2. The Honourable Minister of State for Environment;
3. The Right Hon. Speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly;
4. The Hon. Chief Judge, Nasarawa State;
5. Distinguished Members of the National Assembly present;
6. The Grand Kadi, Sharia Court of Appeal;
7. The President, Customary Court of Appeal;
8. Principal Officers and Members of the State House of Assembly;
9. Your Excellences, former Governors;
10. Your Excellences, former Deputy Governors;
11. Your Excellences, former Ministers and Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
12. Members of the State Executive and Security Councils;
13. The Secretary to the Government of Nasarawa State;
14. The Head of Civil Service;
15. Chief of Staff
16. Special Advisers;
17. Chief Executives of Federal Establishments;
18. Permanent Secretaries;
19. His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Isa Mustapha Agwai I, CFR, Emir of Lafia and Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs;
20. The State Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC);
21. Chairmen of other Political Parties present;
22. Chairmen and Chief Executives of Commissions, Boards and Parastatals;
23. Chairmen of Interim Management Committee (IMC) of Local Government Councils present;
24. Your Royal Highnesses, Emirs and Chiefs;
25. Prominent Sons and Daughters of Nasarawa State;
26. Gentlemen of the Press;
27. Ladies and gentlemen.
Today marks yet another significant milestone in our life as a people with a common destiny.
2. It is, therefore, with gratitude to Almighty God that I address you on this occasion of the 56th Anniversary of Nigeria’s independence and the 20th anniversary of the creation of Nasarawa State.
3. I acknowledge with appreciation the presence of distinguished sons and daughters of Nasarawa State and all personalities who are here to celebrate this memorable event. Your presence at this occasion is, indeed, an expression of your abiding faith in our collective quest for self determination and the actualization of the development agenda that our forebears set out to achieve.
4. I salute your sacrifice, perseverance and partnership, as well as enthusiasm over the years. I urge you to sustain this collaborative endeavor for the benefit of the good people of Nasarawa State.
5. My dear compatriots, let me, on behalf of the Government and people of Nasarawa State, congratulate all Nigerians on this occasion of the 56th anniversary of our nationhood. Today reminds us of the struggle of our nationalists who rose in resilience and obtained our freedom from the colonialists.
6. There is, no doubt that since the assumption of office of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has witnessed tremendous challenges in the areas of security of lives and property, especially the activities of Boko Haram terrorists, the Niger-Delta militants, as well as conflict between farmers and herdsmen. The fight against corruption as a result of the plundering of our economy by unpatriotic citizens in the recent past
7. is yielding appreciable results. Similarly, the country is gradually regaining its image among the comity of nations as evidenced by the accolades accorded our President during international engagements. Let me also acknowledge the commitment of Mr. President aimed at taking the country out of the current economic recession. There is light at the end of the tunnel in the untiring efforts of the Federal Government.
8. Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it would be recalled that agitation for the creation of a State out of Plateau State started in 1980 during the second republic. A Movement for the Creation of a Middle Belt State and another for the Creation of Nasarawa State with the same geo-political composition were concurrently pursued. The two agitations continued up to the demise of the 2nd Republic. In 1996, the Government of late General Sani Abacha considered the Report of the Constitutional Conference and constituted a Committee on States/Local Government creation and Boundary Adjustment. On 1st October, 1996, the Abacha administration announced the creation of Nasarawa State along with five (5) other States.
9. My dear good people of Nasarawa State, today marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of Nasarawa State. Let me, therefore, congratulate you all on this special day of the commemoration of the creation of our dear State. In this regard, let me pay special tribute to our founding fathers who played key roles in the struggle for the actualization of Nasarawa State. Some of these leaders have transited to the great beyond. We must, however, endeavour to cherish the contributions of these founding fathers and remember the sacrifices they have made for our sake and for the sake of generations yet unborn. Similarly, we are also grateful to God, the Almighty for sparing our lives and making us active players in the affairs of our people.
10. Your Excellences, Your Royal Highnesses, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, occasions such as this call for a reflection on our journey so far. It is pertinent to note that the desire for self-determination, economic development and social cohesion were the impetus that propelled our founding fathers to struggle for the creation of the State.
