On a day like this, I like to begin by congratulating you all as we celebrate the 13th anniversary of our democracy. Today marks a renewal of our abiding faith in our country and in our democracy. Our hard-won democracy is as a result of your resilience and by the grace of God, it is now 13 years old, the longest in this country’s history.
For us in Bayelsa, the
day means so much because, among other things, one of our own, a son of
this state, a great leader, is the President of this country. I like to
congratulate you all, I like to congratulate Bayelsans, the Ijaw Nation
and the entire people of Nigeria for this great honour you have
done to us by supporting and electing our President, who we know and
believe, will strive to continue to do a good job as he is presently
On a day like this, I will like to call on you all
to work on your resolve to serve, protect and entrench our democracy,
and you can do this by offering prayers and by supporting all elected
leaders at all levels of government.
Deriving from the
fore-going, it is important for us as Bayelsans and Nigerians to support
our resolve to build a strong, united and prosperous Federal Republic
of Nigeria. Now, more than any time before, there is need for us
to emphasise on the things that bind us together as a nation, and not
those things that the capacity to separate us.
It is on
the basis of our unity and cohesion that our democracy and development
can be assured, and thereafter the fruits of democracy will get to every
But beyond unity and cohesion, there is need for us in
Bayelsa to have a change of values, we need to examine our attitudes. It
is important to us all to eschew the vices of corruption and cultism,
to embrace transparency and focus
on the positive things that
will enable us to be great citizens of this country, and be proud
members of the great Bayelsa and Ijaw family.
I am not
campaigning for election so I don’t want to bore you with long speeches.
We have said enough. The mandate you have given to me is to now act. I
have studied the problems and we have devised our own strategies. In the
last three months, a lot of ground work, a lot of solid foundation has
been laid for your irreversible development and progress. So, from now
on, it will be restoration, restoration, restoration.
like to thank you all for your understanding, patience, solidarity,
support and prayers, because without these, all our well-intended
programmes will not be fruitful, will not be successful and will not be
I however like to enjoin you to even show
more understanding as we now move into the critical phase of the
restoration agenda, which is the beginning of actual
We have said a lot about the restoration of values. In all my
public speeches, we have tried to sell the message of zero tolerance to
crime, cultism and violence. And I like to use this opportunity to thank
you all, the good and wonderful people of Bayelsa, and especially our
youths, for heeding our call to be law-abiding and peaceful, even when
I like to also thank all traditional rulers,
opinion and political leaders, for helping in their various ways to
bring about this state of normalcy. Let me also specially thank our men
and women in uniform for their hard-work, dedication and commitment in
the protection of our democracy, and especially to the military men and
women working in Bayelsa, for standing by the government in the
enthronement of peace and security. I congratulate you all and I also
congratulate all Bayelsans.
You all know that Bayelsa is
the most peaceful state in Nigeria and we are working hard to keep it
so. Just three months into our government, Yenagoa is the most peaceful
capital in the country, and we will like to work hard, in
conjunction with the security men and women, who are doing a wonderful
job, at the risk of their lives and limbs, to protect our fundamental
freedom and to protect lives and
property. All of us should
continue to work continuously with the security agencies, and even in
our homes and communities to work for peace.
In a few
days from now, we shall be launching “Operation Doo Akpo”. This is what
will replace the regime of terror that we all knew about. I don’t want
to talk much about that. So, very soon we shall assemble to launch the
beginning of our effort to maintain, sustain, build upon and consolidate
on the prevailing security, peace and stability. Without that, all the
efforts we are making will come to nothing.
We have been
talking to a lot of people both in the country and outside, and I want
to report to you that there is a great deal of interest. A lot of people
want to come into the state to partner with us and invest in the state
in the areas of tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and other areas
where we can build and develop skills, so we can create jobs and wealth
for our people. We will not be able to achieve this lofty goal we have
set for ourselves if we do not work together to maintain the peace that
we presently have.
Bayelsa is being re-positioned within
the country and outside, as the foremost tourism and investment
destination, and we will not rest until we succeed in that. If
we do not broaden our economic base, everything we are doing will not
be sustainable. So, join me in this great walk to freedom, sustainable
peace and development.
On a day like this, it is
important for me to highlight a few of the things you will be seeing and
hearing from us. Between this week and next, the process of awarding
various development contracts will begin. Already, all the major
contractors, Julius Berger, Gitto and Setraco, are back to the state, to join us in the development of the state.
We shall be broadening some roads and dualising several others,
so that we can turn our state capital into the most beautiful state
capital in the country.
