My dear people of Nasarawa State.
When I sought for your mandate to become the Governor of Nasarawa State, I did so with a clear understanding of the challenges associated with leadership and the imperatives of good governance for socio-economic development. Based on this premise we commenced this journey together and by the divine grace of Almighty Allah, we have clocked 365 days today.
2. It is, therefore, with a sense of fulfillment that I address you today in commemoration of the 20 years return to Democratic rule in Nigeria in 1999. Today also marks the 1st year of our Administration in Nasarawa State. I rejoice with the people of Nasarawa State on this historic occasion.
3. Let me congratulate the people of Nasarawa State and, indeed, other Nigerians on the attainment of 20 years of democratic government in the country since the ouster of the Second Republic in 1983. It is important to state that the journey so far has been herculean and daunting considering our peculiar background and democratic antecedents. It is, however, gratifying to point out that our attainment of 20 uninterrupted years of civilian administration is a commendable stride and calls for celebration.
4. Let me also express our appreciation to you all, especially at this challenging period of COVID-19 pandemic for your cooperation, support and understanding. My heartfelt gratitude goes to our leaders, His Excellency, Senator Umaru Tanko Al-makura, His Excellency, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, Members of the State Executive Council, Security Agencies, our esteemed Traditional Rulers, Religious Leaders, Non-governmental Organizations, Youth and Women Organizations, Corporate Organizations, Public Servants and the Media.
5. My fellow compatriots, it is imperative to note that, in Nasarawa State, we have had our share of the challenges in our democratic journey to statehood and concomitant resolve to entrench a process that is in tune with the best global practices. It must be acknowledged that, one year down the lane in the management of the affairs of our people, I must admit that our unity of purpose has been inspirational and given us the needed strength to forge ahead in the collective determination to excel in providing exemplary leadership which is a panacea for development.
6. My dear people of Nasarawa State, from the inception of this Administration, I assured you of this Administration’s resolve to serve our people diligently and selflessly through deliberate policies by executing programmes that will bring development to all the crannies of the State. We also made a solemn commitment to complete all ongoing projects initiated by the previous Administration.
7. This course of action is aimed at turning around the fortunes of the State. Accordingly, we commit ourselves to the continuous upgrade of our physical infrastructure, particularly, our road network, upliftment of our educational standard, improvement of our agriculture, upgrading of our health sector and market facilities, as well as other social services in all the facets of the State economy.
8. My dear compatriots, today’s event offers us an opportunity to present to you in brief, our score card of the one (1) year journey of service delivery to the good people of Nasarawa State. Let me hasten to state that one year is not enough to assess the success of an Administration such as ours. However, we owe you a duty to do so as a responsive Administration that has imbibed the culture and principles of transparency, accountability and due process in the management of our resources. It is pertinent to note that our one year stewardship has had its share of daunting challenges. As you are aware, Nasarawa State is among the least in the revenue allocation chart. This state of affairs was further worsened by the recent global pandemic of Coronavirus and its attendant toll on the scarce resources not only in Nasarawa State but the country at large. We have, however, remain resilient and focused on meeting the development aspiration of our people. The sectoral achievements are as thus;
My fellow compatriots, it is important to note that, security is the bedrock for harmonious co-existence and socio-economic development of the society. Let me reiterate that our development partners can only key into the State’s development agenda in an atmosphere of peace and order. We commenced our efforts on security as soon as we were sworn into office. We visited Benue State in order to resolve our border crises, met severally with the leaders of Fulanis, Tivs, Alagos and other ethnic groups. We also met severally with the security agencies. It is for this reason that approval has been granted for the establishment of Military Super Camps at Kenyehu and Udege in Toto and Nasarawa Local Government Areas respectively in order to reduce the upsurge of criminal elements in the State. We also increased the number of security personnel on our highways and major towns. We hosted the North Central Zone security summit in Lafia and established Mobile Police Training School in Nasarawa Eggon, as well as an additional Squadron in Toto.
I am happy to inform you that I recently visited President Muhammadu Buhari where I used the opportunity to discuss the security situation in Toto, Nasarawa, Doma, Obi and Keana Local Government Areas. Mr. President has immediately directed the stationing of an Air Force Special Forces Base in Nasarawa State. The Air Force Special Forces is expected to utilize the Lafia Airport for its operation and will cover the entire North-central zone. In furtherance to our resolve to enhance security in our boarder communities, myself and colleague, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Benue State again met some few days ago in our collective commitment to broaden our understanding and consolidate on existing peace for a bumper agricultural season.
