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May 29th Speeches Of Mixed Messages ~ By Emmanuel Onwubiko


Since the advent of the current constitution in 1999, which is our grund norm, the transition from one administration to another happens every May 29th.

This year’s version has come and gone. However, what are still being digested across board are the speeches made by those set of governors and the president whose oaths of offices were administered on this epochal day.

With the exception of President Muhammadu Buhari who made no speech after his final inauguration, all others like the governors of the nearly 27 states whereby swearing in ceremonies took place made speeches.

These speeches are simply the representation of their blueprints for their constituents and are the exact benchmarks that should be monitored by all in line with section 14 (2) (c) of the constitution which provides that “the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this constitutions”.

In the absence of any inaugural speech from the president in the last inauguration, Nigerians are obliged to hold him on his 2015 presidential inauguration speech.

Perhaps, Mr. President deliberately skipped his inaugural speech on May 29th 2019 because of the widespread perception that he never addressed up to thirty percent of the key policy objectives embodied in his first inaugural address in 2015. For instance, he said in 2015 that he is the man for all and was no tool of any regional interests. But he failed to abide by this solemn pledge to be the national leader. He gave out all the top national security posts to his fellow Moslems as against the Federal Character Principles enshrined in the Constitution. Buhari made no speech but the governors did make speeches in style.

The speeches by the governors would then form the foundations for this analysis. In Lagos state, the newly elected governor who was sworn in a while ago promised to take swift action to clear Apapa of heavy duty trucks that have constituted eyesore in over a decade going by their lawless tendencies of blocking all the motor able roads thereby denying Lagosians of their fundamental human rights as enshrined in chapter 4 of the constitution.

Infrastructure development and jobs are also some of the highlights of the Lagos state brand new governor Mr. Sanwa Olu.

Abdullahi Gandilie whose re-election is hotly disputed in court, says he would focus on education and infrastructure.

Sokoto state’s re-elected governor Aminu Tambuwal who made tremendous achievements in the area of primary education has promised to embark on policies and projects that would make impact in the capacity building of the state’s labour force and the good people of Sokoto state.

Governor Tambuwal has a great record of matching his words with actions.

On his own part, the Rivers state governor, who is a lawyer, Mr. Nyesom Wike sounded philosophical by promising to give his all. Wike is amongst the second term governors that can be rated as someone determined to match his words with actions.

The Rivers state governor is even named by the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) as Mr. Project. So he made a renewed vow to keep the flag flying.

Hear him: “Our task is therefore not yet done; neither our mission in governance accomplished, until we fully and comprehensively deliver on the vision of our founding fathers and the promise of statehood by building a State:

▪ that offers equal protection, freedom and opportunity for everyone irrespective of background;

▪ where our people will move up the social, economic and political ladder on the basis of their hard work, character and affinity with the people, not on the basis of their connections or privileged background;

▪ where everyone will have enough for themselves and cater to the needs of their children and families with relative ease;

▪ where quality healthcare will be accessible, affordable and adequate for all citizens, whether poor or rich;

▪ where our children will get quality education with the right skills to advance their careers and achieve their full potential;

▪ where senior citizens will retire with security and enjoy their post-retirement in dignity, peace of mind, good health and happiness;

▪ where development and the benefits of progress are spread to all parts of the State in respective of location; and

▪ the ordinary laws of the land are equally applied to promote good governance, justice and fairness to all”.

Recall that Wike as the education minister under President Goodluck Jonathan addressed the important issue of out of school CHILDREN’S syndrome by building multibillion Naira worth Almajiri schools in the North which the current administration has abandoned.

In Imo state, Emeka Ihedioha has his job cut out for him going by the notoriety of his predecessor Rochas Okorocha who is easily the worst performed governor in the past eight years. Expectedly, governor Ihedioha of Imo has promised to rebuild the devastated Imo state.

One of the immediate actions of our government, he says, will be to take appropriate steps and measures to restore faith and confidence in government.

Ihedioha told a mamoth crowd that witnessed his inauguration thus: “We will not waste a day getting to work to renew the Imo promise of our founding fathers. The direness of the situation dictates that we hit the ground running. The fulfillment of the promises we made during the campaigns starts right now”.

Ihedioha stated also that: “Elections are over. Governance must now begin. Politics is over, development must now begin. We must now shove aside partisan political battles, petty bickering and quarrels and work together for the common good of our people. I pledge before you today, that I will be the Governor of all Ndi-Imo irrespective of your geo-political zones and political affiliations. We will run an accountable, transparent and inclusive administration”.

“Our mission is to rebuild, reposition and transform Imo into a modern ecosystem for education, agriculture, industry, tourism, culture, sports, entertainment, human capital development, science and technology, and exploitation of our natural resources, thereby creating an enabling environment for sustainable economic growth and quality life for our people”, Governor Ihedioha stated.

The newly elected Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Mohammed Inuwa Yahaya of the All Progressive Congress (APC) the fourth democratically Governor was handed the leadership of Gombe State during a colourful ceremony before crowded well-wishers and party faithful at the Pantami Stadium after swearing to an oath administered by the Chief Justice of Gombe State, Justice Hakila Y. Heman.

His Deputy, Dr Manasseh Daniel Jatau, had earlier taken his oath of office and becomes the sixth democratically elected Deputy Governor of the State.

In his inaugural speech, Alhaji Yahaya promised to keep his electoral promises and a vow to make the State an investment haven.

He also assured that the administration will also pursue infrastructural development and make agricultural activities more attractive.

The inauguration ceremony in Borno state, on Wednesday, ended midway after Babagana Zulum, the governor, suffered persistent coughs while reading his speech.

Kashim Zanna, the chief judge of the state, swore in Zulum and his deputy, Umar Kadafur.

Speaking during the inaugural address, Zulum listed a 10-point agenda his administration intends working on to develop the state.

“My focus is on improving the security of the state as insecurity is the major impediment that affected people’s lives for a decade,” he said.

“I will ensure the return of our displaced people to their farmlands to ensure national food security.

“I will also fight unemployment and poverty among youths and embark on the massive reconstruction of destroyed communities.

“This will enable the people to return to their ancestral homes, while we seek more support from humanitarian donor agencies across the globe.”

Halfway into the speech, the media reports that the governor started coughing persistently and began to have difficulties in reading further.

It was suspected that a security official had accidentally opened a tear gas which affected the governor’s breath.

He was later made to step down from the podium and led away, accompanied by Kashim Shettima, his predecessor.

In terms of context and contents, the governor of Imo state ranks the best.

The expectation of Nigerians is that these governors must serve their people with all their talents and time and change the notorious image of governors as thieving dictators. It is on record that Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has listed state governors as the biggest executive thieves of public wealth. These current governors should change this notorious status.

These new governors must not steal the resources of their people. These governors must cut down on the high costs of governance by running prudent and extremely lean government. They need to engage only the best brains who can deliver and should allow the local government areas to be financially autonomous.

In all the thirty six states, there is the need to address the issues of poverty, unemployment and youth empowerment. The health, educational and infrastructural demands of their people must be met efficiently. The issue of security is second to none because without stability and security of lives and property, there would be no food security and the economies of their states would be improved. As Emeka Ihedioha says, these governors don’t have the pleasure of time to embark on white elephant projects. Only the best and most impactful projects are good for the citizens.

Emmanuel Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)

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