BROADCAST TO IMO PEOPLE BY GOVERNOR HOPE UZODIMMA ON THE OCCASION OF THE INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY OF NIGERIA ON OCTOBER 1ST, 2021
It gives me great joy to address the good people of Imo State on this occasion of the 61st Independence Anniversary of our dear country, Nigeria. There is no gainsaying the fact that 61 years in the life of a nation is worth celebrating. This is more so for the fact that inspite of the challenges that have assailed the nation in the last 61 years, Nigeria is still standing strong, even waxing stronger. The credit for this incredible survival story must be located mainly in the strength and resilience of the great people of our nation, who inspite of the divisive forces of diversity, that relentlessly assail them, have remained resilient and united.
Therefore on this auspicious occasion of the 61st Independence anniversary of Nigeria, I doff my cap for all of us; the wonderful and great people of our dear country. I congratulate all Nigerians; our leaders and our heroes, past and present, for your individual and collective contributions and sacrifices in sustaining the big Nigerian family these past 61 years.
I must, in a special way, salute the good people of Imo State on this joyous occasion of our independence anniversary celebration, I congratulate Ndi-Imo, particularly those of them who brave all odds to express their faith in a united Nigeria by residing in almost all parts of the country to execute their sundry trades. Your action is both patriotic and salutary. Let me therefore urge you to keep it up as you continue to contribute your modest quota to the unity and economic growth of our country.
I also salute President Muhammadu Buhari who has provided inspirational leadership at the most trying time of our nation. It is at a time like this that men and women who love their country rise in unison to defend her honour.
Unfortunately, we have had to contend with reactionary elements who want to sabotage the nation for purely selfish and political considerations. The unrelenting activities of these elements manifesting in banditry, kidnapping, and other forms of criminality have been a set back to the progress and development of the nation. Trillions of naira which would have been used for development are being wasted in fighting insurgency and criminality. This is why both the perpetrators and their sponsors should have a rethink so as to release their stranglehold on our economy and advancement.
For us in the South East, we should use the occasion of the Independence to re-evaluate the recent activities of our youths as they relate to our relationship with other Nigerians, our economic growth and our future aspirations. As a people who suffered the devastating consequences of a 30 month civil war, reason demands that we should be extremely circumspect in the pursuit of our agenda. I have said it repeatedly that we stand to benefit more in a united Nigeria where justice and equity define our group existence. As a people who are everywhere in Nigeria, we need to remain agents of consolidation, not division and destruction. We cannot afford to suffer in our own country, by our own actions or inactions, what our people are suffering in Ghana and other African countries. The benefits of hindsight and lessons of history demand that we should constructively engage the Federal Government on the need to address whatever grievances we have, be it injustice or marginalization. But we may not be taken seriously if we continue to send out mixed signals. As our people say, it is easy to count the items left in the basket of a woman who falls twice on her way back from the market. Put differently, it is only a fool that allows the same stick to pluck his eyes twice. Let us put on our thinking caps
For Ndi Imo, the 61st Independence Anniversary is a clarion call to move closer as a people in the pursuit of our common goal which is to make Imo state better for our future generations. The 2019 elections have long been concluded. Those still looking back at it stand the risk of suffering the fate of Lot’s wife. Let me use this auspicious occasion to once again extend my hands of fellowship to our brothers and sisters on the other side to join our prosperity agenda-driven Government to offer quality service to our people. This is not about me. It is about the future of our youths. Those who genuinely and patriotically want to serve Imo people would not have any problem joining us to do so.
However, while we wait for them we shall continue to work tirelessly for the people in line with our prosperity agenda as encapsulated in reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery. Apart from reversing the decay in infrastructure, addressing the rot in the civil service and halting the corruption in the payroll system, we have touched the lives of Imo youths, spending more than N 8 Billion in their training and empowerment in the past one year.
As you are aware, there is relative peace in our state today. That peace came with a price. I cannot thank President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies enough for their invaluable support to the state government in tackling the worst form of banditry and criminality ever witnessed in the state. Everyone in the state was witness to the savagery and cannibalistic brutality that defined the regime of violence and criminality that enveloped the state for some months in the recent past.
