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My dear people of Kogi State,
I give all the praise to the Almighty God for another Independence Anniversary – the 57th for our dear Nation Nigeria. Everyone who has access to international news media knows of nations which have been confronted with the selfsame challenges that we face here and have descended into war and crises. Today is thus another perfect opportunity for gratitude, if not for the good we have achieved, at least, for the evils which God has kept from befalling us.
Poor leadership, corruption, terrorism, militancy, separatist agitations, even a Civil War which ended 47 years ago constitute some of the self-inflicted troubles which we contend with in the Nigerian Federation. Unlike other nations which have proved incapable of working through their differences and have gone up in flames, we Nigerians have had the good fortune, if not the good sense, to keep talking.
We may not always speak in polite tones, and our passion may sometimes be irrational, but we have maintained communication, and therefore avoided conflict. This is a wonderful blessing, and we must be grateful to God for it.
In Kogi State, I continue striving to exemplify inclusive leadership. I am glad that none of my traducers have accused me of ethnicism or tribalism yet (although now that I have reminded them, they may start tomorrow). If anything, some persons are angry at me for not stuffing Cabinet and other organs of governments with my own kith and kin. I do not owe anyone an apology on this score.
From the inception of my Administration, I have ensured that proportional representation of constituencies across the 3 Senatorial Districts as well as the personal merits of individual appointees have determined who serves where in Government. This posture is founded on my belief that one does not effect change by doing the same old things the same old ways.
In order to force a paradigm and generational shift in politics, I realize that I must keep justice, equity and merit as the moral compass for Government. The only way politics in Nigeria can change to accommodate more young people in high positions of leadership is for youths already in leadership to demonstrate competence and capacity to lead. I shall not speak for others but I repeat a solemn guarantee to succeed well as Governor of Kogi State.
I know that today is not a day to start reeling out a roll call of Projects executed by my Administration in the last 20 months, but I assure Kogites that tremendous progress is being made. In another 4 months, we will mark our 2 years in Office and I promise that the second volume of a Compendium which will contain all ongoing and completed projects will be released to commemorate it. The first volume has been out since January this year and continues to showcase our verifiable achievements. Till then, suffice it to say that we are racing to achieve as much as time and funds will permit.
We are careful to ensure even distribution of projects across all of our constituencies based on needs assessment. All of the 5 thematic areas in our New Direction Blueprint are receiving simultaneous attention. Education, Health, Infrastructure & Utilities, Job Creation & Youth Empowerment and Public Service & Pension Reforms remain vehicles from which to unload our Change Agenda.
While Education and Healthcare remain atop our list of priorities, communities across Kogi State are also being provided with electricity, water supply, roads, etc.
In Education, we have focused on providing quality learning environment and materials in order to unleash the genius of our students. So much has been done in the sector. For instance, I personally flagged off construction of 240 blocks of 2 classrooms each in 80 Primary Schools across the 21 Local Government Areas of Kogi State recently. Upon completion, each of them will be equipped with modern learning facilities and round-the-clock solar electricity to power the ICT components.
I was happy to hear from our Commissioner for Health a couple of months ago that we have met our 4-year target of 100% immunization against childhood killer diseases already. Our statistics on Maternal and NewBorn Health initiatives also show-marked improvement from what we met on ground. Most pregnant women in Kogi State today have access to free maternity kits and care today.
Primary and Secondary Health Care Centres across the 21 Local Government Areas have either been renovated or built from scratch and equipped with drugs and equipment. We also recruited scores of medical personnel to help improve access to medicare for our people. 12 state-of-the-art ambulances were bought and distributed across Kogi State to facilitate speedy evacuation of critically ill patients to larger medical facilities in urban and semi-urban areas.
Empowerment and welfare programs for our youth and other population groups have been held to one level or the other in all of the 21 Local Government Areas. We have also been lauded as one of the most responsive state to the Social Investment Programs of the Government. Like I said in my New Year message earlier this year, 2017 is going to be a hallmark year for projects.
The Administration will continue to apply dialogue where it can make a difference in any industrial dispute. However, at this stage in our Public Service and Pension Reforms, we have a duty to pay more attention to the law, including the Public Service Rules as well as the sustainability of the reforms we are putting in place. The whims and caprices of vested interests cannot therefore be admitted to determine our responses in any way.
We do not understand what could possibly be wrong with putting into the hands of individual workers the tools to determine their own rating (and therefore progress) on the job, even after we have left office. Our aim with the clock-in, clock-out devices which Labour Leaders are rejecting is to empower each worker to leave a digital footprint which authenticates his or her participation during the typical work day. If this aim is defeated, all of the aspirations of genuine and conscientious workers to be assessed based on actual performance will remain a mirage, like in the past.
Prompt payment of salaries is still a vexed issue, but we will do our best to keep our workers happy given the competing demands on the income of the state per time. However, it is inevitable that from time to time we must ask workers to stand with us in sacrifice. We hope they will oblige in the overall interest of the state.
In similar vein, prompt payment of Gratuities and Pensions is only possible within the ambits of a Contributory Pension Scheme. Like the automation of the workforce, a Contributory Pension Scheme for the Kogi State workforce is inevitable reform. We commend workers who come around to work to the overall interest of the State. We cannot allow ourselves to become deterred from implementing much-needed reforms. We also urge all workers not to be misled as Government is doing everything possible to address the various challenges confronting the workforce. We are a responsible Government and we shall live up to our responsibilities.
The Administrations was gratified to be invited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to send a Team to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York City as one of only four states in Nigeria considered success stories for their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our Team enjoyed a successful outing at the United Nations Headquarters, made a presentation at the Nigeria side event and signed a Memorandum of Understanding for deeper collaboration with the UN and her agencies. This is good for Kogi State and her people.
Let me remind us that the rains are still here and there is still need to remain vigilant against flooding and other associated natural disasters. The most potent tool against flooding is to keep existing drainage systems free of garbage and other rubbish. The next is to be wise and evacuate to higher ground if flooding appears imminent and you live in a low-lying area.
On our part as Government, we have designated camps for Internally Displaced People in each Local Government Area deemed at risk, and should it become necessary to deploy a Camp in any locality, Kogites can expect their Government to act with despatch in sending fast responders and launching emergency protocols.
As I conclude this address this 1st October morning, in the year 2017, I find myself in bitter-sweet mood. The sweet feelings flow from the GREAT POTENTIALS which Nigeria possessed long before Independence, and which remain unabated despite 57 years of checkered history. The pain comes from bitter emotions evoked when I consider the COUNTLESS MISSED OPPORTUNITIES we have had from October 1, 1960 to October 1, 2017 to transform our great potentials into great progress.
The British may have had their own ulterior motives when they amalgamated the old Northern and Southern Protectorates into one Nigeria in 1914, but I believe they also provided us an opportunity which hitherto did not exist, i.e. the opportunity to be much more greater than we would have become as individual tribes or territories.
In my opinion, and I think most Nigerians will agree with me, that even though we have not harnessed our gains after amalgamation, the present Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR is making efforts to optimize our potentials as a Nation. This is evident in a more secured Nigeria after years of terrorism threat, we are consciously diversifying our economy to Agriculture and Mining, the very vulnerable are now being focused on using various current programmes and policies – e.g Condition Cash Transfer at National level, N-power and Market Money, Home Grown School Feeding Programme etc. as a State, the GYB Food Security Project, Youth and Artisan Empowerment Project and the upcoming GYB water for life Grassroot Project and finally, GYB Model Primary and Unity School to foster cohesion amongst the upcoming young ones and quality education.
I reiterate our commitment in Kogi State and Nigeria where there is room for all citizens and constituencies to achieve their maximum potentials.
In the spirit of our 57th Anniversary as a Country, I wish all Kogites, Nigerians and our motherland, Nigeria, Happy Independence!
May the Almighty God bless us all.
YAHAYA BELLO
EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR, KOGI STATE

