My great people of Benue,

2.​I am excited to join you today to mark 25 years of uninterrupted civil administration in our dear country – Nigeria.

3.​This day affords us the privilege not just to merely mark the passage of time, but to celebrate all our past and present heroes of democracy; as well as reflect on our democratic journey in the state so far, particularly in the last one year prior to which your unanimous voices at the polls culminated into my emergence as your governor.

4.​Exactly two weeks ago, being May 29, 2024, made it exactly one year since I took the oath of office. However, I deliberately postponed my speech on that day so as to coincide with this year’s Democracy Day celebration.

5.​I considered it more appropriate to use today’s celebrations to give you a brief but articulate account of my stewardship in the last one year; as well as point to the bright path that leads to a greater Benue which we all aspire for, as a government and as a people.

6.​Over a year ago, I stood here and made lofty but achievable promises to you. These promises, enshrined in our 7-point agenda, ranged from economic growth, to infrastructural development, security of lives and property, prompt payment of salaries and pensions/gratuities, amongst others.

7.​Upon assumption of office, we met Benue in an economic ditch. We immediately hit the ground running by engendering economic growth through agriculture. Accordingly, we procured100 trucks of fertilizer which was distributed to farmers at subsidized rates. The impact so far has been tremendous.

8.​Beyond provision of fertilizers, we also approved counterpart funding for International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD’s) Value Chain Development Programme in eight local government areas, with a view to enhancing rice and cassava production.

9.​We further established collaborations with agricultural input suppliers to ensure the availability of improved seeds and seedlings. This was coupled with our reactivation of the swine/crop integrated project in Yandev, Gboko Local Government Area, through partnership with the French Development Agency to advance agricultural skills, as well as renovation of the infrastructure to boost enhance productivity.

10.​Furthermore, we have struck a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) deal with Star Fertilizer Company Limited, in order to revive the state-owned fertilizer blending plant. This is in addition to our kick-starting of phased development of the Ikyogen Cattle Ranch.

11.​Meanwhile, plans are in top gear towards dredging the River Benue, as a catalyst for boosting agricultural activities and easy movement of agricultural products.

12.​Furthermore, just last week, I handed over 33 new tractors and the sum of 380 Million Naira to community interest groups across the state, to undertake climate-smart agricultural activitiesunder the Community Revolving Fund (CRF) scheme of the Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL).

Democracy Day Speech 2024

13.​I assure you that my administration is more than committed to improving the livelihoods of all and sundry in the state, especially through agriculture.

14.​With regards to Economy and Wealth Creation, our administration has created 1,450 ad-hoc jobs for the Nigeria Fire Extinguishers Control, with plans for permanent integration into the Federal Fire Service.

15.​We are currently setting up a multifunctional fashion hub in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President, to benefit over 250 professionals in the industry.

16.​In a similar vein, with 34 out of Nigeria’s 46 solid mineral deposits in Benue, we are on the verge of becoming a mining powerhouse. In view, we have partnered with Sound Core to clean up and develop the mining sector, projecting 3.5 billion Naira in revenue through our annual surface rent scheme.

17.​While tackling illegal mining and educating communities on the legal benefits, our administration in collaboration with the Federal Government, has formed the Mineral Resource and Environmental Management Committee, to protect resources and manage community conflicts.

18.​Meanwhile, we have revitalized government assets, including the Benue Investment and Property Company (BIPC) Kaduna Plaza, as well as the Guest Houses in Kaduna and Makurdi towns respectively. While transitioning to digital operations for better service delivery, we have also commissioned a BIPC bakery and water factory, and launched the Emperor Fertilizer and Motorcycle Hire Scheme, all domiciled in the State.

19.​My esteemed people of Benue, as you recall, when we came on board, our industries were moribund, with many on the brink of being taken over by private hands. We however, said a firm ‘no’ to the glorified wisdom of the last administration that “Government has no business in doing business”.

20.​Today, I proudly inform you that we have initiated the re-establishment and resuscitation of these industries, including Benue Breweries, Taraku Oil Mills, amongst others. This aims at creating more job opportunities for our teeming youths, as well as improving our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

21.​In the area of infrastructure and environment, in the bid to enhance movement of people, goods and services, we commenced the construction of 16 strategic roads in Makurdi and other parts of the State, particularly linking our rural communities. 98% of these roads have been completed, while others are still under construction.

22.​In total, our administration has awarded 51 road projects within just one year, including three underpass projects in Makurdi, Gboko, and Otukpo Local Government Areas, respectively.

23.​In addition, the ‘Light Up Makurdi’ project, extending from Agan Toll Gate to the Air Force Base and other parts of Makurdi, is now a reality and will be expanded to other parts of the State as we step into another year of our tenure.

24.​We have also renovated and furnished the State Secretariat. We have reconstructed the Benue State House of Assembly Complex, and remodeled the Assembly Clinic.

25.​In the transport sector, the rejuvenation of the state-owned Benue Links Transport Company is another milestone. We have handed 100 new buses to the Company, and subsidized the cost of transportation. We have also upgraded the Company’s headquarters to meet global best standards.

