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BEING FULL TEXT OF THE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY BANJI ALABI ESQ AT THE SAINT CATHERINE OLD GIRLS ASSOCIATION, OWO REUNION ON SATURDAY 16TH JUNE, 2019
Your Excellency – The First Lady Of Our Sunshine State, Arabirin Betty Akeredolu. The National President of this Noble Association, my beautiful aunty – Mrs Tola Awoh, My Sister , friend and colleague Mrs Funke Adeniyi :
Distinguished ladies & gentlemen- All protocols duly Observed
It is a great honor to be here as the guest speaker at this August occasion, there is something Memorable about this event, among the population of Saint Catherine old girls all over the world — it is their genuine compassion towards those in need and to give back to their Alma mata and the society at large : Last week I received another invitation from the Saint Catherine Old Girls Association- USA chapter ( New York / New Jersey chapter) ( SISTERS FOR LIFE) as special guest to attend the reunion celebration of the association slated for September in New Jersey
In all these , distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I can see the burning desire to help others and give back to the school and the society that helped to shape you to be the successful people that your are today — I have been conducted round the school compound and I can see the contributions of the old girls of Saint Catherine to this great college— I am so proud of each and everyone of you But like Oliver Twist – I will ask you to do more and to extend your generosity to Owo your host community and Ondo State : I encourage you to participate more in politics and together let’s make Ondo State greater and better.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we must recognize the grinding poverty that so many experience every day around our continent of Africa and Nigeria in particular. And yet sometimes it’s said that our efforts to combat poverty and disease do not and cannot work, that there are some places beyond hope, that certain people and regions are condemned to an endless cycle of suffering. Here, today, we put those myths to rest. Today, we set aside the skepticism, and we lift up the hope that is available to us through collective action.
The feeding program of the Federal government of Nigeria is an unprecedented effort, the hunger rate among school children in Nigeria has already been slashed. In Ondo state – the government renovated over five hundred schools-Tens of thousands of more boys and girls are today in school. In our mother and child hospitals, we have reduced to almost zero the mortality rate of women at child birth, the Prevention and treatment of hypertension, diabetes measles and malaria and tuberculosis ,
With the campaign of our First Lady via her pet project BRECAN on breast cancer awareness, we have have saved many lives and deaths have plummeted. And more than five hundred thousand market women and ordinary men have lifted themselves up from extreme poverty as a result of the poverty eradication program of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu SAN —
Akeredolu came into office with the twin promises of regular payment of workers salary and to leave Ondo state far better than he met it in terms of physical infrastructures. Lo and behold, the gentleman has stayed absolutely faithful to the fulfilment . One area where Akeredolu deserves applause is the fact that all projects inherited from his predecessor are now either completed or at various advanced completion stages. This is also in addition to new projects initiated by him that are either completed now or still ongoing.
It is noteworthy that Akeredolu has
delivered more than 45 kilometres of roads in Ondo state across the three senatorial districts. Akeredolu do not discriminate between federal and state roads -Among all the governors that has ever serve in ondo state Aketi has performed better in two and half years More than anyone of them in terms of developmental projects across the 18 local government’s: He introduce credibility, integrity into governance- He will never promise what he will not do – you can take his words to the bank : Some of the achievements are
*Prompt payments of salaries of civil servants ( the previous government owed nine months salaries despite better funding from the FGN monthly subventions
*Rehabilitation and construction of new roads across the state.
*Construction of 100 bed space hospital at ifon
*Renovation of about 500 public primary schools and provisions of modern toilets in each of the primary schools across the state.
*The multi billion fly over at ore.
*Industrial estate at ore so company’s have been established in that place.
*Newly 400 recruited people as revenue officers in the state
* Special intervention fund to all the tertiary institutions in Ondo State
As a government, we take enormous pride in these historic achievements. And so let the skeptics and cynics know that development works. Investing in public health works. We can break the cycle of poverty. Our People can rise into prosperity. Despite the cruelties of our world in Africa and the ravages of disease, millions of lives can be saved if we are focused, and if we work together. Cynicism is our enemy. A belief, a capacity in the dignity of every individual, and a recognition that we, each of us, can play a small part in lifting up people all around our state — that is the message that we are sending here today. And because of the work of so many of us who are assembled here today, we can point to past successes. yet, we are also here today because we understand that our work is nowhere near done.
