THE INAUGURAL SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, BARR. CALEB MANASSEH MUTFWANG, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE, AT HIS INAUGURATION AT THE RWANG PAM TOWNSHIP STADIUM, JOS, PLATEAU STATE, ON MONDAY THE 29TH DAY OF MAY, 2023.
Fellow Plateau citizens,
It is with great pleasure and immense gratitude to God that I address you today, as the sixth democratically elected Governor of Plateau State. It is by His grace that I stand before you today. To Him alone be all the power and glory. It is indeed with deep gratitude to God Almighty, the Lord Jesus and to all of the good people of Plateau State that today has become a reality. This indeed is the day the Lord has made and we will rejoice and be glad in it. It has been a long journey but through it all we trusted the Lord and He has carried us through mountains and valleys and conquered giants on our behalf. Indeed, I must testify that if it had not been the Lord, we would not have seen this day.
Your spontaneous outbreak of joy in rejoicing, singing and dancing which lasted for days is testimony of the cry and hunger in your hearts for a divine visitation in the days ahead. Thank you for this show of confidence in us. Thank you the privilege and honour you have given us to serve you. We know you are expecting much from us. We will trust God for wisdom and enablement not to fail you. Today, it is not just my inauguration; it is our inauguration as it marks the beginning of our collective quest for a new Plateau. Today, I prophesy that the new Plateau by this inauguration is born! The glory of Plateau shall manifest in the coming years to God’s glory and to our collective pride. We shall work round the clock to provide the quality of leadership and governance that our dear citizens deserve and yearn for.
I recall with nostalgia how my team and I traversed the length and breadth of this God endowed state communicating our vision of a peaceful and prosperous Plateau. We emphasized the Plateau brotherhood irrespective of tribe or faith. While it is true that I have a tribe and faith, I want to assure that I will use these identities as positive values to enhance our common good. I therefore welcome you all to the new Plateau where tribe and faith will no longer be tools for division but rich multi coloured threads to be weaved into strong ropes that will pull us together for unity and progress. By the grace of God, we shall remain committed to our vision for the state. Conscious of the fact that I have been elected Governor by the divine will of God and the great determination of the people, I promise by word and deed to be an advocate and Practitioner of justice, fairness and equity.
Let me take this moment to appreciate our founding fathers and past leaders, those with us and those departed, for their great sacrifices and services to the state. Indeed, they used their intellect, time, energy and zeal to lay foundations, emancipate and redeem our people. We can look back and say indeed they contributed their quotas to the growth and development of our dear state. Today, we can build upon what they have done. To them we say thank you.
I understand clearly the enormity of the task before me and I have no illusions that it is going to be an easy ride. The state is presently under a huge debt burden of over 200 billion naira, the healthcare sector is in need of urgent attention, our school system requires a comprehensive overhaul, our infrastructure is decayed and inadequate, and practically, every sector requires urgent redress. I must mention that there are no quick fix solutions to these challenges, but one thing is certain, we are prepared to take the challenges head-on and we will hit the ground running immediately.
Fellow citizens, we have the resolve and we are resolute in our desire for a new Plateau. Let me reaffirm that we will summon the political will every step of the way to initiate policies and programmes that will engender peace, progress and prosperity in our land. This is a solemn commitment, and you can hold me to my word.
Our plans are audacious and our programmes will be transformative but the smooth execution of these plans and programmes is predicated on peace. This is because development can only exist where peaceful coexistence thrives. It is an undeniable fact that much blood has been shed on the Plateau for close to two decades now which has affected the pace at which has retarded the pace of our development. I commiserate with the families who have lost their loved ones over these years and especially the families in Riyom, Bokkos, Barkin Ladi, Bassa and more recently Mangu where we lost over 100 innocent souls who were brutally murdered in their sleep by the most recent premeditated attacks.
The genocidal attacks of the last couple of years suffered by many of our communities across the whole state have justifiably left deep wounds and trauma on several widows, orphans, relations and friends. This has in turn bred hate, mutual suspicion misplaced anger on innocent passersby and so-called reprisal attacks. Unfortunately, this has opened the door for those who dislike our unity and prosperity to label us as hateful and unaccommodating when indeed our people are the victims. The time has come and the Time is Now, when we MUST say enough is enough. We must break this vicious circle of hate and attacks and refuse to allow people to brand us negatively. That is not who we are. I make bold to say that no other community of peoples is as accommodating and welcoming like the people of Plateau. All we ask for is that those who live within the borders of Plateau must agree to live with us in peace and with utmost respect for our values and traditions. Like we sang during the campaigns,
“I don’t care what tribe you belong to,
But as far as on Plateau you live,
If indeed you are in love with the Plateau,
You’re my brother/sister”.
