Ortom in the eyes of Benue people
A recent public opinion poll conducted by BENUE.COM.NG, an online media outlet, has scored Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom’s performance in office after six months as abysmal is generating so much controversy across the major key players in the state, writes Gena Lubem.
No doubt, the poll has put the media team of the Governor Samuel Ortom on their toes. While on the one hand the state government has emphatically stressed that the outcome was purely a mischief by the opposition political party elements in the state, those on the other side of the divide have maintained that, the outcome was a true reflection of the situation of things in the Food Basket state.
According to the poll in which 794 persons are reported to have participated, the governor is said to have performed poorly with the majority 43 per cent of the respondents affirming this stand. 8 per cent respondents were categorical that the governor within the period under review has performed abysmally on account of his incessant borrowing, inability to pay salaries, questionable handling of bailout funds and his evident lack of preparedness for the task of governance, as well as glaring inconsistencies in his policy pronouncements and actions. However, 21 percent, 15 percent and 10 percent believe the governor has so far performed fairly, good and excellent respectively while 4 percent were indifferent about his performance.
First to react on the findings of the poll is the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Odeh Ageh who used several adjectives to dismiss the results referring to it as “biased, false, misleading, spurious fabrication, lacking credibility and” “inherent opposition” handwork.
He explained that any poll conducted on the would exclude majority of the population who are ardent supporters of the present administration adding that internet penetration was poor amongst the people owing to their impoverishment by the Gabriel Suswam administration.
His words: “As with any online based survey, the news medium left margins for bias against Ortom whose supporters probably did not have broader affinity for internet technology, or more access to the news website or general new media technology due to their impoverishment by the previous administration”.
He finds the rating of the Ortom-led administration hard to accept, because the poll result is not only a spurious fabrication and targeted at discrediting the good performance of the governor, it also insults the sensibility of Benue workers and people who are witnessing and benefitting from the good governance brought to bear in the state by Governor Ortom.
As if that was not enough, Ortom’s media team, headed by TahavAgerzua, also came up alleging manipulation and politicization of the poll by the opposition to deny government supporters access to the social media and as such paint it in bad light before the outside world.
But pundits like a former Media aide in the National Assembly, Bemgba Iortyom have been quick to describe as laughable the administration’s defense, pointing out that, more than the opposition, government has the resources and influence to manipulate such things as opinion polls in its favour. He also wondered while the respondents would raise false allegations against the Ortom administration.
“Many have emphasized the lack of initiative by the Tahav Agerzua-led administration’s media team which is seen as largely reactionary and choleric in responding to the more proactive and consistent opposition media advocates who have time and again inflicted humiliating defeats on their pro-government opponents.
“In their reaction, the opposition media has challenged the Ortom administration to institute an opinion poll and manage it all by itself, yet it believes the administration will still score abysmally poorly with the people of the state on account of the reasons already stated for the poor rating of the six month-old government.
“The opposition media urges the Ortom government to, as a matter of urgency, hasten to institute such a poll, but doubts if the administration will have the decency and courage to publish the results of the poll after it might have been concluded, as the result will, no doubt, be too humiliating for against the government to make public”, Iortyom maintained on a timeline post on Facebook.
Also reacting, Gurgur Japheth, State Coordinator of Coalition of Democrats for Election Reforms (CODER) said such utterances were products of a democracy.
“While the opinion of the said online media outlet cannot be taken away from them as their own democratic rights and freedom to express lamentation, it is commonsensical that such a poll should not be taken with any modicum of seriousness because to the best of opinion of any critically thinking person, this poll is nothing other than the campaign initiated by Politically Displaced Persons (PDP) who are yet to come to terms with their disgraceful end of a 16 years misrule by corruption and stomach infrastructure”.
In the same vein, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity the governor, Terver Akase, the April 11th, 2015 election which his boss won is the only valid basis for assessing his acceptability with the people, and any other assessment is of no consequence till the next round of elections in 2019.
He is however of the opinion that periodic genuine assessment of any administration is neither unfair nor subversive, as the essence, from a rational point of view, is to keep such administration in touch with its obligations to the people and in turn keep the people abreast of its progress, while at the same time keeping alive the social contract and sustaining the basic meaning and significance of government.
While battle the between the governor’s team and opponents of his administration to ascertain his popularity status continues, the management of the online portal maintain that there was need to clarify issues concerning the published results conducted to assess the performance of the state governor in his first six months in office.
It described the organization as privately owned and run by dedicated youths who are internet and social media enthusiasts and activists add therefore not affiliated to any other media, ethnic, religious or political group.
It further wondered while in-as-much-as the said poll was not the first on their platform yet none generated controversy and such talk down by the government in earlier instances.
It could be recalled that in the run-off to the last Benue gubernatorial elections, a similar poll was conducted. The results of the real elections weeks later was reminiscent of those of the online poll in which the present Governor, Samuel Ortom defeated his opponent, Prince TerhemenTarzoor.
“We also conducted opinion polls to assess the people expectation of Governor Ortom on his assumption of office and also appraised his performance one month after. Only recently have events shown that the results of those polls were favourable to the government, as they were not adjudged to be “biased, false, misleading, a spurious fabrication or lacking credibility.
Like or loathe, accept or dismiss, the results of the latest poll, just as the others before it, are a true, unbiased, non-politicised reflection of the general feeling of the people which every responsible government should not take for granted.
Categorically, the portal stressed its resolve to continue with such activities because as a media outfit, it owe allegiance only to the people and will engage in such as far as it will advance their courses.
“If anything, the government should be grateful for the rare privilege of getting undiluted feedback from the people who put them in office.We therefore urge those offended by the outcome of the poll in question, and other polls in the past and in the future, to sheath their swords and come to terms with the realities of governance in the twenty first century, or to say the least, governance in a democracy – supposedly by the people, of the people, and for the people”, it concluded.
In the meantime, the administration has capitalized on issues surrounding the poll to roll out the achievements of the achievements of the administration since May 29th this year.
Agerzua, in a statement obtained by Total Politics pointed out that the administration has done well, so far in the five pillars which it said it would confront the challenges facing the state. These are good governance and revenue security; agriculture-driven industrialisation; science, technology, engineering, arts, Mathematics-based education and health services, investment in critical infrastructure; and promotion of gender equality and empowering women, youths, sports and persons with disability.