11. At this juncture, let me appreciate some of the contributions of my predecessors in realizing the dream of our founding fathers, particularly the effort of the first Military Administrator, Wing Commander Abdullahi Ibrahim of blessed memory for constructing institutional structures like the Government House, first House of Assembly Complex, the Nasara Housing Estate, the first State Secretariat at Akunza, the conversion of Lafia Local Government Secretariat to Military Administrator’s Office and renovation of Shagari Low-cost Housing Estate for civil servants. At this stage
12. I also wish to acknowledge the contributions of Colonel Bala Mohammed Mande (Rtd) for the construction of the Deputy Governor’s Office now Office of the Secretary to the Government of Nasarawa State, the conversion and upgrading of Lafia General Hospital to Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital Lafia and construction of High Court Headquarters complex. The first democratically elected Governor, His Excellency, Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Sarkin Yakin Keffi) elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1999, established the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nasarawa State Polytechnic, School of Nursing and Midwifery, School of Health Technology Keffi, constructed the Factory, completed and furnished the Government House complex, constructed Presidential lodge and the 10 Units VIP Guest Houses. A bold attempt was made for hydro-electric power generation at the Farin Ruwa Waterfall but the dream was not realized due to technical and financial constraints.
13. The administration of His Excellency, Alhaji (Dr.) Aliyu Akwe Doma, OON (Madauchin Doma) did its best to improve the socio-economic development of the State. In this regard, he initiated, upgraded the new Nasarawa State House of Assembly complex; constructed 3Nos. High Courts buildings and initiated some road projects in some parts of the State and the 500 Unit Housing Estate for workers.
14. On May 29th 2011, I was elected into office as Governor on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) party. It was a peaceful revolution of opportunity and hope.
15. We pledged then to begin anew the task of remaking Nasarawa State buoyed by the principles of transparency, accountability, probity, due process and prudent management of resources. To impart our young men and women with skills, to undertake road building inside and outside our towns, to harness the soil, the sun and our water resources, to restore education to meet the standards of our time and benefit from Information Technology. We also promised to make healthcare affordable and accessible; to foster a modern educated enterprise society.
16. Guided by this covenant, we hit the ground running by embarking on massive roads constructions within the major cities, rural-urban roads, as well as feeder roads across the State. We have so far constructed over three hundred (300) kilometres of asphalt-drained roads in Lafia and eleven (11) Local Government Area Headquarters which is unprecedented since the creation of the State. Work on the Keana,Garaku and Toto- Umaisha roads are commencing as contract has been awarded.
17. This Administration also undertook a holistic overhaul of the education sector from the primary to the tertiary level. In this direction, we made education free for primary and post-primary students and resuscitated the school feeding programme aimed at relieving parents of such burden in the boarding schools. We constructed 44 Nos. 2 storey building Ta’al Model Primary Schools and 500 classroom blocks. We made a bold effort in providing 10 nos hostel accommodation for our tertiary institutions, improved internal roads network, ensured accreditation and enhanced the welfare of staff in our academic institutions.
18. In our effort to avail the physically challenged amongst us the opportunity to pursue and realize their potentials, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Gallaudet University, Washington, DC. I am happy to state that this has led to the establishment of Special Schools for people living with disabilities in Lafia, Akwanga and Keffi. As I speak now, Government is furnishing and equipping the International Model Special School in Lafia.
19. Your Excellencies, it is pertinent to state that this Administration considers the health of our citizens a primary responsibility. Government has offset the backlog of the salary arrears and implemented the new salary structures of the health workers which, before the inception of our Administration, had led to a protracted industrial action. We have also constructed and upgraded General Hospitals, as well as Primary Healthcare Centres across the State.
20. In addition, the construction of 150 bed Model Hospitals in Lafia, Akwanga and Nasarawa are at various stages of completion. When these facilities are completed, they will serve as referral centres as they are to be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. In this connection, Government completed the Central Medical Stores initiated in 2005. Already, the facility is supplying quality drugs to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. This move is aimed at curtailing circulation of substandard and fake drugs in the State. It is pertinent to state that Government recently donated the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital to the Federal University, Lafia as its Teaching Hospital for the proposed College of Medical Sciences.
21. Perhaps I need to add that side-by-side the issue of healthcare delivery, this Administration has made the provision of potable water a priority. We have rehabilitated the Akwanga Regional Water Works and completed the Toto and Daddare Water Supply Schemes which are now ready for commissioning. Just a few days ago, I performed the commissioning of the Nassarawa Eggon Water Scheme which, I believe, will address the perennial water problem in the area. We have also constructed boreholes in various communities across the State. Again, the Wamba Water Supply scheme project has just been awarded the gigantic Nassarawa Town Water project will be completed and commissioned before the end of the year.
