By Solomon Ayado
In a country Nigeria where there is economic instability and people hardly think of uplifting the lives of the less privileged, it is however very difficult for someone who is born without silver spoon to begin life from the scratch and make it to the top. But for Chief Samuel Ioraer Ortom, the minister of state for industry, trade and investment, for many people who have come in contact with him will assert that his transformation as a motor park tout into a wealthy societal man is not mistakable.
Born on 23rd April, 1961 in Nzorov area of Nongov in Guma local government area of Benue state, he tasted western education for the first time when he was enrolled into the St. John’s primary school Gboko in 1970 and later moved to St. Catherine’s primary school, Makurdi in 1974 where he completed his primary education in 1976.
Desirous to become a reasonable man even without a famous background, Ortom moved out of Benue state and was admitted into Idah secondary commercial college, Idah in Kogi state in 1976. He did two years in the school before his father’s retirement brought an unceremonious end to his dream of completing western education. The abrupt end of the education of this honourable man was on account of inability to pay school fees. The situation propelled him to give his life to Christ.
However, it is a rare character of anyone without proper financial family background to refuse getting spoilt and or involving hatchet jobs in time of serious financial challenges to fend. But Ortom, instead of idling away at home to mourn his fate, he sold his shame and immediately got into the Gboko motor park as a tout.
In the motor park, Ortom would load commercial vehicles and could sometimes engage pushing wheelbarrow just to earn a living. It was in the motor park that a tolerant Nigerian taught him how to drive. The opportunity given to Ortom to learn how to move a motor vehicle was because of his honesty and dedication to duty which those that senior him in the place observed.
After he became conversant with driving, it was then that another considerate person helped him to obtain a drivers license, the situation that led to his first employment in the park as a professional driver. Ortom had a stint because he wanted to fully continue with driving in the park before on proper recommendation, he became the driver and confidant of a prominent Gboko-based Christian leader and politician, Pa Samu Ihugh.
His success story began on a very fateful day after close of work, he hung around voluntarily in the house of his boss waiting, in his usual manner, whether his services might still be needed. Know that he is a courageous man and never give up easily on things he desires.
Surprisingly, that wait opened a new chapter in his life that has even contributed immensely in raising him up to his present level.
Retrospectively, while sitting on a bench outside the house of his master, the wind blew a piece of paper which as an advertisement for enrollment into the National School of salesmanship, Manchester, towards him. He picked it, read it well and decided to enroll for it by correspondence, thus launching himself into the world of acquiring knowledge and certificates online.
By correspondence, Ortom obtained the General Certificate of Education, GCE as well as Diploma in salesmanship. Determined to further his acquisition of knowledge, he gained admission at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and obtained both the interim Joint Matriculation Board Certificate in 1995 and diploma in journalism in 1998 respectively.
He also attended the Benue state University Makurdi where he obtained advanced diploma in personnel management in 2001 and a Master of Public administration in 2004. Not forgetting the manner in which he started, Ortom crowned his education pursuit with a Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D from the commonwealth University Belize, through distant learning.
His working experience as a professional driver and salesman cut across various stages beginning with Gyado Foods Co. Limited before he was elected as executive chairman of Guma local government area between 1991 and 1993 on the umbrella of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Fondly regarded as a veritable bridge between the poor and the rich, it could be the fervent prayers of those he had assisted and or because of his unflinching desire to achieve greatness, out of nothing that saw him excelling in the political sphere. He has been state publicity secretary of the National Centre Party of Nigeria (NCPN), state treasurer of the All People’s Party (APP) and state secretary, as well as deputy state chairman of the PDP, in agrarian Benue state.
Dr. Ortom served as Director of operations of the PDP gubernatorial campaign in Benue state in 2007 and director of administration and logistics of the Goodluck/Sambo presidential campaign organization in 2011. He became the PDP national Auditor before he was appointed as minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by President Goodluck Jonathan. He is the current Minister of State, Trade and Investments.
As a matter of fact, Ortom has distinguished himself to challenge the popularly held notion that ‘nothing good can come out of Nazareth’. On his personal effort to transform the lives of many less privileged, he has propriety for outfits including the Oracle Business Limited a conglomerate that owns Goshen Water which produces bottled and sachet water, The Oracle oil mills, Oracle printing press as well as Oracle Farms Limited which handles mechanized farming and animal husbandry.
One prominent area that has clearly shown that Chief Ortom has not forgotten his root, he established the Oracle Driving school which turns out qualified drivers on a regular basis, for over a decade now. Among other establishments and many projects, the tout Cvm educated fellow and employer of labour, he has not dashed his determination to achieve greatness, declaring a firm ambition to run for governorship of Benue state come 2015.
As it is, Chief Ortom who started life as a motor park tout has carved a niche in all his endeavors and has proven the fact that you must not achieve greatness by birth but also by determination, hard-work and relentless struggle to impact positively on the lives of the less privileged.