For The Record: Masari’s 2019 inauguration speech as Katsina governor

Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State
Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State[PHOTO CREDIT: GovernorMasiri Twitter handle]

INAUGURAL SPEECH AT THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY OF HIS EXCELLENCY, RT. HON. AMINU BELLO MASARI, CFR, DALLATUN KATSINA, AS GOVERNOR OF KATSINA STATE ON 29TH MAY, 2019

Protocols,

My dear compatriots,

All praises and gratitude to Allah (SWT) who spared our lives and made it possible for us to witness this truly historic event. But before I go any further, let me seize this opportunity to once again express my heartfelt condolences to victims of the recent terrorist attacks at Batsari and Kankara Local Government Areas where over 39 people lost their lives with more than 200 injured. This is an unacceptable tragedy for which I call for a Special Prayer here and now in memory and respect of our fallen citizens of Batsari, Kankara, Safana, Jibia, Dandume, Sabuwa, Faskari and Danmusa Local Government Areas.

Ladies and gentlemen, in 2015, we stood here and swore to manage the affairs of our beloved State for a term of four (4) years with dedication, sincerity, and utmost fear of Allah. On that day, we pledged to judiciously utilize all available resources, human and material, to restore Katsina State to its lost glory in the North and in the Country.

The journey we embarked upon since May 29th, 2015 was indeed remarkable. It was a journey of struggles and hopes; a journey of expectations and challenges; and a journey which in many ways clearly indicated the difficulties of governing a State like Katsina whose bureaucratic and social infrastructures have almost collapsed under the weight of decades of neglect; and whose dependence on allocation from the Federation account for its survival was legendary. But throughout this journey, I should stress, our resolve remained unshaken; and our determination was reinforced by our conviction that the restoration of Katsina State was now or never, a task that must be done.

The restoration roadmap and the direction taken

On May 29th, 2015 we vowed to uphold the principles of rule of law; the tenets of accountability in governance; and of prudency in managing and utilizing resources for the development of our people. We also pledged to institute a culture of merit in appointments of public officers and to avoid misuse of public resources. We were unequivocal that our administration would be driven by values of good governance, respect for human dignity, humility, and selflessness. Above all, we declared that our administration would prioritize good governance, education, health, water resources, and agriculture.

The decision to prioritize these was a carefully-thought out one that was anchored on the firm belief that education, health, and agriculture really hold the key to restoration. Naturally, the APC administration under our stewardship deployed men and resources towards addressing the rot in these sectors.

The objective, as must be clear, was to transform them and in so doing we hope not only for the emergence of a better education, more health, highly empowered population, but one which is governed with fear of Allah and great respect to the tenets of rule of law, accountability, and good governance.

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Committees were established and experts were invited from all walks of life to avail us the use of their professional advice and insight. In the end, we succeeded in developing a robust and comprehensive, but realistic blueprint and a roadmap necessary for realizing our restoration objectives. I believe you would recall how we convened the Katsina State Economic and Investment Summit in May, 2016, just one year after we took office, which was graciously attended by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Summit which attracted top entrepreneurs, investors, and industry captains from within and outside the Country succeeded in creating an interface between the State and the Private Sector. Needless to say, the goal was to explore opportunities through which we could wean our State from over-dependence on oil revenues by strengthening other sources of revenue especially agro-products and solid minerals.

Looking back to all these and other countless efforts in the last four years, one cannot escape being enamored by our amazing achievements and striking successes. However, this is not the platform for reeling out those achievements. Nevertheless, allow me, for the sake of posterity to recount some of the successes recorded by our administration since 2015 as they pertained to the five areas considered to be our top priorities. These were Security, Education, Health, Water Resources, and Agriculture.

Governance/Security

The first and fundamental pledge which we made in 2015 was to govern with utmost fear of Allah (SWT) and to see the task ahead of us as a trust. In pursuing that we introduced a system of ethical governance in which political accountability, transparency, prudency, and humility were deeply and deliberately ingrained in the structures of our administration.

Four years after, we are satisfied with the progress we have made in terms of restoring trust in government; gingering our people to take active interest in the management of their affairs; and reinvigorating our civil service to once again become the vehicle for our progress.

