ordered that if you can’t ranch and move about with your cattle, it should be turned to ‘suya.’ Why can’t we ranch? We are still thinking that we are in the 50s. What was the total population of Nigeria when we were in the 50s; less than 40 million. Today, what is the population? We are now over 200 million. And this is something that has been analyzed and discussed and accepted. If you look at it and check where we are today and where we will be, in terms of progression in 2030, Nigeria will be 450 million people. So if you have 200 million sitting on 923,000 square kilometers, and you are having this kind of challenge, what will happen when you are 450 million? Schools alone, I can imagine the space that it will occupy and then you talk of roads, hospitals, several other activities; so what are you going to do? So it’s better to start planning now. And globally the best practice in animal husbandry is ranching,” he revealed.

Notwithstanding, economic recession and aftermath of security challenges witnessed in the state during which lives and property were lost, Governor  Ortom can stand up and beat his chest for the landmark he has achieved from 2015 till date.  History will be kind to him for his passionate and quick response to the sufferings of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP). More than 5000 of those people benefited from the temporary shelter provided by the government, all of whom were given basic needs to survive the emergency situation which they unfortunately found themselves.

The governor further said, “we have established and more than 500, 000 people who had been displaced are living with relatives. It’s not an easy task. For a state that the economy is driven by the civil service and actively supported by peasant farming, when the farmers are displaced and are no longer contributing to add value to the economy, it becomes a problem. It’s quite challenging, and in the next few years, if this continues, whatever economic activities that are happening around this area can no longer go on; so we pray that the matter will be over.”

Considering the stability he has so far brought back to the state as evident in the Meti Allah’ recent rapprochement, Governor Ortom may have written his name in gold and secured a special place for himself in the history of Benue State as a governor who refused to betray his people when doing so would have earned him favour of the central government. 

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Gallery: Diaspora Excellence Award 2023

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At the occasion organized in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Naija Diaspora Magazine, several individuals, companies, governors, traditional rulers, business owners, government agencies and parastatals as well as politicians were honored for their outstanding performances in 2023. The publication celebrated its
10th anniversary with a two-day event that included the Symposium and Annual Diaspora Excellence Award. This platform provided a unique opportunity for collective learning, networking, and gaining insights into government policies that relate to communities. Attendees were empowered to navigate pathways of positive change. The Symposium lecture was titled: ‘Building a Nation’, with several dignitaries as speakers.

CLICK EACH IMAGE TO ENLARGE

 

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Inaugural Anambra State Union Football Tournament Triumphs Amidst Adversity

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On the 6th of August 2023, a monumental event took place at St Michel, Terminus, Douala, marking the commencement of the First Edition of the Anambra State Union Football Tournament. Under the stewardship of Sir Emeka Uzoka, Chairman of the Anambra State Union, this tournament emerged as a testament to unity, sportsmanship, and the indomitable spirit of the Anambra community.

The opening ceremony set the stage for what would become an unforgettable showcase of camaraderie and competitive fervor. A true celebration of tradition and athleticism, the tournament kicked off with a Veteran Match at 2:00 pm. The clash between Aguata Local Government Union and Nnewi Local Government Union resulted in a gripping encounter, with Aguata securing victory with a 2-0 score line.

Distinguished figures graced the event with their presence, adding prestige to the occasion. Among them was Mr. Oliva Ochi, Consul 1 at the Consulate General Douala, representing the esteemed Consul General, H.E. Amb. (Mrs.) Efe A. Clark-Omeru.

The honorable gathering was further enriched by the participation of key personalities, including: Hon. BIC Okwujiaku, President of the Nigerian Community Douala, HRH Eze Jonathan T. Onyenagubor, Eze Gburugburu 1 of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Cameroon, Sir, Lovinus Ezeh, Vice President, Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Alex Nwoye, Vice President 2, Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Uche Obiekwe, Patron of the Nigerian Community Douala, Chief Innocent Obiorah Odoh, Patron Anambra State Union, Chairmen of Imo and Enugu States Union, Esteemed members of the Anambra State Union.

