Samuel Ortom was born 23 April 1961 in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State, Nigeria. He attended St. John's Primary School, Gboko in 1970, but moved to St. Catherine's Primary School, Makurdi in 1974, completing his primary education in 1976. Ortom 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 in 1979 ended his dream of completing formal secondary school education for financial reasons. He found other means to attain educational qualifications. He obtained a private candidate General Certificate Education which he used to advance into distant learning tertiary institutions where he got a Diploma in Salesmanship.
He later enrolled at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and obtained both the Interim Joint Matriculation Board Certificate in 1995 and Diploma in Journalism in 1998. Later on, he obtained an Advanced Diploma in Personnel Management from Benue State University in 2001 as well as Master of Public Administration in 2004. Dr. Ortom also has a Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D, from the Commonwealth University, Belize, through distant learning
Samuel Ortom began his political career in 1991 when he ran for Chairmanship in Guma Local Government Area under the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and won; serving till 1993. Subsequently he served in the following capacities and political positions: State Publicity Secretary of the National Centre Party of Nigeria (NCPN); State Treasurer of the All People's Party (APP); State Secretary and Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); PDP National Auditor; Director of Operations of the PDP gubernatorial campaign in Benue State (2007) and Director of Administration and Logistics of the Goodluck/Sambo Presidential Campaign Organization (2011). He was later appointed Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in July 2011 and served till October 2014 when he resigned to contest for Governor of Benue State under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. He emerged winner in the 2015 gubernatorial elections, becoming the Governor of Benue State.