Be A Change Agent

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Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to this edition of our Town Hall Meeting holding here in Umuahia. Today’s Town Hall Meeting is unique because it marks the first time we are holding the regular edition of the meeting for the second time in any particular zone. In other words, this is the second edition of the Town Hall Meeting for the South-East. The first edition was held in Enugu last year. I congratulate the government and the good people of Abia State for this landmark.
On another level, this is also a unique event in the sense that it is what  I will call two-in-one. In addition to holding this Town Hall Meeting here, we will also be launching, in this state, the national re-orientation programme ‘Change Begins With Me’ today. This is the first time these two flagship events will be held together. It then means that we will start off with the presentation of the campaign before kick-starting the Town Hall Meeting.
The Change Begins With Me campaign, which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on  Sept. 8th 2016, is aimed at achieving a paradigm shift in the way we do things. Simply put, it is geared towards achieving an attitudinal change. As they say, you cannot continue to do things the same way and expect a different result. With the total breakdown of our core values in the past years, it is imperative that we re-orientate ourselves with a view to restoring those time-tested values of honesty, integrity, diligence, hard work, punctuality, patriotism and abhorrence of corruption, among others. It is important to stress that Change Begins With Me is a national campaign. It has no political, religious or ethnic coloration.
Now to our Town Hall Meeting. Let me start off by sincerely thanking the Executive Governor of Abia State, His Excellency Okezie Ikpeazu, for his invaluable contribution to the hosting of this double-barreled event and the warm reception that has been accorded us since we arrived here. In fact, that we are here today is largely on the initiative of His Excellency. He invited us to launch the Change Begins With Me Campaign in Abia State, and we decided, with his permission, to also use the opportunity to hold a Town Hall Meeting. By hosting these events today, His Excellency has shown that it is possible for patriotic leaders to put national interest above political considerations.
As is customary at our Town Hall Meetings, please permit me to also express my gratitude to my colleagues Honorable Ministers for accepting to be part of this meeting, despite their tight schedule.
Their presence at this forum is a testimony to the importance this Administration attaches to the need to continually engage with Nigerians from all walks of life.
This is the ninth in the series of the Town Hall Meetings which we launched in Lagos on April 25th 2016, with a view to bridging the communication gap between the government and the people, carrying the people along in the process of governance and also getting the necessary feedback from the citizens. So far, we have also held the meeting in Kaduna, Kano, Uyo, Enugu, Ilorin and twice in Abuja. We will continue to engage with Nigerians through this and other fora, because people participation is at the very heart of democracy.
Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, one issue that is very important to our Administration is the diversification of the economy away from oil. Boosting industrial development, especially through the local production of goods and services, is a major plank of this policy. Patronising Made-in-Nigeria goods and services is also key to the success of the policy. In this regard, I can boldly say that Abia State is a pacesetter. Today, the state supplies high-quality military boots to our military, and that is just one of such impressive ventures by the state. So, while the state is boosting local production of goods and services, the military is patronising Made-in-Nigeria goods. It’s a symbiotic relationship, and there is no better way to give teeth to the economic diversification policy.
Talking about Made-in-Nigeria products, let me use this important national platform to announce that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has already approved measures to sensitize Nigerians to patronize such products. These measures include the approval given to the Bureau of Public Procurement to increase the patronage of Made-in-Nigeria good and services through a review of its Act. A major way of encouraging growth and development as well as boosting the nation’s economy is by helping the small businesses to blossom. To achieve this, the Federal Government has taken the bull by the horns by working with the states to address the root problems facing the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). This is being done through Clinics being organized in each state, and this will be followed up with a huge MSME Trade Fair in Abuja later in the year, where grant agencies and investors will be invited to provide funds for outstanding businesses. I am happy to announce that the Clinic was launched here in Abia State, specifically in Aba, on the 26th and 27th of January 2017. That’s a befitting tribute to Abia’s trail-blazing efforts at nurturing MSMEs.
Also, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, which is presided over by the Acting President, His Excellency Yemi Osinbajo, has approved a 60-day national action plan for ease of doing business in Nigeria. The reforms include making it possible for new businesses to be registered online from start to finish without having to visit the CAC office, streamlining the number of agencies operating

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