The perception of the average Nigerian that most of the political class has love for their pockets and not the country puts the political class in a tight corner. Although not all of the political class can be said to have put their desires before the interests of the nation, many political leaders are guilty of this perception hence, the underdevelopment of the nation. More so, the pressure that comes with political offices thus requires the holder to have a companion that will always stand in to fill any perceived lapses.
Suffice to say that it was in realisation of the above that the wife of the former military president, Maryam Babangida, saw the need to begin a pet project to complement her husband’s efforts. While the practice continued since then, many women only used the opportunity to form an arm of propaganda for their spouses rather than seek to genuinely impact lives positively.
Eunice Erdoo Ortom, wife of the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom is one person who has shown uncommon support for her husband and Benue State despite the challenges confronting her husband’s administration. This perhaps gives meaning to the saying that behind every successful man there is a woman. She has in addition to discharging her responsibilities as a wife and mother excelled in her academic pursuit.
On the assumption of office since 2015, Eunice was not carried away by the glamour of being the wife of a governor; instead, she listened to the voice of wisdom and quickly assembled a team to carry out the task ahead. Using her organisation, the Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF), she quickly assessed the needs of the people and moved in to intervene not just in ameliorating the suffering of the poor and sick, but also to ensure that Benue people live a decent life.
As a mark of true motherhood, Eunice has not shown any iota of partisanship in her intervention activities. Unlike what other politically exposed persons whom would use their schemes to advance the political architecture of their spouses, she has directed her interventions according to needs irrespective of party affiliations. Little wonder, critics of her husband’s administration have sparingly extended such criticisms to her and organisation.
Eunice, succinctly fits into Diane Mariechild, an America author known for leading lectures on women and Buddhism description of womanhood thus, “A woman a full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” It is on record the indelible achievements so far recorded in her efforts to bring about a better Benue. In her determination to bring access to health services to the doors of rural dwellers, the Eunice Spring of Life Foundation embarked on a free medical outreach to citizens of the state. The exercise has seen over 20 cancer patients across the 276 council wards in the state treated free of charge as well as over 40,000 others who are suffering from other ailments.
Such intervention is an act of devotion to the people’s wellbeing considering the economic downturn coupled with other challenges faced by the people. The medical outreach has also given a lot of relief to many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Many who had already fled their homes and were living in near impecuniousness, the intervention could not have come at a better time. Being a woman who is committed to family survival, she played the lead role in providing relief materials to IDPs at the various camps established as a result of the farmers/herdsmen crises as well as the period of flooding.
Away from health, she has been at the heart of championing youth and women empowerment and inclusion in the government of her husband. She has rallied efforts from the government, corporate bodies and other development partners on ways of creating wealth for youth and women. The Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF) has trained and empowered over 600 youths in the state in different areas to reorientate them towards productivity and enterprise. Mrs Ortom believes that for the state to move forward, the youths must be given the desired training and support. This she is doing through organising a plethora of training and skills acquisition across the 23 local governments in the state.
Aside from her humanitarian and empowerment strides, Mrs Ortom has remained accessible to all Benue people. She has not been found wanting each time an opportunity calls for her to mentor the younger generation. For instance, in an era when the reading culture is dwindling, she embarked on a “Read Aloud” tour of primary schools in Makurdi, the state capital.
The exercise no doubt will spur the pupils to make reading a habit in their lives as it is beneficial to building a wealth of moral values. Testimonies of Eunice Erdoo Ortom’s torch on the lives of the Benue people clearly shows that she has being a blessing not just to her husband and family but indeed Benue and Nigeria in general.
–Semaka, a social commentator, writes from Abuja
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