Governor Lalong’s speech on Democracy Day.

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2 years 9 months ago - 2 years 9 months ago #5909 by patrickd

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OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR
PLATEAU STATE.
P.M.B. 2069, Little Rayfield, Jos, Plateau State
www.plateaustategov.org

SPEECH OF THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE, RT. HON. SIMON BAKO LALONG TO THE PEOPLE OF PLATEAU STATE ON THE OCCASION OF THE THIRD YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE ADMINISTRATION ON TUESDAY 29TH MAY, 2018.

Fellow citizens of Plateau State.

“INTEGRITY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY
IN LEADERSHIP”.

Today marks the third year of this Administration since its inception on the 29th of May 2015. It is historic that our democracy is being entrenched, given the great mark of nearly two decades of uninterrupted democratic rule and its enduring legacy. You may recall that the administration came on board on the crest of popular mandate. Since then, with the support and cooperation of the well-meaning people of our dear State we have been navigating slowly with heavy steps, but on the right path, given the very challenging and tortuous journey of the past years, in view of lean resources in the face of increasingly competing demands. We did not, however, allow such experience or frustration to deter us from doing the needful by embarking on series of revolutionary changes to give the State and its Citizenry a new life. Yet, we have been keeping faith with the citizenry in the delivery of our electoral promises.

Some Progressives whom we started this journey would have wished to be part of this success story, but have departed this world. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace with the Lord. We also give glory and praise to Almighty God for the protection, wisdom, gains and achievements so far recorded.

On behalf of the Rescue team I sincerely thank Members of the State Executive and Security Councils and all the citizens of the State for the constant and unalloyed support and sacrifices for the good of the State in the last three years, in spite of numerous challenges. As we are at the threshold and eve of election year, I have chosen the theme of my address to be “Integrity, Accountability and Transparency in Leadership”.

MY STAND ON THE PRINCIPLES OF INTEGRITY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY IN LEADERSHIP.

My decision to particularly dedicate the theme of this year’s Democracy Day Speech to issues bordering on Integrity, Accountability and Transparency in Leadership stems from the desire to further entrench these as a standard in responsive and people-oriented governance. Fellow Citizens of Plateau State would also recall that in my first and second anniversary speeches I have maintained a solemn pledge to serve with integrity and patriotic zeal.

During the early days of campaigns, and over these years we started by asking questions about governance, service delivery, Justice, Peace and Unity as well as sought your mandate, which was freely and willingly given by you, the good people of Plateau State, but with a caveat demanding a fair deal in leadership. It was indeed imperative during our stewardship, we had philosophically asked questions and in the process, questioned answers as well. In this way, Integrity, Accountability and Transparency as Hallmarks or Core Principles of good governance were emphasized in order to ensure justice and equity. In giving this mission report, I seek to rely on virtues of Truth. Truth, as we know is also the soul of Integrity, Accountability and Transparency in Leadership.

THE GAINS AND SUCCESSES OF THE RESCUE ADMINISTRATION.

Today as we mark the third year of our administration and entering the last year of the first tenure, we are duty bound to give a mission report, take stock and assure you on sustaining our rescue and deliverance agenda. The reality is, indeed, not lost on us that leaders at whatever levels must give accounts of their stewardship, if not now but thereafter. It was in this vein that my administration set up the Prof. Sunny Gwanle Tyoden Transition Committee to take stock of all our assets and liabilities towards providing a clean slate for take-off of the administration. Thus, as part of the accountability and transparency, the report and other policy documents were received, carefully studied and adopted, along with proceedings of our Townhall Meetings and Peace and reconciliation Committee. With these strategic initiatives, the administration hit the ground running. Thus, during this period of rebalancing and confidence building in governance, we were able to assiduously identify over 245 issues to be addressed, with Timelines for the purpose of good governance. Substantial achievements have been recorded. These included continuity and completion of abandoned projects; dispute resolutions that saw the new Youth Council leadership fully back after over eight years in limbo; establishment of Plateau Peace Building Agency; Youth and Women empowerment programmes; recruitments or mass employment in the civil and public services; improved agricultural activities; up-to-date in payment of salaries and pension; improvement in the educational and agricultural sectors; establishment of several legal and institutional frameworks; enhanced collaboration with Federal and International bodies as they relate to our State and the Nation; resuscitation of cultural activities and peace carnivals in this our home of peace and Tourism; setting up of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry; etc.

