SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY CAPT. IDRIS WADA, EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF KOGI STATE TO DELEGATES AT THE KOGI STATE PEOPLE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONVENTION ON MONDAY, 14TH SEPTEMBER, 2015.
My Dear Delegates,
Let me begin by saying thank you to all of you who have travelled from far and near, all nooks and crannies of our beloved state to be here today.
At the end of this convention, we would have elected the Gubernatorial candidate of our party for the Kogi 2015 elections. This in itself is remarkable considering the democratic principles we have internalized and maintained up till date. But that’s not the only reason why this convention will be remarkable.
As we gather here today, our great party and beloved state are at a critical juncture.
Thankfully, the propaganda that there exists a fix-it magic wand for governance has since been checked by the reality that the quality of governance is not measured by media hype but by other factors like the availability or resources and the direct impact of government’s policies on people.
It is against the backdrop of this realization that our people will no longer be swooned by utopian electoral promises, well-oiled propaganda machinery or the amplification of fabricated falsehood. Our people will no longer be swept-off their feet by simple chants of the change mantra.
Now, all that our people are asking for is character, commitment, credibility, capacity and vision. As a people-oriented leader, I do not think that our people are asking for too much.
And that is exactly what our party and my candidature is positioned to offer: character, capacity, commitment, credibility, pedigree and vision. Thus, you are not only here as a delegate, you are here because you also believe that our state is on the right path to stellar developments. We may not take innumerable pages of newspapers to showcase our strides or block-out radio stations and the social media with drumrolls of our achievements, but what we have been able to achieve remains self-evident for all unbiased minds to see.
Without sounding self-conceited, a great number of you here gathered, know that despite a number of debilitating factors my administration faced in its first term, we have weathered the storm fairly better than many states, even better than states that are richer than us.
The downturn in the Nation’s economic fortune has been felt in our state. Even before the decline in our federal allocations, the model under which about 80% of the state’s revenue was applied towards offsetting wages and salaries, left little room for people-oriented projects. As at today, the whole allocation cannot even fully cover 100% of the state’s wage bill.
Despite this dire situation of our finances, we have not only been prudent but we have also been creative in our revenue management through an aggressive revenue generation drive. The result of this drive has been an unprecedented 200% leap in our monthly Internally Generated Revenue from about 200 Million in 2012 when we came on board to about N600m as at today, without any corresponding increase in taxes on the citizenry and residents of our dear state.
As a very humane administration, we have prioritized the welfare of staff through payments of salaries, pensions and gratuity.Since 2012, State civil servants have been paid on or before the 27th of the month until April this year when we started having problems due to the sharp drop in allocations. We have refused to take the easy road of cutting down on our staff strength, knowing that each member of staff is not just a number, but also a collective representation of the hopes of a group of people who find their living in the engagement of that employee. I am happy to announce that our administration has cleared all of the 21 years pension backlogs it met at inception. Today we are putting in motion plans to harmonize pension packages for all our pensioners.
Another case in point is the issue of local government salaries. The local governments are a separate tier of government. At the inception of our administration , we decided not to interfere in their activities but series of complaints over percentage salary payment forced us to intervene in October 2014. Our intervention brought about more transparent and harmonized payment schedules and a corresponding increase in the percentages paid until the recent sharp decline in allocations. Even though most of the problems like over staffing were inherited from previous administrations, In our characteristic humane manner, we are committed to fixing it permanently through a strategic plan that focuses on increasing the percentages to 100% without sacking anyone and getting the local governments out of debt.
In spite of the dire financial situation , our strides in education, health, roads, transport, tourism, housing, rural electrification,water, youth empowerment, agriculture are stellar, well documented and open to the examination of all.
We have changed the face of Agriculture in our state, Today we are the largest cassava growing state in the nation. A feat that has attracted the World Bank, Federal government and Cargill USA to partner with our state to set up the first Staple Crop processing zone in the country at Alape. When completed, the project will increase the income of the state by about 15 billion naira per annum in addition to improvement of infrastructure in that area.
We have changed the face of transportation in our state with the introduction of the first government subsidized transport service in the nation that saw a 60 percent reduction of transport fares in Lokoja Metropolis. In a few weeks time, Lokoja will be home to an ultramodern mega transport terminal , the first of its kind in the state and among the best in the nation. When that terminal is commissioned in the next few weeks, the subsidized transport service will be extended to other parts of the state.
We have reoriented our youth from dependence on handouts to self employment through our YAD 4 KOGI programme. Over 10000 youth have benefited till date and another 15000 have benefited from monthly unemployment grants. The Advanced Nigeria-Korea Vocational and technical institute, The first of its kind in this part of Africa has been commissioned thus opening another frontier for our youth to acquire cutting edge self empowerment skills. We have also attracted the Dangote group to build another world class automated skill center in Lokoja. Work is ongoing. Very soon, Kogi will become the modern skills acquisition capital of the nation.
