THE KOGI AGENDA PREVAILED, TIME FOR GREATER ACHIEVEMENTS

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TEXT OF THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, AHMED USMAN ODODO, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF KOGI STATE ON SATURDAY THE 27TH OF JANUARY, 2024

PROTOCOL:

1. Fellow Kogites, on this auspicious day, I stand before you on the solid foundation of unity which paved the way for the collective trust bestowed on me to lead our dear state at this time in our history.

2. I am humbled by the weight of expectation as I accept your mandate to build on the enviable achievements of my predecessors who have travelled this road before now.

3. I thank His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello, the father of modern Kogi State, for his unprecedented life-changing achievements in virtually all sectors of the economy, which have now formed the solid base for us to build on.

4. Your Excellency Sir, words alone are not sufficient to appreciate the pivotal role you played in the course of the transition that has today formally taken off.

5. As your Governor, I do not take for granted the euphoria that greeted our victory in the last governorship election.

6. I pray for God’s guidance in delivering enviable performance that matches the huge expectation of the people of Kogi State who voted overwhelmingly for us and our great party, the All Progressives Congress.

7. This, for me, would be a fitting appreciation to the good people of our state and to His Excellency, my mentor and leader who, along with his team, worked so hard to make today a reality.

8. I won’t forget to specifically acknowledge His Excellencies, Captain Idris Wada and Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, who have made invaluable contributions to the efforts leading to this significant event.

9. History will remain kind to the two respected former Governors for their respective roles in shaping the affairs of our state.

10. Today, we remember, most profoundly, our great leader and father, His Excellency, Late Prince Abubakar Audu, who left indelible marks all over the nooks and crannies of our state in terms of infrastructure and human capital development.

11. Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, May I request that we observe a moment of silence in honour of late Prince Abubakar Audu.

12. May his soul continue to rest in peace. (Ameen).

13. In my life, four women stood out for their contributions and prayers towards the realization of today’s epochal event. My wife, Hajia Sefinat Usman Ohunene has been the Chief Organizer of the home front who has given me so much peace and support. I thank you my dear wife. Let me also acknowledge my mother, Hajia Habibat Sanni Ahmed for her role in shaping my character. Special recognition to my grandmother, late Hajia Salamat Audu, who principally raised me and taught me the virtues of hardwork, honesty, humility and respect for the young and old. Mama, you are remembered for moulding me into the character I am today.

14. One of the greatest blessings of my life was to be blessed with another mother, late Hajia Hauwau Bello, the late mother of my mentor and leader, His Excellency Alh. Yahaya Bello. Mama was highly supportive and she took me as a son. She prayed for me and it would have been a thing of joy if she is here today to witness the manifestation of her prayers. Mama, I will not disappoint you.

15. Your Excellencies, when the race for the Governorship election in Kogi State was looking like rising tides in turbulent waters, there was only one man to look up to in the country: His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

16. Mr. President Sir, we all witnessed, firsthand, your unflinching commitment to a peaceful, free, fair and credible election in Nigeria despite your loyalty to our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

17. We are grateful for your intervention in ensuring that the Governorship election in Kogi State did not descend into a war of attrition by promoters of various political interests in the state.

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18. Let me assure you, Your Excellency, that the government and people of Kogi State will remain loyal to your leadership and stay with you, come rain, come shine, in your efforts to transform Nigeria under the Renewed Hope Agenda of your administration.

19. Your Excellency, under my leadership, I want to restate that Kogi State shall be one of the sub-national hubs of pilot projects for key drivers of the Federal Government’s programmes in food security, poverty eradication, job creation, access to capital, inclusion, rule of law, the fight against corruption and overall economic growth, which would have local adaptation to the realities of Kogi State.

20. Special appreciation to our Vice President, His Excellency Senator Kashim Shettima GCON for his steadfast support throughout the duration of the electioneering. Your abiding confidence in the All Progressives Congress to sustain the development in Kogi State was beautifully rewarded on November 11, 2023. Thank you sir. To the mother of the nation, our amiable First Lady, Her Excellency Senator Oluremi Tinubu, we will not disappoint you. Your support was an inestimable value in our success. I also want to commend our First Lady, Hajia Rashida Bello for leading the women folk to give us a resounding victory.

