TEXT OF A STATEWIDE BROADCAST BY THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, BARR. CALEB MANASSEH MUTFWANG TO MARK NIGERIA’S 63RD INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY, ON OCTOBER 01, 2023.
My dear fellow citizens of Plateau State,
1. It is with utmost pleasure and humility that I address you on this special day, which marks Nigeria’s 63rd Independence Anniversary. With profound gratitude to the Almighty God, we come together on this special day to reflect on our past, celebrate our present achievements, and collectively envision a brighter future for our beloved nation. On this day, we must express appreciation to our founding fathers for their great sacrifices and the patriotism they demonstrated on our journey to independence.
2. The 2023 independence anniversary speech is even more special for me, being my first, since you gave me the privilege of serving as your Governor. Once again, thank you Plateau for your collective decision to entrust me with the leadership of our dear State at this crucial time in our history.
3. As I reflect on the massive support my team and I received in the lead up to our elections, as well as the vivacious and rigorous celebrations that greeted our victorious emergence, I recall with nostalgia the Spirit and Mood of the 1960 and the immediate years that followed. Indeed, the joyful expressions of our people and jubilations on our streets depict a deep desire for freedom from the myriads of challenges that bedevil us and threaten our common existence and development
4. My team and I are constantly reminded of the need to work assiduously and deliver the dividends of democracy for the common good of all. The least we will present as a token of our appreciation for the trust and belief in our vision for a new Plateau, is to make Plateau the envy of all.
5. Let me also further thank you for the celebrations that followed the recent validation of our mandate by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal. This has left me in no doubt that the burden to provide purposeful leadership is even more critical now to ensure we bequeath a state with functional institutions and infrastructure that will serve as a required springboard for successive leaders and generations to build on.
6. Let me use this historic day to reaffirm my commitment towards fulfilling the social contract I have signed with you when I took the oath of office. My passion and dedication, to enhance peace, security, and entrench good governance for the betterment of our citizens, remains unwavering.
7. Irrespective of the challenges we face, we must stick together, look beyond the horizon, towards building a prosperous state and nation. We are certainly not where we ought to be! Just like our beautiful state, Nigeria is a blessed land with vast resources, opportunities and talents; all yet to be fully explored. However, we must have faith in this nation and support our leaders. We must rally round and collaborate with one another towards improving the fortunes of our beloved country.
8. My dear citizens, on this historic day, I want to urge us to strengthen our resolve to forge a common front, set aside our differences and strive towards building a Nigeria that realises the dreams of our founding fathers. This is a duty we must uphold. Together, we can build an inclusive society where every Nigerian, regardless of background, gender, ethnicity or religion, gain access to equal opportunities for growth and development. Equity, justice and fairness will continue to be our watch words.
9. Permit me to use this occasion to share some gains made within my administration’s Rebuilding agenda for Plateau state. Upon assumption of office on 29th May, 2023, we immediately hit the ground running by tackling the systemic inadequacies and distortion of engagement processes within our civil service. The process was grossly abused, significantly altering the wage bill of our dear state. We are glad that the outcome of the preliminary verification exercise yielded positive results, saving taxpayers monies that will now be channelled to developmental needs.
10. We have left no stone unturned in our efforts towards addressing the security cchallenges in our State. In my first few days in office, our exchanges with His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, provided a glimmer of hope that the dark days will soon be behind us. We have since witnessed relative peace in many troubled areas of the state. For his commitment and action, I wish to use this medium to express our utmost gratitude to Mr. President.
11. We shall continually collaborate with the Federal Government towards curbing the security challenges in the State. I must also unequivocally mention the unwavering commitment of the National Security Adviser, Service Chiefs and the gallant men and women from various security and paramilitary agencies in the field who are paying a huge price towards ensuring we sleep with our two eyes closed. The Security Agencies in Plateau State have demonstrated uncommon commitment in safeguarding lives and properties; for that, we remain grateful.
12. At the state level, we are actively working towards reinvigorating the State Security outfit, “Operation Rainbow,”. We have since commenced the recruitment of personnel for this Service. We have carefully selected young men and women who are diligent and with a proven good character to serve in this outfit. This Community Policing approach will be deployed to ensure an improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of managing security within our neighbourhoods. We sincerely hope that this will strengthen the argument for the necessary Constitutional Amendment to allow for the creation State Controlled Police.
13. On salaries and pensions, I am pleased to report the significant progress made which includes clearing the 4 months backlog of unpaid salaries and pensions inherited from the previous administration. As at present, we are 99% done with August salary and that of September will follow immediately.
14. I wish to reassure our Teachers that Government is working tirelessly to address the issue of unpaid salaries left by the last administration. Your welfare is our priority! While we have made such positive gains in this area, I have always maintained that payment of salary is a duty Government must be committed to. Of course, the labourer is worthy of his wages! We shall remain committed to it within the limit of resources available to us.
15. To consolidate the full functionality of government, the State Executive Council is now fully constituted. More appointments will be made to fill existing vacancies and bolster government’s efficiency and effectiveness. At this point, I must affirm that governance is a serious business that must be undertaken with diligence. The operations of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must be performance driven and result oriented. Under our administration, it will not be business as usual. We shall continue to motivate all appointees to explore ways and means to add value to governance so that it will significantly impact positively on our citizens.
16. Towards minimising the impact of fuel subsidy removal, we are partnering with the Nigerian Railway Corporation to revamp railway services in the State. The assessment of facilities between Terminus and Kuru Station (Wereng) has been done and the first phase of work on the railway line is well underway. Furthermore, we have entered into Agreement with ValueJet Airline to enhance Air Travel connectivity, while road maintenance across the Jos-Bukuru metropolis continues unabated. We have successfully cleared refuse heaps from our neighborhoods and actively encouraged participation in monthly sanitation exercises to maintain cleanliness.