This is the new orientation we must strive to project in the days ahead, which is that everyone who loves Plateau and especially anyone who lives within her borders is my brother/sister irrespective of tongue or creed. May the Lord Almighty fill our hearts with this understanding and baptise us into this spirit. Amen.
I therefore call on all of us who truly love Plateau to embrace peace and look out for the well-being of one another. I enjoin us to let go of the hate and distrust of the past and embrace the brotherliness that our dear state is known for. We must learn from Rwanda; despite the crises and internal wars that engulfed the country in the past, it has turned itself around to become peaceful, prosperous and a choice destination in Africa. However, we know that there are persons who do not seek the welfare of Plateau. They preach and fan the embers of hatred. They stood by unconcerned when our people were murdered in cold blood. They even callously labeled such genocide as ‘farmers /herders clash’ to the chagrin of the whole world. In the spirit of the new Plateau, we shall give them an opportunity to repent and redeem themselves. If they fail, God will give us the wisdom to isolate and make them unworthy of recognition in the new Plateau we have embarked on building! I must also sound a note of warning to others who converted these waves of attacks as excuses for committing crime by stealing or sometimes putting innocent persons in jeopardy in the name of revenge to know that this would no longer be tolerated.
My dear compatriots, I wish to assure you that the government under my watch will be committed to peaceful coexistence and will work assiduously to secure the boundaries of Plateau State. I will be firm, but fair and just to all regardless of political, ethnic or religious inclination. We are a peace loving people. That is who we are and that is our heritage. It was not a mistake that the state was christened “Home of Peace and Tourism.” It is possible to live in peace, because we have enjoyed peace for decades. Our state is a choice destination in Nigeria and it remains so. The land is beautiful and the weather is serene, second to none. My government shall ensure that visitors, tourists and investors enjoy their stay, visit tourist sites of their interest and carry out their legitimate businesses in a peaceful and serene environment.
Fairness, equity and justice shall be our watchwords. Criminal elements/invaders hell bent on destruction will be decisively dealt with. Also, crises merchants will not go unpunished. We shall be strong on the rule of law to ensure that criminality under whatever guise is curtailed. It is also necessary to reassert that campaigns are over and the gear has shifted to governance. Let us join hands despite our political differences to build the Plateau of our dreams. Again, I extend a hand of friendship to the governorship candidates of other political parties in the last general elections, alongside their supporters to join me in the quest for a new Plateau.
Fellow citizens, the Time is Now, to unite in the face of a common adversary. It was Martin Luther King Jr who remarked, ‘we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools’. Because we must not perish, we must unite. ‘We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided’. Our strength is in our unity, not in our numbers. A united minority is stronger than a divided majority. The Holy Bible upholds this truism in stating that ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand’.
We must not allow our ethnic, political or religious inclinations divide us. There is no force, no matter how formidable, that a united people cannot overcome. Shoulder to shoulder, we are stronger than whoever seeks to overrun us and take over our heritage. The Lord is our refuge and defender. He will fight for us and give us the resolve, resilience and courage not to fear or fret. Indeed, we are overcomers.
Welcome to a new dispensation. By the grace of God, we are starting a new journey – a journey to secure Plateau, a journey to unite Plateau and a journey to develop Plateau. Our vision is to build a united, secure and prosperous plateau. Therefore, I will together with my team work day and night to transform the environment and the living conditions of our people for the better and to ultimately leave behind a legacy of great service for a better Plateau. Suffice it to say, our goal is to work relentlessly towards returning Plateau to its glory days and to reposition it for Peace and Prosperity.
The Deputy Governor, Her Excellency, Hon. Josephine Piyo, and I are focused and single-minded in our quest to bequeath rich legacies to our successors and successive generations. Legacies that will live long in the hearts of our people. It is against this backdrop that we are committed to the following thematic areas:
Peace and security: Security of lives and property is of great importance to us as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is our topmost priority because it is the foundation that gives birth to all forms of growth and development. The many years of human misery, despair, hopelessness and pains our people have and are still going through must end. Under my watch by the grace of God no Plateau indigene will continue to live in camps other than the place of their choice. We call on our true friends and development partners to rally round us in this great hour of need.