21. At this point, let me commend the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), particularly the National Working Committee under our ever capable National Chairman, His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, and the state chapter of our party, ably led by Alhaji Abdullahi Bello, for their doggedness and unwavering commitment to ensuring that our party emerged victorious in the November 11 Governorship election.

22. The APC Governorship Campaign Council, led by His Excellency, Governor Dapo Abiodun with support from my elder brother Governors: Your Excellencies, Governor Abdulrahaman Abdulrazak; Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, Governor Uba Sani, Governor Muhammed Umar Bago, Governor Hyacinth Alia and Governor Abdullahi Sule, all of who worked closely with the State Campaign Council under the Honourable Minister of Steel Development, Prince Shuaib Abubakar Audu, and all members of the various campaign committees, including the various support groups, within and outside the state, to make our party victorious.

23. Let me also commend the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and other critical stakeholders in the electoral process for ensuring a peaceful, free, fair and transparent election in Kogi State.

24. To all the young men and women and the elderly who thronged all campaign venues and traversed the nooks and crannies of our state to campaign for us; the hundreds of thousands of kogites from far and near who voted or mobilized eligible voters in our support; and those who did otherwise, this government is for all of you.

25. Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, despite the election storm that threatened to set brothers and sisters against one another, we are here today because we have chosen unity over disunity; greatness over petty grievances and peace over perilous acts of recriminations and worn-out dogmas of ethnic jingoism.

26. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit and our common will to move forward towards greater achievements.

27. We must preserve the freedom of all our citizens who deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness and aspiration for any position in the state without fear of discrimination on the basis of tribal or religious inclination.

28. Kogi State cannot afford to revert to the fractured psyche riddled with scars of ethnicity that violated the age-long values and the very fabrics that bound our people together.

29. As a people, we must remain faithful and true to the ideals and dreams of our founding fathers.

30. The Kogi Agenda has prevailed and our state and people are better for it. Be assured that we shall deliver on our promise of a united, secure, progressive and prosperous Kogi State.

31. Our approach will be open, frank and rugged but I am confident that it will lead us eventually to progress and prosperity.

32. This is the time for us to commence the process towards achieving a charter of equity on power rotation in the state because it is now apparent that no single senatorial district in our state can go it alone without the cooperation and support of others who are co-equals in the political configuration of the state.

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33. Furthermore, our government shall hit the ground running with people-oriented programmes and projects delivered with utmost focus on the wellbeing of our people and we shall govern with transparency, probity and accountability at all times.

34. Our economy shall witness remarkable improvements, on the back of the solid foundation laid by the administration of my predecessor, as we further open up our state to investors willing to collaborate with us under a robust public-private partnership framework.

35. We are going to make Kogi State an attractive investment destination for local and foreign investors.

36. As we grapple with challenges of the past, we must reckon that it is indeed a new beginning and we must therefore work together to stem the tide of greed and irresponsibility in whatever guise, shape or form.

37. We must be prepared to make hard choices in our collective efforts to birth a new day in our state.

38. The unity and cooperation of everyone of us will greatly contribute to the peace and progress of our state.

39. In this new era, more homes shall be built, more jobs will be created, businesses will blossom, our farmlands will thrive.

40. Our health care system will witness massive improvement in scale and efficiency; our schools will be filled and our teachers will have more reasons to smile on their way to the classrooms; our youths will find more avenues to build skills for innovation and creative enterprises and the welfare of our women shall be the utmost priority of this administration.

41. Today, there are real challenges in the nation’s economy, particularly as regards foreign exchange, unemployment and inflationary trends.

42. We must dig deep and roll up our sleeves to confront these challenges in the real sector as a sub-national government ready to make a difference.

43. This will require us to look at the low hanging fruits such as completing all the critical infrastructural projects of the immediate past administration that are dear to the wellbeing of our people and by tapping into existing opportunities for partnership with the Federal Government.

