Connect with us
JUMIA TECH WEEK

NATIONAL NEWS

2024: Gov. Otti Restates Promise To Consider The Needs Of The Poor, Vulnerable People

Published

on

Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti has declared that his administration will keep up its policy of giving the poor and vulnerable people’s needs priority starting in 2024.
Additionally, he stated that to uphold the government’s obligations under the various programmes of the multilateral organisations to which we are subscribers, independent projects that assist economically disadvantaged people and families will continue to be supported.
These are mostly aimed at those with challenging medical conditions, nursing mothers, and those living in chronic poverty.
In his speech to the Abia people on January 1, Dr. Otti reviewed his administration’s accomplishments over the previous seven months, including other initiatives to advance the state.

Full address…

A Journey of Great Expectations

BEING THE TEXT OF A SPEECH DELIVERED BY GOVERNOR ALEX OTTI TO NDI ABIA ON JANUARY 1, 2024, TO MARK THE CELEBRATION OF THE NEW YEAR

1. Umu nne m Ndi Abia, I joyfully welcome all of us to the New Year, 2024. We thank the Almighty God for preserving our lives over the past year and for bringing us the joy of what promises to be a great cycle for our people.

Advertisement

2. We also remember our loved ones who journeyed to their final resting place and all who suffered different forms of personal tragedies in the past year. We pray for peace to the souls of the deceased, fortitude to the families of the bereaved, and restoration to all who went through painful losses in the last 12 months.

3. 2023 was a watershed moment in the political history of our great State and I am most grateful to God and the individuals and groups He used in resetting the political direction of our beloved Abia. Nothing that was achieved in our political history in the past year could have happened without the divine direction and infinite support of the Almighty who orders human events as it pleases Him. We therefore give all honour, adoration, and glory to our Heavenly Father.

4. We have marched victoriously into the New Year and I join every family in the state to celebrate the joy of a new beginning. We have been called to embrace the New Year with great hope and optimism, confident that no challenge, however daunting, shall overwhelm us.

5. The past year offered us the opportunity to take back our collective destiny and I am glad we drove home the message that in a democracy, power belongs to the people. It was the year the majority came to a consensus that we had stayed for far too long on the mountain of mediocrity and failure, and needed to advance to reach the Promised Land.

6. Although we are still far from our desired destination, the fact, as attested to by many, including apolitical observers, and even honest partisan watchers in other political camps, is that Abia is changing for the better and a new sense of optimism is emerging about our dear state and its future.

Advertisement

7. With our modest accomplishments in the last six months on road reconstruction and rehabilitation, especially in Aba and Umuahia, reinvigoration of the health and education sectors, restoration of security in communities that had been previously overrun by criminal gangs, effective urban waste management, prompt payment of salaries, support to the economically poor and vulnerable amongst others, it is evident that we are on a mission to rebuild and restore the glory of our fatherland.

8. Umu nne m, you may wish to recall that while speaking to you shortly after we took the oath of office on May 29, 2023, we made a solemn commitment that we shall make regular payment of salaries and pensions a priority. It gladdens my heart to report that our workers and retirees now know exactly when their entitlements will be paid and thankfully, we have never failed them. In the New Year, as we had promised, we shall review the salaries of all the employees of the State Government upwards to reflect the economic realities of the time. Work on this is in the final stages.

9. Beyond our strides in improving the social and economic conditions of the Abia public, we have also done very well in fostering harmonious relationships with the other arms of government, the legislature and the judiciary, providing all the necessary support as we consistently build trust in ways that make for robust engagements in the discharge of our constitutional responsibilities to Ndi Abia.

10. The media, members of the civil society, and traditional, religious and community leaders have been very supportive in driving the message of the New Abia to all parts of the state. May I assure you that we do not take your goodwill for granted?

