Nigeria @ 59: I will leave behind a stronger, better, united Delta – Okowa
I bring you warm greetings on this unique occasion of the celebration of the 59th Independence Anniversary of our great and beloved country, Nigeria. Fifty-nine years in the life of any human being or entity is a remarkable point in time to acknowledge and take stock. I therefore salute our past and present leaders whose foresight and sacrifice brought us the independence, which we are celebrating. I also salute our people, especially Deltans, who over the years, made sacrifices to ensure that our country remains united and committed to the path of democracy.
- At fifty nine, if we are to make further progress and follow the speed of sustainable development across the globe as a united people, we need to check our emphasis on regional, ethnic and religious divides. We should all work as a united people to foster growth and development in every part of the country. Let us look at ourselves and share a sense of belonging as members of one family.
- There is no gainsaying the fact that our country is facing serious challenges in many spheres. But this is not peculiar to Nigeria. Every country in the world is facing various challenges too. We should therefore face these challenges squarely and not allow them define us as a people. Let us rekindle our hope, redouble our fervent prayers and supplication to God to see us through the numerous trials and unite us more than ever before. Our declarations should be positive both for leaders and the country. That way, we will have positive confirmation that the heavenly father will grant our prayer.
- I, therefore, appeal to all Deltans and indeed all Nigerians, to rekindle their faith in a united country and in the continuous protection of democracy as the only viable system of governance, which is already bringing sustainable development to our nation in spite of obvious challenges. I wish to assure Deltans that government will not shirk its responsibilities to its citizens as we shall at all times, conscientiously pursue what is in the best interest of the State and according to the provisions of our Constitution.
- I am delighted that the development profile of Delta State is on the rise. I reaffirm the commitment of this administration to the completion of all on-going projects. Government has maintained a steady focus on the economy of the State with a view to promoting prosperity and public private partnership in economic development. The State government has expended considerable resources towards improving basic infrastructures notably roads, drainages, healthcare, electricity, schools, bridges, housing, urban renewal and portable water supply. This administration is determined to sustain this trend. It is however, doubtful if government alone can do all. Accordingly, this administration is exploring private sector participation in the overall development of the State.
- In the public sector, government is determined to plug all areas of wastages. We must all join hands to ensure that the syndrome of abandoned and shoddy contract execution become a thing of the past. Let me assure you that the State government is fully determined to ensure the good use of its resources for the provision of infrastructure and overall development of the State. This insistence might not be popular but the overall interest of both the State and its people are at the centre of our resolve. Most of those who complain are people who stand to benefit from a lopsided and warped utilization of the State’s resources to benefit only a handful.
- The issue of unemployment, especially among our youths has reached alarming proportions. Previously, government held a dominant position with the State economy as a major employer of labour and producer of goods and services. Since opportunities for direct employment in the public sector are limited, unemployment has been on the increase and has become an issue of great concern. This is why early in the life of this administration, energy was directed towards creating opportunity that will improve quality of life for Deltans by job and wealth creation through skills acquisition. No doubt, the skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development is a life changing model. The philosophy here is to create a pool of active players in the establishment of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises –SMEs.
- So far, we have laid the foundation for a critical mass of skills for entrepreneurship and business development. Over 20,000 persons benefited from our flagship Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP), Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) and similar programmes undertaken by the Ministries of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Commerce and Industry, Women Affairs, including Delta State Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency. My sincere appeal to beneficiaries is to avoid selling off the empowerment tools handed over to them. Such an act defeats the purpose of creating a group of determined SME operators who will turn the State’s and country’s economies around. It is expected that the progress they make can and should be the envy of those who opt for white collar jobs.
- Progress is deficient in a society that cannot feed itself, so we need to go back to the land but this cannot be done by government alone. It is on this basis that the Agricultural Development Programme – ADP – has been restructured into Delta Agricultural and Rural Development Authority. We are making conscious efforts to revamp and revitalize the agricultural sector and setting up related activities to absorb the teeming number of the unemployed youths in our midst. Various opportunities have been opened by the State government, the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and other agencies to encourage farmers at all levels. I urge our people to key into these avenues for the expansion of their production.
- However, the issue of unemployment among our youths should not be a reason for moral decadence, armed robbery, indiscipline and kidnapping, which are becoming worrisome across the country. Let me make it abundantly clear that as much as we believe that kidnapping and moral decadence among our youths could be manifestations of the prevailing economic situation in the country, we cannot fold our arms and allow youths to abandon the time honoured virtues, which constitute a source of pride and uniqueness to our people. More than ever before, there is the dire need for all patriots to join hands to check these manifestations of societal decay in the nation to avoid bequeathing to our children, a bleak future.
- Fellow Deltans, I like to use this opportunity to sympathize with communities and individuals, particularly those who are suffering various degrees of setbacks following consistent flooding these past few years during rainy season. I need to re-emphasize that those still in flood prone areas should relocate to higher grounds. We are committed to checking future occurrences through the institution of modern planning regimes for cities and the construction of drainage systems and embankment in the riverine areas of the State. I therefore, appeal to all residents to avoid building houses and kiosks in unauthorized places to avoid blockage of natural water-ways, with its attendant disasters. We are coming to a point where those who deliberately build on water channels will be denied compensation if their structures are pulled down.
- We should, at all times, remember our gallant officers – men and women – on the frontlines fighting against terrorists, especially in the north eastern parts of the country. Families of fallen heroes and heroines should also feature regularly in our prayers as we ask God to protect and strengthen them.
- I am pleased and proud to acknowledge the contributions of our traditional rulers, community and religious leaders, youths, workers, security agencies, legislators, the judiciary, the press and indeed, every resident of Delta State towards building a State of our dreams. Delta State will continue to maintain cordial relationship with neighboring States and indeed, all Nigerians in the true philosophy of being a shining example of love towards all.
- On this occasion of the 59th Independence Anniversary of our beloved nation, I implore all Deltans to renew their spirit of brotherhood, love and peaceful co-existence for the progress of the State and country. We reaffirm that the present administration shall not deviate from its commitments to equity, fairness and justice in all its actions. The challenges ahead are great, but with your continued goodwill, love and support, we will build a State that guarantees economic prosperity, political stability and security.
- I wish you all, happy independence celebrations.
Long live Delta State!
Long live Nigeria!!
- Thank you and may God bless us all.
Office of the Governor