Today, marks another memorable beginning in our Democratic Governance as a State and the Nation in general. We thank Almighty God that we are witnesses to the resuscitation of the June 12 Democracy ideals that had been in limbo for over 20 years. I congratulate all Citizens for this auspicious day and occasion.
Many had made sacrifices both in lives and properties to ensure that we embrace democracy and enjoy its dividends. To these heroes, we pay glowing tributes and may their labour and sacrifices never be in vain, but to serve as a debt of honour on us to serve in humility and duty of care to the people.
Within the twenty years of our uninterrupted democracy, time seem to have passed away rather quickly, and for us, four years appeared to be like yesterday. Today, another term of four years is just beginning.
Within the context of democracy and governance, we are expected to reflect on the past, present and future. We have been nourished with these historical perspectives with the excellent deliveries of the Keynote Speaker, Professor Monday Y Mangvwat, ably supported by the Discussants, Professors Nanven A. Gambo and Professor David P. Yakubu. I thank you most sincerely for your intellectual and practical contributions that will for a long time assist in sustaining our democracy.
In taking a retrospective view of our first tenure, 2015 – 2019, four years seem to have passed away rather quickly, but the period should be defined more by what the Government has been able to achieve and the need for continuity and consolidation in providing the people of Plateau State with more dividends of democracy.
At the beginning, we identified our task as that of a “Rescue Mission”, designed to restore confidence in a State that had been polarized and fractured by ethno-religious crises, political apathy, despondency among workers and pensioners, among others. To address these challenges within the framework of the Rescue Mission, we came up with a five (5) Policy Thrust Framework, namely:
This was a deliberate route-map that guided the enunciation of policies, programs and projects of the State Government from 2015 to May 2019. We vigorously pursued these policies within the limited resources at our disposal and which had not been without challenges, particularly in the area of security.
Without having to repeat and bore you with our score cards of the past four years, in my previous speeches marking Democracy Day celebrations and on other occasions since 2015, I have endeavoured to highlight our modest achievements for the good of the State as mark of transparency and accountability. These achievements cover areas of Peace and Security, Human Capital Development through our various educational institutions and Public Service; improved agricultural inputs and production; skill development and empowerment and infrastructural development.
These are well documented and accessible in our Mid-Term Report and compendium on Landmark achievements and quarterly periodicals obtainable at the Directorate of Research and Documentation and the Ministry of Information and Communication.
Fellow Citizens, during our Inauguration and Swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday 29th May 2019, I promised to unveil the vision and programmes of the government for the next four years through a Town Hall Meeting that marks the celebration of June 12 Democracy Day.
I had given an insight that in further consolidating on our achievements, our vision will continue to be based on the principles that people need freedom and self-determination; and that people have a right to seek truth and enjoy good social services delivery.
With due sense of modesty and humility, we believe that our performance score card no doubt contributed to the overwhelming victory and endorsement for a second term in the March 23, 2019 election. As a result, we are resolved that the next four years will be devoted to consolidating on the gains made and expanding on critical areas of development for the benefit of the people.
On this note, it is my singular honour and pleasure to unveil the Vision of our Administration, tagged: “PLATEAU STATE IN THE NEXT LEVEL: POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES OF THE RESCUE TEAM, PHASE 2”. Without prejudice, our vision for the new Plateau State promises to leave behind legacies of our commonality, human dignity and welfare. The strategic direction will be anchored on a three-point (3) policy thrust framework namely:
We have deliberately resolved to review the Vision into three policy thrusts to enable us focus and concentrate our limited resources in achieving more service delivery. In addition, we have carefully woven all the critical sectors of the Plateau economy and society into these three-point policy direction to ensure that we lay foundation for sustainable growth and development for the future of our dear state
I will endeavour to provide a brief outline of our goals in each of these Policy Thrust:
In the next four years, Government hopes to accomplish the following:
Consolidate on the gains of security and peace building, by focusing on sustainable peaceful co-existence, equitable development; inclusive governance process that takes into consideration the needs of the most marginalized, including women, young people, minorities and people with disabilities as well as protecting human rights through appropriate Institutional and Legal framework. These strategies are designed to continuously build confidence and uplift the quality of life of the Plateau citizenry, which represent representing a dynamic force in the national arena.
