TEXT OF INAUGURATION SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, HON.KASHIM SHETTIMA, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR, BORNO STATE OF NIGERIA, ON FRIDAY, MAY 29TH, 2015.
I do not intend to spoil the celebration mood today but I simply cannot ignore the fact that as we are gathered here, looking good and so full of excitement, thousands of our fellow sons and daughters of Borno, old and young, including babies that are few days old, are displaced in their own land and country. Though we have tried to offer them shelter and cater for their welfare, they naturally still live in agony. They live in constant remembrance of their children, parents, wives, husbands, relatives and neighbours that might have been killed by the vicious hands of Boko Haram insurgents. They live in permanent reminder of the terror their eyes saw the different days their homes and communities came under murderous attacks at nights and other times of the day. I imagine how they must have run from pillar to post, dodging bullets targeted at them, navigating bushes, Rivers, mountains and endless deserts in darkness wondering who might have survived the assault and who didn’t, amongst members of their families and neighbours. I imagine what it meant for a heavily pregnant woman or a sick, weak old man and woman or a child of three to five years be it boy or girl, wondering across a massive field without water and food, worse of all, in so much fear for a dear life, all in the name of escaping the cruelty of those who claim working for our most loving God. I have a good mental picture of what most of these sons and daughters of Borno have gone through.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, perhaps some may think, that recapping sad tales doesn’t really apply to moments like this when we should be celebrating our electoral victory. However, I deliberately brought up this matter in order to remind all of us that in the midst of our excitements, we have got serious work ahead of us. Borno and its people have been terrified. The sad tales of destructions and the faces of our displaced sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, tell the true story of Borno today.
My Fellow People of Borno, today is a very special day in the long history of Borno. Today, I am being inaugurated for a Second Term in office as the Governor of our dear state, Borno. This day has come about, because our wonderful people have democratically elected me, and our Deputy Governor, for another four years. You chose us, out of a distinguished group of politicians who also sought your mandate. When you elected us, you gave recognition to the effort we made in the past four years, to touch your lives in several areas of human endeavor. The last four years were certainly some of the most tragic and challenging in the over a thousand-year history of Borno. We have gone through the most savage insurgency of the Boko Haram sect, which massacred thousands of our people; especially destroying the cream of Borno youth and ensuring that into the next generation, we will be faced with a demographic crisis that will challenge our creative ingenuity, to overcome. The insurgency destroyed hundreds of communities and the livelihood of millions of our people. The same insurgency preyed on our young girls, and did all it could to terminate their hope for education and a good life, while turning our women into objects of enslavement and as sex objects.
Those indeed were the worst of times in the long history of Borno! But in the despair and tragedy, we never abandoned you, the people of Borno. We suffered together just as we held firmly together, the banner of hope and the strong conviction, that no matter how long the night of tragedy and insurgency, it will give way to the light of day: the day of the people’s triumph against adversity. Our long and distinguished history taught us the valuable lessons which kept our stoicism, at the heart of the darkest periods of the past four years. We kept focus and made effort to build the basic blocks of development, in agriculture, education, empowerment, and we NEVER for a moment abandoned our people. The people appreciated how we worked with sincerity, with commitment and always defending their best interests. The situation was often difficult, especially because we faced a hostile Federal Government, which lived in denial about the savagery of Boko Haram and which also saw the insurgency from the most perverted, narrow and irresponsible prism, that somehow, the insurgency had been fuelled against it, by the political and other elites of this part of Nigeria. They therefore did only the barest and most perfunctory, to stem the problem. Meanwhile, our people suffered and our communities were systematically laid to waste. Democracy became the saving grace for the people. With our votes, we threw out a government at the centre, which did not work in the national interest and have now voted into power, President MuhammaduBuhari, who is also being inaugurated into power today in Abuja. For the first time, since the return to Civil Rule in 1999, the government in power at the centre in Abuja, will be coming from the same political party the people have voted for, here in Borno state! This is genuinely a moment of hope and the possibilities are enormous. We now have the opportunity to put the problems of our people and of our state to a LISTENING President, who would be willing to assist us with utmost dispatch, to accelerate our development. We assure the good people of Borno, that we will develop, nurture and make the very best of the new opening to enhance the accelerated development of our state in the next four years, Insha Allah!
THE NEXT FOUR YEARS IN BORNO STATE:
My Dear People of Borno!
In the next four years, we need the support of ALL our people to consolidate the returning peace in our State. This support is essential, and we appeal to all our people, no matter the party you belong to or whichever candidate you voted for, in the last election. Our community needs all of us to work together to consolidate the peace; this is because the consolidation of the peace offers the best opportunity to begin to rehabilitate the hundreds of communities that were devastated by the insurgency. It is also by the united endeavor of all of us, that we can provide the basis to return our people to their livelihoods so that we can rebuild solidarity and community ethos, which have all been the basis of our well-known civilization in Borno; one of the greatest civilizations to be constructed on the African continent!
