ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY HON. MAI MALA BUNI, CON, ON HIS INAUGURATION AND SWEARING-IN FOR A SECOND TERM OF OFFICE AS THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF YOBE STATE, HELD ON MONDAY, 29TH MAY 2023 AT THE AUGUST 27 STADIUM, DAMATURU.
“EMPOWERING THE PEOPLE OF YOBE STATE”
It is my honour and privilege to address you this auspicious morning of the 29th of May, 2023. Our profound gratitude is to Allah, the most high, for yet another opportunity to be sworn in as the Governor of Yobe State along with the Deputy Governor, His Excellency, Hon. Idi Barde Gubana.
I thank our compatriots, the good people of Yobe State, for finding us worthy of another term in office and for entrusting us with a second mandate. We are, indeed, very grateful. I extend hands of fellowship to all and sundry to join us in the task of building our dear State. It is a duty we must discharge with dignity and honour. We are first and foremost collective stakeholders dedicated to making Yobe State peaceful and prosperous, irrespective of any differences.
Permit me to pay a special tribute to whom it is well deserved. His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, Jagoran Talakawa, occupies a special place in my heart and the hearts of all Yobeans. We thank Allah the Almighty for enabling him to complete his 8 years’ tenure peacefully and strongly. Allah endowed him with excellent health to the pleasure of his teeming well-wishers. Alhamdulillah, his administration has invested in the largest infrastructural development and has restored the integrity and dignity of all Nigerians.
I enjoy a special relationship with President Buhari, GCFR. I consult him regularly for fatherly advice and will continue to do so. As the President retires to Daura and into the hall of elder Statesmen, I wish him Allah’s blessings, excellent health, and happy retirement.
Once again, I congratulate His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, for the mandate as the 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and my brother, His Excellency, Kashim Shettima, GCON, as the Vice President. President Tinubu deserved to be elected, more than any of the presidential candidates, given that he was at the forefront of restoring democracy in Nigeria. On behalf of the good people of Yobe state, I assure him and the Vice President of our commitment and support in the onerous tasks ahead.
Your Excellencies may recall that we adopted the principle of Continuity, Consolidation, and Innovation, when we assumed leadership of the State four years ago. This principle became the policy direction of our administration to continue, consolidate and innovate on the progressive achievements of my predecessor and leader, distinguished, Senator. Dr. Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam. Alhamdulillahi, we have made tremendous progress in the last four years, impacting positively on the lives of our people despite the myriad of unforeseen challenges.
We are all aware of the global and national challenges facing humanity including low crude oil price, debt crisis, decrease in foreign exchange earnings, diminishing allocation from the federation account, the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic recession. Furthermore, the effects of global warming and climate change have compounded the situation leading to excessive flooding with its attendant adverse consequences on the socio-economy of our people.
Your Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we have made progress during the last four years, and we will continue to do so until our last day in office. This has been and shall remain our driving force. At this juncture, let me humbly cite some specific examples of our modest achievements and aspirations as follows:
Post Insurgency Recovery, Peace, and Security
Your Excellencies distinguished invited guests, ladies, and gentlemen, one of the key successes of our administration is responding to the menace of Boko Haram that lasted over a decade. The devastating effects of the insurgency on livelihoods and socio-economic conditions of our people and communities cannot be overemphasised. We have, therefore, developed a post insurgency recovery plan to be the basis for future sustainable intervention. We have gladly succeeded in re-integrating most of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) while also ensuring that other displaced communities such as the people of Mallum Dunari Ward in Gujba LGA are returned to their homes in a dignified manner.
Accordingly, all United Nations and other humanitarian partners working in the state are required to key into the state government post conflict recovery and reintegration plan just as there will be a strengthened collaboration and synergy with all multinational oil companies and federal government agencies to improve the livelihood of internally displaced returnee’s. Furthermore, I wish to restate that the multilateral relationship existing with the Lake Chad Basin Regional Stabilization Strategy under the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum and other donor communities will be sustained and strengthened for the progress of the state.
All the security agencies have exhibited professionalism, hard work and dedication to bring peace and stability to the State. I would like to thank them all, especially the Nigeria Armed Forces, the Nigerian Police, the NSDC, the Department of Security Services and all the Military and Para Military Agencies including the Vigilante Groups for their cooperation and relentless efforts in bringing peace to the State. We shall continue to support them as peace is non-negotiable.