Education Sector

Education is central to human development. This is the reason we made it our top priority. However, the challenge of turning this all-important sector in Katsina State was quite daunting owing to years of neglect and near-zero investment. In 2015, we met a sector that was poorly performing, chaotic, and grossly neglected such that it was clearly incapable of producing the manpower needed for driving the socio-economic and political transformation of the State.

Poor staffing, curricula misaligned with our needs and current realities, dilapidated infrastructure, truancy among staff and students, and low enrollment characterized the sector. The task as we saw it in 2015 was one of designing strategies to overcome these problems in order to lay a solid foundation for the development of education.

Towards this end, our administration embarked on expansion of students’ enrollment through construction and rehabilitation of new and existing schools; recruitment of qualified teachers and introduction of initiatives such as S-Power program; and provision of adequate equipment and facilities for our schools.

I am happy to say that with little resources, we succeeded in the provision of several opportunities for training and retraining of teachers in teaching methodologies, teaching aids, and innovative teaching. So far, about five hundred (500) teachers have benefitted from this initiative. We have also added five (5) more additional quality assurance offices to ensure standardization of procedures and practices in our educational system. New e-library resources have also been installed in our Secondary Schools to ensure that we produce students that are IT compliant. These
and many others have resulted in general improvement in the performance of the sector as evidenced in the number of students who sat and obtained five credits and above in WAEC and NECO in 2016, for instance, which was 8,272 (68.1%) as against 4,702 (11.9%) in 2012.

Health Sector

It is sad to note that the health sector which we inherited was not fit even for the care of animals. We met a sector bedeviled by frightening shortage of qualified and motivated manpower; and dearth of necessary tools, equipment, drugs and requisite infrastructure. Then there were also problems associated with arbitrary siting and construction of health facilities without objective assessment of location parameters. Rural communities suffered the worst neglect with health workers absconding and abandoning duty posts.

In order to turn things around, we undertook statewide rehabilitation, expansion, and construction of existing and new health facilities.

Within these past four years, all general hospitals in the State were remodeled and equipped adequately. We have also constructed and equipped fourteen {14} new Comprehensive Health Centers {CHCs} in addition to the upgrading of seventeen {17} Primary Health Centers {PHCs}. Furthermore, the administration has introduced a vibrant drug revolving fund to cushion the cost of drugs for our people, and a number of essential drugs and delivery kits are now being distributed to women and children free.

Other vital equipments necessary for a functional health care system including ambulances, solar refrigerators, motorcycles, and generators were also procured and distributed.

Water Resources Sector.

Part of our promise in 2015 was to ensure adequate water supply. To achieve this promise, we started by seeking to fix the dysfunctional water system of the State which was in utter disrepair with storage tanks rusting; dams drying up; water reservoirs collapsing; and essential machines breaking down.

There were no reliable electricity generating machines for treating, pumping and distributing water across the State. In consequence thereof, we undertook generic rehabilitation, expansion, and repairs of existing water production and distribution systems; wide-scale rural water supply projects through construction of boreholes and installation of water pumps; and extensive repairs and revival of broken down community water supply
systems.

Water supply schemes in Bakori, Dan-Musa, Dandume, Daura, Dutsinma, Kusada, Malumfashi, Matazu, Rimi, Zango, Kafur, Muduru and host of other semi-urban communities have already been completed or have reached an advanced stage of execution.

Agricultural Sector.

The goal which our administration set for itself was restoration of productivity in this sector by accelerating its growth and development. The overall objective was to remodel the sector in order to make it the bedrock of modernization, diversification, and strengthening of our economy to create wealth and jobs for our people. But this was not possible without dependable infrastructure including motorable roads, water conservation technology and facilities, power supply and storage, and finance to fast-track production.

As part of the efforts we pursued to achieve our objectives, we partnered with the CBN to introduce the Anchor Borrowers Programme to support farmers; rehabilitated about a dozen dams for irrigation and livestock feeding; rehabilitated and constructed about twenty (20) irrigation schemes across the state; introduced a livestock drugs revolving scheme; and carried out a mass de-worming of livestock across the State.

We have also revived and strengthened extension services including providing overseas training in modern farming techniques to our extension workers; evolved a sound agric mechanization policy; distributed agro-chemical products and improved seed varieties to farmers; and facilitated partnership for establishing rice, tomato, and fertilizer factories in the State by private investors.

