Gov. Aminu Tambuwal
A’uzu Billahi Mina Shaidanir Rajeem
Bismillahi Rahmanir Raheem.
1. Fellow citizens of Sokoto State; our brothers and sisters; friends and well-wishers, it is with deep sense of gratitude to Allah (SWT) I address you on this momentous occasion. I salute you all with the blessed greetings of love, brotherhood and fraternity, which Islam enjoins to humanity – Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Ta’ala Wa Bara katuhu. It is indeed, a pleasure to welcome our highly esteemed guests who have come from far and near to celebrate with us the joys of this historic event.
2. Today is exactly a year since we took over the mantle of leadership of our dear State, which commenced on 29th May, 2015. From that historic day, I and other political and public office holders had served our dear State for 12 months. The privileges and enormous pains and burden of leadership were carried by all of us, commensurate to our respective positions and responsibilities. Alhamdulillahi, our taking over has been heralded and cherished by the citizenry, the greatest of who have ardent belief and trust in our great party, the APC. They have the confidence that our party has the required capacity to bring about the necessary input that will positively transform our State in particular and the nation as a whole. Regrettably, some of us who commenced this journey have answered the divine call; others, even if alive, are not in the best of health. We must therefore thank Allah (SWT) that we are today alive, healthy and happily standing to reaffirm our will and determination to serve our people, selflessly and diligently.
3. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, we must admit that the commencement of our tenure was full of trials. In fact, in the last two years, our country had battled with unprecedented challenges. More than at any other time in the history of our beloved nation, citizens were plunged in fear and deep concerns over the destiny of the Nigerian polity. The disillusionment with bad leadership at the centre, amidst devastating insurgency, made Nigerians to rise in unison to give our party victory in the last general election.
4. As we took over the baton of leadership, we were fully conscious of the challenges and sacred responsibilities ahead of us. As intimidating as the challenges are, we are certainly not cowered as we have full trust and confidence in Allah’s Eternal promise of assisting those with noble intentions. Alhamdulillah, we have, despite all odds, laid down a durable foundation for the progress of our dear State. While our resources were critical compared to our peers in other States, our resolve to overcome challenges and ensure good governance for the benefit of our citizens has been amply demonstrated. Indeed, we had braced up and ensured that security is consistently given its befitting priority. The result thus far is that Sokoto has remained the most peaceful State in the Federation.
5. The compelling need to ensure the completion of numerous on-going projects inherited from the previous administration, and at the same time address issues of development in all ramifications demanded that we adopt evaluation and review techniques that will enable us forge ahead. For this reason, since the inauguration of our administration in May, 2015, we have been working considerably to make proper appraisal of the policies, programmes and projects of the previous administration so as to align them with realities of our time. As I have stated and as it is indeed quite glaring, our nation is witnessing considerable economic challenges. The dwindling resources owing to falling oil prices necessitated a paradigm shift in our approach to economic matters and financial management. We therefore decided to focus our attention to Agriculture for the sector has the potential to adequately bail us out from the unfortunate situation.
6. In spite of the challenges and stark economic realities, we are poised to execute programmes and projects that will uplift the welfare of our people in all possible ways. The essence of governance is to ensure continuity, especially where earmarked projects are on the basis of highly aggregated public interests and priorities. Accordingly, we have carefully and critically analysed projects that we wish to ensure their completion. Thus, funding has been sustained within the limit of available resources to ensure that such projects are completed soonest.
7. In this regard, we are giving proper attention to revitalising the agricultural sector in all possible ways. We have for a start, purchased assorted fertilizers worth One Billion, Two Hundred and Seven Million, Eighty Thousand Naira (N1,207,080,000.00) for this year’s cropping season. The State Government has also intervened in the provision of water pumps, seedlings, drilling of tube wells and agricultural machineries at the cost of One Billion, Six Hundred and Sixty Million Naira (N1,660,000,000.00). Similarly, we have procured 1000 units of Tiller Machines at the cost of One Hundred and Sixty Nine Million Naira (N169,000,000.00). Other initiatives include; visit to China to particularly explore areas that could facilitate our quest for rapid agricultural development in all possible ways. Accordingly, an MOU was signed on Distance Aid Training to essentially train students on Grains Food Security with Henan University of Technology via Polytechnic of Sokoto State. Similar agreement has been signed for the construction of Agricultural Science and Technology Park in collaboration with Henan Province. The State Government has also signed an MOU with Camaco China – Africa Machinery Co-op that provides access for our State to concessionary Chinese funding on the platform of the China-Africa Development Fund (CADF). Currently, Data Base Census is being conducted for all farmers in the State with a view to identifying real farmers and their categories to enable the State Government empower them correctly, and put in place proper budgeting for long-term planning.