Similarly, in order to complement the effort of security agencies in the protection of lives and property, as well as ensuring harmonious co-existence among the diverse ethnic nationalities in the State, we have recently inaugurated the State Community Policing Advisory Committee in line with the new policy of the Nigeria Police Force under the able leadership of the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu.
It is important to state that this Committee is expected to form the fulcrum on which the recruitment and operation of Special Constabulary will be anchored. The full realization of this will entrench a formidable and robust synergy with the newly inaugurated Nasarawa State Volunteer Guard. We shall continue to strive to sustain the existing stability for the desired progress of our dear State.
10. RELATIONSHIP AMONG THE ORGANS OF GOVERNMENT
My dear compatriots, I need to state that the cordial working relationship among the three arms of Government in the State has been responsible for the pace of development witnessed in the past one year in the State. It is for this reason that, I wish to specially express my gratitude to the Honourable Speaker, leadership and Members of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly for their unalloyed support and worthy partnership. Let me equally thank the Chief Judge and the hierarchy of the judiciary for their patriotism in the discharge of their constitutional responsibility which has contributed immensely to the prevailing stability in the State.
Let me reiterate the imperative of the synergy between the three arms of Government in our desire to deliver dividends of democracy to the citizenry. This has become necessary for the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary to demonstrate mutual cooperation and understanding at all times. It is for this reason that this Administration has sustained the relationship among the three arms for the past one year and will continue to do so for the benefit of our people.
11. YOUTH AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
It would be recalled that two days of my assumption of office, we distributed sewing and grinding machines to some selected youths and women across the State, as part of our promises and deliberate efforts towards the empowering of our youths and women in line with our policies and programmes geared towards wealth creation, employment generation and poverty alleviation in the State.
We have also trained our youths on Compressed Earth Brick Making and Laying programme initiated to impart vocational skills for self-reliance. At the end of the training programme, we issued forty-one (41) fabricated machines to enterprise groups where two hundred and forty-six (246) young men and women in a ratio of six to one (6/1) benefited across the State. Similarly, Government has completed and equipped the Lafia Institute of Technical Education, aimed at imparting necessary vocational skills to our youth and women, including those who could not have the privilege of formal or pursuing higher education.
12. CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT AND INVESTMENT ADVISORY COUNCIL
In keeping with our commitment to promote economic empowerment and the general wellbeing of our people, we inaugurated the Investment and Economic Advisory Council chaired by Prof. Konyi Ajayi and supported by several global citizens both from our State and other parts of Nigeria, in furtherance to our determination to engender economic growth and development of Nasarawa State. Our Administration is poised to initiate polices that are economically viable through the professional guidance of this all-important Council. Through this initiative, Nasarawa State Government has attracted investments from Azman Rice Ltd., Flour Mills of Nig. Plc, as well as utilization of our various assets, including the markets, Fertilizer Blending Plants and Packaging Company in Akwanga, among others.
13. PUBLIC SERVICE RESTRUCTURING
We also inaugurated a Committee, chaired by Mr. Silas Dachor and supported by several experienced professionals to review our Public Service Structure in order to re-focus and revitalize the sector for effective and efficient service delivery. We have adopted most of its recommendations and streamlined Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the State.
I need to reiterate the commitment of this Administration to reform the Public Service and provide it with necessary infrastructure that will place it on the right pedestal for enhanced efficiency and productivity. Guided by the desire to ensure the progress and development of Nasarawa State, this Administration developed what it calls the Nasarawa Economic Development Strategy (NEDS). This initiative encapsulates the economic development focus, vision and mission of this Administration.
14. PAYMENT OF PENSION
In our determination to improve the living standard of our people, we restored the 100% payment of monthly pension to the State retirees as soon as we were sworn in. However, I need to point out that the issue relating to the Local Government Salaries and pensionis as a result of the shortfall from the Federation Allocation Accounts, occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic and the inability of the Local Government Councils to generate Internally Generated Revenue. Let me assure you that we shall not relent in our efforts towards addressing percentage payment both in the State and our Local Government Areas.