17. There is no gainsaying that the main stay of our economy is agriculture and in furtherance of some of the initiatives towards mitigating the effects of the fuel subsidy removal and to alleviate hardship faced by our people, we have procured over 200 trucks of fertiliser for distribution across the 17 Local Government Areas at a subsidised rate. Recall that during the campaigns, we affirmatively indicated the need for farmers to think beyond rain fed agriculture, therefore, it is our expectation that farmers will take advantage of this provision to expand into dry season farming. Let me warn that government will not take kindly with beneficiaries who would sabotage this gesture by selling to opportunistic traders.
18. We have taken a deliberate step to engaged World Bank, development partners and Foreign Governments through their Embassy’s, towards improving capital inflow into the State. Such efforts have resulted in the recent visit of the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria to Plateau State. During the visit, another World Bank-initiated programme – Agro-Climatic Resilience Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) was launched. We shall ensure effective implementation. We are also committed to working with our people in the diaspora and actively leveraging opportunities abroad to attract Foreign Direct Investment. By the Grace of God, the years of Zero Capital inflow will soon be behind us.
19. Suffice it to say, many interventions have been made in various sectors. Our higher institutions, particularly the Plateau State University and the Plateau State Polytechnic were at the verge losing accreditation, but we have released the funds required to ensure that their courses remain fully accredited and also get new courses accredited. The Health Sector is also not left out. We met a work force which was not motivated, largely due to failure to implement agreements by the previous administration; however, we have extensively begun to address these issues and have clearly thought-out mechanisms that will be put in place to build a solid and sound Health Care System from the primary to tertiary levels.
20. Let also use this medium to express my heartfelt sympathy to the victims of the recent flood disaster in Jos North Local Government Area. While government will explore a lasting solution to this environmental disaster, I have directed the Plateau State Emergency Management Agency to mobilise and coordinate relief efforts that will provide succour to victims. Our sympathies also go to several families who lost their beloved ones especially through criminal activities. We shall ensure that the perpetrators of such crimes are brought to book. We are also taking steps to curb the increasing incidences of kidnapping across the state.
21. Let me also use this occasion to clearly state that my administration will insist on and enforce compliance with extant environmental laws. We desire to put in place Global Best Practices in urban management. Consequently, building codes must be respected so as to avert avoidable disasters. I therefore want to use this opportunity to implore citizens to get their buildings plans approved by relevant authorities, resist the urge of constructing buildings on waterways and avoid indiscriminate disposal of waste in drainages. I hereby task the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Jos Metropolitan Development Board and Plateau State Environmental Protection Agency to work diligently and in accordance with their mandate to address distortions to the Greater Jos Master plan, thereby minimising untold hardship as well as loss of lives and properties due to building controls infractions.
22. At this point, permit me to restate that our struggle for independence and democracy has not been without its challenges, however, these challenges also serve as a testament to our resilience and determination as a people. Our diverse cultural heritage, combined with our unity of purpose propels us toward a democratic society that represents the interests of all Nigerians.
23. We must also acknowledge that democracy is a work in progress! As we celebrate Nigeria’s independence, we should also reflect on areas where we can further enhance our democratic institutions. We must strive to create a level playing field for all political parties, ensure equitable resource distribution across the State, promote gender equity, combat corruption and advance the inalienable right of every citizen, especially the most marginalised, women, children, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs). Leaders at all levels, Civil Society Organisations, Interest groups and every citizen must be committed to these ideals.
24. For Plateau State, we have embraced the ‘The Time is Now’ mantra as a deliberate effort to revisit the Plateau Transformation Plan as envisioned by our founding fathers. We will not rest on our oars until Plateau state is repositioned for Peace and Prosperity. My team and I are resolute in our determination to give Plateau State a fresh start. We must rebuild the foundations that have been gradually eroded and chart a new way going forward. This is a solemn commitment and you can count on us.
25. As we mark this day, let us be inspired by the passion, oneness, commitment, dedication and patriotism of our founding fathers. The State has been rightly described, a miniature Nigeria and my government is determined to promote the hospitability and cordiality Plateau is known for. Plateau state is very critical in advancing the unity, Peace and Prosperity of Nigeria. Yes, we have suffered some setbacks, nonetheless, we are determined to turn the tide and match to greatness.
26. On this remarkable day, it is my pleasure to exercise my Prerogative of Mercy as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Having reviewed the recommendations of the Council on Prerogative of Mercy, I hereby approve as follows.
i. Danladi Musa who was sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Culpable Homicide and having served 17 years is granted Absolute Pardon.
ii. Tali Zingtim who was sentenced to Death by Hanging for criminal Conspiracy and Armed Robbery will serve 21 years Imprisonment.
iii. Ponzing Nanshep who was sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Criminal Conspiracy and Culpable Homicide will serve 21 years Imprisonment.
iv. Dauda Joshua who was sentenced to Death by Hanging for Culpable Homicide will serve Life Imprisonment.
27. In conclusion, on behalf of my wife, my deputy and entire team, I wish to thank every citizen for the immense support we have enjoyed since assumption to office. I enjoin you to keep faith with us and remain positive that we shall make good our promises. By God’s grace, we will.
28. I wish you a Happy and Hope Inspiring Independence celebration and be rest assured that we are committed to the Peace and Prosperity of our land. Once again, welcome to a new dispensation and welcome to a new Plateau.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Long live Plateau State.
Thank You and God Bless!