By the grace of God, we will work within the constitutional provisions to defend and secure our state using multifaceted approaches. We will as a matter of urgency revive and equip the state security outfit “Operation Rainbow” to augment the existing national security apparatus. While we salute the gallantry of some the officers and men of the various security agencies, there have a few bad eggs that have tarnished their image. Under this administration we will fish such out and expose. For those who will lay down their lives to protect our people, we promise stand with you and appreciate you sincerely.
We shall collaborate with critical stakeholders within and outside the state, through the constitutional provisions and institute a standing committee that will shoulder the responsibility for the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). We shall deepen the operations of Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA) and strengthen community relations using mechanisms that promote mediation and dialogue-centred approach to conflict prevention and resolution. Fellow citizens, let me reaffirm that we shall explore all means possible within the constitutional provisions to secure our people.
The Economy: We envisage Plateau State to be the economic and commercial hub of Northern Nigeria, leveraging on its natural endowments by creating a friendly environment and Ease of Doing Business for all business persons. As a signatory to the Open Government Partnership, we will improve the efficiency of the Public Service in line with global best practices. We will deliberately explore Public Private Partnership (PPP) as a philosophy for the development of all critical sectors.
Agriculture: Our land is green, blessed, fertile and supportive of agriculture, coupled with the serene and clement weather condition favourable for special agricultural products. By the grace of God, we will adopt a pragmatic approach to ensure food sufficiency, food security, expanded employment generation and higher income levels. We will give special attention to agricultural products in which the state has comparative advantage to address the scourge of poverty. Underperforming and moribund agricultural institutions such as Agricultural Service Training Company (ASTC), Plateau Agricultural Development Programme (PADP), and the re-acquired Brewery Agro Research Company (BARC) farm among others shall be reinvigorated. Fellow citizens, conscious of the fact that agriculture has been and will continue to be the mainstay of the new Plateau economy; we shall take deliberate and immediate steps to procure fertiliser and other farming inputs for distribution to farmers at subsidised rates. The Time is Now to support our small farmers through organized cooperatives. We will seek to ultimately transform small scale farming to mechanised farming and build the necessary infrastructure to enable our farmers key into dry farming practices so as to make agriculture a profitable venture for our populace.
Tourism: Tourism is a major contributor to GDP, the world over. Plateau State has a great advantage because of its clement weather. Sadly, this sector has not been given adequate attention. We shall explore the Public Private Partnership financing option to develop this all important sector in order to boost its contribution to the growth of our economy.
Mining and Mineral Development: Plateau State is divinely endowed with solid minerals that if properly harnessed, will boost our internally generated revenue. We will in conjunction with Federal Government reorganise the mining sector to make it safer, profitable and beneficial to the state and the miners. Local miners will be empowered towards better mining practices and licensing rights, open marketing outlets, and help Plateau State to gain statutorily from its minerals. We shall create a Special Purpose Vehicle to enable the state benefit maximally from the opportunities in the sector.
Commerce: We will boost commercial activities by creating wealth, thereby making Plateau State the commercial hub of the North. We will provide greater security, open access to credit facilities, and encourage development of markets and marketing structures in the state capital and across the rest of Plateau State. By the grace of God, we shall resolve the controversy surrounding the Jos Main Market and ensure that this glorious legacy is restored. We will also encourage local governments to build standard markets and make businesses more organized and efficient through appropriate technology.
Sport Development: We will make Plateau State a major sport destination and sports tourist centre; taking advantage of our clement weather. We will mobilise local governments to build and develop new talents among our youths. By the grace of God, we shall explore various options for the completion of the Zaria Road Olympic Stadium. We shall seek for meaningful partnerships to develop our sports facilities and capacities from the grassroots.
Digital Economy and Creative Industries: Plateau State boasts of a highly talented youthful population. Historically, the state has produced top performers in entertainment, music, film making, arts and sports. We shall endeavour to ensure that we leverage technology to leap frog many areas in which we are backward. Indeed, the state has produced some of the top ICT talents in Nigeria today. We will reposition the ICT development agency to develop tech skills in our young people and embark on deliberate programmes that will boost the talent base by making our state an ICT hub so as to effectively plug into the digital economy.
Youths, Women and Social Development: It is heartwarming to say that the average Plateau youth and women are hardworking. We will create the enabling environment for youth and women to participate actively in governance and engage development partners to enhance their living conditions through empowerment.
