@58 INDEPENDENCE: I HAVE GRANTED PREROGATIVE OF MERCY TO SEVEN (7) PRISONERS—GOV. LALONG (SPEECH UNEDITED)

GOV. LALONG OF PLATEAU STATE @ 58 INDEPENDENCE DAY

SPEECH OF THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, RT. HON. (DR) SIMON BAKO LALONG, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 58TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA. MONDAY, 1ST OCTOBER, 2018.

FELLOW CITIZENS,

TODAY MARKS ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE IN OUR POLITICAL HISTORY AS OUR GREAT COUNTRY CLOCKS 58 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE FROM BRITISH COLONIAL RULE. THIS COUNTRY HAS INDEED COME A LONG WAY.

ON BEHALF OF MY FAMILY AND THE GOVERNMENT, I CONGRATULATE ALL CITIZENS AND NIGERIANS IN GENERAL ON THIS SPECIAL OCCASION. INDEED, WE HAVE EVERY REASON TO CELEBRATE AND THANK GOD ALMIGHTY FOR HIS BENEVOLENCE AND KEEPING US AS ONE UNITED NATION.

IT IS SAD THAT WE ARE CELEBRATING THIS YEAR’S INDEPENDENCE WITH HEAVY HEARTS, CONSIDERING THE RECENT UNFORTUNATE INCIDENCES AT RUKUBA ROAD, AND SOME AREAS IN THE JOS METROPOLIS. SOME INNOCENT CITIZENS WERE ATTACKED AND KILLED BY AGENTS OF EVIL AND DESTRUCTION. WHILE STRONGLY CONDEMNING THIS TRAGIC INCIDENCE, I WISH TO, ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT, COMMISERATE WITH FAMILIES OF THE BEREAVED; WHILE THE SECURITY AGENCIES HAVE BEEN TASKED TO FISH OUT THE PERPETRATORS AND BRING THEM TO JUSTICE.

GOVERNMENT APPRECIATES SECURITY CONCERNS ON THE RECURRENT VIOLENT ATTACKS ON SOME COMMUNITIES IN THE STATE. MY ADMINISTRATION ALSO FEELS DEEPLY CONCERNED, AND HAVE DIRECTED SECURITY AGENCIES TO CONTINUE THEIR TIRELESS EFFORTS AT NIPPING THE INCIDENTS IN THE BUD. I THEREFORE DEDICATE THIS YEAR’S INDEPENDENCE MESSAGE TO THE DECEASED AND THEIR FAMILIES AS WELL AS THE UNFORTUNATELY DISPLACED CITIZENS WHO HAVE BEEN DISLOCATED FROM THEIR HOMES BY SENSELESS VIOLENT ATTACKS, AND LIVING UNDER VARIOUS FORMS OF TRAUMA AND DEPRIVATIONS. MY PRAYER STILL GOES OUT TO ALL THE VICTIMS WITH THE ASSURANCE THAT THIS ADMINISTRATION WILL NOT LEAVE ANY STONE UNTURNED TOWARDS ENSURING THAT CRITICAL ISSUES OF RESETTLEMENT ARE PROPERLY ADDRESSED. I AM GLAD THAT THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON THE RESETTLEMENT OF DISPLACED PERSONS CONSTITUTED BY THE ADMINISTRATION IS WORKING ROUND

THE CLOCK TO ENSURE EARLY RETURN OF THE IDPs TO THEIR ANCESTRAL HOMES BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR, WHILE MORE RADICAL MEASURES ARE BEING TAKEN TO CONTAIN THE SITUATION WITHIN THE AMBIT OF THE LAW.

IN THE JUSTICE SECTOR, AND AS PART OF ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGES OF PEACE, SECURITY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE, WE HAVE EMBARKED ON AGGRESSIVE LAW REFORMS, AND JUST LAST WEEK I ASSENTED TO THREE BILLS PASSED BY THE STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, NAMELY,

  1. THE PLATEAU STATE INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY LAW 2018. THIS LAW OVERSEES THE IMPLEMENTATION OF EFFICIENT E-GOVERNANCE POLICY AND INSTITUTIONAL LINKAGES;
  2. DOMESTICATION OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE LAW, 2018; AND
  3. THE PENAL CODE LAW OF PLATEAU STATE, 2018, WHICH REPEALS THE PENAL CODE LAW OF NORTHERN NIGERIA, 1963.

SIGNING OF THESE LAWS MARKED ANOTHER WATERSHED IN STRENGTHENING BOTH INSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK. THE DOMESTICATION OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE LAW AND THE PENAL CODE LAW FULFILL OUR DESIRE TO ROBUSTLY ENSURE THAT WE PUT AN END TO REIGNS OF IMPUNITY BY SUSPECTS OF TERRORIST CRIMES, FARMLAND TRESPASSES; EMERGING PATTERNS OF LAND GRABBING; CATTLE RUSTLING AND CASES OF PURE CRIMINALITY SUCH AS ACTS OF TERRORISM, ARSON, IMPERSONATION, GIRL-CHILD, DEFILEMENT AND CHILD STEALING, ETC.

AS NEW PROCEDURAL FRAMEWORK, THESE LAWS WILL ALSO ENSURE THE SPEEDY TRIAL OF SUSPECTS WITH STIFFER SENTENCES TO SERVE AS DETERRENT, AS AGAINST THE OLD, WEAK FRAMEWORK, WITH TECHNICALITIES AND DELAYS THAT OFTEN PROLONG CRIMINAL CASES FOR YEARS. MOST IMPORTANTLY, CRIMINALS ARRESTED IN THE STATE WILL NO LONGER BE WHISKED AWAY TO ABUJA FOR TRIAL, BUT PROMPTLY TRIED WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF OUR STATE AND GIVEN THE APPROPRIATE PUNISHMENTS, IF FOUND GUILTY.

THIS YEAR’S MESSAGE WOULD NOT BE TOO DIFFERENT AS I SEIZE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE GOD THE GLORY FOR ENABLING US TO STRIVE TO MEET THE ACCOMPANYING CHALLENGES OF DEVELOPMENT, ESPECIALLY AS IT AFFECTS OUR WELL-BEING, UNITY AND PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE. PLATEAU STATE HAS, OVER THE YEARS, PLAYED CRITICAL ROLES IN THE NIGERIAN PROJECT, JUST AS SHE HAS EQUALLY SHARED IN THE HERCULEAN TASK OF NATION-BUILDING THROUGH THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF SOME OF HER EMINENT SONS AND DAUGHTERS.

OUR DEVELOPMENT OUTLOOK

AS WE SOBERLY REFLECT ON THE CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS OF OUR DEVELOPMENT OVER THE YEARS, THE JOURNEY HAS BEEN QUITE CHALLENGING, BUT WITH DETERMINATION WE COLLECTIVELY KEPT THE STATE GOING. AT THE RIPE AGE OF 58 YEARS AS AN INDEPENDENT NATION, A LOT IS STILL EXPECTED OF US IN THE CRUCIAL TASKS OF NATIONHOOD AND DEVELOPMENT. THESE CAN ONLY BE GUARANTEED IF WE IMBIBE THE CORE VALUES OF PEACE, UNITY, EQUITY AND JUSTICE. I THEREFORE IMPLORE THE CITIZENS TO REFLECT ON THE ISSUES THAT HAVE SLOWED DOWN OUR PROGRESS OVER THE YEARS, WHILE ASSISTING IN MAKING INPUTS ON HOW TO FURTHER MOVE THIS GREAT STATE FORWARD.

I HAVE SEVERALLY, IN MY VARIOUS STATE BROADCASTS AND SPEECHES, PRESENTED CATALOG OF ACHIEVEMENTS OF THIS ADMINISTRATION IN THE LAST THREE YEARS, DESPITE CHALLENGES. THERE IS STILL HOPE FOR THE STATE AS WE CONTINUE TO DELIVER ON OUR ELECTORAL PROMISES. AS A GOVERNMENT, WE WOULD NOT SHY AWAY FROM OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO FULFILL OUR MANDATE UNDER THE 5-PILLAR POLICY THRUSTS THAT ARE DESIGNED TO CATER FOR THE YEARNINGS AND ASPIRATIONS OF THE PEOPLE.

OVER THE YEARS, WE HAVE, AS A PEOPLE-ORIENTED GOVERNMENT, TOUCHED ON ALL CRITICAL SECTORS THAT MOVED THE STATE FORWARD. WHAT IS REQUIRED NOW, ESPECIALLY AT THE THRESHOLD OF THE END OF OUR FIRST TENURE IS CONSOLIDATION OF THE GAINS MADE SO FAR IN THE AREAS OF SOCIAL SERVICES DELIVERY, NAMELY, EDUCATION AND HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT, HEALTH, EMPLOYMENT, FOOD SECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT. GOVERNMENT HAS RECENTLY MOBILIZED BACK TO SITE ALL THE CONTRACTORS HANDLING THE 22 RURAL ROAD PROJECTS SPREAD ACROSS THE STATE, WHICH WERE PARTIALLY STOPPED BECAUSE OF THE RAINY SEASON. LET ME ASSURE ALL AND SUNDRY THAT THESE PROJECTS ARE VERY DEAR TO OUR HEARTS AND GOD WILLING, WILL ALL BE COMPLETED AND COMMISSIONED BEFORE MAY 29, 2019.

IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE CIRCLE, RECENT CREATION AND UPGRADING OF CHIEFDOMS AND DISTRICTS ARE AIMED AT BRINGING GOVERNMENT NEARER TO THE GRASSROOTS. LET ME STRONGLY REITERATE THAT IT IS A CONTINUOUS EXERCISE AIMED AT GIVING HIGH SENSE OF BELONGING AND SECURITY TO CITIZENS OF THE STATE, ESPECIALLY AS IT RELATES TO CREATION OF MORE VILLAGE AREAS, DISTRICTS AND CHIEFDOMS.

ONCE AGAIN, I ASSURE CITIZENS THAT FUNDS ACCRUING TO US, INCLUDING THE PARIS CLUB DEBT REFUNDS HAVE BEEN JUDICIOUSLY UTILIZED AND WE INTEND TO SUSTAIN THAT FISCAL DISCIPLINE.

ABOVE ALL, IN THE SPIRIT OF INTEGRITY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY IN LEADERSHIP AS EARLIER HIGHLIGHTED IN MY 3RD YEAR ANNIVERSARY BROADCAST OF 29TH MAY 2018, WE SHALL ONCE MORE UNVEIL AND PRESENT AN UPDATED ACCOUNT OF OUR SCORE CARD IN THE CRITICAL AREAS OF DEVELOPMENT AS REQUESTED BY THE PEOPLE DURING OUR TOWNHALL MEETINGS PRIOR TO, AND AT THE INCEPTION OF THE ADMINISTRATION. THIS WILL FURTHER DEMONSTRATE OUR COMMITMENT TO DEEPENING GOOD GOVERNANCE AND INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS WHEREBY ALL OUR EFFORTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS ARE LAID BARE FOR CITIZENS TO SEE FOR THEMSELVES.

THE FORTHCOMING LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS.

FELLOW CITIZENS, LET ME TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO REMIND US THAT IN LINE WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT BY PLATEAU STATE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION (PLASIEC), ALL ELIGIBLE AND REGISTERED VOTERS IN THE STATE WILL, ON WEDNESDAY 10TH OCTOBER 2018, FILE OUT TO EXERCISE THEIR FRANCHISE IN ELECTING REPRESENTATIVES AT THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEVEL. WE ALSO REMAIN FIRMLY COMMITTED TO THE PEOPLES’ YEARNINGS AND ASPIRATIONS TO HAVE DEMOCRATICALLY-ELECTED STRUCTURES AT THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEVEL.

AS A GOVERNMENT, WE HAVE ENSURED PROMPT RESPONSES TO ALL LOGISTIC AND CONDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS TO PLASIEC TO ENABLE IT CONDUCT A FREE, FAIR, CREDIBLE AND PEACEFUL ELECTION IN THE THIRTEEN (13) LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS OUT OF THE 17. I THEREFORE CHARGE PLASIEC TO BE DILIGENT IN THE EXERCISE OF THEIR DUTY AND NOT TO LET US DOWN.

I AM NOT UNMINDFUL OF THE FACT THAT THIS PERIOD COMES WITH ITS ANXIETIES, EXPECTATIONS AND ELECTORAL CONDUCTS, WHICH REQUIRE US TO BE PATRIOTIC AND ENSURE THAT THE OVERALL INTEREST OF THE STATE REMAINS PARAMOUNT. IN FACT, THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS ELECTION CAN BEST BE APPRECIATED AGAINST THE RECENT SECURITY CHALLENGES ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THIS LONG-AWAITED PERIOD DEMANDS SOME CAUTION AND RESTRAINT. CAMPAIGNS OF BLACKMAIL AND CALUMNY, CHARACTERIZED BY HATE AND SUBVERSIVE SPEECHES SHOULD NOT BE USED BY PARTIES AS MEANS OF SCORING CHEAP POLITICAL POINTS. ALLOWING SUCH TO DOMINATE OUR QUEST FOR POWER NOW AND IN 2019 WOULD RATHER JEOPARDIZE OUR UNITY AND COHESION. THIS ADMINISTRATION IS THEREFORE POISED TO USE ALL RESOURCES AT ITS DISPOSAL TO GUARANTY SECURITY, PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTIES AS WELL AS THE SANCTITY OF OUR ELECTORAL PROCESS. ALL PARTIES ARE EQUAL STAKEHOLDERS IN THE PLATEAU PROJECT. IT IS THEREFORE INCUMBENT ON ALL PARTIES TO ENSURE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT FOR OUR POLITY TO THRIVE. WE SHOULD PLAY ACCORDING TO THE RULES OF THE GAME AND SHUN ALL FORMS OF ELECTORAL VICES AND TENDENCIES THAT WOULD DIVIDE THE STATE.

SIMILARLY, NOW THAT WE ARE AT THE THRESHOLD OF PARTY PRIMARIES FOR VARIOUS OFFICES IN THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS, I URGE EVERYONE TO VOTE FOR THE ASPIRANTS AND CANDIDATES OF THEIR CHOICE, DEVOID OF ANY RANCOR, BEARING IN MIND THAT ELECTION IS ONLY A MEANS TO AN END, WHICH IS NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT. MOST CRITICAL, I URGE ALL CITIZENS TO EXHIBIT THE POLITICAL MATURITY, WHICH WAS DISPLAYED DURING THE LAST NATIONAL GENERAL ELECTIONS OF 2015 WHILE PRESERVING OUR IDENTITY AS UNITED PEOPLE.

THIS ADMINISTRATION REMAINS MOST GRATEFUL TO ALL RELIGIOUS BODIES IN CHURCHES AND MOSQUES, TRADITIONAL RULERS, ELDER STATESMEN AND WOMEN, YOUTHS, LABOUR/TRADE UNIONS, CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATIONS AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS FOR THEIR PROACTIVE NETWORKING AND CONSTANT PRAYERS TOWARDS GENUINE RECONCILIATION, PEACE AND STABILITY IN THE STATE. ALL THOSE INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS THAT HAVE MADE IMMENSE CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARDS THE MANY SUCCESSES RECORDED IN THE LAST THREE AND HALF YEARS ARE ALSO DULY APPRECIATED. I SPECIALLY COMMEND SECURITY AGENCIES IN THE STATE FOR THEIR DOGGEDNESS TOWARDS CONTAINING THE INCREASING THREATS TO OUR PEACE. OUR TEEMING CIVIL SERVANTS MUST ALSO BE APPRECIATED FOR THEIR DILIGENCE AND PATRIOTISM IN RENDERING GOVERNMENTAL SERVICES TO THE CITIZENS.

PREROGATIVE OF MERCY AND STATE PARDON.

AS A MARK OF OUR APPRECIATION AND THANKSGIVING TO GOD FOR THE GUIDANCE, PROTECTION AND SUCCESSES RECORDED, AND IN EXERCISE OF THE POWERS CONFERRED ON ME AS GOVERNOR IN SECTION 212 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 1999 (AS AMENDED), AFTER DUE CONSULTATION WITH THE STATE ADVISORY COUNCIL ON PREROGATIVE OF MERCY, I HAVE GRANTED PREROGATIVE OF MERCY TO SEVEN (7) PRISONERS, AS FOLLOWS: TWO (2) CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS OF TWENTY-ONE (21) YEARS EACH ARE NOW COMMITTED TO TEN (10) YEARS IMPRISONMENT EACH AND FIVE (5) CONVICTIONS RANGING FROM SEVERAL YEARS IMPRISONMENTS TO DEATH SENTENCES ARE NOW COMMITTED TO ABSOLUTE PARDON. ALL THESE PARDONS ARE GRANTED FOR REASONS OF GOOD CONDUCT, WITH EFFECT FROM THE DIFFERENT DATES OF SENTENCES.

FINALLY, WHILE THANKING YOU ALL FOR LISTENING AND BEING PART OF THE PLATEAU PROJECT, IT IS OUR INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO CREATE THE KIND OF STATE WE DESIRE THROUGH UNITY AND SINCERITY OF PURPOSE WITH ONE ANOTHER. I WISH YOU ALL HAPPY INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION AND CONTINUOUS PEACE AND HARMONY ON THE PLATEAU AND NIGERIA IN GENERAL.

Long Live Plateau State.

Long Live Nigeria.

Thank you and God bles

HON. SIMON BAKO LALONG.

EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR.

Monday, 1st October 2018.

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