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Category Archives: Elections

2019 ELECTIONS: As the Clock Ticks …

By Laz Ahangba

politics

The loud music blares out in the quiet night. Tarkule, a middle aged Man of about 43 is awakened from his hard narrow bed. He stands up and peers out of his small window. He sees a number of cars parked at Chief’s residence across the road. Chief is a political godfather and a Party Chieftain of note. All political aspirants pay him homage to smoothen their path to victory.  Tonight, scores of aspirants have come to do him obeisance as usual. Tarkule hisses, looks at the time on his wall clock to discover it is past 2.00 am. He slowly walks back to bed and lies down to endure the noise and nuisance.

These are the days of politicking. Scenarios like the one described above are common place. Politicians are busy crisscrossing every nook and cranny of Nigeria soliciting for votes. They are selling their candidatures under the auspices of the different political parties. The political aspirants have different slogans, different songs, but same nothingness, full of promises but short of issues.

Elections in Nigeria and their processes have been this way from time immemorial. Political party structures are hijacked by godfathers and moneybags made of all shades of people, usually deficient in civility and accountability. These ones manipulate the party systems to throw up candidates of their choice. The chosen candidates are forced on the electorate into office. Once elected, the apparatus of government becomes the joystick of the godfathers and moneybags.  They play around the system to milk out their investments in terms of contracts, appointments and other compensations. This system plays out at all levels of governance. The consequences of this age-long tradition is poverty, lack of accountability, impunity, gross corruption, violations of the rights of citizens and worst of all, loss of democratic values. Political aspirants, rather than sell themselves to the electorate, mortgage themselves to the political godfathers knowing that without them, their victories at the polls are not guaranteed. How wrong!

The electoral process is likened to two-parallel lines but arriving at the same destination. It is between the election candidate on one line soliciting for votes from the electorate and the electorate demanding that his issues be addressed by the candidate on the other line, thereby leading all to the same destination called good governance. This process is only made possible through issue-based campaigns and issue-based voting. The election candidates should strictly carry out campaigns based on issues while the electorate vote based on the issues, quid pro quo.

The quality of electoral campaigns is a forerunner to the quality of governance after a winner has emerged and vice versa.  As the 2019 general elections draws near, has there been any issue-based campaigns from any of the candidates across political parties yet? Has the electorate positioned itself for issue-based voting across Nigeria? Have there been any tangible moves by citizen-groups to begin to engage elections candidates on issues bothering them and their communities? A brief environmental scan on the political Eco-system at all levels of governance across Nigeria shows little or no active issue-based campaigns from the candidates and there has not been strong body language from the electorate towards making demands for same. At the national level, for example, of the over 75 presidential candidates, only very few have plans that could culminate into issue-based campaigns. What has dominated the media (especially the social media) space is mudslinging and gutter-language campaigns. The same scenario is playing out at the sub national levels. Rather than base their campaigns on issues, most governorship candidates across the country are busy mudslinging one another while also employing unsavory propaganda.

The electorate, especially the youth are also culpable. Rather than engage the election candidates on common issues bedeviling their communities, they resort to real and cyber thuggery. Social media platforms which should ordinarily serve as a useful resource for the youths and other electorate have become a battle ground of some sorts. Any question, or comment directed at any election candidate is viewed by his supporters as an attack worthy of reprisal often in very harsh and derogatory language. This attitude is denying the electorate the opportunity to objectively engage the election candidates on issue-based campaigns which this election cycle desperately needs.

As we approach the 2019 general elections, the following are recommended as measures we should endeavor to put in place in order to bring about the change Nigeria desperately needs:

  • Profile all our election candidates across all political parties at all levels of governance
  • Undertake a study of the most pressing issues confronting our communities, state and country in general
  • Demand for issue-based campaigns from election candidates and vote candidates whose campaigns issues resonate with those of our communities, states and country
  • Present to electoral candidates citizens’ charter of demands based on the prevailing issues across communities, states and country with monitoring and evaluation indicators
  • Vote based on issues contained in the citizens’ charter of demand
  • Monitor and implement evaluation indicators.

As Tarkule finally drifts into sleep, the campaign vehicles begin to drive away. Again, he startles out of sleep and hisses in anger. He could hear the singer praise singing the candidate. He calls him the sun, the moon and star of his community. “What rubbish!” He thinks out loud. As the sound of the campaign songs fades away, Tarkule wonders if the singer and his ilk bother about improvement in power supply, job creation, heath care system, infrastructural development, agriculture and all the other challenges bedeviling the society. With these thoughts, he slowly drifts back into sleep

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Election Primaries through the Lenses of the Law

Compiled by Mr Lazarus M.A, Miss Jerum Uneje, R.A. Hwande Esq and S.P. Oobulu Esq

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Nigeria’s democracy is nascent and oscillates on a 4-year election cycle. As the present administration draws close to the end of its tenure, various political parties have conducted primaries across the Federation as stipulated by the legal framework regulating the conduct of elections in Nigeria. Political parties are legally saddled with the responsibilities of sponsoring their candidates’ campaigns for every political position for election.

The law perhaps is apt regarding the conduct of party primary elections regarding how a candidate can be elected. On this point, section 87 of the Electoral (Amendment) act, 2015 clearly lays down the procedure for the nomination of candidates by political parties which could either be by direct or indirect voting. The spirit of this section is in line with provision of section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria which guaranteed fair hearing. By direct election, aspirants are given the opportunity of being voted for by all members of the party present at the election venue, while in indirect primaries aspirants are voted for by delegates (the number is usually determined by the position contested for). Whichever procedure (direct or indirect) a political party decides to adopt, the aspirant with the highest votes becomes the representative of the party.

Despite this injunction, the Media, Civil Society and other stakeholders report that the recently held primaries fell short of the provisions of the ELECTORAL (Amendment) ACT 2015. All the major Political parties failed to adhere strictly to the provisions of the subsisting legal framework as shown in a range of malpractices that shadowed the primaries across the country.

The APC (All Progressive Congress) adopted the indirect primary election procedure in Benue State. This system as earlier mentioned makes use of delegates who elect candidates on behalf of the party congress. However, it is alleged that the procedure was not strictly followed in practical reality. For instance, it was reported that during the House of Representatives election for Kwande/Ushongo Federal Constituency, violence ensued because of protests from delegates who alleged that they were being impersonated. Allegations of vote buying and tampering with the delegates list were also rife and thrown at 2 of the aspirants.

