In the name of Allah, the beneficent and the merciful. I stand here in great humility, with a deep sense of responsibility and a heart full of gratitude and appreciation before you all, the good people of Nasarawa State and our well-wishers on this occasion of my swearing-in and inauguration for a second term in office as Executive Governor. This ceremony compels me to uphold the Constitution and pay allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the discharge of my statutory responsibilities.
Let me quickly congratulate His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Agbadu Akabe who has also taken his oath of office as first Deputy Governor to do so in the history of our state, and whom I have worked with in the past four years as a loyal team mate.
Today marks another watershed in our democratic journey in Nasarawa State, while this is my second inauguration, it is also the 7th in the unbroken political sojourn in our democratic experience in the governance of Nasarawa State since 1999.
It is also significant to note that today, the mantle of leadership has been passed over from His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, in fulfillment of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Let me, therefore, take this opportunity to commend His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR for his services to our great nation and particular love and affection for Nasarawa State. The immediate past president amply demonstrated these in his appointment of sons and daughters of Nasarawa State into federal positions and the numerous transformative projects cited in our State. In this connection, we profoundly appreciate the expansion and dualization of Abuja-Keffi-Lafia-Makurdi highway; the completion and commissioning of the Loko-Oweto bridge; the commencement of Farin-Ruwa Hydro Power Project and take-over of Lafia Cargo Airport among several others. There is no doubt that these projects have immensely impacted on the economic fortunes of our State.
As His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari takes his well-deserved bow from office today, we beseech the Almighty Allah to continue to protect him in good health and bless his endeavours even in retirement. We shall continue to be inspired by his great attributes of patience, endurance, patriotism and courage to weather the storms of governance.
We are delighted to welcome our new President, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a tested leader and patriot whose stewardship as past Executive Governor of Lagos State and commitment to the overall development of Nigeria is outstanding.
We have no doubt that his antecedents and past achievements in the development of Nigeria will be brought to bear in his present leadership for the benefit of all Nigerians. As we assure Mr. President of our loyalty and support at all times, may the Almighty Allah grant him more wisdom and the capacity to lead Nigeria to greater heights.
To my colleagues across the States, who have equally assumed responsibility as Governors of their respective States, I convey my best wishes and those of the people of Nasarawa State, for successful governance in the years ahead and the assurances of my solidarity and collaboration.
I equally congratulate all elected members of the National and State Assemblies for their victory at the polls. This is another golden opportunity for us to work together in harmony irrespective of party differences for the betterment of Nasarawa State.
Let me in a special way thank the electorate of Nasarawa State. You graciously and resiliently came out in your numbers to support our great party, the APC before and during the electioneering campaign. Through the powers of the Almighty Allah and your votes, you have ushered us into office today for another tenure in the service of our State.
I hasten to say that with your votes, you have given vent to our renewed resolve to foster a new and better Nasarawa State, which we had begun in our first tenure.
I consider your free minded votes as an affirmation of our stewardship of the past and an endorsement of our determination for the future, to continue to focus our vision, creativity, energy and preoccupation with developmental and harmonious governance.
The electioneering campaign did not go without occasional acrimony from some quarters, intended to disrupt our collective sense of mission and cohesion as peaceful people of Nasarawa State. This is why I commend your steadfastness in shunning and standing against all the provocations intended to divide our people for selfish political gains. I urge you all to remain steadfast and to be on your guards. We cannot afford to do otherwise, because the prize of liberty is eternal vigilance.
I extend my hand of fellowship to our brothers who have contested under other political parties, and have either won or lost, to join us in our resolve to move Nasarawa State forward. The election has come and gone, the task ahead of us now is the supremacy of the security and welfare of our people.
I assure you, my brothers and sisters, the good people of Nasarawa State and, indeed, development partners within and across our borders that my Administration remains resolute, more than ever before, in our vision to sustain accelerated growth, increase economic opportunities and prosperity, social inclusion and improve the quality of lives of the citizenry.
Our goal is to sustain increase in productivity by leveraging on competitive advantages of our dear State, towards achieving inclusive economic growth and socio-economic transformation, which would continue to translate into substantial improvements in the quality of lives.
We shall hold fast to our unchanging principles of good governance, being our cardinal objective, to establish systems, processes and institutions that will enhance transparency, probity and accountability in the management of the resources of Nasarawa State in line with best practices.