Education is given a special relevance with the declaration of a state of emergency on the 29th of May 2019. Consequently, much focus and attention is given to basic and secondary education riding on the following institutional platforms: the execution of a baseline assessment of the basic and secondary education subsector through the technical committee on revitalisation of education; the establishment of an executive oversight body, the Yobe Education Council under my chairmanship; the constitution of a supportive technical committee on education; the launch of an education fundraiser; and the establishment of the Yobe State Education Trust Fund (YEFTFund).
All of these led to the following tangible achievements: the ranking of Yobe State on the national examination performance index has moved to 15th position and rising; we established eight (8) new Government Girls Day Senior Secondary Schools to address the challenges of adolescent girls transition and dropping out of schools; we constructed seven (7) new model schools and seven (7) new mega schools; we admitted over twelve thousand (12,000) students thus, putting into use the Mega Schools, the Model Schools and the Government Girls Day Senior Secondary Schools; we rehabilitated all the schools that were devastated by insurgency. The inadequacy of furniture has been addressed by providing desks and tables to many schools; we recruited two thousand six hundred (2,600) teachers, and therefore lay the foundation for teacher training and development centre which will soon take-off.
I am happy that most of our tertiary institutions have achieved over ninety percent (90%) accreditation. Most important, is that the MBBS programme of Yobe State University is accredited by both the National Universities Commission and the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council. Thirty-eight thousand (38,000) of our students are on scholarship studying in Nigeria while three hundred and seventy-one are studying abroad.
Let me use this opportunity to express the gratitude of the entire people of Yobe State, to the Board of Directors of YETFund for sacrificing their valuable time and their wealth of experience to give back to their dear State. We also want to thank all the donors for their generous contributions towards the success of the fundraising.
In the years ahead, government will continue to sustain the tempo of the state of emergency on education. For the immediate future, we shall launch a mass enrolment drive with a view to eradicating the out of school children phenomenon. To accelerate, like we did in the health sector, we shall have functional and effective Primary School in each of the rural political wards of the state.
We shall implement the recommendations of the teacher audit report with a view to improving the capacity of the teaching service delivery accompanied by with commensurate rewarding system. We shall ensure the commencement of the Teacher Professional Training Centre, Damaturu; the commencement of the three Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) schools approved earlier to be sited in Damaturu, Potiskum and Nguru; we shall establish a digital education information system with a view to inculcate the state of the art education performance management from pre-school to tertiary level.
The health sector in our state has witnessed progressive improvements in the last four years, bringing healthcare delivery to the doorsteps of the people as exemplified by: the establishment of one functional Primary Healthcare Centre in one hundred and thirty eight (138) out of one hundred and seventy eight (178) wards; the upgrading of four (4) primary healthcare centres to general hospitals and four (4) general hospitals to specialist hospitals; the construction and equipping of one of the largest (375 bed capacity) maternity, new-born and paediatric healthcare complex in Nigeria at the Yobe State University Teaching Hospital, Damaturu; we provide free dialysis to deserving patients; we established the Yobe State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency; the Yobe State Drugs and Consumables Management Agency; the Yobe State Emergency Medical Ambulance Services; the Yobe State Health and Healthcare Related Facilities Inspections and Monitoring Agency; we equipped and strengthened our medical and paramedical schools, including the Shehu Sule College of Nursing and Midwifery, Damaturu and the College of Health Technology, Nguru.
The outcome of our investment in the health sector are heart-warming. We recorded significant improvements in Antenatal care, skilled birth attendance rate, immunization coverage, under five mortality rates, and child mortality rate.
In the health sector, our focus in the next four years will be on strengthening our primary health facilities through equipping, and provision of drugs and human resources; we will upgrade the remaining forty (40) primary health care centres to reach our goal of one functional Primary Health Care Centre in each ward; we shall set up mental health care facilities to ameliorate the post insurgency traumatic mental challenges. Accordingly, all the agencies under the Ministry shall be strengthened and funded to perform their duties satisfactorily.
