SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, UMARU TANKO AL-MAKURA, GOVERNOR OF NASARAWA STATE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE COMMISSIONING OF COMPREHENSIVE SPECIAL SCHOOL, LAFIA BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI GCFR, PRESIDENT, COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, LAFIA, NASARAWA STATE: TUESDAY, 6TH FEBRUARY, 2018.

1. His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, President, Commander In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;

2. Your Excellences, My Colleagues, Governors of Plateau State, Simon Lalong and Benue State, Samuel Ortom.

3. His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State.

4. The Right Honourable Speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly;

5. Distinguished Senators and other members of the National and State Assemblies here present;

6. The Honourable Chief Judge, Nasarawa State;

7. Members of the Federal and State Executive Councils here present;

8. The Secretary to the State Government;

9. Your Excellences, Heads of Diplomatic Corps here present;

10. The State Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC);

11. His Royal Highness, Alhaji (Dr.) Isa Mustapha Agwai I, CFR, Emir
of Lafia and Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs;

12. Your Royal Highnesses, Emirs and Chiefs;

13. Principal, Staff and Students of the Comprehensive Special School, Lafia;

14. Prominent Sons and Daughters of Nasarawa State;

15. Distinguished Guests;

16. Members of the Press;

17. Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today marks a watershed in the annals of history of the APC Administration in Nasarawa State as we are honoured to host our political icon, mentor and role model, Nigeria’s rare nationalist and our indefatigable leader, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR,
President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

2. It is, indeed, a rare privilege to once again have Your Excellency in Nasarawa State, having hosted you severally as our political leader, a precursor of our democratic virtues that heralded the only CPC Government in the Country; your brainchild that became your political laboratory in this dispensation. This visit is yet another historic moment for the people of Nasarawa State because it is the first time you are coming here after assumption of office as President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are, therefore, most honoured by this memorable visit as it once again demonstrates your enviable love for the Government and people of Nasarawa State.

3. It is heartwarming to point out, Your Excellency, that your political ideology of social justice, accountability, respect for rule of law etc have been the template which we have adopted and continue to entrench in the initiation and execution of policies and programmes that are geared towards peace, security, alleviating poverty, economic empowerment, infrastructural development, social services, as well as creating the needed conducive environment for socio-economic activities to thrive in order to ensure security, social justice and employment opportunities.

4. In this regard, we embarked on road constructions (rural, urban and inter-city) network in the State. This endeavour has transformed the State capital and all Local Government Headquarters, making them hub of socio-economic activities and also opened up rural communities.

5. Similarly, Your Excellency, given our commitment for quality education, we have also reorganised the education sector from primary to tertiary levels by building model primary schools in all the Local Government Areas of the State tagged “Ta’al Model School”. The schools are equipped with modern facilities and injected with qualified teachers for better teaching and learning. This is in addition to making education free for our children from primary to secondary school levels. This effort has greatly promoted school enrolment, girl-child education and quality of education generally.

6. Mindful of our peculiarities as one of the newly created States, we have embarked on so many projects that will provide the necessary foundation and also have positive impact on the lives of our people. Notably, our Signature Youth Empowerment Scheme where we have engaged over 5000 youths in NAYES to serve as sanitation officials, environment guards, security watchers and traffic marshals to curb youth restiveness. This is in addition to creating skills acquisition opportunities and conducive environment to attract investment in agriculture in line with Federal Government’s diversification policy. Presently, Dangote Group is investing over $700 Million USD in Tunga (Awe Local Government Area) for its Sugar Cane Plantation and Refinery, Olam Farms is also producing over 10,000 metric tons of Rice annually, while also promoting Federal Government Anchor Borrowers Scheme. Nasarawa State Government has also procured six (6) mega and modular fertilizer blending plants from Beidou in China to promote the Federal Government of Nigeria/Kingdom of Morocco Fertilizer Production Initiative. This will make fertilizer not only readily available, but will also make it compatible with our soil types.

7. Your Excellency, in our quest to ensure inclusiveness in governance, we have opened vistas of opportunities for the vulnerable members of the society especially the disabled, hence the Comprehensive Special School you are about to commission – will concentrate on providing individual care to children with learning difficulties, specifically special needs in areas of vision impairment (BLIND), Hard of Hearing (DEAF), physically challenged (CRIPPLE) and those with Cerebral Palsy (AUTISM/DOWN SYNDROME). To ensure maximum benefit and inclusiveness, we have made their education free, right from primary to tertiary level. This effort is to remove the burden of educational expenses off the parents of these wonderful children. By extension, it is aimed at ensuring that children with disability are given equal opportunities and empowered to broaden their vision, develop their talents, creativity and support their full potentials to capacity and to compete favourably with others in all spheres of human endeavours. I dare say that there is always Ability in Disability.