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UBA Foundation Celebrates International Day Of The African Child, With Special Reading, Mentoring Sessions

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UBA Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, on Monday, joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day of the African Child.

The day which has been set aside by the United Nations to celebrate children in Africa, recognises the courage of students who marched for their right to better education in Soweto South Africa, and is marked annually on June 16th.

UBA Foundation brought together students from various secondary schools in Lagos to the Tony Elumelu Amphitheatre in the UBA Head Office, where they were educated on various issues, ranging from financial literacy, importance of reading culture and nation building.

Some schools which were represented at the event included Akande Dahunsi Memorial High School, Lagos; Government Senior College, Maroko, Aunty Ayo International School Ikoyi and Wahab Folawiyo Senior High School, Ikoyi.

UBA’s Group Head, Human Resources, Mrs Patricia Aderibigbe who welcomed the students, said that UBA Foundation centres on three key pillars: Education, Empowerment and Environment.

Throwing more light on this, she explained that the bank, through its foundation, recognises the huge role that education and indeed a good reading culture has to play in the lives of the youth.

She said, “The UBA Foundation is committed to impacting the lives of the African youth across the continent. As a pan-African institution, we believe that the future of Africa lies in her youth. For this reason, UBA Foundation is actively involved in facilitating educational projects and bridging the literacy-wide gap on a pan-African scale.

