“We intend, as a matter of course, to ensure that this state benefit maximally from everything that the federal government of Nigeria is doing. I want to again just bring the special respects of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, who of course, as you know, has been a strong advocate of good governance and who very strongly believes in the royal institutions, and believes in respect for royal institutions.
“We are fully in support of any form of restructuring that benefit the people of our country. That is why, for example, we have recently signed into law, the President actually just signed this into law, a bill which enables Houses of Assembly to be autonomous; so that their finances are autonomous. This is some form of devolution of powers. We are also keenly supportive of anything that gives a measure of independence for states so that the states can realize their own potential and do very well for themselves in every way. And the President is keenly supportive of all of those things. So for us, unity is important, peace is important.” – Vice President
SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, TO A COUNCIL OF TRADITIONAL RULERS DURING A VISIT TO THE PALACE OF KABIYESI OBA (DR.) RUFUS ADEYEMO ADEJUGBE ALADESANMI III, THE EWI OF ADO-EKITI & PARAMOUNT RULER OF EKITI LAND, EKITI STATE, ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2018.
First let me thank you very much, Kabiyesi, for very kindly accepting to see us today, and welcoming us so very warmly, especially in the company of the Governor and his Royal Highnesses who are all present. It is a very special one indeed, and I want to thank you very much for it.
Just as you have pointed out, we would have liked to have come yesterday morning, not even yesterday evening, as part of our visit here for the official flagging off of the campaign and also the official handing over of the flag to our gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. But we arrived here very late, at about 2pm and by the time we finished, I had to return because we had the signing ceremony of the budget this month, and as chairman of the Economic Management Team, I had to be there. In fact, I had to be there yesterday night, prior to that, because there were a few things I had to discuss before the signing ceremony.
But as I was leaving, I left a message that if the Royal Highness would highly accommodate us this morning, I would certainly be back. If it had been too late, again, we couldn’t wait because of the airport at Akure; there was no light at the airport… and for the fact that we had to go and leave for Abuja before it was dark.
So I really do apologise for not coming yesterday. But I made a point of saying that we as Omoluabi have never disregard or disrespect our royal fathers who are extremely important to us, not just as traditional rulers, but also as important part of the government structure. The structure of our government is very much based on the help, influence and the assistance of our royal fathers, who, of course, control the loyalty and obeisance of many of our people who live in your various kingdoms. So I really thank you very much for this opportunity to come. And also thank all of our royal fathers for very kindly making the time.
I am very sure, as Your Royal Majesty has pointed out, I also must not leave out, in particular, the Oloye, who is also, and as many know, the Honourable Justice Ajakaiye, who for very many years was a mentor and guide to many of us in the legal profession. So, I must acknowledge him specially.
Kabiyesi, as I have said here, we are here for the flagging off ceremony of our gubernatorial candidate, who you know, your son, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, and yesterday, he came in order to do so, and also to flag off our campaign; he is here also again with me today. And he is here both as a guest and I’m also bringing him as your son towards the campaigns and towards our plans for Ekiti State.
As your Royal Majesty would know, the government of President Buhari is very clear to ensure that all of our development plans go to every state and are grounded wherever they are in every state. And we have worked very hard with every single state. There is no state in the federation, regardless of the party, that has not benefitted from the way that our government has operated. I am sure that many of the governors would tell you that regardless of the party, President Buhari has been extremely fair to everyone, which is why even in this state, which is at the moment PDP; we hope that that would change.
But even despite that, we have here, some of the most important programmes of our government, beginning with the N-power programme, which is a programme for the employment of young graduates. We have here in this state, 3,339 young graduates who are employed under that scheme and paid for by the federal government of Nigeria. They were selected purely on merit; they applied on our portal and were selected on merit. And they continue to assist this state as teachers, some as extension workers, and some as health workers. We have 3,339 of them.
At the moment also, we have preselected another 8,600 who we will engage by God’s grace at the end of this month, beginning next month, I hope we would have been able to engage all of them. So that in total we would have about 11,000 of our young graduates employed under that scheme.
In addition, we have what is called the GEEP, which is our micro-credit scheme for market women, traders and artisans. Here in Ekiti State, there are 10,664 beneficiaries of that scheme who receive micro-credit from the Federal Government of Nigeria and are supported in whatever they are doing.
In addition to that, we have those who are benefitting from the Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT), another 10,688 are benefitting from CCT here. These are the poorest of the poor who are given a monthly benefit of N5,000 every month. We have their full names; their details, everything, and we do this every single month.
These have been done, as I said, because the President’s view is that we must not play politics with the health and welfare and prosperity of our people. No politicking. That is why despite the fact that this is not an APC State, all of these benefits have been given to these people, the indigenes of this state, because they are Nigerians.