11. The year 2024 will be our year of consolidation on the gains made in the past 7 months. We recently signed the 2024 appropriation bill of N567.02 into law after It had been passed by the State House of Assembly. To show the direction of this government, an unprecedented 84% of this sum has been earmarked for capital expenditure including road projects, rebuilding and remodeling of schools and hospitals, and a proposal to build a best-in-class medical village in the State to stem the tide of medical tourism by our citizens.
12. Beyond the huge sums that the state shall be investing in the critical sectors to spur economic growth, create employment opportunities and revive local businesses, particularly MSMEs, we have already been engaging members of the organised private sector to take advantage of our business-friendly policies to invest in the State, especially in manufacturing, trade and commerce, transportation, mass housing schemes, hospitality, sports and tourism. Our general approach as a government is to create the right environment to support the success of businesses in ways that enable job creation and the expansion of opportunities for individuals and local entrepreneurs in all parts of the state.

Advertisement

13. Technology has been at the heart of our transformation and reform agenda. We shall move to a new gear in 2024 starting with the digitization of the operations of our public institutions for ease of access and efficiency in service delivery. We shall also leverage the advantages of technology to drive state-wide human capital development, economic empowerment of the youth and most importantly, job creation in high-reward areas, especially outside our geographical borders.

14. The world is changing rapidly and we cannot afford to be left behind. ICT offers us a pathway to sustained socio-economic development. As a government, we are keen to take advantage of the opportunities emerging therein to advance our governance objectives.

15. My office, working closely with the ministries of science and technology and digital economy and SMEs, has articulated the State’s strategic blueprint for the ICT sector. In the New Year, the components, including hands-on training and exposure, business plan competition with financial grants and seed funding to those with bankable ideas, mentorship and so much more shall be rolled out for the benefit of all interested participants.

16. Recently, I signed the Greater Aba Development Authority (GADA) bill as passed by the State House of Assembly into law. GADA, on the strength of the law setting it up, will drive the holistic development of Aba into a functional, modern mega city, supporting enterprise growth, family life and leisure as promised in our manifesto.

17. In 2024, we shall continue our policy of being attentive to the needs of the poor and vulnerable. In addition to our independent initiatives aimed at supporting economically disadvantaged individuals and families, we shall continue to honour our commitments to the various programmes of the multilateral agencies we are subscribed to, mainly ones that are targeted at persons living in chronic poverty, nursing mothers and those with difficult medical conditions.

Advertisement

18. The State recently secured the support of the European Union to develop a robust social register. When completed, the Abia Social Register will direct our allocation of resources to the vulnerable. Additionally, it will help relevant agencies of government to monitor how the various programmes and initiatives sponsored by the State and its Partners impact them.

19. Before the end of this month, we shall be setting up an international body of advisers known as the Abia Global Economic Advisory Board, (GEAB) made up of accomplished internationally recognised experts from across the globe who will help in our journey to take our state to the world as a preferred investment destination.

20. We plan to expand our set of economic advantages as a State by working closely with the Mayors at the LGAs to make every community a major centre of production. We are currently developing a more comprehensive resource map of the State where the comparative advantage of each community shall be captured. The map shall be used as a marketing instrument to investors and development partners.

21. In the social services sector, we shall continue our strategic investments in health and education.  The 2024 budget proposal has already made substantial provisions for our programmes in the two sectors with a combined allocation of more than 35% of the total budget outlay. Even with this generous spending proposal, we shall also keep our eyes on grants and other aid schemes in support of education from local and international development partners.

22. Our commitment is to close the funding gap in education and health in the first instance and then see to it that the funds are channelled to meet the most pressing needs of the sectors, paying careful attention to infrastructure, personnel recruitment and development, and the efficiency of service delivery. As I have said repeatedly, our administration is determined to make Abia the home of the most educated, healthiest and wealthiest citizens in this region.

Advertisement

23. Fellow Abians, as you would agree with us, our plans are grand and our commitment genuine.  Our promise is that we shall never let you down.

24. As you equally know, we cannot achieve much of our grand plans for 2024 if citizens are not faithful to their civic responsibilities, particularly regular payment of taxes and other statutory financial obligations. In the New Year, we encourage you to take full advantage of the innovative structures we have put in place, including digital platforms and channels, for the regular payment of your individual and business taxes.

25. You are also expected to cooperate with the security agencies by reporting suspected criminal activities and individuals in your communities and neighbourhoods to the nearest security station for prompt action.