“The UBA Foundation is helping rekindle the dwindling reading and literacy culture amongst African youths as they pursue their education. Over time we have worked with various schools and educational institutions across the continent to ensure that the UBA Foundation continues to traverse the continent, contributing positively to the development of African youth, especially in the area of education,” she added.

She explained that the bank through its foundation, aims to make sustainable improvements in the lives of the needy and under-privileged by supporting entrepreneurship programmes, such as social entrepreneurship schemes which benefit the community at large.

On his part, the Chief Credit Officer, UBA Africa, Mr. Franklin Erebor, who spoke briefly on financial literacy and the need to plan for the future, told the pupils that it is important for them to manage their funds and finances.

He said, “You are not too young to start to plan for the future, as what you do now when you are young will impact greatly on you later in live. So it is essential that you have an account which should be well monitored to ensure that it fulfils the purpose.

“You need to be financially literate, as this will help to open your eyes to the opportunities inherent and help you make wise decisions to benefit from the investments,” Erebor said.

The UBA top officials had a brief reading session where they read to the students and engaged them in reading a number of passages from select reading materials.

As a Pan African Institution, UBA is in the forefront of promoting Africa and African values, especially in the areas of economic development for the continent.

Recently, the bank also held its UBA Conversations, an annual event commemorating the Africa Day, where African icons contributed to discussions around changing the African narrative and growing the continent.

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Face-off: Bode George Should Shut Up Already, Leave PDP — Jimi Agbaje

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Things seem to be falling apart in the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Lagos State.

Perhaps, this can be attributed to the party’s dismal performance in the last general elections.

The party seems not to have gotten over it and it has led to the blame game among leaders of the party.

The latest crisis rocking the Lagos PDP is between its candidate in the governorship election, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, and a former Deputy National Chairman of the party, Chief Olabode George.

The two are at each other’s throat over defection insinuations.

Bode George and Jimi Agbaje

Though, there have been insinuations making the round that Agbaje had perfected plans to dump the PDP, he has since refuted the claims.

While Agbaje accused George of insinuating his defection from the PDP, George described the former as failed governorship candidate.

Posts that Agbaje had joined APC have featured prominently on social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook in the past few days.

One of the posts sighted recently both on WhatsApp and Facebook read: “Lagos PDP finally emptied as Jimi Agbaje defects to APC”.

Mr. Felix Oboagwina, media aide to Agbaje, had denied reports that his principal had dumped the opposition party.

Agbaje, through the aide, also accused the leadership of the party in Lagos of alleged plans to “give the dog a bad name and chase it away from the party.”

Oboagwina said that social media posts that Agbaje had left the PDP to join the All Progressives Congress, APC, were untrue.

He said: “There is nothing like that, nothing like that at all. He is still in PDP; he has not defected.

“How can people say he has defected on social media? He is too big for that; he is in PDP.”

When asked if there were plans by his principal to dump the PDP for APC, he answered in the negative.

While lampooning the a former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP for insinuating that he has defected to the APC, Agbaje said: “People should please tell Bode George to shut up and leave PDP if he lacks any value to add to the party, instead of being a dog in the manger hampering the progress of the party in Lagos State.

“He should tell the world where he got the news being spreading round.

“These party leaders have 2023 in mind. The game-plan is simple: Give the dog a bad name and chase it away from the party. By 2023, this mudslinging will have scared off credible people from the party, which will leave the whole field to them to continue to operate.

“I am too big to sneak out of one party into another one. And the reality remains that I have not left PDP for any other party, least of all APC.”

Describing Agbaje’s outburst as shameful, Prince Uthman Shodipe, Special Adviser to George, said the PDP candidate has “bitten the hand that fed him.”

George boasted that he gave Agbaje his first break in politics and a platform to actualize his political ambition.

The statement reads: “We have read with disgust an absolute report of idiocy that emanated from one Mr. Jimi Agbaje, who was a failed gubernatorial candidate of the PDP in last general elections in Lagos State, against the leader of the party in the state, Chief Olabode George.

“For the record, it is a public knowledge that Chief Bode George gave Agbaje his break in politics; he gave him the PDP platform without knowing him and also empowered him. It is sad and shameful that Agbaje has bitten the hand that fed him.

“Whether he has gone to APC or wherever, it is none of our business. We don’t know where he concocted this malady about Bode George saying that he has gone to APC.

“Bode George lifted him up in 2015 without knowing him; he secured the party’s ticket but his heart is not with the PDP.

“Bode George is a man of dignity and repute, he is a father of figure for the PDP not only in Lagos and South-West, but also across the nation.”