We have also made appreciable strides in rural development through the establishment of a dedicated Ministry of Rural development that is addressing the needs of the over 70% of our population who reside in rural areas. So far, over 500 communities across the state have benefitted from rural electrification, water provision and feeder roads projects.
Our state capital, Lokoja is being given a face lift through our successful bid and selection as one of only 10 cities in the world to take part in the world acclaimed UN Habitat project and the development of a new phase 2 Lokoja project which has been flagged off with the construction of the 16km Ganaja-Otokiti bypass way. TheMurtala Mohammed road, Lokoja is being overhauled to combat the problems occasioned by the substandard job that was done on the road when it was constructed initially. 58 other roads across the state have been completed by this administration.
In education, we have upgraded the facilities at over 300 primary schools in various communities around the state. Another 200 will be upgraded before the end of the year. We have also upgraded facilities at legacy schools like Abdulaziz Atta memorial college, Okene; St Augustines College, Kabba ; Holy Rosary College Idah amongst others across the state.
Apart from upgrading facilities at tertiary institutions in our state, We have ensured that they have been converted from mere buildings to fully accredited certificate granting institutions. We have also established the College of Medical Science at Kogi State University. This new college is being supported with the construction of a 250-bed teaching hospital at Ayangba and an orthopedic hospital at Odu. When completed, the hospitals will in addition to improving our healthcare delivery system also boost inward medical tourism and consequently the internally generated revenue of our state.
In the area of healthcare, Our free rural medical programme is one of the best in the country, so far more than 120,000 people have benefited from the initiative. Our achievements in people oriented health care programmes have won us recognition from notable organisations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We have also also upgraded and constructed health facilities around the state. The New Ultramodern Diagnostic Center in Lokoja will be commissioned in a few weeks time.
Like I said when I accepted the endorsement of major stakeholder groups in our state, I appreciate the mind-set that tends to make people judge the performance of an administration only by the projects implemented directly from Government resources. Thetruth however, is that there is a paradigm shift in development worldwide whereby a lot of emphasis is placed on the attraction of capital and investments from the rest of the world for development. This new development strategy makes the role of government that of providing the legislation, leadership, peace and security as well as a stable political environment.
We have made remarkable progress in that regard with the public private partnership legislation that was sponsored and passed by this administration, the improved peace and security climate in our state and untiring efforts to provide a favourable investment climate. As a result we have witnessed an influx of investors from all over the world. They include Cargill group as I mentioned earlier, Dangote Group, the Vaswani Brothers, BUA Limited, the Oriental Group, among many others who are all working to establish multi-billion naira projects in the state.
In spite of constitutional limitations, our rigorous plan to strategise on the exploration of 29 mineral resources which God has given to our state has commenced in earnest with the first comprehensive geological survey of our resources and the establishment of a one stop investment shop in the state. In this regard, I am happy to note that the Allo Cement Project in Itobe has reached advanced stage and various other PPP projects are at various stages of implementation. The realization of these projects will give a boost to employment and change the economic landscape of the State.
Distinguished delegates, but for the exigencies of time, I would have taken you through more of our achievements. This recap of my administration’s efforts and achievement should not be seen as a chest-beating one. Rather, it is an intended demonstration of how better experienced, better equipped and better empowered I am, to steer the vision to completion. Without doubt, the experiences I have gathered over the last 3 and a half years make me stand out as an aspirant.
If our people want character, commitment, pedigree, credibility and vision, then that person would be me. I believe in continuity not just for continuity sake but for consolidation of the change and transformation that we started 3 and a half years ago. The advantage in the philosophy of Continuity for Consolidation is that all the impactful projects highlighted above can add value to the lives of the people of our dear state if they are taken to a logical conclusion by our administration. The benefit is for all indigenes of our state irrespective of their political affiliation. Conversely, there is a great risk of losing invaluable investment in these projects if other people that are not part of the vision inherit them. No vision can be interpreted and driven better than the one who envisioned it.
I cannot fulfill this vision alone. I need your support. That is our purpose here today. I am aspiring for the Gubernatorial ticket of the PDP not just for the sake of power but because our destinies are tied together. I am aspiring for the sake of our youth and of generations yet unborn so they can live in a well-developed state instead of one that lost the opportunity of reaping the immense benefits of the people oriented projects we have started.
Let me remind us all again that for us to be positioned as the answer to the yearnings of our people, we must remain as one. We must stand united, unshaken and unmoved. We must live for and live by the democratic principles that we have entrenched in our party; accepting the outcome of internal democracy with the spirit of sportsmanship. To fail to do this will be ominous for our party but most especially for this beloved state we all call home. This must not happen. It must be avoided at all cost.
I believe that you will give me your mandate by nominating me as the PDP Gubernatorial flag bearer, so that together, we can consolidate the positive change that we started three years ago.
Thank you all for your attention.
God bless you all.
God bless the People Democratic Party
God bless Kogi state.
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