People Living with Disability (PLWD): Proper attention will be given to the special needs of our sons, daughters and other persons. Their rightful opportunities to add value to society will be recognised, enhanced and mainstreamed into our public policy framework. We will create a conducive atmosphere for them to contribute immensely to the growth of our economy. The Disability Rights Commission will be repositioned for better impact.
Education: Human capital has been one of our competitive advantages in the Nigerian nation. Years ago Plateau was the destination for quality education. Unfortunately, this advantage is being gradually lost. We shall pay urgent attention to restoring qualitative education to our teeming youths from the basic to the tertiary level. Our youth are our pride, strength and future! Therefore, rebuilding their capacity will continually be a major thrust of our administration. We shall explore relevant means to restore the lost glory of our public primary and secondary education, using the Rwanda model. We shall ensure adequate monitoring and evaluation, supervision, training and retraining of staff as well as rehabilitation of laboratories in public schools to compete favourably with the best of private schools. By the grace of God, we will halt incessant strike in our tertiary institutions by prioritising funding and welfare of lecturers; as well as accreditation of courses for qualitative learning.
Health Care Delivery: A healthy population is a productive population. The health sector requires a total overhaul. There is a need to re – staff, re- equip and rehabilitate our hospitals. The primary health care system must be improved upon to provide quality services at that level and to avoid overstretching the secondary and tertiary health facilities. Also, the state health insurance scheme will be deliberately expanded to accommodate more people, especially those outside formal employment. The ultimate goal of this administration is to make Plateau state a destination for medical tourism given the advantage of our weather which is ideal for recovery!
Robust Physical and Infrastructural development: The Time is Now to rebuild Plateau State. Infrastructural development critical to the future and survival of Plateau State would be rebuilt.
Road and Transport: Physical Infrastructural development will be prioritized to meet the growing population of our state. We are already discussing with the contractors on some the abandoned but critical roads in the state. We will do our best to ensure that they return to site as soon as possible. We shall explore various options to ensure that both Federal and state feeder roads across the 17 Local Government Areas that require immediate intervention and completion for swift action. By the grace of God, critical junctions and traffic build up spots will be freed up with new bridges and interchange provision to allow free flow of traffic. We shall in collaboration with the Local Government Councils; revive the PDP policy of 5 kilometres of asphalt roads in each local government headquarters to make rural-urban migration less attractive. Adequate attention will also be given to rural roads. We will work out good drainage system in collaboration with relevant stakeholders to curtail flooding across the state.
Power and Energy: Energy is very crucial to the development of every sector of our economy. We will summon the political courage to fully and adequately develop the hydroelectric, solar and wind potentials of the state in partnership with the existing and new stakeholders in the power industry. We shall work round the clock to strengthen power supply in the urban city and extent it to rural communities across our local governments. With the deregulation of this critical sector, we shall endeavour to make Plateau state a net seller of electricity. The Plateau State Electricity will be repositioned as a Special Purpose vehicle for this purpose.
Water Supply: Water is essential for survival. We cannot imagine our lives without water. We shall take immediate steps to reconnect power supply to Plateau State Water Board for immediate supply of water to citizens. We will work out a dependable system of water supply to address water shortages in the Local Governments.
Urban Development/Renewal: My fellow citizens, we desire to make Plateau an environmentally safe state starting with Jos, the state capital. This can only happen when we individually and collectively strive to portray our homes, surroundings and work places as safe and healthy. We will review the Greater Jos Master Plan with citizen input in this quest. To demonstrate our seriousness in this regard, I hereby declare a state of emergency on environmental sanitation in Jos North and Jos South Local Government Areas. All agencies of government must take immediate steps to clear the stinking and ugly heaps of waste littered across the state. Homes and offices must take responsibility for their refuse disposal in line with extant government guidelines. Henceforth we shall ensure that every polluter pays for his pollution. We shall ensure that the indiscriminate trading on roads thereby obstructing traffic as well as posing security concerns is arrested. We shall take steps to curtail the upsurge of illegal motor parks and the indiscriminate parking of trucks along major corridors. We call on the private to take advantage of this opportunity to partner with government for the restoration of the beauty of the city centre.
Civil Service Reforms: We will strengthen and enhance the capacity of civil servants to carry out their daily responsibility of implementing government policies diligently. We will look into areas of training, retraining, quality staffing and meritorious reward system so that state workers will help deliver public services, support government’s policies and provide advice on policy formulation, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and documentation.