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The PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) which also adopted the indirect election procedure also failed to comply with the provision of section 87 of the ELECTORAL (Amendment) ACT 2015. It is alleged that the PDP primary elections at all levels and stages in Benue state were marred by violence, supplanting of candidates, vote buying and clear case of God-fatherism. In Otukpo/Ohimini Federal Constituency for election for example, candidates were alleged to have been substituted.

From the above it is clear that the spirit and tenet of the above section of the Electoral Act was violated in its entirety. In any case, elections, be they at primary or general stage require strict compliance with the provision of the electoral act to ensure peaceful, orderly and smooth conduct. Any deviation from these provisions is punishable under the Act if found guilty by the court of law. For instance, section 122 of the Electoral Act provides for the offence of impersonation and criminalizing same. The punishment paragraph under sub section (1) of the above section stipulates that, if found guilty the person shall be liable for a maximum fine of 500,000 (five hundred thousand naira) or 12-months imprisonment.

 

Other alleged offences also took place. For example, it is widely reported that the All Progressives Congress (APC) failed to conduct the required primary elections for the State House of Assembly; instead, party big wigs selected candidates of their choice for the elections over those desired by the electorate. This is a clear violation of the subsisting electoral law.

The above stated violations have their consequences in varying degrees and dimensions including the following:

The rights of both the delegates and aspirants who have the mandate to vote or be voted for have been fundamentally denied and breached by leaders of the various political parties.

Another serious consequence is the potency of derailing the forthcoming general elections and its credibility.

Another consequence is the breeding of grounds for violence and unrest in the political ecosystem.

Based on the foregoing therefore, the following are recommended:

  • That the Independent National Electoral Commission intensify its monitoring of Party Primaries, investigate allegations and sanction erring Parties accordingly.
  • Sensitize political parties and their officials on the need to adhere strictly to the provisions of the subsisting legal framework regulating the conduct of elections
  • The justice system actors including the Police, the Judiciary and other stakeholders should be sensitized on the need to closely monitor, investigate and sanction erring individuals and parties accordingly.
  • Power brokers should be told of the need to ensure peaceful elections by midwifing a free and fair process thereby providing a level playing field for all.

Leaders of thought such as the traditional and religious leaders should be encouraged to preach against the culture of vote-selling as it inhibits community development subsequently.

 

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Concluded Party Primaries: A Perspective and Matters Arising

Compiled by: Mr Lazarus m., Miss Jerume Uneje, R.A. Hwande Esq and S.P. Ozobulu Esq.

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If democracy is the government of the people for them and by them, as the popular adage goes, then it is the nexus in the democratic process. Elections are central to the deepening and sustainability of the democratic system of Government anywhere in the world. It provides Citizens with the opportunity to vote in or out any leader of their choice at all levels of Governance. In the election sub-sector of Democracy and Good Governance, elections are not an event but a process. There are three phases in the electoral cycle. They are the pre-election, Election Day and the post-election.

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Currently, we are in the pre-election phase for the 2019 general election and many activities have been carried out and are still being conducted by various stakeholders. The just concluded party primaries held between Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, October 7, 2018 were legally the responsibility of the different political parties to carry out under the supervision of INEC.  Section 85(1) of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended makes it mandatory for political parties organizing congresses, conventions and nomination of candidates to give 21 days’ notice to INEC to enable the commission to observe the process.

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So how did the Political parties fare in the conduct of the just concluded party primaries? Lawyers Alert will attempt to X ray the general conduct of political parties with focus on the major political parties from 3 basic perspectives. These will include adherence to deepening of democracy and its values in the electoral process in Nigeria, Gender equality and respect of Women Human Rights and respect of the electoral Act 2014 and other legal issues thereto.

Globally, elections are intended to deepen the culture and practice of democracy. Political parties are expected to abide by the norms of the electoral process in fielding aspirants by providing a level playing field, equal opportunity. They are expected to be transparent, accountable, provide a participatory process that will throw up the best candidates from which the electorate can then choose. Was this achieved in the recently held primaries?

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In fact, the just concluded party primaries were colored by a range of malpractices as alleged by affected aspirants. Cases included vote buying, violence, intimidation and threats, tampering with the delegates’ list and candidates’ imposition among other forms of anti-democratic acts which were recorded across all parties in different states of the federation. The primaries became warfare, as the power brokers and aspirants seeking tickets turned venues of the intra-party poll to a theatre of war, with the attendant injuries, loss of lives and property and palpable tension. Internal democracy and lobbying were substituted with Machiavellian antics and the reign of impunity and terror.

In Zamfara State for example, the entire election was marred by violence and intra party crises with 2 sets of results brandished by two factions of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Media reports suggest that the INEC has since barred the party from fielding any candidate for the forthcoming elections. So, what happens to all the Aspirants that spent time, money and other valuable resources? What happens to the wishes of the electorate willing to express their franchise under the APC in Zamfara? What will happen to the growth and deepening of democratic values in that State?

The People’s Democratic Party Presidential Primary Elections held in Port Harcourt is also alleged to have been characterized by vote-buying and intimidation. An aspirant purportedly flooded the venue of the party’s convention with so much foreign currency that local parallel market operators opened temporary offices at the venue. At the end did the winner get voted in or did he simply purchase his victory at a price? These are questions.

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APGA, the All Progressives Grand Alliance, was anything but “progressive” in the conduct of its primaries. News reports suggest that certificates handed over to the wrong aspirants are to be recalled. Indeed, the party chairman is said to have apologized to party members explaining that the sudden fame enjoyed by the party caused a rise in some of the confusion that unfolded.

The Social Democratic Party, SDP, had its own share of drama as young politicians who opted for the platform in hopes of avoiding the scheming associated with the big 2, APC and PDP, soon found themselves facing equally unsavory circumstances. In Benue state. the party is said to have allowed itself to be bought over by a certain big wig in who was not welcomed in the first party he defected to. The party has also been accused of not holding any ward congresses whatsoever and merely imposing officials on the party.

