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Democracy Day: Full text of Gov Ortom’s speech

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Address by Governor Ortom on First Democracy day.

  1. My dear people of Benue State, tomorrow being June 12, our country Nigeria will mark Democracy Day for the first time after the day was formally declared a public holiday by President Muhammadu Buhari.

  2. June 12 is significant for us as Nigerians. This was the day in 1993 that, Presidential Election was held and widely accepted as free, fair and credible. It was a day that Nigerians and the international community described as most important in the political history of post-independent Nigeria.

  3. We may not have attained the heights we desire as a nation but the truth remains that democracy, with its imperfections, remains the best form of government.

  4. For us in Benue, despite economic and security challenges that our state has faced over the years, we have continued to contribute our quota to the development of the State and the country in general.

  5. Between 1999 and this year, Benue has enjoyed uninterrupted transition of power from one administration to another. The previous governments of Benue made concerted efforts to develop the state; and our administration is building on those blocks and doing more to improve on the economy, security and generally improve the lives of our people.

  6. We have made significant progress in uplifting the status of education, health, infrastructure and agriculture sub-sectors, to mention a few.

  7. Through our partnership with UBEC, we have upgraded facilities in our primary schools with over one thousand school projects completed and thousands of customized furniture provided for the use of Benue children. In post-primary education, a lot has also been done in reconstruction of structures in public secondary schools.

  8. Our decision to upgrade Akawe Torkula College of Advanced and Professional Studies Makurdi and Akperan Orshi College of Agriculture Yandev to Polytechnics is another milestone of our administration to advance the course of education.

  9. Just yesterday morning, I signed into law the bill conferring Polytechnic status on the two tertiary institutions. To address the urgent need for science and technical education for our children, I recently approved the merger of Technical College located at Benue State University and Senior Science Secondary School, North Bank. This development will no doubt deepen our drive for technical and science-based knowledge as a key component of our educational policy.

  10. In agriculture, you will recall that few months ago, I commissioned the sale of 50 units of tractors to our farmers at 60 percent subsidy with a promise to utilize the funds realized from the sales to purchase more units of tractors. This is our administration’s deliberate policy to boost commercial agriculture. We are determined to encourage our farmers to take advantage of this and embark on the entire agricultural value chain – from land preparation to improved seedlings; mechanized farming, harvesting, storage, processing and marketing. This alone is capable of providing millions of jobs for our teeming youths.

  11. For five years, this administration has consistently given 40 percent subsidy on fertilizer to Benue farmers. That has gone a long way to ease the difficulties previously experienced by the farmers in accessing fertilizer.

  12. Benue State is ready to provide food for the entire country, but activities of armed herdsmen have continued to jeopardize this effort. The resurgence of armed Fulani herdsmen attacks on the people in our rural areas is in gross violation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law of the state. Between April and June this year, more than 60 persons have been killed by herdsmen. It was a result of this that I made a passionate appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit the protocol on free movement of people among ECOWAS member countries. I similarly urged security agencies to arrest and prosecute leaders of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore for their inciting statements and accepting responsibility for killing Benue people and other innocent Nigerians.

  13. In spite of the renewed attacks on our communities, we must commend security operatives, particularly Operation Whirl Stroke, the Police, DSS, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and State Livestock Guards for the enforcement of the law.

  14. Let me once more commend the President for the deployment of more troops in the North Central States to help contain the menace of armed herdsmen, banditry and kidnappings.

  15. Today, Nigeria is celebrating June 12, an event that seemed like an unachievable dream some years ago. I am confident that this is the same way the country will someday embrace ranching as the best method of animal husbandry which Benue has been championing since 2017.

  16. These challenges have not deterred us from our mandate to provide good governance for Benue people. In the area of infrastructure, we have constructed over twenty roads across the State and completed most of the road projects we inherited. Extension of electricity and rural roads to more communities is ongoing under the Ministry of Rural Development and Cooperatives.

  17. To further address the health challenges our people face, I yesterday signed into law the Benue State Health Insurance scheme. The law provides for the establishment of Benue State Health Insurance Agency.

  18. This is in addition to the 42 primary health centres we have established in various communities, the upgrade of facilities in our general hospitals has also commenced. Similarly, the State Government has taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to establish a Centre for Infectious and Tropical Diseases Institute in the College of Health Sciences of the Benue State University. The Steering Committee which I put in place for the project has already completed its assignment and will soon submit its report. The Benue State University has continued to produce qualified doctors to improve the human capacity for our health system.

  19. Let me once again commend the untiring efforts of the State Action Committee on COVID-19 headed by the Deputy Governor, Engineer Benson Abounu. Today, Benue is among states with the lowest cases of the virus, and the state has so far not recorded any death.

  20. I wish to also appreciate the support we have received from people of the State in the fight against the pandemic. I urge you all to sustain the cooperation and continue to adhere to preventive measures against Coronavirus such as wearing of face masks, frequent hand washing with soap, use of alcohol based sanitizers and above all, keeping physical distancing.

  21. Lastly, let me reiterate the need for the unity of the state. In the last few weeks, I had cause to convene two non-partisan meetings of stakeholders from all parts of the state. The two meetings were critical to our resolve to address security and other issues affecting us as a people. I received unanimous support from all political, religious and traditional leaders of the state to forge a common front in tackling our challenges.

  22. We will build on the goodwill from the two meetings and continue to put the interest of Benue above individual interests.

  23. Though COVID-19 has not permitted us to celebrate Democracy Day elaborately, my prayer is that God may continue to bless our dear State Benue and our country Nigeria.

Long live Benue State
Long Live Federal Republic of Nigeria

Thank you.

In God we trust.

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