The event also extended its reach to include esteemed guests from Douala and beyond.
In recognition of the paramount importance of safety and well-being, the organizers ensured the presence of dedicated medical health and security personnel, assuring attendees a secure environment throughout the event.

Despite the inclement weather characterized by heavy rain, the unyielding spirit of the Anambra community remained unshaken. A testament to their passion for football and unity, a remarkable number of attendees braved the elements, converging to witness the unfolding of history on the lush fields of St Michel, Terminus.

The final was held on Sunday 12th of November 2023 @ Bonamousadi Stadium Douala. Oyi Local Government lifted the trophy while Aguta Local Government took the bronze and Idemili Local Government took silver.

The inaugural Anambra State Union Football Tournament stands as an embodiment of shared values, intercommunity collaboration, and the timeless appeal of sport. This event not only etched a significant mark on the sporting calendar but also served as a reminder of the resilience and unity that define the Anambra community.

As the tournament concluded its first chapter, it left in its wake a legacy of camaraderie, sporting excellence, and the promise of more remarkable editions to come.

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CAMEROON: Miniature Africa

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Cameroon, nestled in the heart of Central Africa, is a country with a captivating blend of rich cultural diversity, stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife. Often referred to as « Miniature Africa, » Cameroon offers travelers a unique and multifaceted experience, showcasing the continent’s essence in a single destination.

With more than 250 ethnic groups and languages, Cameroon is a melting pot of diverse cultures, traditions and customs. The capital city, Yaoundé, and the economic hub, Douala, provide excellent starting points to dive into Cameroon’s cultural wealth.

Cameroon’s diverse geography offers a plethora of breathtaking landscapes, each with its unique charm.
In the West, the mist-covered peaks of Mount Cameroon, the highest mountain in West Africa, beckon adventurous hikers to climb and witness awe-inspiring views of the surrounding scenery.
Towards the North, the Sahelian region boasts vast savannas and semi-arid landscapes, offering visitors an opportunity to spot magnificent wildlife, and in the East, the dense rainforests of the Congo Basin teem with a rich variety of flora and fauna, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and exotic bird species.

Tourism Spots on a Budget
Here are a selection of the most distinguished and captivating tourist destinations in Cameroon. These remarkable locales boast accessibility without undue strain on one’s financial resources, making them irresistible choices for tourists.

Mefou National Park:
Mefou National Park houses the Mefou Primate Sanctuary, a rescue center managed by Ape Action Africa. With over 300 rare and endangered primates, it’s a significant conservation project in Africa, providing lifelong care and rehabilitation for animals rescued from illegal trades.

Limbe:
Formerly known as Victoria, Limbe is a port city with a diverse flora and fauna influenced by its colonial past. The Limbe Wildlife Centre/Botanical Centre offers a close-to-nature experience, rescuing and caring for ill-treated and endangered animals.

Mount Cameroon:
Mount Cameroon, also called the « Chariot of the Gods, » is West Africa’s highest mountain and an active volcano. A popular destination for adventurers and hikers, the trek offers stunning views, diverse landscapes and encounters with wildlife like monkeys and birds.

Kribi Beach:
Kribi Beach, in the southwestern region, boasts long white sand beaches and clear waters. It’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Visitors can also enjoy the Chutes de la Lobé waterfall, where they can swim under the falls. Local cuisine and seafood delicacies await at various restaurants.

Korup National Park:
Korup National Park, renowned for its bird species, offers pristine tropical wilderness. Visitors can enjoy lodging infrastructure and spot unique primates like the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee and Perseus’s red colobus. Located near the ocean, Mundemba serves as a starting point for tours to the park, where guides often speak the local Cameroonian language.

Cameroon stands tall as a remarkable destination for audacious travelers seeking a blend of cultural diversity, awe-inspiring landscapes and thrilling adventures. From the depths of the rainforests to the heights of its mountains, and from the bustling cities to the serene beaches, the land beckons with open arms, ready to share its enchanting beauty and warm hospitality with all who venture to explore its wonders. As tourism in Cameroon continues to grow sustainably, the country’s potential as a captivating and memorable destination will undoubtedly flourish.

 

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