We can take pride in what we’ve accomplished, but we cannot be complacent. As beautiful, as our result sheet may look as a government in Ondo State , We still have a long way to go as Nigerians .
As mothers , it may interest you to know that 44% of girls in Nigeria are married before their 18th birthday and 18% are married before the age of 15. According to UNICEF, Nigeria has the third highest absolute number of child bride in the world – 3,538,000 – and the 11th highest prevalence rate of child marriage globally.
Child marriage is most common in the North West and North East of Nigeria, where 68% and 57% of women aged 20-49 were married before their 18th birthday. Child marriage is particularly common among Nigeria’s poorest, rural households and the Hausa ethnic group.
A 2017 World Bank study estimates that child marriage costs Nigeria USD7.6 billion in lost earnings and productivity every year.
Nigeria now has 13.2 million out of school children – When tens of thousands of children are still not in school, when hundreds of thousand of young girls are married out at the age of 10 , when people have no clean water, no toilets, we have so much more to do.
Right now, some thousands of men, women and children are scraping by on less than N100 per day. Imagine that. Gripped by the ache of an empty stomach. thousands of our fellow human beings are at risk of dying from hunger and diseases in North east and Northwest of Nigeria. It is very sad that our brothers and sisters in Northern NIGERIA are dying from the disease that we know how to prevent in Ondo State
The consequences of extreme poverty in Northern NIGERIA has turned traveling on our roads in the south west into a big nightmare , our very freedom , our ways of life are now under attack in frequent deadly armed robbery and kidnapping attack by people escaping from the poverty in the north, they are now known as Fulani herdsmen killing and maiming all over NIGERIA : It is literally a matter of life and death for this deprived people , and now the whole county NIGERIA must act. We cannot leave these people behind. And so, today, we commit ourselves to new Sustainable Development Goals, including our goal of ending extreme poverty in Northern NIGERIA and in Nigeria as a whole
We do also understanding how difficult the task may be. We suffer no illusions of the challenges ahead. But we understand this is something that we must commit ourselves to do. Because in doing so, we recognize that our most basic bond — our common humanity — compels us to act. An impoverished child in a distant slum or a neighborhood not that far from here is just as equal, just as worthy, as any of our children, as any of us, as any head of government or leader in this great hall.
We reaffirm that supporting development is not charity, but is instead one of the smartest investments we can make in our own future. After all, it is lack of development — when people have no education, and no jobs, and no hope, a feeling that their basic human dignity is being violated — that helps fuel so much of the tensions , conflict and herdsmen Attack and instability in our country:
I call on all the Governors in Northern Nigeria to borrow a leaf from Our Governor in Ondo State slogan – think Anew and act Anew:
I am of the view that it is time the people of Nigeria and the international community challenge the feudal system in the north that subject 99% of the people to extreme poverty : it is time we overthrow the ungodly system. So that peace and development may return to the North and NIGERIA- so that our roads may be free one more time from kidnappers :
According to the saying iattributed to Napoleon Bonaparte.
“An army marches on its stomach. To be effective, an army relies on good and plentiful food”
The Fulani herdsmen attacking us cannot act, without a powerful supply chain , there are kidnappers living among us who are aiding and abetting this crime
In the interim , the Ondo State house of Assembly must immediately act to dismantle the supply chain of Fulani herdsmen by promulgating a law which make kidnapping a capital offense purnishable by death and all members of the supply chain must also suffer the same faith, from the people handling the crime logistics, to people providing information on targets, drivers, doctors , cooks, to the food supplier, girl friends , people rendering any assistance whatsoever to kidnappers and the people who know kidnappers but failed to report to the police must face capital punishment
This next chapter of development must also unleash economic growth — not just for a few at the top, but inclusive, sustainable growth that lifts up the fortunes of the many. that provide education and health facilities
We know the ingredients for creating jobs and opportunity in Ondo State– they are not a secret. So let’s embrace reforms that attract the establishment of industries that can employ five thousand people at a time to every local government in the North East and North West : So, in the face of corruption and the feudal Lords that siphons billions away from schools and hospitals and infrastructure from Northern NIGERIA into foreign bank accounts, the federal governments have to ensure transparency and open government and rule of law especially in the North East and the North west . And combating illicit finance must be a national effort because it is part of our development effort. And citizens and civil society groups must be free to organize and speak their mind and work for progress, because that’s how countries develop; that’s how countries succeed.