26.​In health and social development, our administration was the first in Nigeria to implement the Revised Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) 2023, at the revised rate.

27.​We also re-introduced the Bond Scheme for medical students of Benue origin studying medicine, by approving the monthly payment of N103,000 per student. This is coupled with the approval of N100,000 monthly allowances for doctor-corps members serving in the State; as well as N15,000 as monthly allowances for other corps members posted here.

28.​Meanwhile, we have overhauled the Benue State University Teaching Hospital to meet international standards. We have also employed 500 new staff on merit, to augment the workforce.

29.​Our administration has also commenced full clinical services at the Muhammadu Buhari Mother and Child Hospital, Makurdi, to reduce maternal mortality and offer free medical services to women and children under the age of five. Meanwhile, plans are underway to ensure an effective primary healthcare delivery system in the state.

30.​In the aspect of security of lives and property, one of our most prioritized missions has been to ensure that our people, who have been displaced by marauders, can return safely to their ancestral homes. We have therefore initiated the process by lobbying the Federal Government to begin the construction of resettlement homes for our people.

31.​More so, our administration, in collaboration with security agencies and relevant stakeholders, has been working round the clock to ensure that Benue is a safe haven for all.

32.​Although this task has been challenging, the impact so far has been very encouraging. For instance, we have nipped in the bud almost all the inter-ethnic/community skirmishes that were prevalent before and after we came into office.

33.​Also, farmer/herder crisis and militia attacks have been contained through both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches. And we are determined to lose no sleep until we totally secure our dear State.

34.​We have also signed into law, the establishment of a state security outfit known as the Benue State Civil Protection Guards: A formidable force combining our Livestock Guards and Volunteer Guards to effectively tackle insecurity in our dear state.

35.​ My good people of Benue, make no mistakes about the misinformation making the rounds that the Anti-open Grazing Law has been repealed. As a matter of fact, the Law has been strengthened with more stringent stipulations.

36.​Let me use this opportunity to salute all security agencies and formations domiciled in the state, for their priceless sacrifices towards the protection of lives and property. To all volunteers of information, logistics and other efforts towards securing Benue, we are truly grateful.

37.​In the education sector, our administration has made great strides towards repositioning it, right from the primary to tertiary level.

38.​For instance, as part of palliatives for the removal of fuel subsidy, our administration decided to pay for the 2023/2024 examination fees of all students in government approved public secondary schools in the state sitting for the West African Examination Council (WAEC), National Examination Council (NECO), and National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) examinations, respectively.

39.​At the Benue State University, we have expanded academic programmes, established new faculties, restored scholarships for medical students, and paid outstanding salary arrears. We have upgraded the ICT facilities, preparing over 10,000 youths for the global market. The idea is to train over 60,000 youths.

40.​As a proof of our zeal towards re-writing the narrative of the education sector in Benue, we allocated 15% of the 2024 budget to education, surpassing the 7% at the Federal level. We have also trained over 150 headteachers, and distributed over 100,000 instructional materials across public schools in the state to enhance teaching and learning.

41.​This is coupled with the establishment of the Benue State Education Quality Assurance Agency (BEQA), saddled with the responsibility of daily monitoring and evaluation of all schools across the State, with the aim of improving the standard and qualityof education, as well as reawakening teachers and staff to their responsibilities.

42. This has so far yielded huge results, notably being the recent clinching of an international debate trophy in Indonesia, by four Benue secondary school students who represented Nigeria.

43.​Benue under my watch, has also weeded out thousands of ghost workers, ghost schools, and ghost agencies out of our payroll. We have gone further to cut off all leakages and conduits of inefficient money consuming channels obtainable in the past.

44.​Let it be on record that our administration has borrowed no dime since we came on board. And we shall only do so only when it becomes extremely necessary. Prudence in governance must know us and call us by name.

45.​Meanwhile, it is no longer news that improved staff welfare, prompt payment of salaries and pensions/gratuities, as well as arrears, is now a mainstay under my watch. And so shall it continue to be.

46.​Fellow Benue citizens, I can go on and on for hours, giving you a factual account of our achievements, your achievements in the last one year. However, for want of time, I have only drawn up this summary of our journey so far.

47.​I reserve special thanks to all members of my team for their unsung sacrifices in the quest for a better Benue; and to all of you for your support and belief in us.

48.​As a government of popular consent, I am mindful of the honour and trust bestowed on me. For this, I have pushed sleep and comfort to the backseat to ensure that I live up to the expectations and terms of our social contract.

49.​Throughout this period, I have earned nothing close to love from those whose selfish interests I step upon to bring you comfort, happiness, and succour. But too high I place your interest above theirs, hence I have no regrets for what I have lost in the cause of this journey.

50.​As we mark Democracy Day celebrations, I hereby restate my commitment towards re-writing the socio-economic narrative of our dear state.

51.​I am forever committed to building formidable systems and institutions premised on fairness, accountability, democratic ethos, equity and justice; systems that are bigger and stronger than individuals including my humble self.

52.​I am counting on your continued support to our administration, so that together, we can reposition Benue on the global map.

53.​My vow is to always stand with you, by you, and always for you.​

54.​Thank you, and God bless!

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