15. PROVISION OF HEALTHCARE SERVICES
It is pertinent to state that within one (1) year of this Administration, we have recorded significant landmarks in various sectors of the State. We carried out medical outreach for the treatment of Glaucoma and Cataract surgery among other illnesses. This exercise had significant effect on the citizens of Nasarawa State who were suffering from this ailment. In this regard, our Administration also committed itself to the continuous expansion of the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), Lafia which was started by the Umaru Tanko Al-makura’s Administration to facilitate the seamless transition to a Teaching Hospital. With the support provided by Government, the additional structures provided in the hospital has since been put to use for the benefit of the people. In the same vein, the Specialized Hospitals in Lafia, Akwanga and Nasarawa have been completed and put to use already by the Hospitals Management Board.
I need to state that, the global pandemic of COVID-19 has exposed the state of our healthcare centres at all levels. In this regard, Government has resolved to go back to the drawing board in the provision of health facilities at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We have already committed resources to the completion of the Centre for Infectious Disease Control located at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), Lafia. As a result of the outbreak of Coronavirus in Nasarawa State, Government has converted the 300 bed IDPs hostel in Shabu and upgraded the facility to serve as Isolation Centre in the State. Similarly, we have upgraded a structure in Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), Lafia to an Isolation Centre. We have also established smaller Isolation Centres in the thirteen (13) Local Government Areas of the State.
It is disheartening to state that we have already recorded more than forty (40) cases of COVID-19 with one (1) death but over twenty (20) discharged in the State. However, Government is relentless in its effort to continue to control and contain the further spread of the virus in the State. Similarly, we shall continue to manage the patients who are currently receiving medical attention, as well as the suspected people who are already isolated in our various Isolation Centres in the State.
Furthermore, the newly constructed School of Nursing and Midwifery has been furnished and fully equipped. Following certification by the Nursing Council, the School of Nursing and Midwifery have fully moved to the new site and academic activities fully commenced.
16. EDUCATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURES/FACILITIES
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, realizing the importance of education in our society, we have attracted the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to Nasarawa State through the establishment of a Technology Innovation Hub and provided equipment worth over N200 Million. The equipment have been installed and fully operational at the just commissioned Tanko Al-makura CBT Centre here in Lafia.
This Administration has also constructed classroom blocks in Angwan Jarme, Mahanga and Mararaban Gongon in Kokona, Awe and Wamba, as well as Keffi and Akwanga Local Government Areas respectively in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This gesture has been extended to other schools that were lacking basic infrastructures for effective teaching and learning. Already the projects for the mass construction and rehabilitation of Primary and Junior Secondary Schools in the State reached advanced stage. Similarly, we have formalized the appointments of the two thousand, two hundred and fifty (2,250) engaged teachers and were posted to various schools across the State.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, few days ago, I commissioned the new hostels, multi-purpose hall and classrooms renovated by the Keystone Bank Plc at the Government Girls secondary school, Garaku. In the same vein, we have upgraded the erstwhile College of Agriculture, Lafia to the status of College of Agriculture, Science and Technology. Accordingly, we commenced the provision of projects befitting of the new status of the institution. Similarly, Government constituted a High Powered Investigative Committee to investigate the activities of College of Education, Akwanga. The Committee has submitted its report and Government is closely studying the report of the Committee for implementation in order to turn around the fortunes of the institution.
Similarly, Government also set up the Professor Kida Committee to conduct the baseline survey of our Primary and Junior Secondary Schools. The Reports on this important survey have been submitted and are being carefully studied for implementation.
17. PROVISION OF RURAL AND URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE
My dear people of Nasarawa State, in our determination to provide basic infrastructure for enhanced socio-economic activities in the State, we have commenced the completion of the on-going construction of Shinge-Ricemill-Kilema road. Similarly, the construction of the all-important Mararaba to Udege 25km road and 15.5km Asphalt Sisinbaki-Kwarra road projects in Nasarawa and Wamba Local Government Areas are on-going appreciably, considering the huge potentials that abound in these places. The design for the construction of other roads within the Lafia metropolis and some inter-Local Government roads have been completed and work on the projects will commence in due course to ensure all-round development of the State. I had the rare honour of flagging the completion of some critical roads as part of activities commemorating our one year in office.
It is imperative to state that, this Administration remains resolute in its commitment to open our rural areas for enhanced economic activities. In this regard, we have embarked on the construction of Agwade-Shupe-Atabula-Obi, Shabu-Doka-Arugba-Lakio, Kanje-Abuni and Kagbu A-Atsoko-Wana roads. I am happy to state that these roads are at various stages of completion.