The only scheme that we are not running here as yet is the Home Grown School Feeding Programme, which is a programme for feeding our children with one meal a day. We have been working with the state government with the hope of starting that programme here, and I hope and pray that with the cooperation of the state government, we would be able to start even the programme here. Right now, we are feeding every single day over 8.2 million children in Nigeria across 24 states today. They are given one meal a day. Look at the primary schools already benefiting from it, and we hope that this state would also be able to benefit from it so that the children in all the primary schools would be able to benefit from the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
And not only children benefit from it, Kabiyesi, but also the cooks, all of those who cook are engaged locally; as well as the farmers, that is why it is called Home Grown, because we begin from the farms; all the farmers who produce the food, then the cooks, as well as the children eat themselves. So this is also a programme we think is a very important one, not just for helping our children, because when children are fed between the ages of 0 and 5, it helps them mentally. When children suffer malnutrition at that age, their mental development is arrested, which is why we decided to do this particular programme, and several others.
We intend, as a matter of course, to ensure that this state benefit maximally from everything that the federal government of Nigeria is doing. As you know, Dr. Fayemi has been very active of course in that regard. But I have also known him for many years. He is also an academic like myself, except that he did not eventually end up being a professor. He is an academic being a doctor. But more importantly, we have served together, and at some point, I was a lawyer when he was initially cheated out of the governorship race. I was in his legal team. In fact, I put together the team of lawyers that defended him and ensured that he got back his mandate.
Asides from that, he and I have served in the cabinet of President Buhari where he served in the ministry of mines and steel. And if we look at the economic record of the ministry of mines and steel, and the economic record of our government, there were three main areas of growth. One was agriculture, the other was mines and power, and then manufacturing and services.
For the very first time, in the history of the country, we recorded significant growth in the mining sector. I want to say that nothing comes easy; you need people who are devoted, people who are serious-minded, dedicated to the work of improvement and development. That is what our country needs today. We need people who can develop this country, who can develop the economy. And I very strongly believe that we have here a son who is able to do so. Here is a state that is rich in all sort of resources; somebody has to ensure that that richness is eventually exploited for the good of the people. I very strongly believe that Dr. Fayemi is one of such persons. And I pray and hope that come July 14, that we would also come here.
We are here, as I said, just to first pay respects to his Royal Majesty and the royal fathers, and also to re-introduce your son to you. Sometimes, as they say, a prophet is not necessarily always highly regarded in his own house. That is what Christ Himself said; that many times we take for granted our own. So we would not see it. But for those of us who are outside, we definitely see it, that is why we are here with him.
I want to again just bring the special respects of the President, Muhammadu Buhari, who of course, as you know, has been a strong advocate of good governance and who very strongly believes in the royal institutions, and believes in respect for royal institutions. I bring his kind regards and his greetings for you today here.
The only other thing I would like to say is that our country at this time requires peace above all else. Peace is so important in our country today. There are many who are playing politics – religious politics, ethnic politics – trying to divide our country, especially for political purposes. I want to say that this country is strongest, this country is best when we are one, when we are united. It is a united country that can make a difference.
We are fully in support of any form of restructuring that benefit the people of our country. That is why, for example, we have recently signed into law, the President actually just signed this into law, a bill which enables Houses of Assembly to be autonomous; so that their finances are autonomous. This is some form of devolution of powers. We are also keenly supportive of anything that gives a measure of independence for states so that the states can realize their own potential and do very well for themselves in every way. And the President is keenly supportive of all of those things.
So for us, unity is important, peace is important. And I believe very strongly that, because of the role that your royal majesty has always played in bringing about peace at all times, you are known, your royal majesty, for your concern about peace in the land and for the various efforts you have made to do so. I want to commend you again for it, and to say that this is really one of the hope we expect would be the case, especially as we approach the elections, people say all sorts of things even in order to win elections, in order to gain ascendancy, there is nothing they cannot say or do; there is no type of statement that cannot be made.
But we believe very strongly that keeping our country together, keeping our people as one, and ensuring that no life is lost in the process of the elections is so important to us.
We thank you again very much, your Royal Majesty, and all of our royal fathers, for very kindly giving us the time to come to greet you, and also making the time to even come all the way from your domains.
I pray that the Lord God Almighty will help you in every way. I pray that the Almighty God who has put you in charge of your people at this time would give you the strength, prosperity and the wisdom to guide all of your people in the way that would give the maximum prosperity and benefit to them in the name of the Lord Jesus. I pray that God Almighty will allow your Royal Majesty that you will live long and prosper, even much longer. I know your Royal Majesty has spent about 28 years on the throne, but that is only the beginning, you are going to spend even longer than your fathers in the mighty name of the Lord Jesus. And so it would be for all of our royal fathers; you will live long, you will see so much good in this land; every experience you have will always be good news, great things all the time in the name of the Lord Jesus.
I pray that God will keep us and there will be peace in our land, and that our country will see real progress, not anything that people will need to talk about, but we will see it ourselves and experience it ourselves in Jesus mighty name.
Thank you very much.