For the records and clearing of doubts, Government instituted the Justice Stephen Adah Commission of Inquiry to probe the activities of the previous administration, in the spirit of drawing up a demarcation on where the State stood in the past, and where it intends to move now and thereafter. These exercises, for the avoidance of doubt, were carried out in response to the yearnings and aspirations of the people who have continued to demand to know how their finances and affairs had been run and managed. Findings of the Commission of Inquiry, which have, without prejudice, revealed substantial evidences of corruption and impropriety have been forwarded to assist in recovering our stolen monies from all those who have cut corners or dipped their hands in the public coffers or treasury.

Nevertheless, the anti-corruption agencies especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) which have no sacred cows have been sniffing around to ensure that looted funds are recovered and returned to the treasury. These steps are not aimed at witch-hunting as is being wrongly perceived in some quarters. For the records, by my disposition in life, I do not take any pleasure or gain in witch-hunting anyone as being peddled by those who have chosen, either out of mischief or ignorance, to give an ethnic or political colouration to recent activities of the Anti-Graft agency in the State. Under a democratic dispensation, people have the right to hold their own opinions, but the fight against corruption should be seen as an issue that borders on governance and has nothing to do with any ethnic, religious or political leanings. Let it be known that the fight against corruption is solely the mandate of the anti-graft agencies, which are statutorily empowered by the relevant Acts of the National Assembly to prosecute corrupt practices. I still stand by what I always say and said again on Sunday 20th May 2018 at the solemn occasion of the 94th General Church Council of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), regarding my clear position on issues of integrity and transparency in leadership.

Without having to bore you with details of the quantum of achievements of this Administration in the past three (3) years let me still state that we are living witnesses to the fact that as part of my commitment to render accounts of my stewardship to the people of the State, I had, in 2017 and 2018, presented three separate documents to the public domain, namely:

1) Mid-Term Report of the Administration (29th May, 2015 – 29th May, 2017);

2) Landmark Achievements of the Administration (29th June, 2015 – 28th February; 2018) and

3) Plateau State Roadmap to Peace (2018-2022), the first of its kind, nationwide, as a policy document to guide the deployment of our strategies, efforts and energies towards this important component of existence, regular dialogue and minimizing conflict. This Roadmap was presented and launched during the two (2) days Official visit of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to the State. All these documents have been in wide circulation.

In fact, since assuming office the past three years, Plateau State remains one of the most liveable places in the country, given the reasonable cost of living, ethnic diversity, clement weather, and above all, a regional renaissance of seismic peace and stability for sustainable developments to follow. All these have significantly contributed in entrenching confidence and hope in governance. Most critical however and worthy of mention and appreciation is that all this mantra of Rescue, Integrity, Accountability and Transparency as hallmarks of quality leadership would not have been possible without the excellent Executive – Legislature working relationship. This cordial relationship also extends to our elected Representatives at both the Senate and House of Representatives, which is sincerely appreciated. Good leadership and governance entails having practically functional and strong Institutional and Legal Framework. I sincerely commend the Rt. Hon. Speaker and all Honourable Members of the State House of Assembly for their diligence and patriotism in considering and passing into Law several Executive Bills that have ensured the peaceful co-existence and good governance being provided.

CONTINUITY AND CONSOLIDATION.