Today, some 15 million men, women and children have been forced from their homes, by Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen . These are humanitarian crises and refugees that we cannot ignore, the evil is now spreading to us in the south west and we have to deliver the urgent aid that is needed right now, so that our roads may be free once again from Fulani herdsmen and other displaced people , who are now into kidnapping and other crimes for survival
Development is threatened by war. This should be a simple proposition, but it bears repeating. It is no coincidence that half of the people living in extreme poverty in NIGERIA live in places afflicted by chronic violence and conflict.
And as I said earlier, war and conflict is more likely to arise where we have bad governance, and we have high inequality, and we have discrimination against minority groups and ethnic groups, and we have low educational levels. So these things are all related.
And finally, development is threatened, it is therefore, imperative that all states in the south west, south south and south east must contribute to the development of the North west and North east and ensure that the feudal lords are overthrown , so that help can reach the ordinary people
Future generations of young people watching today and tomorrow will judge us by the choices we make in the months and years ahead. And one of those young people is Leah Sharibu
Leah Sharibu 16 , the only schoolgirl remaining in Boko Haram captivity after the Dapchi kidnappings, . Leah was held back for refusing to convert to Islam after the Nigerian government negotiated and paid ransom for the release of the other school girls.
And this young 16 year-old girl — a girl the age of our daughters — she dreams of going to college, and becoming a useful citizen but today she is in captivity.
She asked us a question that could be asked of all of our nations — “What will you commit to doing…?” What will you do? How will u help to secure her release and hundreds of young girls like her in captivity: How will u help reunite her with her family ? How will you help to overthrow the feudal system in the north that is making development, education impossible: How will you help to dislodge the feudal system , whose actions and inaction result in death and total collapse of security in the south west and other part of Nigeria as refugees from those areas turn themselves to herdsmen and women unleashing terror on our roads and communities, causing death and instability through the be nefarious acts of kidnapping
There are thousands of boys and girls just like Leah Sharibu, . They’re just like our children. They have as much talent and as much hope for the future. And they’re willing to work hard, and their parents love them just as much as we love ours. And just by the accident of birth, it’s so much more difficult for them to achieve their dreams as it is for our children. But in the eyes of God, they are the same children. They’re just as important.
And for Leah and all those who are in captivity all over the northern Nigeria , just trying to survive another day in conditions that many of us can barely imagine, it can sometimes seem as if the world is blind to their struggles and their dreams. And so today, I say to Leah and hundreds of thousands — of people like her in Nigeria : We see you. We hear you. I’ve read your letters . And we commit ourselves — as nations, as one world — to the urgent work that must be done. To standing with families like Leah as they work and strive for a better life. To ending the injustice of extreme poverty. To upholding the inherent dignity of every human being. Whatever it takes. We can’t let them down. And with God on our side and your help, we wIll not fail.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, , As a government in Ondo State , we are relentless in our commitment to providing a conducive, safe and secure enabling environment for businesses to thrive. We are daily improving the ease of doing business in our State and working to ensure that all businesses succeed, . No fewer than five new companies have settled down and ready to operate in the Ore Industrial hub. Like no other administration before it, Akeredolu has kept to his promise to make both the people’s welfare and infrastructural development of the state a priority of his administration. ROTIMI AKEREDOLU SAN DESERVE SECOND TERM IN OFFICE IN ORDER TO TAKE THE SUNSHINE STATE TO THE NEXT LEVEL……LET’S JOIN HAND TOGETHER TO GIVE HIM MAXIMUM and every necessary support to ensure that he succeeds,. We pray that the Lord who gave us this trophy will use him to resurrect the glory of Ondo State, Nigeria and Africa in all imaginable spheres of human endeavor.
Banji Alabi Esq
Chairman Of Council
Ondo State Polytechnic: Owo (RUGIPO)