26. Let me repeat my earlier warning that the State Government shall not look kindly to any traditional or community leader, landlord or head of any organisation who harbours criminals. Any tolerance, subtle or open support for crime in any part of the state would be seen as an act of sabotage and the government will not hesitate to do what it must do to protect the life and property of the citizens.

27. In the new year, government will pay a lot of attention to environmental sanitation. We have done a lot to keep our towns and villages clean. However, we still see pockets of garbage and filth around us. We would appeal to everyone to join in the crusade to keep Abia clean. You will be hearing more on this from the state orientation agency.

Advertisement

28. You will recall that during the campaigns and up till recently, we had made a promise to pay the arrears of pensions being owed to our retired civil servants by the end of 2023. It’s unfortunate to report that a few challenges have conspired to ensure that we were unable to keep this promise. Based on the figures available to us, we have arranged the funds to make good this promise. However, before making the payment, we decided to conduct a digital verification of the pensioners. To our utter shock, we found that there were pensioners who had been owed since 2014. To ensure that the verification exercise did not add extra burden to the already owed pensioners, we took it down to them at their respective wards. Those who were sick or too old, had their verification taken to their houses. At the end of the exercise, just about a week ago, the total figure required for the payment was twice the amount we had provided. While we continue to engage the National Union of Pensioners, we believe we will be able to make the payment before the end of the first quarter of the new year. If required, we may go back to the house of assembly for necessary approvals to ensure that this payment is made.

29. we expect that 2024 will be a great year for everyone. However, we must admit that we cannot make perfect predictions on what the year will bring as several factors are entirely outside our control. Our assurance to all as we begin another journey of hope and expectations is that your government will always be there for you, offering necessary support and direction to help you take advantage of the many opportunities that are to emerge in the year, as well as navigate the storms of unexpected events.

30. My dear brothers and Sisters, let me use this opportunity to welcome you all to a brand-new year. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful 2024.

Dr Alex C. Otti

Advertisement

NATIONAL NEWS

Nigeria’s Aviation Team Visits Abia, Inspects New Airport Site As Gov Otti Announces Access Bank Partnership

Published

on

The visiting federal government aviation team

In a renewed commitment to providing Abia State with a suitable airport, a federal government team from the Ministry of Aviation this week visited the state to inspect a proposed site for the planned new airport.

This comes as Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, announced that Access Bank, one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, has expressed a willingness to collaborate with the State Government on the airport development.

According to a press release from Kazie Uko, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, the Federal Government team was led by Dr. Emmanuel Meribeole, Permanent Secretary of, the Ministry of Aviation.
The team stated that it was in the state to ensure that the land and location approved for the project complied with regulatory requirements for airport siting.

Dr. Meribeole stated that the Federal Government is eager to complete the airport promptly, which prompted the visit of a team comprised of representatives from all of the country’s aviation agencies in charge of airport approvals and supervision to ensure compliance with required standards.

The team included aviation agencies such as the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).

Advertisement

Meribeole, while acknowledging Governor Otti’s visionary leadership, stated that members of his team are experts in their respective agencies and that the Abia airport project has already been included in the 2024 Federal Appropriation Act, albeit as an airstrip.

He acknowledged that airport projects are capital intensive, but emphasised that the benefits of having an airport cannot be overstated, as they would lead to the state’s accelerated development through job creation, commerce promotion, revenue generation, and other factors.

Governor Otti, who welcomed the Federal aviation team, thanked President Bola Tinubu for approving the construction of an airstrip in Abia.

He stated that while the national budget included funding for an airstrip, the Abia State Government would collaborate with the Federal Government to expand the airstrip into a full-fledged airport, as the primary distinction between an airport and an airstrip is the length and size of the runway.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for agreeing to build an airstrip in Abia and including it in the approved budget for 2024.

Advertisement

“Even if the money is insufficient, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So, we are grateful to him.

“We also want to thank my friend and brother, the Hon. Minister of Aviation, Barr. Festus Kyamo, SAN, for everything he has done to make this a reality. We are constantly on the phone, discussing and brainstorming ways to accelerate this process.

“I would like to thank you for joining us in our hurry to complete this project. Once we had reached an agreement, we began looking for suitable land, which is the most important aspect of an airport. There were a few places that were previously mapped out, but when we went for a physical inspection, we discovered that some of them did not have enough space or were not properly located for the airport.