I need to reiterate that the dreams of our founding fathers, your collective yearnings and aspirations remain the focus of our policy direction, plans and actions.
On this path, I believe that we have a meeting point in the hallowed words of our Nasarawa State Anthem that putting all our trust in God, “we shall together strive in hard work and dedication to build our State in peace, harmony and plenty”.
Your Excellencies, Royal Highnesses, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, four (4) years ago, on this podium, I took the oath of office for my first term of stewardship and made a vow to serve you, the good people of Nasarawa State. I appreciate that in the course of time, you adjudged us to have performed meritoriously.
The giant strides that we have made did not come easy in the face of limited resources, the global effect of COVID-19, economic recession and the decline in government revenue.
However, with resilience and by divine intervention, we can raise our shoulders high and our voices loud to say that we have tremendously exceeded the many expectations of our people.
This auspicious occasion avails us opportunity to reflect on a few of our major achievements since assumption of office in May 2019, which I will highlight shortly for the purpose of consolidating on our gains so far and focusing on policies and actions in the years ahead.
Permit me to start with the truism that security has always been the pivot of harmonious co-existence and socio-economic development.
In this direction, we sustained collaborative efforts and synergy with security agencies to provide logistics support notably, vehicles and infrastructure towards equipping and motivating our security agencies in the task of ensuring the safety of lives and property.
We facilitated the establishment and expansion of security outfits in the State such as Military Super Camps in troubled areas, Military Special Force barracks, Police Mobile Training College and the Air Force Special Forces Base, among others, thereby ensuring relative peace and drastic reduction in the rate of communal crises, kidnapping and banditry in the State.
On the path of economic prosperity and industrial development, we developed the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS) document, which defines our development blueprint and achievements, notably, establishment of the Nasarawa Investment and Development Agency (NASIDA) whose activities has attracted investments of some major ventures including Azman Rice Ltd., Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc., the Lee Group and Saro Africa International.
We signed a joint venture Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of the Nasarawa Technology Village in Aso-Pada, Karu Local Government Area of the State.
The Nasarawa State Investment Summit has also attracted world class investors interested in investing in our solid mineral and agricultural endowments.
Our commitment in the investment drive has earned the State the rating by the Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) for being among the top three (3) investment destinations in Nigeria.
As a reward for our unrelenting effort, Nasarawa State is experiencing the exploration and the commencement of the drilling of Ebenyi-A Oil Well in Obi Local Government Area. I assure you that this endeavour will not stop there. We envisage that exploration activities in Keana and Assakyo will also yield pleasant results sooner than later.
In realization that agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and livelihood of Nasarawa State, we ensured timely procurement, distribution of fertilizers, herbicides and implements to our farmers at subsidized rates to boost production.
We have also keyed into the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) of the Federal Government for sustainable food security, livestock production and value-chain addition, as well as finding lasting solutions to the incessant farmers/herders clashes. The pilot project for the Awe grazing reserve has reached advanced stage, while those earmarked for Keana, Lafia, Doma, Wamba, Nasarawa and Karu will follow suit.
Our efforts in the agricultural sector has attracted the establishment of the Agricultural Machinery and Equipment Development Institute (AMEDI) by the Federal Government. This is aimed at creating an agro-industrial hub and empowerment of the youth with appropriate technical skills for the sector.
We embarked on the construction and rehabilitation of urban and rural roads to give our urban centres befitting outlook and to create interconnectivity in the rural areas of the State. To this end, our Administration constructed the Shinge-Ricemill-Kilema road, Al-Makura and Abuja Streets, the GRA-Bukan Ari Road and the ongoing dualization of Shendam Road Junction-Government House-Akurba Road to ease movements and improve the aesthetics of the State capital.
Some of the completed roads, ongoing or under rehabilitation as the case may be, include:
25km Mararaba-Udege road;
15.5km Asphalt Sisinbaki-Kwarra road;
Ashphalt Overlay of Adudu-Ribi-Azara-Wuse Road;
Dual Carriageway, Single Carriageway and Antau Bridge, Keffi.
Karikari–Ado Kasa Road
Wamba Township Road
Akwanga Township Road
Access road to the new Presidential Lodge, Lafia, Landscaping and perimeter fencing.
Western by-pass, Airport road, Lafia.