Lagos PDP also mediated in the matter, but castigated Agbaje over his comments.

The state Chairman of the party, Dr. Dominic Adegbola, threw up a new perspective on how the party lost the 2019 governorship election in Lagos.

He also expressed shock over the Agbaje’s “abusive statement” on George.

Dominic said that Agbaje was never a party candidate for the election.

According to him, Agbaje was not prepared to win the election.

The party chair was also quick to note that their candidate was imposed on them.

He accused a serving governor from the South-South and a former governor from the South-West of imposing Agbaje on the party. Dominic said Agbaje sidelined the party structure. He said: “During the governorship primary, many of the party leaders didn’t want Jimi Agbaje because he only appeared at the party every four years, but with the interference from outside the state, he eventually emerged as the party candidate.”

“But I can sense it from Agbaje’s attitude before, during and after election that he was not prepared to win and the people of Lagos had deserted him.

“He is an unwillingly candidate, uninterested in winning, he did not carry any leader along and did not campaign, he only held town hall meetings which were not well attended. Even when we drew up campaign programmes, he refused to run with it.”

The party chairman also berated Agbaje’s outburst against George, saying, “I am shocked to read such a statement from Agbaje but not very surprised because we are not expecting much from him.” (Vanguard)

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Ondo State Governor, Akeredolu Lauds NDDC On Her Fast & Prompt Responses On Issues Concerning The State

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The Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi  Akeredolu, SAN,  has commended the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, for its timely intervention in ensuring adequate healthcare for the people of the Niger Delta region.

Akeredolu was speaking when the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Prof. Nelson Brambaifa, paid him a courtesy visit at the Governor’s office in Akure, accompanied by the Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Dr. Chris Amadi, and the Acting Executive Director of Projects, Dr. Samuel Adjogbe, as well as other directors and staff of the Commission.

The Ondo State Governor said he was delighted that NDDC was making efforts to ensure a healthier Niger Delta, noting that for a healthy Nigeria, there was need for a healthy Niger Delta. “If Niger Delta is not healthy, Nigeria will not be healthy,” he declared.

Akeredolu thanked the NDDC for promptly responding to the needs of the state, especially in its efforts to check the scourge of Lassa fever, which he said had been ravaging Ondo and Edo states seasonally.   

He lamented that the huge cost of managing the Lassa fever outbreaks was weighing heavily on the resources of the state government, noting that it was costing the state about N1.6 million to treat one patient alone.

The Ondo State Governor pleaded with the NDDC to expedite action on the construction of the strategic Akodo-Araromi/Ibeju-Lekki road, which he said would reduce the journey from the state to Lagos to 45 minutes.

He also urged the Commission to expedite action on the Omotosho/Okitipupa electrification project as the oil-bearing communities in the state had been without electricity for many years.

Earlier in his remarks, the NDDC Chief Executive Officer said they were in the state to assist the government in combating the Lassa fever epidemic.

Brambaifa said that the NDDC had come to handover to the government of Ondo State Lassa Fever personal protection equipment, ambulance, as well as medical consumables and drugs. He said this was part of the commitment of NDDC to facilitate sustainable development in the Niger Delta region and improving the living conditions of the people.

He said: “The recent outbreak of lassa fever, for instance, compels our attention. We responded to the request from your government to intervene because our people must be healthy to enjoy the development we bring. We must, therefore, continue to promote good community hygiene, discourage invasion of rodents into our homes, and introduce effective measures, which include storing grains and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers.”

Brambaifa said that the NDDC recently engaged consultants to provide sensitisation and advocacy across the 18 local government areas of Ondo State, adding that the Commission would continue to engage with the people, across all the communities of the Niger Delta.

The NDDC boss said that the Commission remained committed to working to provide projects and programmes that impact positively on the lives of the people, stating that in Ondo State, the Commission had completed 499 projects, while 172 were on-going.

He observed that the partnership between NDDC and Ondo State Government in the construction of the Araromi-Akodo/Ibeju-Lekki Road remained an inspiring example of what must be done to achieve the Commission’s mandate of facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of the Niger Delta region.

He assured: “We are committed to ensuring the completion of the very important 50.918km road, which connects several Ondo communities to Lagos State. We are also committed to delivering more efficiently and speedily all projects we have begun in Ondo State, as well as in the other Niger Delta states.

“To achieve this, we will continue to depend on the support of the governors of the region because we can only achieve our mission by working together.

“Our most compelling call to service, as leaders of our people, is to improve their lives, satisfy their needs and inspire them to continue to work as healthy citizens to make the Niger Delta a better place.”

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