My fellow citizens of Taraba State: Today is a very special day; a very special moment; and a very special event.
I stand here totally overwhelmed by the enthusiasm collectively expressed by all citizens, through the commitment that was invested in the political process, which culminated in my election as the 3rd Executive Governor of Taraba State in the present Republic. I am aware of the sacrifices that many have made for this day to come to pass. Many have lost their properties, many have been maimed, yet, many have lost their lives on this journey. To show our respect for the departed souls, I beseech you all to please stand and observe a minute’s silence in their honor. May the soul of the departed rest in peace.
My fellow citizens of Taraba State, I am grateful for the confidence that you have bestowed on me and my Deputy Governor, Engineer Haruna Manu. We are conscious of the responsibility that the citizenry saddled on us and this government. However, we are humbled by the enormity of the challenges that lie ahead and the high expectations in our bid to RESCUE TARABA.
With the full cooperation of all and sundry, and with God on our side, together we shall overcome these challenges and meet these expectations.
With a deep sense of reverence, compassion, and empathy, I wish to respectfully recognize the immediate past Executive Governor of Taraba State, Danbaba Danfulani Suntai. I regret the unfortunate accident but I wish him speedy recovery in the days ahead. I am aware that during the administration of Governor Suntai, Taraba State enjoyed a fair share of growth in the social sector.
Worthy of note is the establishment of Taraba State University in Jalingo, and the facilitation for the establishment of Federal Polytechnic, Bali, and Federal University, Wukari. In terms of strategic infrastructure, roads and bridges were constructed in the State Capital; 4-kilometer roads in each of the 16 local government headquarters, and Yangtu Development Area. Other roads include the Jalingo-Sunkani-Garba Chede Road; the Bali-Serti-Gembu Road; the Mararraba-Baissa Road; and the Sabon Gari-Karim Lamido Road.
I am also aware that the Mambilla Beverages Nigeria Limited is now fully owned by Taraba State Government. We shall consolidate on these and similar promising sectors, and to also explore other sectors that meet the yearnings and aspirations of our people.
I must register my appreciation to His Excellency, the Acting Governor of Taraba State, Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi, for his service to our state during its most difficult time, especially the personal sacrifices, the generosity, and the cooperation he has shown throughout the campaign, elections, and this transition.
Most importantly, I acknowledge the relative peace and stability that his return had ushered into Taraba State. At the time he returned in November, 2014, Taraba State was at the brink of a socio-political catastrophe. I thank God for using him to bring a semblance of sanity to the State and succor to its citizens. This fragile peace and stability we shall pursue with all vigor and a sense of mission, to ensure that it is consolidated.
This appreciation will not be complete without the recognition of the founding fathers of Taraba State who relentlessly pursued its creation in 1991. Prominent among whom is General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, GCON (Rtd), the Gam Gbaro of Donga and Abonta of Wukari, who is here with us today.
My fellow citizens of Taraba State, as I stand here on this podium looking at the horizon of Taraba State, I see a promise of possibilities; I see a promise of a greater tomorrow; and I see a united indivisible Taraba State.
Based on these promises, I have a vision. I have a vision that in 10 years, Taraba state will be the leading economy in the North East Sub-region.
This administration strive to create and maintain an environment conducive for the optimal participation engagement of key stakeholders and partners, by developing a sensitive and responsible political class, a vibrant and purpose-driven bureaucracy, a veritable base, and a robust broad-based economy. People-based, government enhanced, and private sector-led approaches will be employed to guarantee this pursuit.
This administration will harness the potentials and endowments in agriculture, tourism and commerce and industry, as well as pay attention to education, health, water and sanitation, and strategic infrastructure, using leverage from development partners and engaging public-private-partnership (PPP) options to enhance this pursuit.
However, in spite of the potentials and natural endowments, and in spite of the promises, I also see the reality of a disenchanted and degenerated bureaucracy; I see the reality of an oversized public service; I see the reality of a financially indebted state; I see the reality in the decline and deterioration in the quality of education and the depletion of qualified teachers; I see the reality of patronage from stakeholders and the political class; I see the reality of a willing army of unemployed youths.
With these realities stumbling over each other, it indicates a crises. With these looming crises on the horizon, it will be impossible to attain the vision, it will be impossible to accomplish the promises; and it will be improbable to RESCUE TARABA, until and unless we put all hands on deck to surmount these challenges that are genuine, serious, and numerous.
