Address by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, on the occasion of the 57th Independence Anniversary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; 1st October 2017
My dear People of Kaduna State,
1. It is my pleasure to address you today on the happy occasion of the 57th Independence Anniversary of our country, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
2. This independence anniversary is a moment for us to give thanks to the Almighty God that has preserved us, amidst all the storms and stresses. But it is also a time to reflect on how we, as citizens and leaders, can contribute to strengthen our country, uphold peace and harmony within it, and embrace the common humanity that shines so brilliantly through our diversity.
3. There is much that is noble and necessary that we must do together. In peace and harmony, we can work to jointly build a society that secures better life chances for our people. Poverty knows no tribe, language or religion, and the limitations it places on people are not eased by appeals to primordial sentiments.
4. Rather than enable few of our selfish political elite in their pastime of seeking personal advantage through exploiting ethnic, regional and religious fault lines, let us build a strong constituency that demands and works for equality of opportunity for all. There is much to be done to guarantee decent Education for our people, deliver affordable healthcare and create the enabling environment for mass job creation that cures poverty and hopelessness.
5. As your Governor, I am fortunate to be blessed with a hard-working team that is committed to delivering these vital public goods. We are patiently grappling with upgrading the infrastructure and personnel required to provide decent basic education in our public schools. We have brought under state government control, and are strengthening primary health care, working to reduce infant and maternal mortality and we recently introduced cash cover so that our senior citizens above the age of 70 can get free healthcare, particularly for treatment of diabetes and hypertension.
6. Robust economic activity greatly assists the steady work of building a strong and stable society. Therefore, we continue to vigorously attract the private investors that can bring many jobs and improve our state’s tax base. In the month of September alone, two major agricultural investments of over N50 billion were commissioned that will give thousands of our people employment opportunities. As a government, we are creating direct jobs where we can, but the public service can only employ a tiny fragment of the population.
7. It is customary to mark this anniversary of liberty by showing compassion to some of our convicted compatriots. Accordingly, I have acted on the recommendations made to me by the State Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy, and exercised the power to grant amnesty to 13 convicts. These persons either have only a short time left to complete their sentences, or are now above the age of 60, with records of remorse and good conduct.
8. As we celebrate our country’s political freedom, let us retain our faith that ours can be a better country. Let us commit to the beauty of a diverse country, and uphold the values of equal opportunity, meritocracy, hard work, honesty and harmony. Let us cherish the things with which we have been blessed by the Almighty God, and use them to build a better society.