Agriculture is the backbone of our economy. We are endowed with the triple resources of land, water and people for farming, animal husbandry, and fishing. Notable progress in the sector includes the 2000-hectare Lava Irrigation Scheme to produce rice, wheat, and assorted vegetables; the establishment of a Livestock Development Centre in each senatorial district and the setting up of the National Animal Production Research Institute and the National Veterinary Research Institute field stations.
During the four years, we have supported our farmers with ten thousand, five hundred (10,500) metric tons of fertiliser, improved seedlings and procured and distributed about one hundred and twenty (120) tractors and implements.
Your Excellencies, agriculture remains the bedrock and the secret of wealth creation, prosperity, and social security everywhere in the world. Mindful of this, our administration for the next four years shall give agriculture topmost priority.
The transformation agenda will be anchored on the principle of agric-business, and will be directed towards the promotion of mechanised farming; agricultural financing and investment; irrigation and water management; cash crops production for export; storage system; agro allied industries, transportation equipment and infrastructure; markets; as well as livestock, meat, and dairy processing facilities, to mention but a few. Furthermore, government will adopt concrete measures to avert the occurrences of clashes between farmers and herders with a view to ensuring a secure environment for sustainability.
To sustain all these policies and programs in agriculture, I wish to announce the establishment of a high powered Yobe Agricultural Development and Implementation Committee (YADIC) under my leadership with the participation of the private sector, bilateral and multilateral agencies. The Committee shall be responsible for driving the agricultural transformation agenda of this administration.
We are excited that the modern markets in Damaturu, Gashua, and Nguru have been completed and commissioned to create a conducive environment for the flourishing of businesses. The Potiskum Trailer Park, the Mechanic Village, Potiskum and the Geidam Modern Markets will soon be completed and commissioned. These fire-resistant ultra-modern markets were designed and constructed with large warehouses to boost domestic and international trade.
I am happy to note that three of our industries, Yobe State Flour and Feed Mill, Sahel Aluminium Company, and the Polythene Bags and Woven Sacks Company were resuscitated and rehabilitated within the first year of this administration.
Infrastructural challenges of Yobe are closely related to its geography and ecology. Yobe needs roads to service communities and transport farm produce. We need drainages to protect the flat landscape. We need water ways for inland water transportation and fisheries. So far, the State Government has invested on township, feeder, and access roads. In addition, government has invested on international cargo airport with a view to foster export/import businesses.
These achievements notwithstanding, our landscape suffers from the vagrancies of the elements of sand dunes movement, excessive floods, and aggressive deforestation which grossly compromised the investment on infrastructure thus increasing the fiscal burden of keeping up with infrastructural development. However, government is resolved to cultivate international and domestic partnerships for the financing of infrastructure to boost the economic growth of the State.
Shelter is a human priority. It is in realisation of this important need that we constructed two thousand five hundred (2,500) housing units across the State. These houses were sold, on owner/occupier basis with a fifty (50%) percent discount, earning Yobe State the award of the most housing friendly State in 2022. We shall continue this trajectory of empowering our people and making them proud homeowners.
Water Resources and Environment
Our state is blessed with the following water sources which can be utilised for domestic water supply, livestock consumption and irrigation. They include the Komadugu-Yobe, Kumadugu Gana, Annuma River, Ngalda or the Gongola arm of River Benue and other perennial water bodies found across the state.
Through a Task Force, four hundred and seventy-seven (477) water facilities across one hundred and thirty-five (135) communities in the seventeen (17) LGAs have been rectified. Government has substantially completed the long-awaited phase one of the Damaturu regional water supply scheme, Fika-Gadaka, and Potiskum water supply projects. Furthermore, the government approved “The Water Sanitation and Hygiene Policy 2021” in realization of its importance to the well-being of the people. Going forward, water resources for irrigation, domestic, industrial and livestock consumption will continue to remain a priority of this administration.
Drought and Desertification are the main ecological challenges affecting our state and are expected to persist in view of the phenomena of global warming and climate change. To reduce the menace of these phenomena, we have produced and distributed over three million seedlings of assorted trees across the state. The tree planting campaign otherwise known as the Governor Buni climate change action plan is institutionalised as an annual event in the state.