There was also the issue of imposition of candidates by Political Godfathers. For example, our investigations reveal that in Benue State under the All Progressives Congress (APC), no primary election took place for the State Assembly. The party big wigs picked and chose the candidates dear to their hearts regardless of how the delegates or the electorate felt.

In the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the African Democratic Congress (ADC), among others, the story was not too different as protests against the manner of primaries and alleged imposition continued to resonate across the states where the parties have strongholds. From Gombe to Benue to Oyo, stories of aspirants threatening fire and brimstone over the primaries abound, with some even already defecting to other parties.

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Aggrieved political actors across the six geopolitical zones are not giving up over the perceived high-handedness meted out by the top echelon of influential party elders, doing all they can to salvage “the situation.” Ironically, among the ranks of those involved in subdued anger and frustration in the party are a couple of state governors whose preferred choices as likely successors or anointed candidates for other levels of Grade A contests were frustrated by more powerful forces in Abuja.

As it stands, the questions political observers are now asking are: how do the dramatis personae intend to douse some of the ignited flames? What is the shape of the things to come ahead of the general elections? Considering the unnerving discontent at various levels of the power strata, will the general elections still be a battle of the 2 Titans, APC and PDP or will the discontentment in their ranks give the up-and-coming parties a much-needed boost?

The 2019 elections promise to be a thing of awe…though not necessarily in a good way.

 

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Disarray In Buhari’s Camp amid Saraki’s insubordination And Signs Of Things To Come!

by Frisky Larr

If there is anything that many observers agree upon, it is the fact that Muhammadu Buhari could have had a better start into his civilian presidency. Most disheartening and uninspiring was his inaugural speech, which left many people wondering what message he intended to send and why he made the choice to send such a message. The calculation seems obvious. The President simply sacrificed the all-important notion of toughness and popular reassurance at the altar of pacifying the team of the outgoing President, who has been locked in the fear of high-handed persecution. Muhammadu Buhari

Before the gaze of foreign dignitaries and backdoor facilitators of the smooth transition from the feeble and militant-backed former government, President Buhari seemed to have staked his cards also in reassuring the different interest groups observing the transition that he was out to calm the political temperature and not heighten tension any further. This was however, not the expectation of the teeming masses of Nigerian voters who yearned for change and had enough of the passive patronage of overbearing insiders by a weak government that was erroneously labeled as “Pacifist”. President Buhari’s inaugural speech simply failed in balancing the need to reassure those who fear persecution and the need to reassure his constituency that he was out to address their needs.

In the end, the meaningless message of belonging to all and belonging to none was the only substance that was left to be extracted from a long-drawn speech that many expected to be fiery and momentum-laden. Yet, it was easily skipped and quickly forgotten with the brave face of disappointment underscoring the need to keep heads high and simply move on. Many have been quietly nursing the uneasy trepidation deep within them ever since, hoping that Buhari may not end up a complete flop and a major disappointment.

After all, the President had all the opportunities in the world to reiterate his commitment to fighting corruption by revamping the anti-corruption agencies. He had all the chances in the world to reassure Nigerians on how he intends to work to strengthen regional military cooperation with neighboring countries to eradicate insurgency until the Nigerian Army is put back on its feet again to stand alone. He had all the chances in the world to reassure Nigerians, how he intends to clean the oil sector, enforce fiscal discipline in government institutions and carry party soldiers along in enforcing a new era of discipline in the national psyche, etc.. The President simply allowed this noble and golden opportunity of popular appeal to escape and slip through his fingers. It is an opportunity that was lost for good. It was his first own goal and an unforced error that barely stopped short of being an outright gaffe. It is a major blunder that he shares collectively with his handlers and perhaps, speechwriter(s).

Yet, as is typical of the honeymoon period, the need to stay calm and allow the President some time to understand the situation has so far dominated the reasoning of many critical observers, who are still waiting and watching out for just one decisive step from the President to reassure them that he is very much on course with his own agenda. So far, it has been to no avail! It does not matter though that the President was supposed to have understood the situation perfectly well even as a candidate with a blueprint to hit the ground running. On the contrary, signals keep filtering out, painting the picture of a President’s camp in utter disarray. From all indications, the President now seems trapped in the fangs of party interests, regional interests and the interests of scattered loyalists, who fought tooth and nail and against all odds, to ensure his electoral victory even if also in protection of inordinate selfish interests.

Now, there are reports of regional powers wanting key ministries to be headed only by persons from a particular geographical region. There are loyalists, who now seem to have been suddenly understood as too ambitious and power-hungry to be given government appointments in spite of their excessive commitment and personal contributions to electoral success. There are now stories of the Vice President being locked out of Security meetings with service chiefs. There are stories of the President’s wife wearing a $50,000 wristwatch to the Presidential inauguration. There is the outright gaffe of the President referring to his wife as ‘Her Excellency’ after promising to abolish the office of ‘First Lady’.

In the midst of all these, the President is nowhere to be seen before his own folks. Barely two weeks into his administration, the signs perceived by the public are that he has no clue just yet, who should make up his cabinet. It is yet the picture of a very weak and unprepared Muhammadu Buhari that is presently meeting the eyes.

Reaction to this image has not waited for too long. Even though Senator Bukola Saraki belongs to the class of featherweight activists, who fought to install Buhari as President and does not need to be sidelined in disgrace, he is now one character, who has clearly shown to Muhammadu Buhari, how people will ride on him if he does not make amends very quickly and take charge of the country in a very decisive manner without fear of stepping on toes. Rather than ostentatiously declaring non-interference in the selection of National Assembly leaders, it would have taken the President one decisive word or two into Bukola Saraki’s private ears before heading for the G7 summit in Germany to help Saraki beat a very quick retreat from his overblown ambitious rebellion. But when a President tries to be everybody’s darling seeking to appease minds and win friends, he soon learns, how others will strive to stretch the limit before his very eyes.

If reports are anything to go by, Bukola Saraki has simply called the bluff and disgraced the President with impunity before ranking APC members of the legislative houses, who gathered with the President for a crucial meeting while Saraki was busy ordaining himself as a renegade priest in the midst of gleeful death-wishers. While opponents are now relishing the spoils in schadenfreude, a word should now be enough for the President if he wishes to toe the path of wisdom. Bukola Saraki and his friends know too well that the last word has not been spoken on the hijacked Senate Presidency. If anything, Olusegun Obasanjo can help Buhari out very quickly in teaching him methods of stamping his authority in constitutional arrangements of this nature. This is where Buhari still seems to be struggling to come to terms.