44. These will focus more on our areas of comparative advantage such as solid minerals and steel development, agriculture, marine and blue economy; tourism and creative economy, as well as information technology and digital economy, where our youth population with tremendous energy can be hugely mobilized to become key players in the value chain.

45. As a government, we are extremely optimistic and we have very high ambition which may not be met easily or in a short span of time.

46. But let me assure you that with guidance from God Almighty, support from our elders, the enterprise of the men and women who will serve in this administration, and with the full cooperation of you all, our expectations will be met.

47. Our team will be made up of individuals with ambitions greater than what you have seen before now.

48. Kogi State, which has been rated in the top 10 category under Governor Yahaya Bello by both local and international organisations, as far as growth indicators are concerned, will perform even better because the leadership will be more inventive, our workers will be more productive across sectors and the productive capacity will remain undiminished under the new administration.

49. It is always more tedious to prepare the land. It is energy sapping to cultivate the land. GYB has prepared the land, cultivated the land and planted seeds. It is our responsibility to water the seeds into fruition and plant new ones for a bumper harvest. Kogi can only get better. We have trained our mentality and will up our determination to make Kogi State greater.

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50. We must all be prepared to begin from where the immediate past administration stopped.

51. A lot needs to be done to keep our communities safe and secure, help our young people find jobs, keep families in business, keep pupils in school and our teachers looking forward to the next school day, connect our farmers to markets even as we sustain food sufficiency in all parts of the state, get corporate organizations into partnerships that work for our communities and help our pensioners to live dignified and fulfilled lives.

52. Our administration will be aggressive, deliberate and strategic in making our business environment attractive. Kogi has all it takes to fulfill Nigeria’s dream of becoming the industrial hub of the global south. We are one of the most endowed states in Nigeria with abundant mineral resources and many gifts of nature. Kogi is where two of Africa’s biggest rivers, Niger and Benue, form a Confluence. The huge water bodies can serve in the areas of transportation, agriculture and tourism. We have all it takes with the many rivers and dams in the state to produce food all year round with an all seasons farming. We must produce what we eat , eat what we produce and produce what others eat. Aside the very valuable mineral resources our state is blessed with, we have no excuse not to be the food basket of Africa with the robust agricultural platforms already put in place by my leader and predecessor, His Excellency Alh. Yahaya Bello, CON.

53. I therefore call on the global investment community to see Kogi as the destination of choice. Our environment is safe for investment and our policies are friendly. We will protect the investors and the interest of our people. Kogi is the place to be. For the past few years, we have been working on how to launch our Confluence and our State on the world tourism map. In the next couple of months, we are hopeful that the world will make Kogi their tourism destination of choice. As your Governor, I will be at the forefront of our investment drive and we shall put in place, a Diaspora Investment Platform to make every Kogite around the world our investment Ambassador. It is economically imperative to build an economy that is basically driven by the private sector.

54. Fellow Kogites, I promise to govern with the fear of God and to be just, fair and equitable in all my dealings with all men and women irrespective of tribe, religion or political affiliation.

55. It is a big challenge to take over from a hugely successful administration. But the Governor himself has prepared us mentally, administratively and politically for the task ahead. We won’t fail the people of Kogi State.

56. Our government will be transparent, accountable and we shall reward honesty, hard work and courage while promoting tolerance, loyalty and fairness.

57. To the opposition political parties in the state, I invite you to work with us to build an even greater state, based on mutual respect and in the overall interest of our good people.

58. Fellow Kogites, I promise you all, I will not be an ethnic Governor, I will be the Governor of Kogi State.

59. Let it be said by our children’s children that once upon a time when our collective resolve to remain a united and indivisible state was tested, we refused to let this journey end; that we did not turn back nor did we falter. And with eyes fixed on the horizon and by God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of unity in our diversity to deliver a better future and the best of our days that are ahead to future generations of Kogites.

60. My brothers and sisters, come, join hands with me as we hit the ground running to deliver the Kogi of our dreams.

61. Thank you. God bless you. God bless Kogi State and God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.




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