Construction of COVID-19 Centre Road, Shabu.
Construction of Sadami Street, discharge re-enforced concrete channel off Shedam Road – Tudun Kauri.
Taimako – DASH – Presidential lodge – GRA with spur at former FERMA office.
In addition, we have also carried out the accreditation of 21nos core programmes of the Isa Mustapha Agwai I Polytechnic, Lafia and the introduction of engineering technology programmes.
We have also constructed or rehabilitated several rural roads including:
Obi-Assakio rural roads;
Kofar Gwari–Bakin Ayini–Amba Road
Construction and remodeling of VIP lodge Akwanga
Construction of Event Centre in Akwanga.
We have conducted the feasibility of the Abuja-Keffi Rail line. We have engaged prospective partners on the Peninsula Housing Project, and Gurku-Kabusu mega city.
The Lafia Airport has been completed so as to accommodate envisaged influx of investors, goods and services to the State. As I speak, the Airport has been transferred to the Federal Government to ensure maximum utilization and value addition.
To improve on the provision of adequate infrastructure in the transport sector, our Administration constructed the Ultra-Modern Yahaya Sabo and Gen. Sani Abacha Bus Terminals in Lafia and Karu respectively to maximize growth potentials in the State and enhance revenue generation. Both terminals are already in full operation.
In the same vein, the neighbourhood markets in Keffi, Akwanga and Nassarawa-Eggon have been completed and commissioned to open vistas of economic activities.
It is gratifying to note that in the determination to provide conducive working environment for the workforce in the state, on Friday, May 26, 2023, I performed the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a state-of-the-art Secretariat complex here in Lafia, the State capital.
Our efforts in restructuring our Public Service for effective and efficient service delivery has yielded results in streamlining the machinery of Government, removal of duplication of functions, conflicts, and frictions within and between Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as a cut down in the cost of governance.
Outstanding salary arrears and backlog of promotion and accumulation of arrears of the cross-section of the workforce in the State have been cleared, while incidental complaints are being looked into.
In our commitment to acquaint our Civil Servants with modern trends, series of workshops and seminars were organized and sponsored in various areas of endeavours within and outside the State with particular emphasis on e-governance and digital economy.
The Executive Order on suspension of In-service Training of Civil Servants in the State was lifted.
Government residential quarters in Abdullahi Adamu Estate and Nasara Estate were transferred to Civil Servants on an owner-occupier basis, while three hundred (300) housing units in Luvu (Masaka) are slated for allocation to workers through mortgage financing.
The allocation of vehicle and furniture revolving loans to Civil Servants were reviewed from ten million naira (N10,000,000.00) to fifty million naira (N50,000,000.00) to allow for wider coverage and enhanced purchasing power.
Over five hundred (500) workers who have been on casual appointment since the creation of the State were absorbed into the civil service and issued with permanent and pensionable appointments. Government is still considering to absorb more staff in order to strengthen our workforce for efficient and effective service delivery. We are also investigating the process of the casual staff conversion due to complaints from others.
Government restored the 100% payment of monthly pension to affected retirees, while the worrisome issue of percentage payment of pension and salaries to Local Government employees was reverted.
In our commitment to provide a conducive environment for teaching and learning, our Administration sustained the payment of counterpart funds to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), which facilitated the construction of more classroom blocks, rehabilitation and equipping of Primary and Junior Secondary Schools in the State. We just paid the 2022 counterpart funds and currently awarding the contracts.
In furtherance to the administration’s belief in education as the transformative tool of the individual and overall societal development, Government formalized the appointments of the two thousand, two hundred and fifty (2,250) engaged teachers in the State, while over three thousand (3000) teaching and non-teaching staff were freshly recruited for secondary and tertiary institutions in the State. The screening exercise for the recruitment of another batch of one thousand (1,000) teachers is ongoing. Again government will closely monitor the exercise against any abuse.
In addition to various trainings and wState hosted the North Central Zonal Conference on National Whistle Blowing Policy. We also hosted the 2023 Annual Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Lecture and Merit Awards, among others.
In line with the top priority being accorded healthcare service delivery, Government embarked on a statewide free medical outreach to all the 13 Local Government Areas on the treatment of glaucoma and cataract diseases, including surgery of different ailments, issuance of glasses and other medications to affected persons.