This Administration wishes to place on record its strong commitment to the sustenance of welfare, peace and security of the average Plateau person, in the discharge of its mandate. My dear people of Plateau State would recall that right from day-one we had initiated and adopted the Five-Pillar Policy Thrust as our governance philosophy with which to pull the State out of the doldrums. Let me reiterate here that these policy thrusts, namely:

1) Peace, Security and Good Governance;
2) Human Capital Development and Social Welfare;
3) Agriculture and Rural Development;
4) Entrepreneurship and Industrialisation; and
5) Physical Infrastructure and Environment

were all tailored in line with the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the State. Three years down the memory lane, we have strived to live up to expectation in terms of accomplishing the mandate and sustaining the tempo. After the presentation of our Midterm report and townhall meeting on 29th may 2017, about seventy (70) issues cutting across critical sectors of Agriculture, Education, Civil Service, Environment, Health, Peace and Reconciliation, Infrastructure development, etc were identified with Timelines set and in the spirit of continuity and consolidation. Implementation of the Policy Thrusts, which have direct bearings on the lives of the teeming citizens of the State will be sustained, despite challenges of limited resources and increasingly competing demands of the citizens. Government is committed to the implementation of its plans towards sustainable peace and development in the state. Alongside with this effort and determination towards peace and security in the state, I made a right choice in having my able Deputy Governor, Professor Sonni Tyoden who has been efficiently handling Boundary issues, with the result that conflicts have been very minimal or absent.

As a government, our quest for sustaining the relative peace being enjoyed cannot have substitute. This desire led to our pursuit and support for the establishment of the Police Mobile Squadron Unit in Longvel, Shendam LGA and the 205 Combat, Search and Rescue Operation Unit of the Nigerian Airforce in Kerang, Mangu LGA. These are testimonies of our synergy with the Federal Government. We shall continue to support the Security Agencies towards its sustenance as recently done with provision of fifty-three (53) logistics vehicles in Shendam. Given the imperative and constitutional duty of the government to protect life and property of every Citizen, we shall also continue to dedicate resources and energy towards these responsibilities; just as we commiserate with the families of all those who lost their lives and properties to the tragic activities of the Herdsmen in some localities. Let them know that the government shares in their pains and sorrows. I appeal that Citizens should continuously inculcate the virtues of being brothers’ keepers, remain vigilant and cooperate with the security agents and traditional leaders in their domains.

In the provision of critical infrastructure, we have adopted the principle of continuity, which no doubt enabled us to complete and commission several projects abandoned by the previous administration at great costs to the people of the State. For instance, we have completed the following: the Hillcrest-Plateau Hospital Road; Completion of Plateau Hospital-Dental Clinic-Dogon Karfe Road; Zololo-Nasarawa Gwong-Dutse Uku Road; Tudun Wada-Angwan Yashi Road Dong-Rantya-Gyel road; Dualisation of Old Airport-Rayfield Road with Spur at Dogon Karfe-Kugiya-Bwandang & New Government House; Kufang-Wildlife Park Road with Spur to Domkat Bali and Bitrus Rwang Pam Road; Main Market Street – Dutse Uku; Kabong Satellite Market-Tudun Wada Road/Sabon Gari with Spur to Mado Wild Life Park; Rantiya State Lowcost to Bambi Road; Zololo-Dilimi, Plateau Hospital-Dogon Karfe; Dental Clinic-Fototek, Tina Junction to Yanshanu Metropolitan Roads; the Main Arterial Jos-Bukuru-Mararaban Jama’a Road has been completed and commissioned. Despite these continuity and completion, a total of twenty-two (22) on-going rural road projects, with contractors already mobilised to sites.

In the Agricultural Sector, being one of the critical components in the new diversification agenda, we have repositioned it through deliberate and strategic initiatives of promoting agricultural mechanisation. We have already reactivated our fertiliser Blending Plant at Bokkos and have also recently purchased 400 Tractors ready for distribution to farmers through their cooperatives at subsidized rates. We have employed four hundred (400) Extension Workers. Furthermore, inputs support through fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and seeds have been provided at subsidized rates. The Panyam Fish farm has been witnessing remarkable improvements in fish fingerlings production and cropping or harvest. All these initiatives in agricultural activities have led to yearly bumper harvest, food security and poverty alleviation.