8. In our determination to up-turn the saddening tide of the educationally disadvantaged position of our State, we have declared a State of Emergency in the educational sector. Our objective is to improve enrollment at all stages—basic, secondary and tertiary. We also hope to improve quality of teachers by training and retraining. The ultimate aim is to improve human capital capacity in the sector, improve numeracy and literacy as a key to sustainable development. From the beginning of this administration, over N1Billion was expended for the payment of tuition/living expenses to our students studying in various disciplines across the globe. Presently, we have over 342 foreign students under full sponsorship by the Sokoto State Government and we also have over 17,000 students studying various courses in Institutions of higher learning, across the country. In 2015, we employed 500 new teachers to augment the manpower needs in our secondary schools.
9. Some of the areas that are visibility touched in the provision of basic education are to do with conduct of enrolment drive campaigns; training of relevant personnel to essentially support School Based Management Committees (SBMCs); procurement and distribution of instructional materials and construction and renovation of 51 Blocks of 3 Classrooms in a number of Local Governments and conduct of Pilot Breakfast Feeding in some selected Rural Primary Schools at Betere, Rundi, Kwagel, Kubodu and Dankyal, among others.
10. We are indeed resolute in our determination to increase access to education and improve quality of education through the expansion of schools and construction of new ones; continued sponsorship of students for educational training at all levels, both within and outside the country. A cogent indication of our commitment is reflected on our 28% budgetary provision to the educational sector, which has exceeded both national and UNESCO benchmark of 26%. Presently, contracts have been awarded for the renovation of the following schools:-
i. Gamji Girls College Rabah – N 301,442,835.00
ii. Govt. Girls Model Sec. School Illela – N 174,571,772.00
iii. Govt. Secondary School Tureta – N 241,305,893.00
iv. Govt. Girls Arabic Day Sec. School S/Birni- N 134,101,534.00
Government is determined to establish a new Secondary School in Balle, an initiative which is considered laudable by all stakeholders, in view of the poor state of education in Gudu Local Government. The fact is that despite concerted efforts by successive Governments, the level of educational development in Gudu Local Government has consistently remained lowest in the State. So the establishment of Boarding School in the area will invariably improve enrolment, retention and transition of pupils from Primary to Secondary Schools in the Local Government and its neighbours, such as Tangaza and Illela. The sum of One Billion, One Hundred and Ninety Four Million, Seven Hundred and Forty One Thousand, Four Hundred and Seventy Naira (N1,194,741,470.00) has been appropriated for the project.
11. The Health sector has equally been accorded the desired attention. To ensure greater efficiency in healthcare, we have paid particular attention to the maintenance, rehabilitation and upgrading of existing healthcare facilities. We are also making efforts in the provision of additional manpower and huge investment in primary healthcare administration. Under the sector, capital projects embarked upon have reached various levels of completion. Proper attention has been given to ensure that contractors handling various health projects are making efforts to complete them on time. Some of these projects include; repairs and renovations of the Maternity Unit of Specialist Hospital and General Hospitals of Tangaza, Illela and Wurno, costing Two Hundred and Thirty Six Million, Four Hundred and Twenty Six Thousand, Forty Three Naira and Forty Three Kobo (N236,426,043.43). Works on the upgrading of Primary Health Centres at Sabon Birni, Balle, Dange and Kware are being executed at the cost of Five Hundred and Eighty Five Million, Two Hundred and Eighty Seven Thousand, Six Hundred and Eight Naira, Sixty Eight Kobo (N585,287,608.68). Other construction works at Primary Health Centres of Romon Liman, Sabon Garin Dole, Araba, Dingyadi and Salame are being executed at the cost of Two Hundred and Eighty Two Million, Two Hundred and Eighty Four Thousand, Five Hundred and Seventy Eight Naira, Ninety Three Kobo (N282,284,578.93). Concerted efforts are being made to ensure completion of the second phase of the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital, comprising of 47no. Staff Housing, 2no. Wards and Landscaping, involving the sum of One Billion, Four Hundred and Twelve Million, Five Hundred and Sixty Five Thousand, Five Hundred and Ninety Three Naira, Eighty One Kobo (N1,412,565,593.81). As you are aware, we signed an amendment to the state Primary Healthcare law. What is obtainable now in the state is a revamped sector that aggregates all PHC institutions under one roof. We will continue to strengthen the sector for the benefit of our dear citizens.
12. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is pertinent to mention here that on taking over the mantle of leadership, one of the serious issues of concern that we have noted was the accumulation of large volume of refuse within the metropolis. The disturbing situation was quite detrimental to health and general well-being of the populace. Past Governments have undoubtedly made their efforts to address the situation but growth in population and the lukewarm attitude of our people has undermined such efforts. We thus, firmly stood to address the issue holistically by first and foremost ensuring a quick and timely evacuation of refuse and consequently mobilising the citizenry to be concern with the promotion of environmental cleanliness. In this pursuit, we have employed 500 youths for evacuation of refuse within the metropolis. This initiative has enabled us achieve tremendous success in addition to providing employment to our teeming youths, thereby reducing indolence and youth restiveness. In addition to this, we have purchased 30no. Refuse Evacuation Tricycles, which are being used for refuse collection on regular basis. At this juncture, I would like to re-echo my appeals to the general public to be proactive in promoting environmental cleanliness. This will surely improve the quality of our habitat and reduce possibilities of epidemic outbreaks. Certainly, personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness have tremendous impact in promoting sustainable development, as spread of diseases and many ailments are mostly facilitated by a dirty environment. It is therefore our ardent hope that all citizens will continue to rededicate themselves in this lofty pursuit.
13. We have also made concerted efforts in improving public service machinery; implementing worthy initiatives aimed at promoting welfare of women, children and especially the physically challenged persons, through payment of monthly allowances. We have particularly ensured payment of accumulated life, death and contract gratuities and pension arrears of retired civil servants in the State. The last we have paid was for the period between December, 2011 to August, 2015, amounting to Two Billion, Six Hundred and Forty One Million, Three Hundred and Forty One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Eighty Eight Naira, Sixty Four Kobo (N2,641,341,988.64), of which 1,901 civil servants benefited. We have also sustained payment of regular monthly pension to retired civil servants. The sum of One Billion, Two Hundred and Forty Seven Million, Seven Hundred and Three Thousand, Five Hundred and Forty Seven Naira, Forty Three Kobo (N1,247,703,547.43) has so far been expended from June, 2015 to May, 2016, in which over 5,000 pensioners are involved. With regards to training, the sum of Seventy Million, Eight Hundred and Ninety Thousand, Eight Hundred and Seventy Naira (N70,890,870.00) has been expended for the payment of tuition fees and maintenance allowances for 20 Medical Doctors and 2 Engineers who are currently studying at various institutions outside the country, through the Higher Scheme Programme. It is gratifying to note that the relationship between the State Government and the organised Labour has remained cordial. We have remained consistent in ensuring regular payment of staff salaries, retirement benefits and other remunerations to workers. In fact, all demands made to the Government by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) have been met.
14. Fellow citizens, in the face of the prevailing economic downturn, it is imperative to emphasize on the need for continuous prayers to Allah (SWT) to deliver us from these challenges. It is also essential to be conscious of the fact that the change that we had craved and worked for must be jealously guarded. Certainly, nothing worth gaining is ever gained without efforts and sacrifices. We ought to be broadminded to know that we need good citizens, those who are ready to strive with honesty, dedication and self-denial. Exemplary leadership and good governance cannot be achieved without active participation of the citizenry. We must therefore be ready to individually and collectively give our modest contributions. We should be ready at all times to love for others what we love for ourselves. Indeed, the virtues of selflessness and dedication to the cause of fellow beings have been cardinal pillars, which all societies that have achieved greatness in history had imbibed.
15. I wish to in this regard, sincerely cherish the love and support of the legislature, as nothing would have moved without their understanding, support and co-operation. I wish to also express my profound gratitude to those working in the Judicial Arm of Government; our Royal Fathers, Civil Servants, Elder Statesmen, Politicians, Religious Leaders and the entire good people of Sokoto State for the support and goodwill extended to us in discharging the onerous responsibilities of steering the affairs of the state. I will hasten to say that the journey has just begun. And it has begun amidst multifarious challenges. I will thus crave the indulgence of all to understand the prevailing circumstances. Patience is a jewel of iman; and a virtue that ultimately facilitates success. On our part, we are conscious of the enormity of the trust and the fact that we shall be held accountable for our actions; we require prayers, objective criticisms and proper counselling to succeed. I am indeed, largely indebted to our Royal Fathers. The fatherly support and counselling of His Eminence, the Sultan is one of the greatest blessings and privilege at our disposal. I must therefore thank him most profoundly for his support and counselling. I pray to Allah (SWT) to reward us individually and collectively for our sacrifices.
16. I once more thank the good people of Sokoto State for their wonderful support and good will, it is my appeal that all shall continue to extend their support and co-operation so that we can lift our dear State to greater heights. While praying to Allah (SWT) to continue to guide and give us the required vision in facing the challenges of leadership and upholding our civic responsibilities, it is also my ardent prayers that He will continue to guide, bless and protect us in all our endeavours.
17. Thank you and Wassalamu Alaikum.