My Administration facilitated the establishment of the State Health Insurance Agency to make healthcare services accessible and affordable with 101,343 enrolments so far.
Only recently, His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel A. Akabe, the Deputy Governor and other officials from the State Ministry of Health represented Nasarawa State on Global Hepatitis Resource Mobilization Conference, held in Geneva, Switzerland. I must say without equivocation that Nasarawa State was invited in view of our strong commitment in the health sector and the acknowledgement that Nasarawa is the only State in Nigeria that made significant strides and special budgetary provision to the fight against hepatitis. The Conference provided a platform for Nasarawa State to further unveil its sustained commitment in the health sector to the world.
It is heart-warming to announce that various health organizations across the globe, including the Government of Egypt have indicated interest to support Nasarawa State to completely eliminate hepatitis in the State.
The structures and other facilities of the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), Lafia were renovated and expanded to ensure its seamless transition to the Federal University of Lafia Teaching Hospital. The Modern Hospitals in Akwanga and Nasarawa were completed, while ninety-one (91) Primary Healthcare Centres in the State were either constructed or rehabilitated. In the same vein, Government upgraded the central mechanical stores to a Pharmacy grade warehouse for the State Drug and Supplies Management Agency.
The Nasarawa State Infectious Disease Diagnosis and Research Centre, rated as one of the best diagnostic centres in the country, was completed and commissioned by the immediate past Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, GCON.
Government provided funding for the establishment of the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Nasarawa State University, Keffi to enhance the training of health manpower and specialized services to patients.
Our administration facilitated the completion of the Akurba 330 substation, in addition, transformers were procured and distributed to various communities and localities in the State.
In our commitment to empower our teeming youths and women, our Administration restructured, completed and equipped the Wing Commander Abdullahi Ibrahim Vocational and Technical Institute, Lafia and entered into an agreement with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) for management and utilization to enable the State derive maximum benefit.
About 2,000 of our youths are being trained and empowered with starter packs in various skills, trades and vocations in collaboration with the Industrial Training Fund, T-max and other institutions.
In furtherance of the commitment of this Administration to improve the living conditions of the vulnerable and the indigent members of society, we domesticated the Federal Government Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme, through the grant of monthly sum of Five Thousand Naira (N5,000.00) to each of the three thousand, eight hundred (3,800) registered beneficiaries across the thirteen (13) Local Governments and eighteen (18) Development Areas of the State, subject to further upward review.
The developmental strides witnessed in the past four (4) years could not have been possible without the cordial and complementary working relationship among and between the three arms of Government in the State.
Let me therefore specially express my profound appreciation to the Honourable Speaker, Principal Officers and Members of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly, as well as the Honourable Chief Judge on behalf of the entire judiciary for their support, understanding and partnership and timely dispensation of administration of issues under their respective constitutional purview.
Within the four (4) years of our stewardship, we renovated the Nasarawa State House of Assembly Complex, constructed additional courts and completed the State High Court complex finishing and furnishings.
It is no gainsaying that this Administration attaches great respect, dignity and relevance to the traditional institution as the custodian of our cherished culture, values and traditions.
To this end, our Administration constituted a High Powered Committee on the Creation of Additional Chiefdoms, Districts and Village Areas in the State, as well as Resolution of Chieftaincy and Territorial Disputes and other related Matters.
Following a critical consideration of the report and recommendations of the committee, Government has started the implementation of the immediate and long term aspects of the report, beginning with the recent upgrade of some paramount rulers in the State.
Prior to this, befitting vehicles were allocated to our royal fathers, while the construction and renovation of their palaces are also ongoing. Let me pay special tribute to His Royal Highness, the Emir of Lafia and Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs and, indeed, our other celebrated Royal Fathers for their enduring partnership and support to our Administration. We shall continue to count on this exemplary synergy in the years ahead.
Before concluding this address, I appeal to all men and women of goodwill to join us to move Nasarawa State to new level of development and progress. Nasarawa State remains the only State we can call our own. It is for us to build, nurture and protect towards achieving the collective prosperity of our dream. No citizen is exempted from this responsibility as we look forward to a great future hence our decision to come up with our Nasarawa Anthem especially for our youth. Let me therefore, invite all and sundry to redefine our patriotism and commitment to the Nasarawa State project and ultimate wellbeing and prosperity of our people.
Thank you and may God bless us all.