8. I am glad to inform you, Your Excellency, that the Comprehensive Special School, Lafia plans to be affiliated with world renown centres of excellence for People with Disability like the Gallaudet University and Perkins University, USA amongst others where our children would benefit from intellectual resources and global best practices of seasoned professionals on disability management and education and to also access further opportunities. It is pertinent to add that the Nasarawa State Comprehensive Special School is equipped with modern facilities to ease teaching and learning of the children with special needs. We have also recruited the desired manpower with requisite qualification and disposition to teach in these schools which are also replicated in Gudi and Keffi.

9. We have also developed, after careful consideration, and with the help of Special Education experts, a comprehensive curriculum and modules for the education of children with special needs – this is the first of its kind in Nigeria. Nasarawa State Government will be glad\ to avail copies to the Federal Ministry of Education for possible adoption and implementation nationwide. Let me at this juncture, appreciate UBEC for the usual support and collaboration.

10. Your Excellency, I am obliged to, on behalf of the people of Nasarawa State and, indeed, well-meaning Nigerians, express our gratitude for your doggedness in realizing the objectives of your campaign promises. Particularly, I make bold to state that your commitment in addressing security situation such as, the Boko Haram insurgence in the North East, the restiveness in the Niger Delta region, as well as curbing the trend of kidnapping in the country and the on-going efforts to solve the lingering farmers/herdsmen crisis in this belt and, indeed, the entire country among other sundry security challenges, is remarkable and is succeeding. We are grateful for the recent deployment of six (6) police mobile units and aerial surveillance by the Inspector General of Police and the deployment of Army personnel by the Armed Forces High Command to patrol our border areas with neighbouring States to maintain peace and order while reconciliation efforts are being undertaken. On our part, our modest contribution to support this initiative is exemplified by the setting up a Community Based Conflict Resolution Committees across the State to ensure the regulation of activities of farmers/herders, we have also purchase 50 brand new Hilux Patrol Trucks and other assorted vehicles to be distributed to the Nigeria Police, DSS, Civil Defence and Nigerian Army immediately to help in sustaining enduring peace and
order in the State.

11. Your Excellency, it is with profound pleasure that I wish to inform you that other projects lined up for your commissioning today are the Model Comprehensive Primary Healthcare Centre in synergy with the Federal Ministry of Health and National Primary Healthcare Development Agency which is anchoring the Federal Government programme on Community Health Influencers, Promoters and Services (CHIPS). I understand from the Honourable Minister of Health, that this pilot programme which you will commission shortly after this event, is in line with your commitment of providing at least one functional Primary Healthcare Centre in each ward across the Country. The Model Ultra-Modern Markets at Lafia, Akwanga, Keffi and the Karu International Market named after His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR the Ultra-Modern Fire Service Station, Lafia and the seven Modern e-Libraries and a host of other township roads which you have just commissioned before coming to the Special School. That is what informed our request for a 2-day State visit to your State of Nasarawa. However, we appreciate your tight schedule, hence the one day visit.

12. Your Excellency, let me express our gratitude for your various interventions, especially the siting of the 330KV and 132/33KV Transmission Substation which you are about to flag-off its construction. This robust infrastructure will solve our power problem for many decades to come. The construction of Federal Housing Estate in the State, as well as your approval for dualisation of Keffi-Akwanga-Lafia-Makurdi road is also appreciated. As a State close to the Federal Capital Territory, I wish to humbly request Your Excellency to consider taking over the construction of the Lafia-Keffi virgin road which our Administration in the State has started executing. The road, when completed, will serve as a bypass which will take motorists just about one hour to reach Abuja, instead of the usual three-hour journey from Lafia through Akwanga to Keffi, as is currently the case. This will further give a boost to our ongoing new Lafia Cargo Airport, which Mr. President will sight as we traverse through the Lafia Township road.

13. Your Excellency, the commissioning of this Comprehensive School and other projects by your good self today is, no doubt, a great honour done to our Administration, the persons with disability and the entire good people of Nasarawa State. Sir, I wish to assure you that you will continue to be revered and extoled by us in Nasarawa State and, indeed, all citizens of Nigeria who see your political virtues and values as inspiration and hope for generations yet unborn.

14. We assure you of our unflinching and unalloyed support in your determination to move our dear country – Nigeria to the Promised Land. We, in Nasarawa State, will always be with you in your economic and political aspirations. We have done it before. We shall always do it again.

15. Before I conclude, I wish to use this opportunity of the commissioning of the Special School for people with disability to appeal to the two (2) Chambers of the National Assembly to expedite action on the harmonisation of Disability Bill before them, as I believe Mr. President is patiently waiting to sign it into Law.

16. At this juncture, it is my honour and privilege to, once again, express our profound gratitude and appreciation to Your Excellency for personally gracing this occasion and I do respectfully invite you, our leader, our role model, President Muhammadu Buhari to commission the Lafia Comprehensive Special School for the benefit of humanity.

17. Long live Nasarawa State,

18. Long live our President,

19. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.