It is important to note that the transport sector with adequate infrastructure is capable of galvanizing the socio-economic development of the society. It is for this reason that we are developing a new transport infrastructure in Karu Motor Park which is considered necessary in order to unlock underivable growth potentials. This is considering its proximity to the Federal Capital Territory, as well as its advantage in linking many major cities of the Northern and Southern parts of the country. As you are aware, Karu also plays significant role in providing residential accommodation for reasonable percentage of the workforce in Abuja, with high rate of increase annually. I have also flagged off the construction of Lafia modern bus terminal in order to give the State Capital a befitting outlook and I also flagged off the construction of Keffi Neighbourhood Market to create opportunities for enhanced revenue generation.
18. LAFIA CARGO AIRPORT, KWANDARE
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as part of our commitment towards the completion of on-going projects critical to the development of the State, we are consolidating on the foundation laid by the previous Administrations. In this regard, this Administration has made concerted efforts to complete the Lafia Airport and expand to an international standard with the view to accommodating the envisaged influx of investors, goods and passengers, as well as liaising with the security agencies for effective utilization.
19. PROVISION OF 2KM SOLAR POWER STREET LIGHT PROJECTS
My dear compatriots, I am happy to state that within one year in office, Government has provided 2km Solar Power Street Light facilities to all the thirteen (13) Local Government Areas of the State and in strategic locations in Lafia metropolis. In addition, we have procured transformers and distributed them to various communities to support our rural electrification drive. The exercise is ongoing in Lafia and other Local Government Areas.
20. AGRICULTURE/WATER SUPPLY
As an agrarian State with good climatic condition and soil texture, this Administration has taken advantage of this opportunity to make some strides in the agricultural sector. In this wise, we have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Flour Mills of Nig. Plc. and Azman Rice Mills and Farms Ltd for rice, sugar and cassava production.
As part of our commitment in this direction, we have recently entered into agreement with the Lower Benue Rivers Development Authority to access 500 hectares of land in Doma and other Local Government Areas for the production of rice and other crops in the State. This is intended to provide employment opportunity for our teeming youth, as well as cushioning the post-COVID-19 hardship in the State. We have also made a commitment to secure about 150 tractors to enhance commercial farming in the State. In the same vein, we have procured fertilizer and distributed to our farmers to boost agricultural production in the State. This is with a view to open vistas of opportunities, as well as wealth creation through agriculture. In addition, Government has concluded arrangements to secure 20,000 hectares of land around Umaisha, Toto Local Government Area for Flour Mills of Nig. Plc. for processing and production of cassava and sugarcane.
Let me state that, in our determination to revolutionize the agricultural sector and enhance harmonious co-existence in the State, we have keyed into the National Livestock Transformation Plan of the Federal Government. This is aimed at transforming the agricultural sector to ensure sustainable food security and value-chain addition, as well as finding lasting solution to the incessant farmers/herders clashes. To ensure effective implementation of this policy, we have set-up the State Steering Committee and management team and allocated office to serve as Secretariat. In addition, we have identified eight grazing reserves in Awe, Keana, Lafia, Doma, Wamba, Nasarawa and Karu Local Government Areas of the State. I am happy to inform you that significant progress has been made towards the implementation of the blueprint of the grazing reserves and the National Economic Council (NEC) has approved Nasarawa as one of the three pilot States for the commencement of the project.
In a related development, there is no gainsaying the fact that water is one of the essential commodities to human development. It is on this premise that we deemed it necessary to provide water for both human consumption and agricultural activities. We have constructed and rehabilitated water schemes in Keffi, Akwanga, Kokona and Karu Local Government Areas of the State.
21. Let me take the liberty of this address to urge the people of Nasarawa State to continue to comply with the directives of Government in its determination to contain and control the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the State. As you continue to stay at home to avoid further spread of the Coronavirus, Government shall continue to provide palliatives to cushion the hardship. I, therefore, wish to assure the good people of Nasarawa State of more monumental achievements in all facets of human development.
22. My dear compatriots, having enumerated the humble achievements of our one year in office, we should bear in mind that we have a long way to go. In this wise, the task of building a Nasarawa State of our dream has just begun. We have no other State than Nasarawa State. It is for this reason that the need for us to unite and secure the future and that of our children becomes sacrosanct.
23. My fellow compatriots, let me once again, congratulate the people of Nasarawa State and, indeed, other Nigerians on the attainment of 20 years since our return to democratic rule and the 1st year of our Administration in Nasarawa State.
24. Once again, happy democracy day and may God continue to protect us against COVID-19.
25. Thank you and may God bless us all.