The Journey Ahead: New Challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me also remind you that in the course of our journey, we encountered quite a number of challenges. Many among which were due to the failure of previous administrations to plan ahead or respond vigorously to these challenges as they emerged. In some cases, they were due to the indifferent posture of successive administrations to the realities of our social and economic conditions.

Insecurity and reduced revenues were the most pressing challenges with far-reaching implications to the development of our dear state.

In 2015, we inherited a worsened security situation in nine Local Government Areas bordering Rugu forest in Katsina State. Cattle rustling and rural banditry were left to spiral out of control. Thousands of farmers and Fulani herders in the affected areas were being attacked and displaced by bandits and other marauders. Many lost not only their properties and sources of livelihood but also their lives. Of course, when we took over we deployed varying tactics and comprehensive peace packages including stakeholder engagements, dialogues, and amnesty programs to promptly and decisively address the problem of cattle rustling and rural banditry. Despite the relative success recorded by Katsina State Government on Cattle Rustling, the Military operation in Zamfara State has greatly affected Katsina State as most of the rustlers dislodged from the forests in Zamfara State relocated to Katsina State, especially the frontline Local Government Areas bordering Rugu Forest, thus affecting our success in that regard. But there are still other associated insecurity challenges with kidnappings and other forms of abductions as being the most disturbing. This problem, I should note, was primarily due to a number of factors. Chief among these was the failure in the past to deal with the emerging rural banditry and the subsequent militarization of many of our ungoverned spaces which was facilitated by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALWs). These led to the destruction of our rural economies and pushed thousands of our people into unemployment and poverty. Needless to say, it was this combination that created the volatile condition which presently nurture and sustain insecurity in our State.

As we are all aware, the State has of recent witnessed disturbing resurgence of incidences of armed banditry and kidnapping for ransom, more prevalent, especially in the frontline Local Government Areas bordering the Rugu Forest, despite the State Government’s, continued unflinching logistics support to the Security Agencies in the State. Our towns and villages in those areas have become prone to a new dimension of armed bandits attacks, leading to the killing and maiming of innocent citizens, carting away of their foodstuff and burning down other belongings of economic value (including houses, vehicles, shops and traditional silos). Kidnap incidences on the other hand have permeated all the strata of the society, as the rich and poor; religious and traditional rulers have become victims.
I want to assure the good people of Katsina State, that the State Government has not relented in its determined efforts to ensure the security of lives and properties of its citizenry. Disturbed by this ugly unfolding phenomenon, the State Government has on Sunday 20th and Monday 21st May, 2019 engaged the top officials of Zamfara and Sokoto States at Gusau, on how to ensure a renewed offensive to safeguard our people. We agreed during the meeting for a joint operation of coordinated and simultaneous offensive under a single command. Two days after the Gusau meeting, I personally presented our case to Mr. President, at the Presidential Villa Abuja as a result of which he sympathized and commiserated with us, and pledged to ensure a quick response.

Accordingly, on Thursday 23rd May, 2019 an Assessment Team arrived Katsina on the orders of the Chief of Defence Staff. The team visited and interacted with relevant stakeholders in the affected areas, with a view to addressing this anomaly once and for all, by the grace of Almighty Allah.

It is important to, at this juncture, state clearly that the State Government is doing everything possible to support the security personnel and security operations in Katsina State. Despite the meager resources available, the State Government has been providing operational vehicles, office and residential accommodation, security equipment for operation, monthly personnel allowances and so many others to the security personnel posted to the State from 2015 when we took over the mantle of leadership to date.

I therefore wish to appeal to our people across the State for calm and continued prayers, as we got the assurance of the Federal Government for drastic action to degrade these inhuman marauders. Let us continue to cooperate and assist the Security Agencies as they re-strategize to ensure our safety and wellbeing.

Another challenge which we encountered at inception was the issue of depleted treasury. The huge earnings from the sale of crude oil were either mismanaged or fritted away by the previous administration. Consequently, our administration met very little, and for some time we had to be very creative in order to meet our financial obligations. Four years after, our position has only barely improved. We still contend with the challenge of poor revenue earnings owing to fall in the price of oil in the international market.