By declaring Saraki’s hijacked election as “constitutional” while sticking to his new-won image of a loyal team player subjected to the dictates of his political party, President Buhari now seems to have managed to throw his doubters in a slight state of disarray. He has managed to stand out still as a mysterious winner. The aura of fear that Buhari emitted by declaring the hijacked senate election as “constitutional”, is cladded in indiscernibility much like his declaration of being for all and being for none. For now, no one seems to have a clue, what to make of the President’s comments.

Buhari’s pattern of whipping people in line, if he chooses to travel down that path, will no doubt be strongly rested on the principle of constitutionality as time progresses. After all, what Saraki can do, one would guess, Buhari should be able to do better. It is however, yet a mystery, which path Buhari wishes to toe in this nascent Presidency. The cards have been thrown on the table and Nigerians are waiting to see his sense of cohesion and execution.

He had appealed to Nigerians, particularly on the social media, to exercise a sense of responsibility in practicing citizens’ journalism. Precisely for this reason, many responsible and professional operatives in the conventional world of mass media and social media have been waiting patiently to catch a glimpse of the President’s choices and policy direction particularly in the corruption-ridden petroleum sector. With the understanding that the role of importers will be abolished in favor of hiring the services of foreign companies to refine our crude oil until our refineries are fixed, there is hardly any Nigerian that is not impatient to see the removal of fuel subsidy. This alone, will be a giant stride in freeing up resources for other developmental projects in the near and medium-term.

First however, President Buhari will have to sit up tight and very quickly too if he is to upset the yet suppressed general suspicion that his elevated image of a no-nonsense General may be a serious misunderstanding after all since the late Tunde Idiagbon was the major architect with the disciplinarian credentials.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2015 in Elections, Governance

 

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Buhari Losing Influence In Nigerian Politics?

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National Assembly Clerk Salisu Maikasuwa (L) swears in Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara as the new Speaker of the House Of Representatives in Abuja, Nigeria, June 9, 2015. Reuters

Yakubu Dogara was elected Speaker of the House in Nigeria Tuesday after winning 182 votes over Femi Gbajabiamila, who picked up 174 votes and was backed by the ruling party. Dogara, a legal practitioner, will serve as speaker of the 8th legislature, local media reported.

Dogara became speaker despite the ruling All Progressive Congress throwing its support behind Gbajabiamila. The rival Peoples Democratic Party also succeeded in naming Nigerian Sen. Bukola Saraki as the new Senate president on Tuesday. Saraki, a former member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was the only candidate nominated for the top post. The Senate president is the third most powerful figure in the country.

The tense House and Senate leadership votes suggest President Muhammadu Buhari’s coalition could be vulnerable to internal disputes and a future attack from the Peoples Democratic Party, the Associated Press reported. Buhari took office May 29.

The All Progressive Congress seized control of Nigeria’s government in March after winning control of the presidency, Senate and House. The victory marked the first time the Peoples Democratic Party was forced from power since the end of military rule in 1999.

Saraki, 52, was a two-term governor of Kwara state. He has helped transform the region from a food importer to an exporter after importing white Zimbabwean farmers to develop commercial agriculture in his state.

Dogara represents the Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa-Balewa federal constituency of Bauchi State. He has served in the Federal House of Representatives since 2007. He is widely known in Nigerian politics for a 2013 bill he sponsored that sought to make it easier to remove the president and vice president from office on charges of misconduct.

The Peoples Democratic Party lost votes in the recent elections after government officials were unable to stop violent attacks from the Boko Haram militant group. Buhari pledged during his inaugration speech to wipe out the Islamist group.

“Boko Haram is a typical example of small fires causing large fires,” he said, adding that the group was “a mindless, godless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of.”

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2015 in Elections, Governanace

 

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INAUGURAL SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF KANO STATE DR. ABDULLAHI UMAR GANDUJE

I feel highly delighted to be part of this momentous occasion which marks a significant turning point in our political journey considering the pre-dominance and sweeping victory of our great party the APC, not only in Kano State but the country at large. For all intents and purposes, I consider our triumph in these elections, as a vote of confidence on our team, in recognition of the gigantic projects executed by the outgoing administration of Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

2. Accordingly, I owe it an obligation to first and foremost, express my profound gratitude to Allah (S.W.T) for our monumental victory in all the 2015 elections. I want to pay special tribute to our former Governor, Senator, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for his support and contribution to our success and for his selfless service to Kano State. I pledge to continue with the good works we started since the first tenure of our Administration. There is no gain saying the fact that the APC as a Party, and we as contestants in particular, gained tremendously from this colossal giant whose monumental strides virtually obliterated the political relevance of other parties in the State. I, on behalf of all other elected office holders therefore, assure you that we will continue to be good ambassadors of the Kwankwasiyya movement in the service of our dear State and the Country at large.

3. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, the most popular slogan used by our party the APC during electioneering campaign across the Country is “Change”. The motivating factor behind the clamor for change at the national stage was informed by the need to find urgent solutions to numerous challenges facing the survival of our country due to laxity, insecurity and massive mismanagement of our resources.

4. Consequently, while the wind of change starts blowing across the Nation with the ushering of APC at the Centre, it is significant to observe that by virtue of the adoption of the Kwankwasiyya ideology in the running of our affairs, Kano State has in effect made Change as its guiding philosophy since May, 2011.

5. It is therefore a source of pride to observe that the cherished ideals which have been guiding our stewardship all these years are today being adopted as models for addressing the numerous challenges bedeviling our country today. In this regard, I am optimistic that with the synergy and common platform between the Federal Government and our Administration, we will be better poised to get the much needed support and cooperation in our quest to ensure all-round growth and development of our State.

6. As you all know, our journey towards the transformation of Kano State did not start today. We have jointly served the State under the able leadership of our indefatigable leader, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso during the first tenure form 1999 – 2003 and then from 2011 – 2015 under the second tenure.

7. The strategy under which we approached governance was predicated on the principles of openness, transparency, prudence and accountability.