In the Education Sector, we have ensured that from the formative stage of primary and secondary to tertiary levels they receive substantial boosts. Our efforts of sustainable funding for renovation and construction works, complimented with funding support of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) have led to remarkable improvements in renovation and construction works, manpower recruitment as well as procurements in order to ensure standards are maintained and fast-tract their accreditation processes. The Plateau State University Bokkos and the Plateau State Polytechnic have just had another dose of Accreditation exercise of their several programmes. Very soon, with more Government support other tertiary institutions like the College of Education, Gindiri, College of Agriculture Garkawa will follow suit. Similar attention has been granted to the primary and secondary schools where we have recruited at least four thousand (4,000) and Eight hundred and thirty-four (834) teachers respectively and still determined to improve in provision of manpower and facilities.

In the Health Sector, we have renovated, constructed and completed several abandoned hospital projects, such as the one in Riyom, Kanke and Langtang South, while the Plateau Specialist Hospital is being given massive face-lift. We have also established the Plateau State Primary Health Care Development Board to further cater for the basic health care needs of our people.

In setting the pace on welfare, Payment of Salaries was accorded top priority, beyond the so-called rhetoric of rights of citizens. Yes, indeed, a labourer deserves his or her legitimate income if truthfully, we believe in Integrity, Accountability and Transparency, blended with the fear of God. If however these norms are deliberately misplaced at the expense of the citizenry, it becomes a moral burden and indeed a crime. We have for the past three years and still counting, continued with the payments of salary as at when due, thereby bringing smiles to the workers with positive implications and multiplier effects to the State Economy. It is obvious that when we cleared the over twelve (12) months salaries and pensions that we inherited it remains a gain to this administration for exhibiting integrity, transparency and compassion to workers and pensioners whom we must always be accountable to. This is more so because, by simple logic if an average wage of over Two Billion Naira for over twelve months was denied and misplaced, but paid by this administration, the simple arithmetic will be that the amount of about twenty billion would have taken care of about forty (40) rural roads at an average of five hundred million Naira each.

The above issues go hand-in-hand with Fiscal Discipline. We embraced prudence and due diligence in all our financial dealings to ensure accountability and transparency in government. In this respect, we keyed into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and equally created the Efficiency Unit, which have ensured blockage of leakages and leading to huge savings.

Huge savings have greater tendency of boosting the economy in the long run. Thus, in our effort to achieve this, government evolved some strategic initiatives of job creation and poverty alleviation within the context of our 3-E-Dimensional Strategies of Employment, Empowerment and Engagement. In doing so, we revived and revamped some of our industries that were in comatose as well as signing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with prospective investors through the Public Private Partnership (PPP). We also established the Microfinance and Small and Medium Enterprise, which has trained over four thousand (4,000) Youth and Women on entrepreneurship skills and many given starter packs with the support of some organizations like the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and some Microfinance Banks. A cheering news is that we are today reputed to be the first and most friendly state in Nigeria that has one-stop-shop/clinic and hope to benefit from Federal Government’s intervention for more entrepreneurial skill development. All these have helped in improving the State Economy and reducing unemployment

On the Civil Service, being sensitive to the sector and its unique role and contribution in driving the process of governance, we have sanitized the ills of the past and focussed on the future aspirations. The impact of our action was seen in the restoration of confidence in strengthening the efficiency of service delivery. The successes recorded in the Service include several promotions, conversions, placements, confirmations and host of many turn-around. I commend the dexterity, zeal and patriotism of the Civil Servants in keeping faith with the government and bearing with the hard times.