Pursue the upscaling of the efforts of the Plateau Peace Building Agency to enable the implementation of the Strategic Road Map for Peace and the Community Security Architecture Dialogue (CSAD) as prerequisite for breaking the cycle of violence; enhancing resilience; promoting social cohesion, reconciliation and healing through forgiveness.
Sustain and enhance necessary support to the security agencies and boosting the Operation Rainbow early warning/crises detection mechanisms.
Ensure the full take off of the Mobile Police Force Barracks in Gashish, Barikin Ladi LGA and in Longvel, Shendam LGA.
Ensure the total return of all internally displaced persons to their original places of abode before the end of the first year of the administration.
Strengthen and upscale the role of Traditional institutions in the peace building efforts, community governance and development.
Pursue a deliberate process of public service reforms and restructuring of our Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in terms of re-orientation, training and capacity building in line with current realities; to perform their role as the engine room for effective delivery of policies, programs and projects effectively.
Entrench transparency and integrity in the public service and the affairs of government, in line with our zero tolerance for corruption
Sustainable excellent working relationship between the three arms namely- the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary beneficial to the people.
Ensure completion of all on-going projects, cutting across the different social services sectors.
Ensure good working relationship with the Presidency and its agencies with a view to attracting more development Programmes in to the State.
Sustain and increase the partnership with development partners, multilateral agencies and NGOs operating in and outside the state in areas like peace building, access to health, water supply, agriculture, education etc
In the area of infrastructural Development, we recognize that this sector forms the bedrock of economic activities as it is not only a catalyst but also a lubricant, the Government has within the last four years placed premium on this sector.
One of our achievements have been the completion of inherited projects from the previous administration and award of critical contracts at a total sum of thirty-eight billion, one hundred and sixty-eight million, four hundred and seventy thousand, six hundred and sixty-seven Naira (N38,168,470,667.00).
In the next four years, Government hopes to accomplish the following:
Focused attention and resources on the completion of all inherited infrastructure projects that cut across key sectors of the state.
Identify and prioritize new infrastructure projects that have significant multiplier potential. These projects are expected to not only enhance and lubricate the economy of the state, but upgrade the quality of human capital. They include, but not limited to Education, Health, Tourism, Commerce, Roads, Water, Agriculture and Food Security, etc.
Planned infrastructure development projects are categorized into Short, Medium and Long Terms covering the next six months, two years and entire four years respectively.
The past four years have witnessed the most challenging period in the economy of Nigeria, which by extension affected all the States in the country including Plateau.
The compelling economic recession and the sharp drop in oil revenue which negatively impacted our share of Federal Allocation has created the inevitable need for us in Plateau State to search for avenues of developing and growing our economy in a sustainable manner based on our resource endowments.
Apart from the impending increase in public sector expenditure resulting from the implementation of the new minimum wage, there is the need to meet the expectations of our electorate who gave us the mandate, by executing the necessary projects and programs that will justify their trust in government.
Without the necessary financial resources, these two key objectives will not be met
We must therefore see the next four years as a period devoted to putting in place policies and strategies that will generate necessary financial resources that will fund our development without relying exclusively on Federation account. It will not be business as usual.
Based on our resource endowments including excellent weather, Plateau State has the potential to be leader in virtually all aspects of economic activity and we must lay the foundation for converting these potentials into concrete gains.
During the next four years, Government hopes to accomplish the following:
Although we were able increase our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) from N6.9billion per annum in 2015 to N12.7billion per annuum in 2018, almost 100% increase, yet this level of IGR is grossly inadequate to meet what the Rescue administration needs to fund our recurrent and capital expenditure in the next 4 years. We shall therefore re-invigorate our IGR machinery to ensure that we generate a minimum of N2.5biilion per month or N50billion per annuum in the next four years. All MDAs must henceforth see their activities as not only geared towards service delivery, but also as revenue generating centres.