8. Accordingly, we blocked all avenues for leakages and wastage of public funds through strict fiscal discipline and a robust financial management in all public institutions of the State. This measure had generated savings which contributed tremendously in achieving the set targets during the period under review. In the course of these two tenures therefore, we as a team initiated and executed various policies and programmes that have impacted positively on various facets of lives of our people.

9. Our modest achievements in Education include the establishment of two universities, that is, University of Science and Technology, Wudil and that of North West University, whose work on the permanent site is on-going. The attractive primary school feeding is re-introduced, while over-crowded classrooms were decongested by the massive construction of classrooms all over the State. About five thousands students were sponsored to study at various Universities both within and outside the country.

10. In another development, gigantic infrastructural development projects were executed in various locations within the metropolis. They include Kofar Nasarawa flyover, Ibrahim Taiwo Road flyover, the on-going Murtala Muhammad Way flyover, Kabuga under-pass and Gadon Kaya under pass and also the on-going Jakara Wuju – Wuju road project. Other infrastructural development projects executed include construction and rehabilitation of various roads within and outside the municipality as well as provision of streetlights. Also the construction of 5km roads in all the 44 Local Government Areas has been embarked and is on-going.

11. Similarly, in another effort to provide more housing estate to our teeming populace, the Kwankwasiyya, Amana and Bandirawo cities which contain various categories of housing units were constructed. In the same vein, over 1000 GP Houses were sold to civil servants and other interested members of the public at affordable prices.

12. Against the backdrop of the prevailing inadequate power supply which negatively affects economic and commercial activities in the State, the Independent Power Project which has the capacity for generation of 35 Megawatts was embarked upon. When eventually completed, it is expected to provide electricity to Tamburawa and Challawa Water Works, street lights while a sizeable portion will be sold to interested industrial companies.

13. From the foregoing, it could be noted that successes recorded under two tenures have no doubt made a lot of difference on the lives of the people of this State. Accordingly, we regard our elections as another mandate, to enable us continue with the good works started right from the first tenure of the outgoing Administration. Consequently, the task before us will involve the consolidation of what has been put in place as well as the continuation of on-going development programmes while new projects will also be introduced. In a nutshell therefore, the fundamental direction of this Administration will be predicated on Continuation, Consolidation, Fine Tuning and the introduction of more people oriented policies and programmes.

NEW PROJECTS/PROGRAMMES

The new projects we shall embark upon are as follows:-

1. Free and Compulsory Primary Education

Education plays tremendous role in transformation and development of societies. In the words of Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the World”. However, it is universally accepted that the foundation of qualitative education starts from the basic or primary level. This Administration intends to take necessary measures in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, with a view to ensuring that all children are enrolled in primary schools nearest to them as soon as they attain school age. Consequently, Primary Education in Kano State will be free and compulsory henceforth. Accordingly, relevant policies and legislations will be enacted to ensure the enforcement of this policy.

2. Re-Invigoration of Civil Service

An efficient, effective and result – oriented civil Service is a necessary ingredient for effective implementation of government policies and programmes. To fast – track the process of re-invigoration the State civil Service apparatus, the procedure and standards provided by the SERVICOM charter will henceforth be fully applied in operations of all the MDAs with a view to promoting probity and accountability as well as effective service delivery across the State. An ultra-modern training centre for Civil Servants will be provided. In order to reduce the cost of governance our administration will examine the possibility of reducing the number of Ministries in the State. However, we will ensure that nobody will loose his or her employment in the course of the re-organization.

3. Anti-Corruption

The principle of honesty, transparency, probity and accountability remains crucial to providing good governance. It is a known fact the canter-worm of corruption has done incalculable damage on our collective ability to do what is expected of us as custodians and managers of the resources entrusted to us. To arrest this unhealthy development therefore, this Administration will have zero tolerance on Corruption. To facilitate this, anti-corruption agency will be re-invigorated for the agencies to discharge their duties more effectively, while those who engage in corruption practices will be punished accordingly.

4. Due Process Bureau

Due process is one of the most essential ingredients for effective, purposeful and responsible governance in accordance with international best practices. Because of its linkage with probity and accountability, it is used as yardstick for measuring performance both in the public and private sectors worldwide. Consequently, a Due Process Bureau will be established, with a view to instituting due diligence and reform culture in the operation of Government.

5. Kano Master – Plan

Kano is a fast expanding and bustling commercial city that has its own fair share of modern – day urban challenges like traffic congestion, inaccessibility, shanty settlements and erosion. In order to give impetus for proper planning and implementation of mega structures and infrastructures, the Kano Master Plan which has not been subjected to any re-appraisal for a very long time, will be subjected to a wholesale review in order to ease flow of traffic, accessibility to as many of areas as possible. Government will also initiate through the instrumentality of PPP, the introduction of light rail transport system under clearly defined transport policy.

6. Housing

In order to provide shelter to our teeming population, Government will pursue a housing policy that will provide affordable housing to the low-income groups of the State. The APC administration, in adherence to the United Nations convention on habitat, will promote housing development through public – private sector participation in mass housing schemes for the poor. We will also facilitate a home – ownership scheme for civil servants.

7. Regional Water Schemes

With massive settlement expansion and population explosion, there is the increasing need to expand the capacities of our water supply schemes. Accordingly, the existing Regional Water Supply Schemes will be expanded in order to cope with the increasing demand of portable drinking water in the rural areas.

8. Agriculture

Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy and over 70% of our population depends on farming as a source of food, income and labour. Basically, Kano is therefore an agrarian economy. As part of the efforts to boost production, wealth creation and employment, this administration will create the enabling environment for public and private partnership in the promotion of Fish farming and Poultry. To facilitate this, Government will provide infrastructural facilities for the establishment of Model Parks with the capacity to accommodate 50 – 100 farmers/entrepreneurs. The parks will provide shades for Feed production, Medication, Cold Room, Restaurant and whole sale marketing facility with total value chain for comprehensive business activities.

14. Similarly, considering the importance of fertilizer as the main inputs for boosting agricultural production, this Administration will resuscitate KASCO through public-private partnership to enable it engage in production of commercial fertilizer in such a way that, it will utilize the proceeds of the sales of commercial fertilizer to fund the distribution of the commodity to small, medium and large–scale farmers at subsidized rates.