On Youth and Sport, we have strived in improving the Sector. With tremendous encouragement from the government, the State Athletes have participated in several events nationally and internationally and won three hundred and forty-two (342) Medals, made up of one hundred and eighteen (118) Gold; one hundred and two (102) Silver and one hundred and twenty-two (122) Bronze. We have made concerted efforts at completing the 45,000-seating capacity of the Ultra-Modern Olympic size Stadium, Zaria Road, Jos. Most memorable too was the participation and winning of the 2017 Premier League Cup by the Plateau United Football Club; thereby lifting us to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) competition.

The Traditional Institutions have continued to receive special attention, given the role they have been playing as custodians of our traditional values and in the sustenance of peace and security. For maximum benefit, we set machineries whereby many vacant stools across the state have been filled. Government hopes to ensure that outstanding one are filled without delay.

On issues of Political Appointments and balancing, apart from the several Membership into Federal Boards and Parastatals that we have benefited and still hoping for more, you will recall that recently, I approved political appointments of over three hundred (300) Chairmen and Members into Boards, Parastatals, Commissions and Tertiary Institutions that cut across the three geo-political zones of the State. All the Board Chairmen and Members have been inaugurated and many have hit the ground running. As expected of Boards or Council Members, they are to strictly formulate policies in synergy with the Management who in turn are to ensure day-to-day implementation of these policies and other set objectives of the administration. We hope that through diligence and commitment they will be able to stimulate and where feasible, inject new life into some moribund organizations, improve infrastructure such as repositioning the Transportation Services, Commerce, Internal Revenue, Environment, Tourism, Rural Water Supply, Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing, etc.

Fellow Citizens, arising from the above succinct account, the successes of this administration recorded in different sectors of the economy in the last three years should keep encouraging us to do more. You are in the best position to judge our efforts in addressing the numerous expectations as to whether things have changed for the better in Plateau State. The modest achievements enumerated above in the light of our five policy thrusts are not exhaustive, and the several national and international awards and honours accorded me in the different areas, have on my honour, been dedicated to the good people of Plateau State, given your tremendous support and loyalty.

In terms of Synergy with the Federal Government, during the past three years of our stewardship the administration has enjoyed robust working relationship with Mr. President and the Federal Government. You will recall we had the privilege of hosting His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR during his two days working visit to the State. The commitment of the Federal Government to the realisation of the Nigerian Project has not left us in doubt as to Mr. President’s genuine intentions for Nigerians as reflected in key interventions as well as pragmatic policies and programmes. These gains include prompt interventions in the following areas, amongst several others:

1). Release of over N800bn bailout funds to all the States including Plateau, and eventual release of Paris Club refunds have dramatically worked out;

2). Agriculture – the Potato Value Support Chain and the Anchor-Borrowers’ Scheme;

3). Economic Empowerment – the Social Intervention Programme/Social Safety Net (N-Power Scheme and Conditional Cash Transfers); the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme;

4). Some on-going construction of the Pankshin-Tapshin-Gambar-Sara-Kai-Gindiri Federal Roads;

5). Education – several TETFUND interventions in some of our tertiary institutions;

6). Health -several interventions like the National Immunization Programme and some World Bank-assisted programmes geared towards improving health care delivery service and combatting killer diseases;

7). Promotion of security and fight against corruption, has placed the country on the path of sustainable development.

Indeed, the change mantra has created the desired impacts on critical sectors of the Nigerian economy. We are vigorously pursuing special requests made to the Presidency for the benefit of the State, such as dualization of the Abuja -Jos Road, request for synergy and intervention for a major Trauma Services and Centre along the Hawan Kibo area, support to our Peace Building Initiatives and Roadmap or Blueprint. We remain eternally grateful to Mr. President and look forward to more sustainable synergy and working relationship.

OTHER PLANS OF THE ADMINISTRATION.