Accordingly, we urge all stakeholders to develop a joint holistic approach to drought mitigation while the government will ensure the resuscitation and strengthening of the North East Arid Zone Development Programme. Going forward this administration will vigorously pursue the afforestation program and explore the incentives of the Carbon Credit Trade.
Minerals Resources Development
Nature has endowed Yobe State with diverse mineral resources, which include Potash, Gypsum, Diatomite, Limestone, Kaolin, and Quartz. The State has great potential for the establishment of processing industries associated with pharmaceutical, cement, glass, chalk, plaster of paris, and soap. Already the state government had constituted a committee for the possibility of setting up a cement manufacturing company.
In the next four years, as an expression of concern and commitment for speedy industrial development, the state government will invite private investors to participate in industrial activities as greenfield projects, where it will concentrate on providing administrative incentives and enabling business environment. This is in line with our new policy direction in the state to promote Ease of Doing Business.
Governance and Accountability
We have made a commitment to the people of Yobe to run a responsible, prudent, accountable, and transparent government. Our fidelity to this commitment has resulted in some remarkable achievements which include among others, prompt payment of salary and pension. We imbibed the State Integrated Financial Management Information System which ensured our excellent performance at the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability system assessment since the year 2018.
We are happy to share the good news that Yobe State today is rated the best among the 36 states of the Federation on the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability performance. We are recipient of a World Bank award as the topmost state with overall highest achievements. We will soon have a treasury single account to improve internally generated revenue and cash management.
Law and Order
Law and order are the cardinal pillars of our democratic governance. Our government will promote the rule of law and respect the rights and dignity of everyone. We shall enact laws that will incentivize and facilitate democratic governance and enhance the socio-economic well-being of our people. To demonstrate these commitments, this administration, in the last four years, has passed several Executive Orders and enacted the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law; the Administration of Criminal Justice Law; the Child Protection Law, amongst others.
The application of our criminal justice system is highly efficient as demonstrated by the number of more convicts than persons awaiting trial in our various prisons in the state. We shall continue to work in harmony with the Yobe State House of Assembly and the judiciary to enhance our performance.
Going forward, we shall initiate essential legal and institutional reforms to promote good governance, accountability, investments and ease the doing of businesses in Yobe State. We shall promote the SULHU system as the cornerstone of our alternative dispute resolution system.
I would like to thank the members of the State House of Assembly both individually and collectively for the cordial working relationship with the executive and judicial arms of Government. All our achievements were because of their support and cooperation. I congratulate them all for the election victory in the last general election. I extend my hands of fellowship to all Honourable Members. Let us work together to make Yobe the real Pride of the Sahel.
We established the Ministry of Wealth Creation, Empowerment and Employment Generation whose mandate is to improve the per-capita economy and well-being of our people. The ministry has taken off with interventions targeted at beneficiaries across the seventeen (17) local governments who are gainfully self-employed in various skills and trade.
Public Service Reforms
Your Excellencies, as an initiative to introduce corporate governance in public sector management for speedy service delivery, this administration will take a close look at the whole gamut of government to rationalise it for effective service delivery. We will give premium to staff training and capacity building. Our government will introduce rewards for performance and hard work to keep the morale of public servants.
Ease of Doing Business
As part of the reforms in governance and public service, we shall rollout comprehensive policies and legal framework to enhance and make business easy in Yobe State. Our investment policies will be boosted and strengthened to achieve this new initiative with a view to creating an enabling business friendly environment.
Let me take this opportunity to register my sincere appreciation and gratitude once again to the good people of Yobe State, our Party, the All-Progressives Congress, Federal Government, our development partners and donor agencies for the support and cooperation given to our administration since its inception four years ago. I wish to re-assure our citizens that I and my team will take decisive steps to steer the affairs of the State to the path of sustainable development, progress, peace, unity, and stability in a just and equitable atmosphere.
I also thank all those who in one way or the other contributed in making the activities lined-up for the inauguration ceremony a huge success.
Finally, I Pray Almighty Allah to grant all our distinguished invited guests, supporters and well-wishers who have come to witness our inauguration safe journey to their respective destinations and abodes.
I thank you all. May the Almighty Allah bless us all.
EXCELLENCY, HON. MAI MALA BUNI, CON,
EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF YOBE STATE