15. Also, in the desire to expand dry season farming as well as discourage rural – urban migration, we will produce a blue print to provide the basis for laying a solid foundation of boosting small irrigation farming schemes along the dotted lines of our rivers and streams across the State for the benefit of the rural areas. Through public – private partnership our medium and small dams will be utilized for full commercial irrigation and electricity generation.

THE FULANI HERDSMEN

16. Ladies and Gentlemen, my speech cannot be complete without mentioning some issues on BANDIRAWO. The State Government is aware of the disturbing issue of the cattle rustling and the encroachment of grazing areas due to the high increase of our population. Our government will collaborate with the Federal Government to come up with a lasting solution to the problems of normads all over the country. The ultimate solution to the problems of Fulani Herdsmen is to fashion out a resettlement scheme that will take into consideration their educational, socio-economic and security well-being of the Normads.

17. We shall enhance the quality of cattle rearing by planting fodder to enrich the grazing areas that will be designated and well protected. In order to modernize the entire system of cattle rearing our Government will embark on the development of artificial insemination centres to ensure high quality meat and milk production. In this respect I solicit for the full cooperation of Fulani herdsmen.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ADMINISTRATION

18. The Local Government is an indispensable third tier of Government that operates solely at the grassroots level. Local Government are therefore closer to the people and in this respect, therefore, I would strive hard to harmonize, stabilize and re-invigorate this important tier of government to ensure that the dividends of democracy are consolidated at the grassroots level.

HEALTH SERVICES

19. The APC Administration will focus on preventive approach to health care delivery system. This approach is mainly to reduce the prevalence of common killer diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, Polio, Malaria and dysentery to mention a few. The programme of Routine Immunization will be given top priority to protect our children from preventable disease. At this juncture I have to appreciate and acknowledge the contributions of Bill and Melinda Gates and Dangote Foundations in this respect. After adequate consultations with stakeholders, we will examine the policy of State Health Insurance Scheme. The target groups will involve public, private and communities. The service of Environmental Health Workers (Duba Gari) will be invigorated to be more functional at all times. They will be empowered to return to physical inspection of houses, markets, abattoirs etc. and enforce the relevant laws. A legislation banning tobacco smoking in public places will be forwarded to Honourable Kano State House of Assembly for appropriate legislation.

 

COMPLETION OF ON-GOING PROJECTS

20. This administration will complete on-going projects initiated by the out-going administration such as – The Hydropower Projects, Jakara Wuju-Wuju Road, and the Murtala Muhammad Way flyover. A master plan for urban beautification will be produced to give Kano the real features of mega city. The project will be supported by serious environmental sanitation policies.

SECURITY

21. Every Nigerian is a living witness to the failure of the out-going Administration at the Federal level to provide security to Nigerians. The clarion call for change across the width and breadth of Nigeria at Federal level was largely anchored on the need for the provision of adequate security of lives and properties. The ardent hope that comes along with the change of leadership at the Federal level is the responsibility to secure Nigeria and make it more fortified against insurgency and external aggression.

22. The APC administration in Kano State will establish a Security Trust Fund that will ensure the participation of the private sector for a robust policing of the State. The Trust Fund will provide modern security gargets to be located in black spot areas of metropolitan Kano. The security agencies will be mobilized and coordinated for a Rapid Response Programme within Kano metropolis. Our communities and traditional rulers will be involved in the overall security programme.

WAR AGAINST DRUG ABUSE

23. One of the major areas our administration had made positive impact is the relentless pursuit to fight the menace of drug abuse particularly among the youth. It is a well known fact that a cartel of drug barons who have been flooding our markets with fake, illicit and expired drugs and suffocating the health of the section of our youth were smashed and dislodged.

24. In this vein, Government had surmounted a lot of courage and expended resources to ensure that the scourge of drug abuse and other traits incidental to it were fought to its knees. Under this scourge, hundreds of millions of Naira worth of fake and illicit drugs were burnt over a period of time. As the cartel members are being forced to abandon the trade, others had unfortunately resettled elsewhere. Thus, in order to eradicate the menace of drug abuse in our State, efforts are going to be intensified to consolidate the gains recorded in that direction. The APC administration will dialogue with genuine drug dealers for a more effective programme to succeed in the War Against Drug Abuse.

INTERNALY GENERATED REVENUE (IGR)

25. Ladies and Gentlemen, as our nation and all the federating units are being faced with dwindling financial resources on account of the falling prices of oil globally, the ability of Federal, State and Local Governments to shoulder enormous responsibilities is greatly hampered. While assuring that this Administration is determined to keep the phase of development and the standards we have so far established, I wish to appeal to the good people of Kano State to show understanding about the current financial constraints and to cooperate with the Government in the Internal Revenue Generation derive to achieve the onerous task and responsibilities of Governance at all levels. In this respect the Kano State Board of Internal Revenue will be re-structured along the line of best practices to ensure that only honest, knowledgeable, committed and responsible personnel to form the new outfit for maximum collection and remittance of our revenues.

CONCLUSION

In concluding this address, I will like to re-iterate our commitment to total transformation of our dear state through the consolidation, continuation and introduction of more people – oriented projects, policies and programmes. In carrying out this mandate, we shall run a Government that will be open and receptive to ideas and other inputs aimed at moving our State forward.

I wish to once again express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to my party members the APC and the outgoing Governor, Senator Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for his selfless service to the State and superintending its affairs for greater accomplishments within the last four years. I am also to extend additional appreciation for the affection he extends to me during our long years of political partnership. No doubt, during those challenging years, he has personally exhibited and practically demonstrated in a very clear terms his brotherly disposition to me. This I will continue to cherish forever. I therefore, wish him God’s guidance in his capacity as Senator under the new dispensation.

I also wish to extend similar appreciation to all important dignitaries that graced this occasion particularly our revered Emir, His Highness Muhammad Sanusi II for his fatherly presence.