22. In order to give Lafia the befitting look of a State capital, this Administration committed resources to the construction of this Lafia City Square for the hosting of political, socio-cultural and sundry events. In the same vein, we installed traffic lights to regulate vehicular movement within Lafia metropolis. This is in addition to the construction of fire service stations in the three senatorial zones of the State, as well as provision of fire-fighting trucks to combat fire outbreaks. Deliberate attempt was made by Government to also improve the power generation capacity across the State in order to improve industrial activities. In this regard, we procured transformers and other electrical equipment for Lafia metropolis and other urban, as well as semi-urban centres across the State. Government has also secured the commitment of the Federal Government to build a 330/132 Injection Sub-Station to serve the entire State. With adequate electricity, I believe that the impetus for economic development will be accelerated.
23. As an agrarian State with agriculture employing more than 70% of its population, this Government embarked on a robust restructuring of the sector. Fertilizers and seedling have continued to be subsidized to our farmers. Government has provided incentives to OLAM Farms in the cultivation of Ten Thousand (10,000) hectares of rice in Rukubi, Doma Local Government Area of the State. This has strategically placed Nasarawa State as one of the largest rice producers in the entire West African sub-region. We have also identified other crops which the State has comparative advantage for mechanized farming, including sesame, cassava and sweet potato. Government is poised to encourage our farmers to go into large scale production to improve earnings. Let me also note that the Dangote Group is investing in our agricultural and mineral potentials of the State for the socio-economic development. In particular, Nasarawa state will soon benefit from this collaboration by the exploration of our large deposit of cocking coal in the Obi/Agwatashi axix with sugar and rice farms in Tunga.
24. Concerned by the unemployment rate of the teeming youths in the State, we upgraded the four Skills Acquisition Centres and provided a new blueprint that will enable graduates of the Centres become self-reliant and create wealth for themselves. A partnership with the Singaporean Institute of Technical Education ensured that we establish our own Nasarawa State Institute of Technical Education and have imported N350 million worth of technical training equipment from Singapore. In addition to this, this Administration trained over one thousand, five hundred (1,500) youths in our Nasarawa Youth Empowerment Scheme (NAYES) as Traffic Marshals, Sanitary Inspectors and Community Watchers. Encouraged by the success of the scheme, an additional one thousand, five hundred (1,500) youths were also recently recruited under the NAYES programme and are undergoing intensive training to serve as Infrastructure Watchers. It is worthy to note that these young men and women have been complementing the security and other relevant agencies in reducing the rate of crime and disease prevalence in the society. The engagement of these youths in meaningful ventures is substantially addressing youth restiveness.
25. Driven by the same spirit, Government has also empowered one thousand, four hundred and seventy (1,470) women comprising widows, the physically challenged and the indigent drawn from all the electoral wards of the State. This is aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship among women.
26. It is also important to state that taking advantage of our proximity to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), this Administration initiated a digital land administration programme aimed at producing a master plan of the State, as well as generating revenue. To actualize this project, Government set up the Nasarawa State Geographic Information Service (NAGIS) and has undertaken a digital aerial mapping of the entire State, a master plan, detailed district plans and digital Land Administration. Today, Nasarawa State is earning revenue from NAGIS, the component of our digital land administration system. The Gurku/Kabusu 13,000 hectares land has already been designed to accommodate 12 modern Districts comparable to its neighbour, the FCT.
27. Ladies and gentlemen, we embarked on market development as a strategy of boosting our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and enhancing socio-economic activities in the State. We have expanded Karu International Market from 1,207 stalls to 3,007 stalls. In this regard, only few days ago, I commissioned the ultra-modern market in Akwanga, while the ultra-modern markets in Lafia and Keffi will soon be completed and commissioned to boost economic activities and serve as commercial Centres..
28. My dear people of Nasarawa State, as you are aware, some parts of Nasarawa State, especially Nasarawa South and Nasarawa North Senatorial Districts witnessed various communal crises which resulted in the loss of many lives and properties worth millions of naira, including the displacement of persons from their original abodes. It is gratifying to note that peace has since been restored and people returned to their respective communities. Let me, once again commend the security agencies, religious and community leaders, and all the good people of Nasarawa State on the peace we are witnessing now after the unfortunate communal crises that engulfed the State. This is how it should be. I appeal to all and sundry to continue to be our brothers’ keepers and maintain law and order for the harmony, stability and progress of our beloved State.
29. At this juncture, Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me once again express my appreciation for your sustained support, cooperation and solidarity with this Administration over the past five (5) years. I assure you that we will not relent in our determination to improve the living conditions of our people.
30. On this note, let me once again, congratulate the good people of Nasarawa State on the celebration of Nasarawa at 20 and Nigeria at 56. I wish you a successful celebration.
31. Thank you and God bless.