My dear brothers and sisters of Plateau State,
I welcome you to 2024, our year of hope in the midst of conflict, our year of deliverance, restoration and progress. While it is true that we ended the year 2023 on a sad note because of the many precious lives we lost including but not limited to over 400 between April and June, 2023 as well as the over 160 in the recent Christmas genocide.
From small eruptions of conflict sometime in 2001, no one could have imagined that our dear state would witness such unquantifiable bloodshed of innocent lives, some known and others unknown. It is quite grievous to 1 my heart that Plateau State has today become the cynosure of the whole nation and indeed the world for the wrong reasons.
These unprovoked and simultaneous attacks in different villages were clearly premeditated and coordinated. These series of attacks on our people are a clear case of criminality, insurgency and terrorism and must be seen and handled in that manner if we must succeed in halting this wanton destruction of lives and property. For the avoidance of doubt, it is a misrepresentation of facts to describe these needless and unprovoked attacks on our people as a Farmer-Herder clash as has always been the traditional narrative. Let us call a spade a spade, this is simple genocide!
Let me use this medium again to commiserate with my dear Plateau People on these monumental killings, especially the affected communities and the families of the deceased.
My heart goes out to you and be assured that my family, the entire government and I deeply share in your grief. We will not rest on our oars but will tirelessly collaborate with the Federal Government to bring an end to these tragedies and bring succour to affected persons and communities.
As a mark of honour for the memory of the deceased, I wish to declare a week of mourning from January 1st, to January 8th, 2024. During this period of mourning, flags will fly at half-mast. I urge all citizens to use these days for intense prayers to seek the intervention of the Almighty God in defending our territories and against wicked men that have risen against us. I wish to plead with our Muslim clerics to dedicate Friday January 5th, 2024 and our Christian Clergy to use Sunday January 7th, 2024 as special prayer days for lasting peace to return to the Plateau. Monday 8th January, 2024 will be observed as our official state day of mourning.
It is gratifying that despite these onslaughts, our spirits are not broken. Our resolve to defend our land and prosper therein has remained unshakeable. I am therefore confident that 2024 will reveal our inner strength and resilience in the face of these tribulations.
Let me state emphatically, that I do not take for granted your unwavering support and confidence in my ability to lead you at this trying period of our evolution as a people. The year ended was a year of fulfilment and tribulations. I recall how you queued in the sun to give me your mandate to lead you. You did not only turn out in large numbers to vote but you ensured that your votes counted. I owe you a debt of gratitude and I am committed to repay this debt by providing purposeful leadership.
Despite the gloomy end of 2023, I am proud to state that we have recorded some tangible gains starting from May 29th, 2023 when we were sworn into office. In the midst of the mindless murders which began late April, we immediately swung into action to revamp the security apparatus which resulted in the relative peace we attained until the recent setbacks.
It is on record that we met a demoralised civil service with a backlog of unpaid salaries which we have today cleared and have started regular payments as and when due. I am also happy to state that I approved the payment of gratuity, death benefits and pension arrears from 1986 to 2009 and actual payment began on December 29th, 2023. It is my sincere hope that we shall continue the payment for those due from 2010 within the limits of our scarce resources.
Further to the above, we have approved and financed various training and improvement workshops and seminars for different categories of workers. This we hope to continue in 2024 as part of our strategy to raise a new crop of civil servants that can compete with their peers anywhere in the country and beyond. Of course, we are not oblivious of the fact that we are living in very challenging economic times. Today, Plateau State is ranked among the poorest states in the Multidimensional Poverty Index as detailed by the National Bureau of Statistics. As a government, we shall continue to support the Federal Government in its efforts towards revamping the national economy. We have however started our roll out of palliatives from last December when we distributed over 15, 000 bags of rice and 10,000 bags of maize.
From January, 2024 we hope to also distribute the 200 trucks of fertiliser we procured for our farmers at a reasonable discount.
While waiting for the Federal Government initiative on wage review, I have approved the payment of N10,000 per month to each worker in Plateau State from September,2023 to March, 2024 as fuel subsidy. Furthermore, we have procured mass transit gas powered buses which will soon be delivered to ameliorate the difficulties of transportation for the general populace.