We are aware of the pains our workers are currently facing which have resulted to industrial disharmony. Your welfare is a right, for every labourer is worthy of his wages. We will not regard payment of salary as an achievement but a duty; therefore, it will be one of our top priorities. We therefore, request civil servants in the state to end the ongoing strike in the interest of Plateau. This will provide the window for intense and sincere interaction towards resolving the issues.
Financing options: The state is currently plagued with a huge debt burden, but that will not deter us from serving you effectively. We are committed to breaking the state’s over-dependence on one source of revenue which is based in Abuja and managed sometimes with uncertainty. We commit to work on multiple and sustainable income sources so that we can serve you better.
In this regard, Public Private Partnership (PPP) will be adopted as an official and strategic corner policy of our development initiatives. We will work to lower the cost of governance without jeopardising the future of our workforce. The state internal revenue service will be repositioned to play a leading and unambiguous role in radically improving state finance. Our ultimate target is to pay workers’ salaries from our IGR.
Local Government Administration and Chieftaincy Affairs: We are very determined to become more effective and creative managers of our ethnic diversities and cultural identities. Our goal is to see the local government structure become a better hub of all human development with minimal supervision. We shall work towards making the autonomy of the Local Governments a reality.
Traditional institutions have become necessary pillars for the preservation of our culture and values. They are also a critical component of the peace and security infrastructure in our communities. We shall empower the traditional institutions to confidently play vital security and developmental roles. We envision them as mobilizers for peace, security and prosperity in their areas of influence. To this end, we call on chiefdoms that are yet to select their paramount traditional rulers to lay aside their differences and ensure the vacant stools are filled as soon as possible!
By the grace of God, I will personally lead from the front based on the principles of godliness, dependable character and love for Plateau State. We will insist on due process, accountability, transparency, equity, and the rule of law. We will place emphasis on merit in the selection of quality team members that will help in transforming Plateau.
We are inclined to entering into strategic networking with the Diaspora and other special interest groups to advance development in Plateau. We will make more creative and efficient use of state-owned media outfits to unite our people, mobilise them for worthy cause and to be a voice for Plateau people and beyond.
Legislature: We will work diligently to have an excellent and mutually beneficial relationship with the legislature, to bring to the fore people oriented legislations that will address the myriad of challenges in our state and add value to human lives.
The Judiciary: We will create a conducive atmosphere for the judiciary to function in the dispensation of justice. We will make available the necessary logistics, human capacity and operational supports to maintain a strong, efficient and equitable judiciary. We will respect the autonomy of the Judiciary.
Dear compatriots, let me reassure you, we shall work hard and leave no stone unturned in pursuing the realisation of the foregoing plans and programmes. As I conclude this address, let me express my profound appreciation to the following institutions and personalities;
- The national leadership of our great party, PDP
- Our Presidential/Vice Presidential candidate
- All PDP Governors
- State Party Chairman/State working committee/party Chairmen across the 17 Local Government
- Party elders
- Members of the national assembly
- Atiku/Mutfwang campaign directorate/Women/Youth campaign directorate
- PDP governorship aspirants
- Friends, supporters across parties, associates and youths.
- INEC staff (both permanent and ad-hoc)
- Security personnel
- Traditional rulers
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me emphasize here that without your resilience, patriotism and commitment to democracy, we would definitely not be here. I therefore, solicit your unflinching support, cooperation and goodwill to forge a common front.
We will not witch-hunt, neither will we embark on blame game, but we will take a critical assessment of what we are inheriting today, and where we need to ask cogent questions, we will because we are determined to bequeath an enduring legacy.
The future beckons on us to forge a partnership that will lead Plateau to her cherished destination-a land of Peace and Prosperity. I request every lover of Plateau State to join us in the cause of uniting our state. Uniting to fight the common foe that is hell bent on causing fear, pain, hardship and hopelessness in our people. By God’s grace, we shall remain resolute and hopeful.
When we are united, we can do great things, we can right wrongs and we shall overcome.
However, let me remind us that this would require the contributions, collaboration and cooperation of most of us. We promise to carry you along in all our endeavors and engagements.
I want you to trust me to be there for you in the next four years. We Must reform policies and institutions.
This is the government you voted for, own it. Plateau State has to better than this. I am confident that together, we can make it better. Yes, we can.
Welcome to a new dispensation.
Welcome to a new beginning
Welcome to a new Plateau.
Indeed, The Time is NOW.
God bless Plateau State.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.