Fellow citizens of Plateau State, While I still salute the patience, cooperation and resilience of the Plateau people in our struggle to change things for the better, this is the last lap of the first tenure of the Rescue Administration on the Plateau, and we are very conscious of the expectations of the people. Indeed, as we enter the fourth year in the life of the Administration, we consider it a period of consolidation of the gains recorded so far. We therefore intend to sustain all people-oriented engagements in the delivery of dividends of democracy, even as we avoid undue distractions by the unfolding flurry of political activities in the State as we approach the electioneering year.

Our twenty two (22) rural roads spread across all parts of the State, by the grace of God, will continue to receive adequate attention so that we improve the lot of the rural population. We are determined to ensure works continue to completion. Similarly, through the Plateau State Small, Medium, Enterprise Development Agency (PLASMEDA), we are desirous of reaching out to at least one thousand (I,000) persons per Local Government Area with participants cutting across Cultural and Development Associations and Religious Organizations.

Our determination to ensure sustainable Peace in the State through continuous dialogue, security watch and effective Peace Architecture remain unwavering. We shall continue to work in synergy with the Federal Government to attain the set objectives of ensuring that all our Internally Displaced People (IDPs) are resettled in their original places and their security guaranteed. I urge all citizens in the State, and most especially the affected areas to cooperate with Government, the Security Agents and other officials as they work assiduously to ensure the success of this enormous task.

We are also very aware of the desire of the people for Local Government elections to be conducted, I wish to assure citizens of the State that in no distant time, Local Government elections would be conducted as soon as we receive security clearance from relevant security agencies. Citizens of the State should be aware that security is a major concern to us as a Government, and this cannot be sacrificed under whatever guise. It is also the intention of the Administration to sustain prompt payment of workers’ salaries and pensions towards bettering the living conditions and motivating them for effective service delivery. The economic multiplier effects of monthly payments of salaries and pensions to the workforce and their dependents is better imagined as against the past ordeals the citizenry went through.

PASSIONATE APPEALS.

I cannot end this Speech without making some passionate appeals to the teeming citizens of the State. First and foremost, the task of meeting the expectations of the people, especially under an economic recession period has indeed been herculean. In spite of the suffocating economic difficulties encountered by all in the wake of this negative trend, your resilience is very much appreciated and hopefully in the coming years we hope to reap the dividends.

I wish to appeal to our youths who are leaders of tomorrow to re-awaken their consciences and refuse to be used as agents of destruction and mayhem. The future, understandably, belongs to the youths, and they, as leaders of tomorrow, should not take part in destroying the legacies that destiny shall one day call upon them to protect. This is even as the Rescue Administration strives to employ, engage and empower them. Whatever patriotic activity they engage in must be predicated on moral rectitude of Truth.

Since coming into office, this administration has been preaching ideals of constructive criticism. As we approach campaign period, we must strive to avoid unnecessary bickering, false propaganda and conscientious ignorance over issues we are not very sure of. In the coming months, Politics and Campaigns should please be based on issues not lies, insults and vitriolic sentiments. Most critical, in our effort to propagate ideals of service to humanity, we should strive to inform, not inflame public sensibility. In this way, we will be able to eschew violence and embrace peace in all our dealings; just as the Government will continue to ensure that within its constitutional powers it creates the necessary conditions to balance peace with pragmatic development.

As a mark of our appreciation and thanksgiving to God for the guidance, protection and successes recorded, and in exercise of the powers conferred on me as Governor in Section 212 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended), I have granted Prerogative of Mercy to two (2) Prisoners, as follows: One (1) criminal conviction of Ten (10) years is now committed to two (2) years imprisonment and one (1) Life Imprisonment is now committed to twenty-one (21) years, effective from the different dates of sentences.

Finally, while thanking you for listening and for being a part of the Plateau Rescue, Consolidation and Continuity project arising from hallmarks of Integrity, Accountability and Transparency in Leadership, I wish you all a happy Democracy Day and continuous peace and harmony on the Plateau and Nigeria at large.

Long Live Plateau State.
Long Live Nigeria.

Thank you and God bless.

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