It is my pleasure to welcome you formally to this important state function of the inauguration of new commissioners and Special Advisers asmembers of the Benue State Executive Council (EXCO). With thecoming on board of the Commissioners and Advisers the State’s EXCO has been fully constituted to drive the formulation and execution of government policies and programs.
These shall be done in accordance with the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and our blueprint.
2. I congratulate all of you that have been carefully selected out of many that are willingto serve the State in these capacities.Your appointments have followed elaborate consultations with various stakeholders particularly our party caucuses at various levels across the state with confirmation by the House of Assembly.I commend the Speaker and members of the Benue State House of Assembly for screening and approving the list of Commissioners and number of Advisers expeditiously. This posture of cooperation between the executive and the legislatureis reassuring as we embark on our quest to bring the change that Benue people have long yearned for.
3. May I state that the choice of the appointees did not come by accident; it was based on our belief that they have the capacity to discharge their duties with distinction. We have also ensured that as much as possible, the criteria of even spread, fairness, equity and justice were met in the sharing of key government positions.
However, we may have failed to meet the expectations of some people on account of human frailty. We crave for understanding in this regard and also appeal that those who could not make any of the lists of appointments made so far not to despair as other opportunities to serve still exist. For those being sworn in today, it is important for you to note that although you have emerged from various quarters through our collective decision your total loyalty must be to the Governor and his administration. Any appointee found to be disloyal, lacking capacity, and performing below expectation will be relieved of the appointment.
4. As you may be aware, the role of Commissioners and Advisers in the smooth running of government machinery and the attainment of set goals cannot be over-emphasized. They are key drivers in the formulation and execution of policies, programs and projects that will deliver on our promises to the people.
5. Let me emphasize that we are coming into governance at a time that the challenges are many and the expectations of the people arevery high. You must therefore, place the people at the center of all your actions and activities. The agenda of my administration rests on five major pillars:
1. Good governance and revenue security
2. Agriculture-driven industrialization
3. Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, STEAM-based education and Health Services
4. Investment in critical infrastructure and
5. Promotion of gender equality and empowering women, youths, sports and persons with disabilities.
Details of these are contained in our blueprint which will be unfolded to you and the people of the state.
6. You must always remember that our administration which is anchored on the fear of God has pledged to entrench core values which include transparency, accountability, justice, fairness, selflessness, humility, discipline, forgiveness, reconciliation, integration, peace and unity which shall make development inevitable. You have joined the ranks of ambassadors and agents of the change the people voted for. As such, your conduct must be exemplary. Besides, our administration has zero tolerance for corruption. To us, public office is an opportunity to serve and not that for amassing wealth. Those who desire to make money are encouraged to get into the private sector where they can do business. May I emphasize the charge I gave to other appointees that no one in the public service under my administration should dare to convert funds meant for the execution of projects for the people’s welfare into personal gain. This is unacceptable and contrary to fiscal responsibility and we shall not hesitate to use the big stick against such conduct.
7. In our administration, if you chop public money; the money will chop you. You must also shun acts of flamboyance, be frugal and sensitive to public perception and commit public funds only to the advancement of public good.
8. As you are aware, the allocation to the state government has continued to dwindle. This makes it imperative for us to look inwards to raise our internally generated revenue with which to deliver democracy dividends to our people. This calls for total commitment on the part of all appointees in this regard even as we should all be prepared to make sacrifices where and when necessary. The desire to cut costs has informed our decision to run a slim administration by reducing the hitherto number of ministries from 17 to 13 and advisers from 28 to 18.
9. I charge the Permanent Secretaries, Directors and the entire management and all other staff of Ministries, Departments and agencies to support the Commissioners and Advisers to succeed. To family members, friends and well-wishers, I urge you to please shun the temptation of putting those sworn in under undue pressure to satisfy selfish interests instead of those of the public. Above all, I assure you all of the state government’s support at all times.
10. I pray that the Good Lord would grant you wisdom and sound health as you embark on this onerous task of offering service to our people.
11. I once again commend the people of the state for giving us the opportunity to serve them. Portfolios will be assigned to the appointees after a three-day retreat which will commence at the new Banquet Hall of the Peoples House tomorrow evening.
In God We Trust.
12. Thank you and God bless.