As a government and leadership, in the next four years, we will be dedicated to the promotion of an ALL-INCLUSIVE GROWTH; that would focus on Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (the Three Rs). This is a matter of principle for us, because unless we want to engage in an endless war of attrition, that will be hallmarked by the continuing destruction of lives and property, it becomes imperative that willing members of the Boko Haram sect that want to come out of the bush must be given the opportunity to be DE-RADICALIZED and then rehabilitated to become useful citizens of society. It is never easy to accept back into the community, those who have taken up arms, killed, pillaged, raped and destroyed. But in the long run, society must make very expensive choices for peace, reconciliation and development. We are therefore appealing to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the International Community to assist our endeavor in that regard. We are also committed to a Borno process dedicated to Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, to which all will be invited to participate in. We believe that the Borno state government, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the international community, should work together, for a concerted ‘Marshall Plan’ initiative for Borno state in particular and the Nigerian Northeast in general, where millions of people have suffered tremendously from the years of depredation, suffering and death, associated with the Boko Haram insurgency.
Over the next four years, our government hopes to focus on the followings:
We are seriously worried by the throng of unemployed youths in Borno. An idle and desperate mind is often vulnerable to external manoeuvre. I do not mean to disrespect some gallant Nigerian youths that invented a new way of celebration, marked by long distance trekking from one extreme point to another. I really do not think any youth that is gainfully employed could have embarked on trekking for weeks. For me, I have taken note of two messages from these trekkers. The first message is a strong and bold reminder that there are no jobs for the youths in Nigeria. The second, which I consider more seriously, is that Nigerian youths have the courage and strength to do what many leaders never thought they could do. If youths can trek from one state to another, it means they have potentials for good use while they have strength to revolt like Lions in the event they are pushed to the wall. We must create jobs for Nigerian youths.
In the last four years, we made it a policy to always take account of the number of jobs to be created, before granting approvals for all projects or programmes. Our over 2,500 completed and ongoing houses and apartments are designed to create jobs and so are the urban renewal program, the slum eradication in densely populated areas, urban and rural roads, environmental vanguards and every other capital project in any sector at all, has behind it, the desire to create jobs.
EDUCATION is the bedrock of the modernization and the development that we envisage for our people and state. Citizens can bear testimony to the visible changes in our primary, secondary and tertiary schools. Infrastructure for five faculties and the senate building are currently being built at the site of Borno State University. Our target is to commence academic activities this year. We have drastically transformed the feeding in secondary schools. To boost attendance, we have started school feeding in primary schools at a pilot stage. We intend to expand the program to the entire State, especially to Northern Borno which is lagging far behind in education. We have introduced free transport system for students, we provided free uniforms, free books, paid most fees for final year secondary school students as part of our policy of free and compulsory education. We have introduced foreign capacity development for teachers in order to lay a good foundation for pupils. We have promoted 13,000 teaching and non-teaching staff, paid all UBE counter-part fund. All these will be sustained.
At take-off in 2011, our vision was to provide quality and efficient healthcare delivery to the people in an integrated, comprehensive and decentralized manner in order to achieve optimal health. Efforts were made towards health systems strengthening with over 24 hospitals either built or upgraded, and well equipped with state of the art medical equipment and skilled human resources for health. About 500 nurses and midwives were recruited and doctors increased from mere 35 to 135. Also as part of health Systems strengthening, 45 modern and well equipped ambulances were purchased. Sustainable measures were also put in place through ongoing training of female medical students in Sudan and payment of allowances of students undergoing studies on medicine, nursing, midwifery and related health aspects. The provision of free Maternal Newborn and Child Health care services have drastically improved maternal health and child survival with current zero polio in Borno for over one year. As part of measures to cushion the negative effect of Boko Haram which has worsened poverty, nutritional support for inpatients was introduced with three meals of consciously prepared balanced diet, served daily in all camps set up for displayed victims. These efforts will be sustained within the next four years with focus on establishing a well equipped Kidney dialysis centre among other specialized healthcare centres, in addition to reconstruction works on all healthcare infrastructure affected by insurgency attacks.
WATER AND SANITATION:
Water is the basis of human existence and also a very important part of development process. At inception, we promised 100 boreholes within our first one hundred days and this was delivered. Not only that, we promised at least one borehole in each of 312 wards across the State, 70% percent of that was achieved despite dealing distractions caused by insurgency. We procured 10 Dando Super Rigs that can drill up to 1500 metres depth, very suitable for water sourcing in the dry north and rocky south of Borno. We have rehabilitated the Maiduguri Surface Water Supply System, the treatment plant and Alau Water Pumping Station with 45 Million litres of treated water now being supplied to the State Capital daily. Uba and Lassa Water Galleries were rehabilitated. Within the next four years, we are deploying our Dando rigs to northern Borno in particular hoping we will get an atmosphere of peace. Within the framework of our new Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene Policy, we intend to reposition the Borno Rural Water Supply Agency, RUWASA to accelerate the provision of water in the rural areas for both human and animal consumption.