As a government and a people,we have crushed them. Anybody who attempts to disrupt the peace of the state again may not live to tell the story. That is why it is important for parents and guardians to rein in their children and wards as the security agencies have our directive to deal decisively with those who may be tempted to foment trouble again. I have just inaugurated a judicial Commission of inquiry to investigate the security breaches in the state and come out with recommendations on what Government should do to ensure that there is no recurrence of such. I believe that both the perpetrators and their sponsors would be unmasked for Imo people to know their enemies. But all of us have a collective duty to protect our state against renegades. We should assist the security agencies and government with useful information to enable us take the war to the hideout of criminals and flush them out to face justice.
Let me also use the occasion of this independence anniversary to remind Imo people that COVID 19 is real and that we should desist from living in denial. Those who have been following the daily statistics of NCDC know that the number of infections and fatalities is not abating. This administration has spent a lot of resources to ensure the good health and safety of our people.
In this respect, we have continued with massive testing across the state to identify new COVID 19 cases for isolation and treatment. This is going on in all the 27 Local governments in the state, using rapid diagnostic test kits. Testing is also going on in some designated private and mission health centres. Furthermore, we have made training and retraining of our health staff on the control and containment of the virus, a continuous exercise.
It is important to emphasise that the best preventive measure is through vaccination. The state government has procured sufficient vaccines for our people. Sadly however, many are still refusing to take the vaccine because of some unfounded superstitious beliefs. For the uptenth time let me state it clearly that the vaccines are safe as confirmed by World class Scientist and World Health Oraganisation (WHO).
I have taken the vaccine, my wife has, the Deputy Governor and his wife have, the Speaker and all honourable members have, all members of my cabinet have. In all these there has been no single adverse incident. Consequently, no one has any further reason to be afraid of taking the vaccine. In this respect, if the foot-dragging continues, government might be force to make the vaccination compulsory for all Imo people and residents. We might also take the further step of insisting that no one can do any business with government without evidence of vaccination.
Be this as it may, I must add that the observance of all the COVID 19 protocols remain in force. This includes compulsory wearing of face mask, maintenance of social distancing and regular washing and sanitization of hands.
As you will recall, just a few weeks ago, President Muhammadu Buhari was in our state to Commission four strategic projects executed by my administration. His visit has brought a lot of goodies to our people. I have just returned from Abuja where I went to follow up on approvals given by the President.
It is indeed my pleasure to inform the good people of Ndi-Imo that we are reaping bountiful benefits from the President’s recent visit. Such benefits include the approval for the installation and conversion of Otamiri River to a Dam capable of powering a 10 megawatts plant that can generate electricity when completed and help improve water supply in the State.
This as you know is a fallout from the Balloon driven technology underground tunnel which Mr. President commissioned.
In a few weeks, the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osibanjo will be coming to Imo State, precisely on October 15th, to administer a N12billion empowerment programme to the private sector. Imo traders, artisans and the vulnerable are expected to benefit from this massive empowerment. This is a direct benefit from the presidential visit.
Another benefit from the visit is that the Federal Government has graciously included Imo State as a beneficiary of its special Agric Processing Zone Project for Livestock farming. Out of the seven states in the country that will benefit from a Federal Government $850 million for the programme, Imo State is Number two! . Consequently, a whopping $120million will soon be released to our state for the livestock programme.
That is not all. Out of a $1.4billion facility secured by the federal government from the World Bank for Urban and Rural Water development, Imo State, representing the southeast zone, is among the States approved to benefit from the programme.
My beloved people of Imo State, my constant assurance to you is that I will continue to serve you diligently and honestly. My plea is for you to create a conducive atmosphere of peace to enable me drive my developmental agenda for our state.
To our compatriots, let us use this occasion of the 61st Independence Anniversary to rededicate ourselves to peaceful coexistence. The labour, sweat and blood of our founding fathers should never be in vain. The spirit of brotherhood, negotiations and compromise that informed the pre and post Independence AGREEMENT for a united Federal Republic of Nigeria must be reborn in the present generation of leaders. We must make concerted efforts to build on the sacrifices of our forbears and the blood of our heroes past, to bequeath to the next generation a virile, united and democratic Nigeria where justice and equity are the unassailable bedrock of nationhood.
Happy Independence Anniversary, Nigerians.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria
God bless Imo State
God bless Nigerians
Sen. Hope Uzodimma
Owerri, October 1st, 2021