1. Fellow Bayelsans, it is with much joy and hope that I join you and other Nigerians to celebrate the anniversary of our country. On this very special day, 61 years ago, our beloved country gained independence from colonial rule.
2. Importantly, the day makes us all remember the core value our country aspired to – peace, freedom and justice to all tribes and creed.
3. The date, October 1, holds singular status in the heart of every Bayelsan as we commemorate, value and treasure the prodigious bravery and valour of our leaders who cherished the dream of a homogenous Ijaw state, within Nigeria.
4. We salute the courage of late General Sani Abacha, who proclaimed the creation of a homogenous Ijaw state on this same day in the year of our Lord, 1996. I also extend a very special appreciation to our heroes and founding fathers, whose remarkable acts of courage and heroism will be forever etched in our hearts and history.
5. The significance of this twin events falling on the same day must not be lost on us. It is absolutely fitting and auspicious that Nigeria and Bayelsa State share a common birthday.
6. I am elated that our President, in recognition of the importance of equity and justice, made a passionate appeal for the equitable distribution of aids, especially the COVID-19 vaccines, for Nigeria at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
7. I appeal to Mr President to ensure that Bayelsa and the rest of the Niger Delta are fairly and equitably treated in the distribution of resources, particularly by practising fiscal federalism and in amendment of the Petroleum Industry Act recently signed into law.
8. Some have questioned what we have to celebrate when we are in dire straits and facing hydra-headed challenges in every index that is conducive for the security, development, growth and peaceful co-existence of the country. We choose to celebrate first because we serve a faithful God, who has preserved and kept as alive despite all the issues and challenges.
9. Furthermore, 25 years down the road, we have built enough stamina and resilience to confidently say our journey to sustainable prosperity is on track and irreversible. Let there be no mistake in our resolve to achieve the goal of transforming this state to be the ‘Glory of All Lands.’
10. According to the hymn, “count your blessings and name them one by one.” If we are not deliberate in remembering, it is easy to forget where we are coming from. Those that are familiar with Yenagoa before the creation of the state will be more charitable in their assessment of how far God has brought us. In the intervening one score and five years, we have witnessed:
1. Establishment of higher institutions producing quality graduates, who have distinguished them locally and internationally
2. Construction and dualisation of several roads linking seven of the eight local government areas to the state capital
3. Within these 25 years, Bayelsa was connected to the national grid
4. Today, Bayelsa State now has a functional airport11. In 25 years, it has been a steady progress. I therefore appreciate all the previous administrations. It is a demonstration of the fact that teamwork makes the dream work. Government is, after all, a continuum.
12. I am also happy to mention that within the incumbency of my administration, we can report the following milestones:
a) On roads and other infrastructure, my Government of Prosperity has sustained ongoing construction of the Yenagoa-Oporoma road in Bayelsa Central Senatorial District and the Sagbama-Ekeremor road in Bayelsa West Senatorial District
b) Also ongoing are: construction of the collapsed Elebele Bridge in Ogbia Local Government Area
c) Construction of the 4.5km Igbedi road in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area
d) Construction of Phase 2 of the Gloryland Drive Road from Igbogene by the Ecumenical Centre to link Tombia road
e) Construction of the Nembe Unity Bridge in Bayelsa East Senatorial District
f) Construction of the Outer Ring Road from Elebele to Igbogene
g) Construction of Phase 2 of the Isaac Boro Expressway in Yenagoa
h) Completion and commissioning of the Imiringi Bridge in Ogbia Local Government Area
i) Completion of the Onopa Bridge and construction of the access road into the New Yenagoa City
j) Rehabilitation of 51 internal roads in Yenagoa metropolis with additional 20 new roads approved by the state Executive Council being constructed
k) Facilitating the operationalisation of the Bayelsa International Airport. I am glad to report that commercial flight operation has since commenced from Thursday, August 19, 2021
l) Work is at advanced stage at the Media Complex for the three state-owned media organisations: Radio Bayelsa, Niger Delta TV and the New Waves Newspaper
m) For us as a government, agriculture remains our top priority and we have made massive investment in agriculture in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria, with allocation of land and provision of seedlings to 3,500 farmers in the eight local government areas of the state
n) We have also successfully signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a European consortium, Africa Atlantic Gulf of Guinea Fisheries, to generate 4,000 jobs, train 2,500 in fish farming as well as set up a boat building yard and fish processing plants of over 20,000-metric tonnes capacity
o) On health, we have completed and commissioned the Kaiama Referral Hospital in Kaiama, Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area. Similar health facility is being replicated in the other seven local government areas of the state
p) At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were strategic enough to ensure effective management of the disease
q) We also set up a fully equipped molecular laboratory in Yenagoa for improved COVID-19 screening and testing
r) In the education sector, we have started the construction of new science and technical colleges in line with our policy and drive to encourage vocational education
s) Almost the programmes in our state-owned tertiary institutions have been fully accredited within the period of our being in governance
t) In partnership with the federal government, we have embarked on the rehabilitation of school facilities in primary and post-primary schools across all our local government areas. Worthy of note is the establishment of six new model schools within Yenagoa metropolis to address the increasing school population
u) After interactions with stakeholders from various communities and members of the state House of Assembly, we have embarked on several Community Development Projects
v) My administration has shown faith and commitment to the welfare of the civil servants with regular and prompt payment of salaries in addition to the monthly release of N200 million for payment of outstanding pension, gratuities and death benefits to retirees.
w) Also, there is the full implementation of primary school teachers/workers’ long-standing promotion
x) On peace and security, this government sincerely appreciates the nexus between security and development. Very largely and deliberately, we have stayed on course with our ccommitment to peace, unity and reconciliation
y) Among others, we are also strengthening the security architecture of the state with provision of operational vehicles to all the security and para-military agencies. We are at the moment rejigging the special security outfit, Operation Doo-Akpo, and the complementary security outfits, Bayelsa Volunteers and the Bayelsa Vigilante for effective service delivery. I have sent a Bill to the House of Assembly for its institutionalisation
13. Though we are not yet where we desire to be, we are however not where we used to be. I therefore urge you to continue to pray for your leaders, for the peace of the land and support this Government of Prosperity so that we can together build the Bayelsa of our dreams. We are too small a state to bicker and sabotage ourselves. We have no where else to call home.
14. It has been said that “every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” So, we invite all of you to the task of moving our state to greater heights.
17. There is only one possible way to ever see the dreams of our hearts come to fruition and that is to try. Our work today must continue in this spirit.
18. In conclusion, let me borrow the words of John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States of America: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Start today with your decision to try, for a better Bayelsa.
19. Our state’s memory verse declares in Isaiah 27:14 – “For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will disannul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” That is our confidence and prayer.
20. Thank you for your attention.
God bless Bayelsa State
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
And God bless every one of us.