“Another important aspect of an airport is location, so we have now narrowed it down to the location that you are currently looking at. We did more than just identify the location; we also identified the landowners because it is a large parcel of land. “We had already begun engaging with them,” Governor Otti stated.

The Governor assured the team that the State Government is ready to see the project through in record time, as the people of Abia are eager to have their airport, as the state is one of only two in Nigeria that does not have one. The other is Osun State.

Advertisement

“One thing you can take away from here is that the State will be in charge, and if anything is delayed, it is because it is coming from the centre; however, we are in a hurry.”

“I am personally involved in this, and I receive daily briefings. If I do not receive a briefing, I check in with them to see where we stand.

“So, this is to assure you that we are more than prepared and that you will receive everything you require in record time. And we hope that at least one airport will be built within the next year. “Once we have the runway and the terminal building, the rest will come in time,” he said.

The Federal Aviation team’s visit coincided with that of Access Bank, which was led by Mr. Roosevelt Ogbonna, Managing Director/CEO.

Governor Otti expressed Access Bank’s willingness to participate and partner with the Abia State Government on the airport project “to ensure that liquidity does not become a problem.”

Advertisement

According to Governor Otti, Access Bank has some experience financing airport projects, having helped deliver the Ogun State airport.

“I suggested to the CEO that the team meet with him so that we can bring them on board early enough. Our policy is not to borrow until necessary. If they had also been involved in one and delivered it, we could learn from their mistakes and build on the positive aspects,” the Governor said.

 

Continue Reading

NATIONAL NEWS

Obi To Tinubu: A Nation That Budgets N10bn For Car Parks And N1bn For Hostels In 12 Tertiary Institutions Not Normal

Published

on

Peter Obi and Bishop Ezeokafor at the occstion

*Donates N10m, Elevates Adazi College To World Class*

Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s 2023 Presidential Candidate, has once again condemned the federal government’s obvious financial recklessness and misplacement of priorities in funding allocation.

Obi condemned the continued allocation of public resources to non-essential areas of development.

The bearer of the LP standard emphasises Nigeria’s poor and embarrassing position in the global average in school enrollment, despite the government’s budget of N1 billion for the construction of hostels in 12 tertiary institutions in Nigeria, while N10 billion is allocated to the construction of parking lots and recreational facilities.

Writing on his X platform, the former Anambra State Governor said
“As Africa’s economic powerhouse, I am still concerned about our country’s fiscal indiscipline.
“Consider the situation in our education sector, where the global average for secondary school enrollment is more than 80%, but Nigeria’s is only 28%.”
“The global average for tertiary school enrollment is greater than 55%, while Nigeria has less than 15%.
“Our budget for National Assembly Car Parks is N6 billion. The National Assembly Recreational Facilities have a budget of N4 billion.
“The total amount approved for the construction of hostels in 12 tertiary institutions is N1 billion.
It is time to put an end to this financial indiscipline and embrace financial discipline by allocating resources to critical areas of human and national development.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Amanda State, Mrs Ezenwuba Mary-Michael, Head of Department of Nursing, reports that Mr. Peter Obi’s ongoing support for the School of Nursing in Adazi, both as Governor and as a private citizen, has propelled the school to world standards.
She spoke on Monday evening, when Mr. Obi paid a visit to the school and presented a cheque for N10 million in additional assistance.
Ezenwuba praised Obi’s dedication to the school, stating that it is now on track to become a world-class nursing school with his support.
“The college’s history would be incomplete without mentioning his contributions. These include: he donated two coaster buses and one 18-seater bus to the school; he constructed two-story administrative and academic buildings, as well as a two-story student hostel.”
Mrs. Ezenwuba continued, “With Obi’s assistance and the school’s efforts, the college is now a full-fledged college of Nursing Sciences that has scaled accreditation by the National Board for Technical Education and the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria and now awards Ordinary and Higher National Diplomas in addition to professional Certificates by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria”.
She, on the other hand, begged Obi to bring more students to the college.
Obi, for his part, promised to continue to assist the school.
He described healthcare as the most important aspect of development, and no discussion of it could be complete without mentioning nurses and midwives.
Obi said, “I will return.We are investing in a brighter future. If we do not train our children, including Almajiris, they will pose a threat to us tomorrow. “I will return this year to support what you are doing,” he concluded.
The Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Pius Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor, who accompanied Obi to the College, stated that Obi has been very helpful to society and the church since before he became Governor.
Bishop Ezeokafor stated that Obi has done so much for the church that he has yet to see an equal in that regard, and that even though he is no longer governor, he continues to do so.
He stated that Obi is the best candidate for the presidency of Nigeria and apologised on behalf of Nigerians who had their hopes dashed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following voting counting in last year’s election.
However, he believes that God is still at work.
Obi was surrounded by enthusiastic students who freely approached him during the event.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