Besides pursuing a robust revenue generating policy in the next four years, we will pay special attention to exploiting and developing our resource endowments namely Agriculture, Mineral Resources, Tourism and Human Capital using different strategic approaches.
Going forward, the Rescue administration phase II will take concrete steps to encourage commercial agriculture and Food Processing, Livestock and Dairy Development.
In specific terms, we will pay special attention to those crops that are unique to Plateau State or in which we have competitive advantage like apples, coffee, strawberries, rose flowers, Irish potatoes, acha etc
The ASTC and the PADP will be revamped and repositioned to achieve their goals, while the Government will complete the purchase of BARC farms to serve as a vehicle for joint partnership with reputable commercial agricultural firms.
Provision of critical inputs like seedlings and fertilizers will be a top priority, in addition to upgrading the Extension Advisory Services.
Lamentably, the huge mineral resource endowments of our state have remained mere potentials without adding value to our people. In the next four years Government will adopt a new approach; given our newly promulgated Policy on Mineral Development.
In preparation for this, the State Government has revived its Mineral Development Company (PMDC Ltd) and will adequately recapitalize it to serve as our vehicle for any joint partnership with serious minded investors.
Similarly, the State Government has entered into partnership with PW Ltd to produce relevant geo-technical data and survey maps that would facilitate and fast track the investment in the mining sector
In addition, we have set in motion machinery for working relationship between relevant State agencies and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to ensure that mining activities in the State are effectively monitored and the interest of our people protected.
In the tourism sector, the state Government recently declared a State of Emergency in the sector. This implies paying special attention in terms of upgrading our tourist facilities and creating the conducive environment for both domestic and international tourism to grow.
In appreciation of contributions of the private sector in partnering with us to drive the economy of the State, government will continue to place emphasis in creating more conducive and enabling environment for business to thrive.
Government will ensure that the necessary incentives like easier access to land titles are implemented and the State One-Stop-Shop Initiative is completed so that all obstacles to doing business are removed.
Plateau State is blessed with huge human capital. Our bulging youth population is a very special asset that will be aggressively harnessed especially in areas of entrepreneurship and ICT so as to tackle unemployment. Government will maximally utilize the enormous potentials that abound with the creation of the Plateau ICT Development Agency (PICTDA).
The PLASMIDA will be specially empowered to undertake entrepreneurship and skills training for youth and women across the State as a deliberate strategy for boosting self-reliance. A special Enterprise Fund of N2billion Naira in partnership between PLASMIDA and the Bank of Industry will soon take off to provide loans and capacity building for Entrepreneurs across the State.
The State Government intends to collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Shippers Council to fast-track the completion of the Heipang Inland Container Port,
Government will conclude discussions with Chinese investors to take advantage of the status of the Yakubu Gowon Airport as an Agro-Cargo airport and explore the establishment of an Agro-Industrial Park for food processing and fruit and vegetables export.
Fellow Citizens, with this shared vision, we hope to take this great opportunity to make a more significant difference in terms of effective delivery on our mandates and fulfilment of our promises. We are determined to change the narrative of governance on the Plateau in the next four years. We equally expect the good people of Plateau State to reciprocate Government gesture, not only by giving their unalloyed support, and harmonious co-existence with one another, so that together we can achieve the much-desired development, a better society and lasting legacies.
Finally, as I wish you all a happy Democracy Day, let me reiterate that in this second term of office, it will not be business as usual.
As leaders, we shall always strive as to be role models of being in the world with you and not over or against the people. This is our solemn commitment.
MAY GOD, IN HIS INFINITE MERCY, CONTINUE TO grant us more wisdom in implementing the template just unveiled, which will further redefine our development for the common good.
God Bless Plateau State.
God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Thank you and God bless.
RT. HON. SIMON BAKO LALONG.