I wish to thank the entire people of Kano State for their overwhelming support to APC candidates in the State. I thank the State Chairman of our party as well as the Party Chairmen of all the 44 Local Governments in the State, our campaign organization, Local Government Council Chairmen, Women, Youth, Members of the Academia. My appreciation also goes to the Ulama, Civil Servants, Members of the Press, Security Agents, NGOs, Business Community and our Community leaders for their support and understanding which led to our resounding victory in the elections. I also wish to appreciate the presence of diplomats and all other invited guests from within and outside the country for find time to grace this occasion. I wish to re-stress to the entire citizens of this State that we shall do our utmost best to justify the confidence reposed on us.

May the Almighty Allah in His Infinite wisdom guide us in the discharge of this onerous responsibility, ameen.

Thank you and God Bless.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Elections, Governanace

 

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INAUGURAL SPEECH OF HIS EXCELLENCY, CHIEF DR. SAMUEL IORAER ORTOM, GOVERNOR OF BENUE STATE

OUR COLLECTIVE VISION FOR A NEW BENUE

Today is a milestone in the history of our state. We thank the Almighty God for His grace and for being on our side. My Deputy, Engineer  Benson Abounu and I, deeply appreciate our great party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, that provided us the platform to join the wind of change that is blowing across Nigeria. We salute the good people of Benue who massively voted us into office.  We are humbled by your sacrifices and are mindful of the great task ahead. We pay tribute to past and present leaders of the state for the many achievements of the past 39 years.  The most recent of these is Rt. Honourable, Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam, my predecessor, his Deputy, Chief Steven Lawani and members of the team that ran the state in the past eight years. We are hopeful that you will allow us to tap into your fountain of knowledge and experience  as we face the challenges of governance in the state. Whatever you did right will be sustained; and whatever is lacking in what you did shall be boldly corrected.

2. Though we appreciate the achievements of the past 39 years, we acknowledge the fact that our state is  far from reaching its potentials. Our collective vision for the state is yet to be fulfilled. The many challenges on our path notwithstanding, we  must not stop in our determined march forward nor allow ourselves to be distracted from our vision of a healthy, united and prosperous Benue where capacity, potential, resourcefulness and integrity will converge to enable the state break into the league of  top states in the country. Our administration will build private sector capacity and encourage it to thrive by creating the enabling environment. We shall encourage micro, small, and medium scale enterprises, trading as well as commercial and investment activities

3. Today, we step forward to accept the enormous responsibility and the trust reposed in us by your votes. We are fully aware of the many hurdles on our path. We step forward with an unwavering commitment to the Benue vision for which we invite you and others who stand as our friends, wherever they maybe, as stakeholders to the vision.  Together, we shall be true to ourselves. We shall live the vision in words, deeds and determination.  We shall hold and support one another for as long as it takes to realize the vision. No longer will a tiny colony of self-seekers deny us the urgency of this vision today nor in the next four years.

4. As midwives to the vision of a new Benue, the major policy thrust of my administration rests on five major pillars:

Good governance and revenue security;
Agricultural-Driven Industrialization;
Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)-Based Education and Health Services;
Investment in critical infrastructure; and
Promoting gender equality and empowering women, youth, sports, and persons with disabilities.

The details of our development agenda will be made public in due course as part of our commitment to a collective ownership of the vision for a new Benue.

5. The expected outcome of our policy thrust as outlined above, will be an inclusive, accountable and result oriented government.  In partnership with local communities we will ensure the security of lives and property in the state.  We will do everything possible to contain attacks on our people by criminal  gangs and herdsmen. We will through appropriate legislation, encourage those with livestock in the state to keep them on ranches as a way of forestalling incessant clashes with farmers. We will also move decisively against those of our youths and their patrons who have chosen a living out of unbridled acts of terror and thuggery.  Government will no longer be a shield for these youths and those who patronize them.  Whoever they may be and no matter how powerful, they will be brought to account. We call on all unlawfully armed persons who have been terrorizing innocent citizens to immediately surrender their arms, be free and get integrated into our reform program, or we shall pursue them down to their holes.

6. In agriculture, our expected outcome  is to extend our calling as ‘Food Basket of the Nation”, to include processing of agro-products.  We will do this by developing the sector through the introduction of simple technology driven systems and targeted interventions involving agro-processing, improved marketing channels, inputs and rural infrastructure. Education will be promoted as the backbone of the Benue vision focusing on quality, access and relevance at all levels. We will deliberately promote mathematics education in order to produce a generation of students whose numeracy skills will in the near future will translate to excellence in science and engineering.  We will nurture and attract exceptional talents to ensure that our State University and other tertiary institutions are hubs of excellence not only primed to sustain our development but repositioned major players in the production of knowledge for the state and the nation. In accordance with our APC manifesto, modalities will be put in place to provide free, qualitative and compulsory education up to secondary school level as soon as the economic fortunes of the state improve.

7. Our vision will not be realized by chance, we will remain focused and not be distracted. We will advance in boldness and hit the ground running. Distinguished citizens of our great state, it is common knowledge that our state has a huge debt burden which we shall verify and disclose as soon as possible. This includes unpaid salaries and allowances as well as retirement benefits. With your understanding, patience and support, we will turn this situation around. We will be prudent,  we will be efficient and we will be transparent and creative in the management of resources in  our development agenda.

8. Thus the clarion call to our farmers and people in the rural areas is that we must attain the number one food producing state of the nation. Together, we can transform the rural landscape, create more jobs, wealth, and opportunities as well as improve rural habitats and livelihoods. To our women and vulnerable groups, we will together, strive to reduce gender inequality and other vulnerabilities that encourage poverty and limit potentials. To the youths of the state, you will no longer be dispensable tools in the hands of irresponsible politicians . We will commit to giving each of you the highest quality training in mathematics, sciences, technology and innovation as well as creative arts to position you for tomorrow as key drivers of the Benue vision. Sports will be utilized as a veritable tool for youth empowerment as talents will be trapped and given an enabling environment to develop up to the global stage.

Fellow citizens of Benue State, my heart bleeds for Benue workers and pensioners as they have suffered untold hardship as the issues of their salaries, wages and allowances have become a major challenge. We shall immediately make arrangements to determine and verify our indebtedness and work towards the immediate payment of outstanding workers’ salaries and allowances of pensioners. The Bible states that the worker deserves his wages, on that score government must ensure that wages are paid as at when due.
To teachers at all levels in the state, you are the key to unlocking the major challenges in  education. We will not only support you but rebuild the school system and enable you to take our schools to the next level. To Benue citizens in diaspora, we will engage and challenge you continuously to buy into and own the Benue vision. The state must benefit from your wealth of experiences, suite of competencies and skills. We will partner and provide a place for you in the rebirth of the state. To our entrepreneurs, civil society organisations and other non-state actors, investors and other multilateral development partners, we open our arms to  a warm embrace of opportunities that will be mutually rewarding and beneficial to all.