I am proud to also state that we have begun revamping the Plateau Express Service and very soon our people will enjoy excellent services at economic rates. Our promise to revamp the railway rack from Bukuru to Jos is at an advanced stage. Already, train heads and wagons have been received by the Nigerian Railway Station in Jos. Presently, obstructions on the track are being cleared and hopefully services would commence before the end of January, 2024.
As a government, we have taken proactive steps to protect our communities and rehabilitate those who survived the gruesome attacks. You would recall I granted Television Interviews last Tuesday on December 26, 2023 on my intention to visit our dear President, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, in Lagos in the wake of the Christmas Eve attacks. We remain thankful to Mr President for his proactive response and prompt directive to security agencies to fish out the perpetrators, and to mobilise relief materials for surviving victims and those who sustained injuries in the hospital.
I am also very grateful to the Vice President, Kasshim Shettima, the Hon. Minister of State for Defence, the Hon. Minister for Humanitarian Service & Poverty Alleviation, the National Security Adviser, and the Chief of Defence Staff, Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, who visited the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Bokkos on the directive of the President to commiserate with the government and people of Plateau State.
We are glad that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in collaboration with the Plateau State Emergency Management Agency (PLASEMA) has supplied relief materials to the hapless victims. More of these will still be supplied to ameliorate the pains and sufferings of the victims who are exposed to hunger and lack of shelter. We have also visited the survivors of the attacks at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) and have made provision for all medical bills.
Let me reaffirm that as we begin the New Year, my administration will continually collaborate with the Federal Government to halt these unprovoked attacks on our people. It is my heart cry that the many years of misery, despair and pains our people have had to go through ended in 2023.
We are counting on the support of the Federal Government, the National Assembly, development partners and the International Community to rally round us as we embark on the journey to rehabilitate our people. In furtherance of our efforts to deal with the security challenges from all angles, I have issued an Executive Order for the Protection of Mining communities against insecurity and exploitation pursuant to Section 5 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended). This Executive Order among other things seeks to ensure that mining community development agreements are properly vetted by the Government to protect them against exploitation. Furthermore, it seeks to ensure strict compliance with extant environmental laws as well as ensure appropriate revenues are paid to the state coffers.
We are determined to judiciously implement the 2024 budget tagged ‘The Budget of New beginnings’ to bring succour to our people. It is a budget aimed at laying a new foundation across different sectors to shape the future of our people and State.
We are not unaware of the current economic woes the country is going through and the attendant effects on the people. We shall adopt a multifaceted approach to deal with the issues squarely. Let me reiterate that the security of lives and property remains the topmost priority of this administration; and adequate attention shall be deployed in that direction.
I charge us not to allow our ethnic, political or religious differences to divide us. Our strength is in our Unity! There is no force, no matter how formidable, a united people cannot overcome. Let us remain united and strengthen inter community relations to overcome our adversaries. The Time Is Now to work together to bequeath enduring legacies to our people.
I am pleased to announce that following recommendations from the State Advisory Council on Prerogative OF Mercy, I have granted state pardon amnesty to one Danladi Musa who was sentenced to life imprisonment but has already served 17 years due to his good conduct, reformation and old age. Similarly, 3 others have had their various sentences converted to lesser terms. I shall continue to ensure that the interest of justice is duly served.
As I conclude this speech, let me again thank the Federal Government under the leadership of our dear President, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, the Vice President and the entire National Security apparatus. I also wish to thank various Institutions/Associations, the International Community, our friends and well-wishers who have continued to come and call to commiserate with us. This broadcast will not give us the leverage to mention names of instuitions, bodies and individuals; but I would like you to know that we are immensely grateful.
Fellow citizens, God is with us and He will give us victory over our adversaries. ‘The Lord is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’. Let me reassure you that I am confident and remain resolute that we shall overcome the challenges of insecurity that has bedevilled our state and Plateau shall remain the home of Peace and Tourism.
If Rwanda has become peaceful and a country of choice destination in Africa after many years of Internal wars and crises, Plateau shall be a choice destination not just in Nigeria or Africa, but in the world. We are blessed with clement weather; abundant natural and human resources and our people are hospitable.
Welcome to 2024, welcome to the year of new beginnings and welcome to a new dispensation.
I wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.
Thank you and God bless.
God bless Plateau State
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Lagos Post Online,
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