Salute To Courage, Salute To Followership

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Salute To Courage; Salute To Followership   
   
 

Being the Valedictory Speech by the out-going Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, to the people of the state, yesterday.
 

 

March 16, 2006

 


My dear good people of Anambra State, it is with deep appreciation and sense of responsibility that I address you today as I take a bow as your Governor. I regret my inability to present this address physically as I had to keep an urgent medical appointment abroad. Nevertheless, permit me to address you, perhaps for the last time as your Governor, as we enter a new phase in our struggle for an egalitarian Anambra State devoid of acrimony but filled with milk and honey.

As you are already aware, the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu yesterday March 15, 2006 failed to uphold my appeal against the Justice Garba Nabaruma-led Tribunal verdict, which declared Mr. Peter Obi of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) as the duly elected person in the Governorship Election of April 19, 2003. Consequently, I am expected to relinquish the Governorship seat, which I occupied since May 29, 2003, following my declaration as winner of that election by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), for Mr. Obi to be sworn in as our next Governor. The road to today has, no doubt, been tortuous for both my humble self and Mr. Obi. For me, today is also not the time to talk about who won and who did not win the election or whether the distinguished Justices of the Appeal Court gave their verdict freely and without coercion from powerful quarters. What is important is that a court of competent jurisdiction has delivered its verdict and as a law-abiding and responsible citizen, I will abide by it in the interest of peace and orderly development of our State. Respect for the rule of law and the sanctity of the judiciary are critical ingredient we must cherish and honour if we are to advance as a civilized society and practice democracy in its true, pure form and be respected among the comity of nations of the civilised world. People in authority should endeavour to obey court rulings, no matter how unpalatable they may be. Doing otherwise is certainly an open invitation to anarchy and lawlessness and our nation can ill afford this.
 

I salute Mr. Obi for his doggedness and determination, which saw him pursue his case to a logical conclusion. I also congratulate him for being my successor in office while also wishing him good luck and God's guidance in his new assignment. I call on you, my dear good people of Anambra State, to give him your maximum cooperation, much more than you gave me, to enable him succeed in his new assignment so that in the end, all of us will be beneficiaries of his stewardship.     

 

It might, perhaps, be necessary for me to use this opportunity once more to do some stock-taking, while at the same time thank you, the good people of Anambra State, for your courage and steadfastness as manifested in the granite support you gave our Administration these past 33 months. Your will recall that when we came in on May 29, 2003, we promised to give you qualitative and purposeful leadership such that will regenerate confidence in government business in order to make you shirk off the despondency and cynical look noticed on most faces in the State - a feature noticed among teachers, workers and pensioners whose salaries and allowances were not regular. The latter category of people were owed many months of unpaid pensions and gratuities. Dearth of infrastructure, especially dilapidated roads, stared us in the face. Housing and water projects were non-existent. Primary and secondary schools' buildings/furniture were utterly neglected, not to talk of the only newly established University - the Anambra State University - which did not benefit in terms of any development. I am happy to say that after 33 months on the saddle, all these have changed for good in the first year, for better in the second year and for best in this third year.     

 

We have built over 24 State and Federal roads totaling 800 kilometres and spanning all Local Government Areas in the State, 14 township roads in Onitsha, 10 township roads in Awka with the on-going massive dualisation of the main Nnamdi Azikiwe Avenue, Awka. All the roads are accompanied by concrete drains and erosion checks to make them last.        

 

STATE OF FINANCES        

 

When we came in on May 29, 2003, we met an empty treasury and there was not a single kobo to run Government business, not to talk of paying salaries. We owed banks and other financial institutions. The State could not even service her counterpart funding for various projects. It was not until the end of June 2003 when money trickled in from the Federation Account that we engineered the finances that enabled us pay staff and at the same time start payment of pensions at 142% rise, the first State in the entire South East to do so. We have also from the consistently allocated N150 million monthly defrayed the huge accumulated gratuities, which had piled up from the old Anambra State, up to 1991 when the new Anambra State was created and beyond. Today, I am proud to say that we have entered the 2001 gratuities and it is being liquidated. As I leave the saddle of governance of the State today, we have in the State coffers as State funds about N12.8 billion. This is made up of a Strategic Reserve of N7.5 billion for road construction, N1.5 billion for the development of the new Anambra State University. This from the Excess Crude savings and is designed for the infrastructural development of the three campuses of the university at Uli, Alor and Igbariam. Another N1.3 billion for the housing programme and N2.5 billion in the Recurrent Account for salaries, wages and pensions. These are aside from the N3 billion in the State/Local Government Joint Account dedicated for the construction of inter-local governmental roads. Every member of the State Executive and Honourable members of the State House of Assembly made sacrifices for the State and shunned profligacy, which enabled us save this quantum of money. I, therefore, plead with the in-coming administration in the name of God not to "fritter" away these painfully gathered savings as they are already tied to specific projects such as the following:        
  

      Onitsha - Atani - Osomalla - Ogwuikpele road with a spur to Ozubulu, one of the most dilapidated roads in the State (contract for this already awarded.)  
 
   Amawbia - Ebenebe - Orba Ofemili road which has already been awarded.  
 
   Anaku - Ifite Ogwari - Omasi road, also already awarded  
 
   Umueze Anam - Orom Anam - Nzam road  
 
   Nibo - Umuawulu - Awgbu - Amaokpala - Oko road, already awarded.  

These roads were already slated for flag-off before the verdict of the Appeal Court It will, therefore, be appreciated by all peace-loving Anambrarians if the incoming administration pays special attention to these roads and also uses the funds judiciously to pay for the certificates that would be generated by the various contractors handling the road projects. This will keep the tempo, which we have started in top gear. In addition, we have left some N2.5 billion in the Recurrent Account to help make sure that salaries and allowances of civil servants and other perks of office are addressed as and when due without waiting for the Federation Account. Due Process and Accountability have been enthroned in doing Government business and I urge the Obi Administration to maintain this high tempo. I have no doubt in my mind that governance is all about service to the people and that my successor will complete all the projects started by my administration and go further to even do more for the people of Anambra State within the seemingly short period left. Our Health Care Financing Scheme, Educational and other social services are on course and should be sustained. In the health care sector, we have two 40 feet containers filled with medical equipment valued at N350 million and awaiting distribution to the various General Hospitals and Health Centres. Water supply is also receiving serious attention with work on-going in Onitsha and Awka. In the Onitsha water supply scheme, water has started running from dry taps after many years of dry taps.     

 

Finally, let me use this medium to thank all dedicated men and women who joined us to form the Government of Anambra State, for their display of extreme patriotism to their State. I wish all of them well in their next endeavour. I thank the Deputy Governor, the Speaker and the distinguished members of the Anambra State House of Assembly for their support, courage and exemplary followership without which the milestone recorded by my Administration may not have been possible. I am also profoundly grateful to the members of the National Assembly from the State who stood by us and the truth. I salute my brother Governors, party leaders and political associates and friends for their support and solidarity to my Administration in its trying times. I will not forget members of the State Executive Council and other political appointees who worked tirelessly with me through out the duration of our tenure. You are indeed all quality men and women.   My sincere thanks also go to the Judiciary in Anambra State for standing firm in the discharge of their functions. I thank Traditional Rulers, the Civil Society, Organised Labour, the Church for their prayers, which sustained us in the face of a vicious opposition mounted by a tiny cabal determined to ensure we did not last a single day in office. I thank the media for their resilience and positive coverage of my Administration and urge them to extend same to
my successor as he takes over the reins of power in Anambra State.     

 

For now, I take a bow and leave the stage in order to take my well-deserved rest till service to our fatherland beckons again!     

 

Thank you and God bless you all.          

 

Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige, OON, KSJ
Governor, Anambra State
March 16, 2006.


 

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