Therefore, in the days ahead, a lot of sacrifices will be made to restore the soul of Taraba state. Emotional investment would be required of all patriotic citizens. We may not begin to see results immediately; we may not see an upturn of the darkest hours of our financial crisis; but I can assure citizens of Taraba state that we shall triumph! YES! We shall triumph with all hands on deck.
As we are gathered here today, we apparently made a choice. We have chosen unity over acrimony; we have chosen sincerity of purpose over bickering and rancor; we have chosen meritocracy over nepotism; and, we have chosen to take our destiny in our hands to truly restore Taraba State to its rightful place as Nature’s Gift to the Nation.
Therefore, I urge you all to set aside any differences and embrace love, brotherhood and patriotism so that we may begin, once again, the process of rebuilding trust and confidence. This will enable us fast track reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction that will revamp our economy, and our society for posterity.
It is a fact that for every ethnic group in Taraba State, there are Christians, Muslims, and traditionalists; It is a fact that most families have these religious interests represented; and a fact that we have inter-tribal mix in blood due to inter-marriages; and it is also a fact that whether we like it or not, we are bound to live together. And we have indeed lived together in peace and harmony for generations.
That today kinsmen of the same genealogy are maiming and killing one another under the guise of religious and tribal differences shows that we have lost it.
We have lost it because we have allowed out culture, norms and values to encroach upon by external influences. Therefore we have to go back to our old ways. We have to re-enact our culture, norms and values.
We shall begin with our age-old community policing where every village head is aware of every visitor or guest that comes into the community. This shall be our collective responsibility.
To the political parties and politicians we say that politicking should be relegated to the background for now. We have to settle down to governance. And to deliver good governance we shall resort to competency in political appointments to provide transformational leadership, and meritocracy in placement in the civil service guided by the relevant extant provisions in order to restore sanity.
We shall encourage a cordial working relation between the political class and the civil servants to drive government policies, programmes and projects in order to deliver on our campaign promises.
To the civil servants, we say that a lot be demanded of r expertise, experience and reactiveness. You must brace up to take your place as the fulcrum around which the machinery of government will oscillate. In this regard we shall overhaul the civil service to reposition it for functionality; we shall examine the staffing, the anomalies, and the capacity gaps: we shall reconsider the funding arrangement of the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs); and. we shall proactively engage the labour unions.
To the traditional rulers, we say shall depend on your fatherly role as custodians of our traditions, to reawaken the psyche of the citizenry to security. community, and being our brothers’ keepers, We shall revisit our noble values, passed on from generation to generation to ensure peaceful coexistence, without which there shall be no meaningful and sustainable development We desire that our diversity should be our strength and not a weakness.
To all citizens of Taraba State we say that we are in a very precarious financial situation. During the dark 25 months, when Governor Danbaba Suntai was in a bad condition, there was wanton greed and financial recklessness with impunity, which led us to unprecedented indebtedness to commercial banks.
As I address you today, the immediate task ahead is seeking creative ways to revamp our finances; otherwise we shall be heading for bankruptcy. It is becoming increasingly difficult to pay salaries of workers let alone embark on any project. In our current situation, it would be apt to rephrase the words of John F. Kennedy of the United States by saying ‘ask not what Taraba State can do for you, ask what you can do for Taraba State’.
Indeed, undertake something for Taraba State.
Knowing that we are in uncommon times, it calls for uncommon measures. The size and cost of government will be drastically reviewed, beginning with the Office of the Executive Governor, the demographics of the civil servants shall be ascertained to know our TRUE staff strength and establish the capacity gap, and the MDAs shall be reviewed to streamline their functions for efficiency and effectiveness.
Our immediate focus in the days ahead will be to aggressively pursue peace and reconciliation, as well as address the situation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs). Furthermore we shall conduct an in-depth sector analysis to gain clear understanding of the current issues, as well as to generate inputs for strategic planning. We will also enforce law and order, and exhibit equity and justice.
As we depart from this arena today, I charge you to go forth and tell your kinsmen that we are on a RESCUE MISSION. Together we will RESCUE Taraba State from the stronghold of illiteracy, disease, poverty, unemployment, and social vices: together, we will RESCUE Taraba State from the inertia and ineptitude that has held all our potentials and natural endowments hostage for over two decades; together we will RESCUE Taraba State from our financial misery; and together, we will rescue Taraba State from the clutches of ethno-religious hatred, nepotism, and cronyism.
Be a disciple for the RESCUE TARABA project, and make disciples of all patriotic citizens.
Thank you. God bless you all.
And God bless Taraba State of Nigeria.