Infrastructure is critical in the development of any society especially in our kind of situation, in which we have suffered destructions in large scale. Our list of achievements in infrastructure is long; I will however be very brief. We have constructed about 500 kilometers of road and across the State, including the 14 billion naira project for construction of the greater Bulumkutu road networks and drainages. We are building a total of 2,500 houses in about five estates, with some already completed. We have raised infrastructures comprising lecture halls, hostels, classrooms, administrative buildings, Staff quarters for teachers, medical doctors at different locations. We have constructed ultramodern office complexes for the Pilgrims welfare board and Ministry of religious affairs, we have provided ultramodern and functional solar and electricity powered streetlights which have changed the looks of Maiduguri and many other parts of the State. All of these will continue within the next four years. Our goal is to invest in extensive construction of roads, flyovers, overhead bridges and ring roads. Our goal of linking local government headquarters with the State capital as well as linking major towns.
Agriculture has been and remains the corner stone of the policies of this administration. Besides the annual procurement and distribution of fertilizer and other inputs at subsidized rates to farmers, we have achieved the following: procurement of 600 medium and large rice mills from Thailand, 20 large scale vegetable oil mills from China; 10,000 units of drip irrigation equipment capable of cultivating 5,000 hectares of different crops; 56 units of centre pivot irrigation equipment to cultivate 3,300 hectares; procured green houses with the capacity of raising 12 million seedlings of various crops and these green houses are currently being installed, ongoing construction of multi purpose earth dams across the State, procured 1500 tractors and 25 combined harvesters. The list is long, I will stop here. In summary, we have laid a solid foundation to take advantage of our vast land for rain-fed and irrigation agriculture. Our government will massively invest in agriculture with emphasis on job creation through the entire value chain. We have the land and human capacity, we have the resources and the willingness to invest make Borno a major player in agriculture.
We make bold to say that our achievements in these sectors and other areas of human endeavour not mentioned here, would have surpassed these had we not been confronted by the enormous challenges caused by the insurgency. In the course of the last four years, we have expended billions of naira to manage this unfortunate crisis, including funding the counter insurgency efforts. All these resources, time and energy devoted could very easily have been utilized in bringing more development to our dear State. There is indeed no gain saying the fact the Boko Haram imbroglio has, apart from visiting on our society loss of lives and property on a genocidal dimension, has setback our development process by many years.
However, as I have said earlier, the emergence of the APC Federal Government led by President Muhammdu Buhari rekindles a lot of hope in our people that an era of peace and stability is finally around the corner. It is against this background that we intend to use our four years experience and our fresh mandate which was overwhelmingly granted to us by our good people, to pursue our agenda to aggressively re-engineer Borno. The content of this agenda will be closely interrelated issues, namely ending the insurgency and rebuilding Borno.
The agenda to rebuilding Borno will be an all encompassing one. Already, a comprehensive development strategy designed to adequately address all our development needs; a roadmap of sorts, has reached a very advanced stage of completion, only awaiting validation by strategic stakeholders of Borno State.
In concluding this address, I call on all the people of Borno State to continue to see this on-going crisis as a trial from Allah. We should not despair, for inshaa Allah, it shall come to pass and very soon too. We must remain resolute and continue to demonstrate our historic capacity as people to overcome adversity.
We are looking to change Borno forever and for the better, both in development and security considerations. We have started processes for the reconstruction of communities affected by the insurgency but this is being done in phases. The task is very huge but we will deploy whatever resources at our disposal to make life more meaningful for our people. In the process of rebuilding Borno, the provision of quality, affordable and accessible education is critical. Therefore, I hereby declare with a deep sense of responsibility that the provision of education from primary to secondary levels will be free and compulsory for all residents in Borno State irrespective of religious affiliation, State of origin, creed and ethnic background. Pursuant to the implementation of this policy, legislation shall be put in place to prosecute any parent or guardian who fails to comply with the letter and the spirit of the law. On our part, we pledge solemnly to create the enabling environment, including the provision of access to digital education, for all residents.
Finally, I pledge to you before Almighty Allah, that this Government under myself and my able deputy, will redouble its efforts in providing first class governmental service delivery.
May Allah (SWT) return and consolidate peace, security and prosperity to Borno State and Nigeria in general and May the souls of all our departed sons and daughters of Borno rest in peace.
I thank you for listening and for your patience.
God Bless you all.