Consolidation and new 8-points pledge for security and development

In spite of these outstanding challenges, we remain poised to forge ahead with our determination to take Katsina State to the next level. We are resolved to continue to explore all avenues, engage with all critical stakeholders, and work with the private sector to ensure the consolidation of the gains of the past four years. This administration would continue to expand opportunities for private sector participation in boosting our economy in order to create more jobs and close the existing social inequality gap among our people. Specifically, I would like to solemnly pledge to you, on this day, our commitment to the following critical areas.

Sustaining investment in Education. This administration would continue to prioritize education. Enrollment would be expanded; far reaching reforms would be pursued including but not limited to refining our curricula to be more amenable to the challenges of our age; and new structures/equipment/and facilities would be provided. In addition, we will continue to engage with critical stakeholders to explore avenues for improved welfare packages and scholarship opportunities for both teachers and students in our schools.

Increasing Investment in Agriculture. We share the conviction that our long-term security and prosperity as a people depend solely in how much we invest to develop our agricultural sector. We are of the belief that agriculture has the potential and the capacity not just to lift our people from poverty, but to also help strengthen our IGR. We will continue to expand opportunities for public-private partnership in financing critical sub-sectors including irrigation and livestock farming.

3. Consolidating the gains of the health sector. We are determined to build on the achievements of our administration in this area in the last four years.

Existing health centers, especially in our rural areas would continue to be renovated and upgraded. New ones will also be constructed and properly equipped and staffed with professionals. Furthermore, we shall avail health workers with opportunities for improved service welfare as well as career development and regular professional development trainings.

Increasing Investment in Water Resources.

Provision of portable water would also remain a top priority for this administration. Our focus will be on
consolidating the existing gains and building upon them to ensure that more communities have access to portable drinking water.

Facilitating Wider Political Inclusion and Youths Engagement.

Another area which we plan on prioritizing is the inclusion of our people, particularly youths, in the management of their affairs. We recognize the importance of expanding the political space to accommodate youths with their boundless energy and creative ideas in order to enrich our governance. Consequently, we will take steps and pursue measures that are designed to facilitate this objective. In our first term, we demonstrated our commitment to greater youths engagement and participation by the significant number of young men and women appointed into positions of great responsibilities including cabinet positions.

Entrenching Good Governance, Political Accountability and Transparency.

Our resolve to institutionalize values of good governance in Katsina State is unequalled. We have achieved quite a lot especially in ensuring transparency on how the business of government was conducted.

But it is our belief that more needs to be done. We shall not relent in our determination to continue to improve on the successes of the past. We shall do whatever it takes to ensure that good governance and accountability become entrenched in public service.

7. Promoting Greater Public-Private Collaboration. Another area which will form part of our new 8-points pledge is the issue of greater collaboration between the public and private sectors. Fundamental challenges including unemployment and low IGR could be substantially reduced with greater participation of the private sector into our economy. To this end, we shall follow-up on the gains of the 2016 Katsina State Economic and Investment Summit and determine strategies to scale-up our level of partnership with the private sector especially in agriculture, manufacturing, and industries.

Bequeathing Secure and Prosperous Katsina State. Ladies and gentlemen, my dream I must admit at this juncture is to see a Katsina State that is secured from all manner of security threats; a Katsina State that is financially buoyant; and a Katsina State with a happy and prosperous populace. With my team, we hope to bequeath a Katsina State where the wellbeing of our people would “not be measured by the presence of the rich, but by the absence of the poor amongst us”. This dream is not an impossible one. But its realization would depend solely on how sincere and dedicated we work in the next four years and even beyond.

Conclusion

Ladies and gentlemen, I submit these as our pledge to you. We are committed to their full realization. And I am assuring you that the hands that will be invited to join in ensuring this success are capable, dependable, reliable, competent, and trustworthy. We will ensure that we appoint persons of proven integrity that will add great value to our agenda for security and development. This is the only way to ensure the consolidation of our restoration gains and to guarantee quick results as we move to the next level. I am, therefore, asking you all to join hands with me as we march towards a greater, better, secure, and more prosperous future Insha Allah. I thank you so much and pray that you go back to your respective destinations safely.

Wassalamu alaikum.

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