9. My dear compatriots, as your governor, I pledge to govern with the fear of God. This shall translate to core values including transparency, accountability, fairness, justice, humility, selflessness, disciple, integrity, integration, forgiveness and reconciliation which shall engender peace and unity as well as make development inevitable. We shall have zero tolerance for corruption and any government official who misappropriates public funds will be punished. Our philosophy is that which regards public office as an opportunity to serve and not that for amassing illegal wealth. Those who wish to make money shall be encouraged to get into the private sector and do business.
Our administration will promote growth and development of our state in accordance with the democratic principles of due consultation, full disclosure, transparency, inclusive participation, responsive leadership and the rule of law. Unfruitful expenditures will be discouraged, and never, never again will individuals be allowed to corner the commonwealth of the state to become their personal estate because they are privileged to be in political governance. I assure you that we will use every legal means to recover such treasures annexed from the state. On our part, we promise to wholeheartedly sweat and to toil in your service to the meaningful satisfaction of all such that by the time we leave office, Benue people will be on their knees thanking God and celebrating enhancement in their lives and environments.
We  will constitute a participatory government where citizens will have their say and way. We will work to allay the fear of marginalisation of the minority ethnic groups in the state be you Akweya, Etulo, Nyifon, Ufia, Agatu, Jukun, or Hausa, you wll enjoy the rights and privileges of the other better known Tiv, Idoma and Igede.  The Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, Nupe, Ebira, Ijaw and all other groups who are resident in the state will be treated as stakeholders. By the grace of God, Benue will become greater and we will all share in her greatness.

10. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we have gone past the time for politicking. I am the governor of those who voted for me. I am the governor of those who did not vote for me. I am the governor of those who did not vote. I am governor  of all.  For this reason, we extend our hand of partnership to all and especially political leaders across the  divides.

11. Let me specially convey our very sincere appreciation to the Chief Judge of Benue State, the Honourable Justice Iorhemen Hwande for performing this constitutional and sacred duty that has conferred on Engineer Benson Abounu and my humble self, the authority of Deputy Governor and Governor respectively. My Lord, we thank you and appreciate the commendable manner you have led the Benue judiciary to the sterling and enviable status it has attained in this country. We also acknowledge the contributions of the Speaker and all members of the Benue State House of Assembly for their contributions to the development of the state.

12. It is pertinent to commend the national leaders of the APC, especially Senator Dr. George Akume and his dear wife, Chief Mrs. Regina Akume, JP,  for their vision and passion for Benue. The contributions of Chief Audu Ogbeh, another illustrious son of the state to the change movement must also be acknowledged and appreciated just like the efforts of the APC state chairman, Comrade Abba Yaro, and all members of the state executive committee of the party.  We will not forget the contributions of Chief Akange Audu, Professor Steve Ugbah, and Chief Mike Iordye, whose noble contributions to the development of the party have brought us this hour of glory.  We also acknowledge the sacrifices and contributions of Distinguished Senator Chief Barnabas Gemade to our victory. I commend all those who have won various elections to serve the people of Benue in different capacities. This group contributed immensely to the collective victory of the party.  My appreciation will be incomplete if I fail to commend the members of the Ortom/Abounu Campaign Organization led by Professor Ugbah and Strategy Committee led by Professor Dennis Ityavyar, for their diligence and hard work.
For an opposition party to wrestle power from a ruling party is not a picnic in a garden. It has been a long marathon in the desert. We thank you for your resilience. Many who started this journey with us are not here today to witness this glorious moment. Many lost their lives in the course of this journey. Even on Election Day, some were killed and several injured because they resisted the attempts to subvert the will of the people. Once again we sympathize with families who lost loved ones and pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of the deceased. Persuasive canvassing of votes remains the most civilized means of soliciting for political power from the electorate. In their memory therefore, let us resolve that, never again will any politician find any attraction in violence and other electoral malpractices as a legitimate means of acquiring democratic power in Benue State.

We have resolved to strive to reform our politics such that power and privilege would no longer shut down the voice of the people. If we must run a government in which everybody is involved; a peoples government, we must put aside personal advantage so that we can feel the pains and see the promise of Benue. It in this regard that I wish to drop all my titles preferring to be addressed as Samuel Ortom. We must give the seat of government back to the people to whom it belongs. To eliminate that distance between the government and the people, the seat of Government in Benue State will no longer be called Government House but Benue Peoples House. This we believe will serve as a constant reminder that we hold our positions of authority in trust for the people and that the people are more important than anything else in a democracy.

Honestly, I always wonder where I would have been without my charming wife, on whose loving shoulders I always received inspiration at very challenging times. From the bottom of my heart I say thank you my baby, Eunice. All members of my family have borne the trauma occasioned by my political participation. I commend my children and grand children all other members of my immediate and extended family for their patience and understanding. I have very reliable friends, who have sacrificed everything to support my ambition. I sincerely appreciate and thank them all.
Before I end this address, let me salute the glorious memory of our heroes and founders of modern Benue; Chief Dr. J.S Tarka, Chief J.C Obande, Chief Apollos Aper Aku and Most Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu. They were great men of vision, and we shall endeavour to build on the foundation they laid for our dear state.

An African proverb counsels that; “if you want to go fast, you go alone but if you want to go far, you go with someone”. I want to go far with all the people of Benue. I am trusting God Almighty that my journey with you to our New Benue will be a fruitful one.

13. Finally, as we depart from this arena, I wish you all journey mercies to your respective homes. The central message that you should carry back and share with the good people of Benue State is this: You voted for CHANGE and change has come. The change we advocate is not a mere party slogan but the wake-up call for a people’s revolution. It is the herald of a new way of doing things. This change is not about Ortom or Abounu but requires that the hand of every citizen be on deck to create the Benue of our dreams. We cannot and will not fail because, in God we trust.

Thank you and God bless you.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Elections, Governanace

 

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