Between this week and next, you will
be hearing about the award of contracts for the construction of
befitting General Hospitals in all the local government headquarters,
and the process has already started. You will also be hearing
about the commencement of the construction of model secondary schools in
all the local government headquarters, and these will have boarding
We hope that contractors will be part of this
partnership. We will work assiduously to ensure that these projects and
several other jobs are completed within scheduled time so that the
restoration benefits can be seen.
When I came in, one of
the first policy statements I made, apart from the issue of peace and
security, is the declaration of a state of emergency in the educational
sector. And I followed up by declaring free and compulsory education in
this state. The greatest resource we have is the human being. And let me
thank the lady, who I hear, organised the training of these young
people, the Kingdom Steppers, who put up this brilliant performance.
That is what human capacity development is all about. I have directed
that lady be brought to me so that she can be enabled to do more in this
state. Let me thank the children who performed, and indeed all the
children of Bayelsa, who, in spite of the harsh weather, were prepared
to serve the state and their
Talking about human capacity building therefore, it is our desire, and a policy, and for this purpose, we have set
aside the sum of one billion Naira for the youths of the state
who desire to further their education in any higher institution of their
choice in this country or abroad and this is for this year alone. All
the youths of the state are
hereby encouraged to take advantage of this.
The right thing to do is to increase your capacity to compete
with your peers in this country to represent us effectively in various
fields of human endeavour and bring out the best in you. It is only then
that you can be said to be completely free. And we will not rest until
every Bayelsa child, every Bayelsa young man, young woman and every
citizen of the Ijaw Nation has the capacity to be his or herself. This
government will also not rest until we achieve that.
Opinion leaders, political leaders in all arms of government should
begin the process of scouting for the best hands among our youths that
can be supported to be the
best that they can be. In the
course of the week, I will set up the Scholarship Board to begin this
process. We want to send you to the best institutions in the country and
outside, so that when you come back, you will be better equipped to
compete for places.
As a result of our resolve to
maintain and consolidate on the peace that we have, we will propose to
the State House of Assembly, in no distant time, a Bill that will
prohibit political violence in this state. And let me use this
to call on all politicians, political leaders and
political actors to learn to play by the rules of the game at all times.
I have fought a lot of political battles without violence. We
have been involved in a lot of political endeavours without raising a
finger at anybody, and the peace we are currently enjoying will not be
sustainable unless we stop political actors from recruiting our
vulnerable youths and arming them with various devises of violence to
bring about chaos, and harm to their fellow citizens. I will not sit
back to watch that and to complement the anti-cultism Bill, we will send
the Bill prohibiting political violence to the House of
Assembly. Those who want to exercise their political rights and freedom
are free to do so but they will not, under the guise of exercising their
political liberty, be allowed to endanger our collective peace.
You are also aware of the transparency regime we have instituted
and which we will sustain all the way. Already, a Bill has been passed
and signed into Law to entrench this transparency. This Bill is not
necessarily for this government
but we passed it because we
want to create an institution and enthrone a culture of transparency. I
want to call on all local government chairmen to comply with the
provisions of this Law by rendering regular monthly returns to the
people they govern. Any chairman found wanting on this, will not have it
easy with this administration. I use this opportunity to call on all
councillors to ensure that the provisions of the Law are respected by
all council chairmen.
Let me, at this point, call on you
all to continue to pray for our nation, our President and dear brother
and leader. He is trying his best but we are all aware of the
challenges. God, who made all these possible will see him through.
Very soon, all the Ijaw leaders and the youths will assemble here
to discuss the way forward and I will not like to pre-empt the outcome
of that meeting.
On an occasion like this, I like to pay
tribute to our hard-working civil servants, who are doing so very well
but they are also aware of a few things that are not very right. I have
directed verification on all departments and that process will continue
until we get it right. With this verification and
from the civil servants, we have been able to reduce our monthly wage
bill by about N400 million already. But that is not good enough, we will
continue until we are able to clean the pay roll system and ensure that
people who have been placed on that pay roll are there,
so that we can create room and space for fresh recruitment instead of
allowing few ghost names to siphon our commonwealth.
process will continue but because of the inconvenience occasioned by
the exercise, I have directed that with effect from June, all salaries
will be paid on or before 25th. All those involved with the various
nefarious activities will continue to be investigated. Once the security
are able to establish a prima facea case against
anybody such persons, will face prosecution. We have no apologies for
We are now able to pay salaries because of the
savings we have been making from the verification exercise. This
government will not falter on transparency. We are here to serve you and
not ourselves. Learn to call your leaders, who are actually your
servants, to account. If we learn to do that, then it will be the
biggest dividend of democracy.
I like to thank you all for attending. God bless Bayelsa State.
God bless the Ijaw Nation. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thank you and God bless you all.