NATIONAL NEWS

Nigeria Signs New Plan For Effective Water Resource Management

Published

on

The signing of the Strategic Catchment Management Plan (SCMP) by the Nigerian government is a significant step towards ensuring the long-term management and utilisation of the country’s water resources.

The Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project, sponsored by the World Bank, is heavily reliant on the Strategic Catchment Management Plan.

Speaking at the signing ceremony on Monday, Hon. Balarabe Lawal, Minister of Environment, said it was an honour and privilege to sign the agreement for a critical initiative that will affect citizens’ lives and environmental health.

He stated, “Today marks a significant milestone in our collective efforts to protect the environment and ensure sustainable development. The Signing Ceremony for ACReSAL’s Strategic Catchment Management Plan (SCMP) is a significant step towards responsible natural resource management.”

He defined catchments as areas where water is collected and drained into natural or man-made channels. They are the foundation of our ecosystems, supporting livelihoods, agriculture, and biodiversity.

Advertisement

He went on to say, “As we all know, catchments are critical ecosystems that support livelihoods, provide high-quality water, and safeguard biodiversity. However, they face numerous challenges, including soil erosion, insufficient waste management, and climate change. The SCMP aims to address these issues through management practices that are efficient, effective, and sustainable.

“The Integrated Catchment Management Plan lays out a long-term strategy for the sustainable development and use of water and other resources. It ensures that land, water, and related resources are developed and managed in a coordinated manner while preserving the viability of critical ecosystems.”

He stated: “The goal of this CMP is to provide several agreed-upon investments in infrastructure as well as other interventions and actions to help resolve conflict, conserve and protect the catchment and its natural resources, and ensure equitable access to and use of water resources.”

He said, “The Ministry of Environment, under my leadership, has promised Nigerians improvements in environmental sustainability interventions and initiatives. Indeed, what we are witnessing today demonstrates President Tinubu’s administration’s commitment to nature restoration and ecosystem protection.

“By implementing the SCMP, the ministries of Environment, Agriculture, and Water Resources will not only ensure long-term agro-climatic and land management but also improve the living conditions of northern Nigerian communities. This catchment plan will help to reduce poverty, promote sustainable agriculture, and safeguard the environment. Providing livelihoods for future generations.

Advertisement

Previously, the consultant in charge of the project and the Managing Director of Mecon Geology and Engineering Services Ltd, Chuka Offodile, explained that the strategic catchment management plan study of the northern parts of Nigeria begins first with the scientific delineation of the entire northern Nigeria into 20 mega-catchments, then the scientific assemblage and analysis of data in that framework as a planning tool with its component natural and environmental resources.

He went on to say, “Water is central to environmental issues!” In many areas of northern Nigeria, there is either too little available, resulting in desertification and deforestation with badland topography, or too much water, resulting in flooding, gullying, soil leaching/erosion, and possibly water pollution due to contaminants in the air, on the surface, or groundwater resources, resulting in minimal to no available water resources for livelihoods, skewed biodiversity, and other socio-economic land uses, leading to lower agricultural production. There could be little surface water but plenty of groundwater, or vice versa, with all of the interacting components within each catchment’s communities!!!”

He stated: “In other words, we would identify and study the most significant water resource or resources within each catchment, as well as the challenges/environmental problems associated with anthropogenic (socioeconomic activ es ities) and natural phenomena, evaluating the geospatial relationship or interplay of all factors within each catchment.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending