ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE GOVERNOR OF OGUN STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, PRINCE DAPO ABIODUN MFR, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 60TH NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATION, HELD ON THURSDAY, 1ST OCTOBER, 2020
My dear good people of Ogun State and fellow Compatriots in nation building; it is another National day. We have every reason to thank God Almighty and also join our compatriots, in the Federation and in Diaspora, in the celebration of our great Nation, Nigeria on this auspicious occasion of her 60th Independence Day. No doubt, 60 years of our togetherness as occasioned by our independence for self-rule and self-determination has been remarkable, particularly, in the socio-economic and political fronts for all Nigerians. Therefore, I congratulate the good people of our dear State and other Nigerians on this Diamond Independence Anniversary of our great Country.
The theme of this year’s National Day Celeberation, “Together Shall We Be”, is very apt and instructive. Our strength as a nation derives from our diversity, our size, the indomitable Nigerian spirit, robust engagement that characterises our discourse, sense of pride and even the advantage that our geography confers. Our founding fathers bequeathed to us a solid foundation with great hopes. We owe it to them to keep Nigeria together as a united, strong and prosperous nation. In this lies the full realisation of our potentials as the largest collection of black race on earth. Again, Together shall we be.
2. The Celebration of 60 years of independence is a milestone that really calls for pomp and pageantry. But, as we are all aware, the global COVID-19 Pandemic, which has forced nations in the world to think and act differently, has also forced on us the imperative of a low-key celebration. Again, today we stand on the thresholds of history as we celebrate Nigeria’s Diamond Anniversary. Indeed, it is an occasion that will afford us the opportunity of a comprehensive appraisal of how well we have fared; review our achievements and re-examine the challenges facing us as a people. This will enable us to come up with improved and more practical approaches towards attaining and nurturing our great Nation’s potentials for sustainable development.
3. It may be said in some quarters that our Country’s achievements have not matched-up with its potentials. Yet, this cannot be a reason to dismiss or diminish the worth of our freedom. A wiseman once admonished that, “However painful the birth-pangs of progress may be, once a colony has taken the plunge along the road to self-government and Self-determination, there can be no turning back”.
4. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, there is no gainsaying that all countries of the world emerged from one transition process or another. And, ours did not come like a bolt from the blues. We all know the history of the amalgamation of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and the Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914, which was to create the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria that sired the modern Nigeria. In the late 1950s, the call for self-rule and self-determination in African territories became prominent. For us in Nigeria, independence came on this date, October 1st, 1960, as the Federation of Nigeria. And, Three years later, the constitution was amended and our Country was declared the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore, celebrating our National Day on October 1, every year, is a mark of the transition of our dear Country from a colony to a self- ruling Nation.
5. But, let me be quick to say that beneath the history and success of our National Day celebration is the strength and struggle of our forebears and founding fathers. On this day and always, we cannot but continue to acknowledge the sacrifices and martyrdom of Late Herbert Macaulay; Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo; Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe; Late Sir Ahmadu Bello; Late Mallam Abubakar Tafawa Balewa; Late Anthony Enahoro; Late Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti and, a host of others very instrumental to the birth of the independent Nigeria. And, in fact, for us in Ogun State, we have every reason to celebrate the independence of our great Nation. The fact remains irrefutable that at every crossroads in the annals of our Nation’s socio-political development, proud ambassadors of Ogun State have been the compasses leading us the right way. It is on record that the first ever military to civilian political transition in Nigeria was mid-wifed by General Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR in 1979; the same Olusegun Obasanjo came to Nigeria’s rescue in 1999 to usher in our present democracy. History will also not forget him as he mid-wifed the first ever successful civilian-to-civilian transition in 2007. We should also not forget the roles of Chief Ernest Shonekan, GCFR as the leader of the Interim National Government after the impasse of the June 12, 1993 General Elections. That election on its own stands as a watershed in Nigeria’s electoral history. It has been adjudged as a signpost of free and fair elections in Nigeria. And, the winner of that election is another son and icon of Ogun State, the Late Chief MKO Abiola, GCFR. All of these people and many others are proud sons and daughters of Ogun State. Without being immodest, Ogun State has more reasons than others to celebrate the independence and continued unity of Nigeria. Their labour will never be in vain, and their sacrifices will never be forgotten!
- It is a fact that Nigeria has gone through thick and thin in the bid to keep the vision and hope of our past heroes and to remain a very strong nation. A 36-month civil war, between 1967-1970; and, a long period of military rule amongst others are such stepping stones on which we have continued to achieve more as a people. Without starting to recount the many successes of the post-independence or our modern Nigeria, especially as a major force in the global fronts, it is a fact that our transition from a long period of military rule to a stable democratic Government has fast rekindled our position as a cornerstone in the global economy. In fact, the uninterrupted democratic rule we currently enjoy in the last 21 years speaks volume that we a strong, vibrant and United Nation under God. Indeed, our diversity in tribes and tongues remain our biggest strength. For this alone, we have every cause to celebrate. And, as the Country is currently experiencing focused leadership led by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, we have more reasons to celebrate.
7. Fellow Citizens, as we celebrate Nigeria’s Independence Anniversary here and in Diaspora, we must continue to focus more on those things that unite us together rather than on those that divide us. That Nigeria has the potentials to become one of the biggest economies of the world is not debatable. In fact, at 60, we should not be talking about how our nation will become a world power. We should be talking about how to consolidate our world status. We have all the human and natural resources to make us a world power. All we need to do is to bring our collective will to harness our potentials. We must also accept that development is a process. We must also know that the process has a cost. The good news is that the cost is not expensive. All we have to pay is our collective patience to see the process through a logical conclusion. We will have to make painful but necessary decisions. The failure of the past in taking these decisions is what led us to where we are today and the situation we find ourselves. It is therefore very imperative that we summon courage now, and pool our shared will to take these tough decisions for the good of the present generation and building a strong foundation on which on-coming generations can build. Just as the labours of our heroes past can never be in vain, that is the only way our own labour will not be in vain. We must continue to work for the peaceful co-existence of all, irrespective of language, religion, ethnic nationality, places and circumstances of birth or societal status. Let me reiterate once again that the choice of the theme for this Nigeria’s Diamond jubilee anniversary, “Together Shall We Be””is very instructive. Together, we shall continue to make Nigeria greater.
8. My fellow citizens, the future of our great Nation is promising and very magnificent to imagine. But, sacrifices have to be made. Let me say that the pains and inconveniences we currently experience due to the current situation of our economy are short-term, and are, in fact, a prelude to a better tomorrow for all of us, our Country and the coming generations. The naysayers may have complained of the same admonitions made in the past without results. But, the difference is that we now have a Federal Government with a leadership that is sincere in its policies and programmes. It is on record that since suffering a recession and a full year of negative growth in the recent past, Nigeria’s economy has recovered slowly but steadily. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that our economy continues to grow. Gross Domestic Products (GDP) grew by 2.55% in 2017, and overall Nigeria’s economy grew by 2.27% in 2019. This may be short of our expectations. But, we are on a steady growth. And, we could have continued to improve on this steady growth if not for the unforeseen outbreak of Corona virus pandemic in the 1st Quarter of this year. As a result, I implore all Nigerians to be more patient, be prayerful and show more understanding to the current economic and social reforms as being carried-out by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government. We must continue to believe in ourselves. Even if we need to tweak the structure of our Federal system to make it respond to the needs of our current realities and that of the federating units, we can ill-afford the dismemberment of our great nation. The indomitable Nigerian spirit in us will see us through. Let us release the eagle in us to fly above the storm. We have done it before at different times of our national trials, and we can do it again.
9. For us in Ogun State, the theme of this anniversary resonates perfectly and speaks volumes of the continuous discharge of an all-inclusive and good governance particularly in the last one year in dear State. Our driving spirit has been encapsulated in our “Building Our Future Together”” Agenda. This is practically entrenched on the collective participation and responsibility of the people of Ogun State as part owners of all the decisions, projects implemented and those conceived since May, 2019. This is a deliberate and calculated policy towards ensuring that all the people contribute meaningfully and positively especially in the decision-making processes that concern them. Therefore, our people remain our strongest strength. This is the drive of the purposeful and good governance that our Administration has continued to tow and thread towards creating individual prosperity for our people and the improving on the economy of our dear State.
10. As an Administration, we have made as a matter of policy to continue to improve all sectors of our dear State’s economy. We have continued to enact bold reforms in the process and system of governance to boost economic activities. This has helped us to accelerate development in our economic Pillars. This has in turn provided strong foundation for the optimum contribution for our economic Enablers to the continued development of our dear State.
11. Our ISEYA acronym has helped us to map out a strategy that ensures a successful implementation of our “Building our Future Together”” Agenda and continued development of our dear State. Our ISEYA acronym, meaning:
I – Infrastructure –
S – Social Welfare and Wellbeing
E – Education
Y – Youth Development, and
A – Agriculture and Food Security
Our approach has been to develop the infrastructure that meets the immediate needs of our people and provides a solid foundation for continued and sustainable development, not just Infrastructure to suit the fancy of the political office holders. To that extent, we started with our inclusive approach, by asking our community leaders, interest groups and other stakeholders across our 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) to submit a coordinated list of infrastructural needs, in order of preference, in their areas that are key to the successful implementation of the “Building our Future Together” Agenda. The list include roads, schools as well as Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs).This exercise has been very rewarding, allowing us to strategically allocate resources.
SOCIAL WELFARE AND WELL-BEING:
We are quite aware that towards the successful implementation of our “Building our Future Together” Agenda, there is a need to provide avenues to ease access to healthcare; empower our people economically; provide affordable shelter in a well-planned environment; and, protect the vulnerable groups, especially the aged, women and the girl-child.
We evolved a multi-dimensional approach for further development of our educational industry. This includes development of infrastructure; capacity building for our teaching and non-teaching corps; resolution of industrial crises in that sector; appointment of digitally compliant teachers; motivation of our existing corps of teachers with timely promotions and introduction of ICT into the teaching-learning process.
In order to properly dimension our approach in this area, we have leveraged on ICT by launching the Ogun Job Portal in August, 2019 which has been instrumental in allocating our teeming youth to the appropriate sectors where they will be most productive for themselves and the State. Through this database, potential employers are able to post their vacancies on the portal and it acts as a first point of call for employers looking for qualified people to hire.
We have deliberately chosen Agriculture as a major pillar of this Government. The unique position of Agriculture in the economy of Ogun State and indeed the glory of the old Western Region cannot be overemphasized as it has always been the mainstay of our economy. We should be able to take advantage of our God-given landmass spanning 16,000 square kilometres that is very fertile for food and cash crop production as well as for new crops with high-value opportunities that can raise farm incomes. And, indeed it has proven to be a wise decision. We shall continue to invest in Agriculture so as to tap into its enormous potentials: raw materials for our industry, employment generation, food security, poverty alleviation and wealth creation, among others. The target of our Administration is to produce enough food to attain nutritional self-sufficiency in the short term, and over long term produce enough food for other States in the country and for export.
All our programmes are inter-related to ensure more prosperity for the people of Ogun State so that they can contribute their respective quotas to the development of our dear State.
12. Furthermore, with our resilience and determination towards creating an enduring economic development and individual prosperity of the people of Ogun State, the last one year of our Administration has been dedicated upon several projects across all sectors of our dear State’s economy, ranging from roads, education, health, agriculture, etc. And, while conceptualising all these projects, we are determined to complete them, including the inherited ones that have positive impacts on the people, within the tenure of our Administration. I assure the people of Ogun State that our Administration will remain focused on its commitment towards the continued socio-economic development of our dear State. And, as we are gradually approaching the post-COVID-19 era, all sectors of the economy will be opened-up for them to realise their potentials.
13. As a matter of fact, we will take advantage of this Diamond anniversary of our great Nation, not only to reappraise all our policies and programmes in the last one year of our Administration in Ogun State, but also to improve on our approach and strategy towards ensuring the continued delivery of good governance to the people of Ogun State. In this aspect, and despite the meagre resources at the Government’s disposal, we have resolved to continue to deploy all available resources across all sectors towards improving the lots of our people. Although, no government can claim to possess all the funds and other wherewithal of development, but meaningful contributions and cooperation from our people will take our development strides into a higher pedestal.
14. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me use this opportunity to reiterate that ours is an Administration that does not renege on its promises. In this direction, our Administration will continue to deploy resources towards ensuring conducive environment for all our people to discover and nurture their potentials, irrespective of their age, gender, status and location. Indeed, we are determined to unleash the creative energies of our vibrant, tireless and motivated people: innovators, academics, researchers, people in the public service and the private sector, whether formal or non-formal sector like, artisans, the professional class, captains of industry, politicians, farmers, graduates, parents, students and all Nigerians at home and wherever they may be in the world for continued development of our dear State in particular and the country in general. For us, all our hope lies in the bristling and bewildering diversities which if properly harnessed should provide us with the impetus to excel.
15. At this point, it is imperative that I express my deep appreciation to God and all the people of our dear State for the continued support, cooperation, solidarity and understanding for the peculiarities of the unusual times that we now live in. I urge you not to despair bearing in mind that the task of nation building and of development cannot be left in the hands of people in government alone. It is a collective aspiration that all must pursue with relentless vigour. I have no doubt that the future is bright, promising and glorious.
16. Let me also use this opportunity to commend and appreciate all our workers, especially the Labour Unions and other stakeholders for their civil and mature approaches of engagement as they continue to share in our commitment towards improving the wellbeing, welfare and wellness of all of us in Ogun State. We shall not take your goodwill for granted.
17. Before I end this address, let me remind our people that the whole world is still struggling with the effects of Corona Virus pandemic. And, it is a fact that no one knows how soon the pandemic will be completely phased out. Then, it is my belief that all our people will continue to abide by the guidelines and measures as advised by the health professionals and other experts who are at the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. And, let me, in particular mention that, because we cannot afford to continue to hold the educational development of our children at ransom, we have considered a full re-opening of the schools in phases at this period. On this, I implore all our parents, teachers and all other stakeholders in the Education sector of our dear State to continue to ensure the safety of our children. As a matter of fact, you will all need to pay special attention to all these pupils and students and ensure that they take to all the precautionary advice and measures. We cannot afford a spread of this pandemic in schools and our homes. By doing this, you will not only join in the fight against the Corona Virus, but also share in the Government efforts towards preparing our children for the future that we are earnestly building. Like Ebola, COVID-19 shall be defeated.
18. Once again, I congratulate all the people of our dear State, and Nigerians, in general on this special occasion of Nigeria’s 60th Independence celebration. I wish to remind us of the importance of the theme through reference to an African philosophy, Ubuntu that places emphasis on ‘being self through others’ and best encapsulated in the saying ‘I am because of who we all are’. Let us all be encouraged by the vision of the Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo GCFR, when he said, “After rain comes sunshine; after darkness comes the glorious dawn. There is no sorrow without its alloy of joy; there is no joy without its admixture of sorrow. Behind the ugly mask of misfortune lies the beautiful soothing countenance of prosperity. So, tear the mask.” Nigerians, there is every reason to celebrate.
- I thank you all for listening, and God bless.
Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR
Governor of Ogun State, Nigeria.
Thursday, 1st October, 2020