Instead of going cap in hand to the federal government for help, President Muhammadu Buhari has charged state governors to look inward for resources to develop their states.
The president said that governors who can think out of the box, can transform their states without any assistance from the federal government because all the states of the federation are viable.
Buhari, who said that his administration has been generous to the governors, declared that those who are sincere can adequately take care of their states without looking up to the federal authorities for help.
Apparently referring to the various financial bailouts and other interventions of his administration to enable the states pay salaries, the president said that all the governors need to do is to “think out of the box” to become self-reliant.
He spoke in Owerri, the Imo State capital, when he commissioned the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport.
Represented at the event by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the president said that he was proud of some state chief executives, who have done well in developing their states.
Turning to Governor Rochas Okorocha, Buhari said: “The federal government and indeed the All Progressives Congress (APC) family are proud of you. By what you have achieved, it is possible for governors to develop their respective states without looking for assistance from the federal government.”
The president said that the focus of his administration has been on job creation and “I want to thank Governor Okorocha for consistently supporting the federal government in its job creation programme.”
According to him, “the International cargo airport will certainly create more job opportunities apart from the commerce it brings to the South East zone, but also to all parts of the country.
“What we are seeing here is a landmark achievement. I had a previous opportunity to inspect the warehouses of the cargo terminal a couple of months ago; even at that time, it struck me as a world class facility which all Nigerians ought to be proud of. Mr President not only approves this airport but is also one that he is very proud of and has spoken about in so many fora.
“Everybody complains about the slow process of clearing goods at the ports. This is a welcome circle that will make it easier for people to clear their goods and speed up commerce across the country. Congratulations Mr Governor, I know that for Imo State, this is only the beginning in seeing that all your dreams come true. This Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport will bring a lot of progress to Imo State and the South East region and posterity will remember you for this,” he said.
While commissioning the new Prisons Headquarters, Osinbajo stated: “Let me say on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari that I am here to commission the Nigerian Prisons, Owerri. I congratulate Governor Okorocha for his support to the federal government of Nigeria in the handling of criminal justice system. Your role as chief security officer speaks for itself. You have done well.”
In his speech, Okorocha thanked the president for giving approval to the state government to “build this federal establishment.
He said that the project was a welcome development because Igbo, especially Imo people, as their entire life rotates around commerce and related activities.
The governor said that most of the people that make up Lagos through importation are Igbo, stressing that “we decided to bring them back home by building this international cargo airport.”
Okorocha said that the airport was built through the sweat of Imo people, noting that “there was never a time that the federal government built it for them. Today, we are adding another dimension to it by making it an international cargo airport.
“With its commissioning it means that Imo State is now linked to the rest of the world. You may not need to go to Abuja, Lagos, China, or London or anywhere in the world to clear your goods. This will equally create job opportunities for our people who have been longing for things like this. Very importantly Mr. President, it is important to note that this project was funded 100 per cent by the Imo State government, in other words we are asking for refund as soon as possible,” the governor said.
Don’t Idle Your Lives Away, Osinbajo Tells Outgoing Govs
Meanwhile Osinbajo has admonished the outgoing governors not to sleep their lives away as they bow out of office next week.
Osinbajo spoke yesterday in Abuja at the valedictory session of the National Economic Council (NEC) which he presides over. He declared that the governors would do themselves no good if they wasted their time in enjoyment or sleeping all the time.
He therefore changed them to use their experience to the advantage of their people.
Osinbajo’s advice followed a remark by former Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, that while in office he could barely have four hours of sleep a day compared to now when he sleeps for eight hours.
He said: “I should advise that you should use your influence and reach to the advantage of Nigerians. You have seen and heard for yourselves the enormity of our national problems. Very few people have the advantage to see closely as we do, the issues that concern our country, the issues that even concern our different states. We have that unique advantage.
“So, I think that we can help in one way or the other, we can do something in our states and other states in a way of advocacy or action on education and healthcare in particular and jobs.
“I think it is important for those of us who have had the benefit of all of these experiences and leadership not to now settle down to a life of business or perhaps of enjoyment or sleeping for eight hours. You need this time for action,” he said.
The vice president thanked the members of the council for their cooperation, which enabled NEC to record its modest achievements.
Osinbajo said that Nigerians were looking up to the elite for guidance and warned them against actions capable of stoking ethnic and religious tensions.
He said: “The privilege of executive leadership at this level is the only one a few of us will ever have. When I say a few of us, it is a few of us in our nation. I have said at a previous forum, 36 governors and their deputies, one president and one vice president we will be 74 in all men and women of a nation of 200 million. It is on this elite group that the destiny and future of all our people rest.
“In the next few years, our population will double with the attendant challenges of jobs, education, healthcare, security and infrastructure. Every nation that has moved its people from misery to prosperity has depended heavily, in fact, almost completely on the political elite.
“Our people have nowhere else to look or to go, it is as they say, at the collective table that the bulk stops. Many of us have led our states for these many years, no one needs to advise us on the importance of unity, tempering utterances with wisdom, with moderation and conserve,” he said.
He expressed concern for “those who are the usual victims of the conflicts that are caused by hate speech, careless and reckless statements. The ordinary Nigerian has no problem with his brothers and sisters of different tribes and religions; they share the same issues, they just want a decent existence, they want food on the table, they want good shelter and security of lives and livelihoods.
“Unfortunately and frequently, our political elite sometimes, out of advancing political agenda or simply seeking relevance, recklessly stoke the fires of ethnicity and religious conflicts.
“We as leaders have a duty to keep the peace and welfare of our states, we must not only rise above the temptation to take advantage of our country’s fault lines; we must definitely condemn and restrain those who do so,” he concluded.
Six governors selected from each of the geo-political zone spoke on behalf of their colleagues from their areas.
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