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KOGI STATE GOVERNMENT'S NEW DIRECTION AGENDA - EXPECTATIONS, CHALLENGES AND BENEFITS

*KOGI STATE GOVERNMENT'S NEW DIRECTION AGENDA - EXPECTATIONS, CHALLENGES AND BENEFITS

THE TEXT OF A SPEECH DELIVERED BY MR. EDWARD DAVID ONOJA, CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE KOGI STATE GOVERNOR,ON THE 19TH OF JUNE, 2016 TO THE COALITION OF APC SUPPORT GROUPS IN LOKOJA, KOGI STATE.
 
I am glad for the opportunity to speak to you this morning. It is always a pleasure to talk to the authentic change champions that formed the nucleus of the various support groups that birthed the chnage in Nigeria and Kogi State - this is now known today as coalition of APC Support Groups. Your enthusiasm and energy, properly channeled can accomplish a great deal. The support of the change champions, and their active involvement with us in the campaigns, helped to bring the Government of His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to Office in Kogi State.
 
We are grateful for all your support, before, during and after the elections. As the Chief of Staff to His Excellency, I want to report to you officially that some people have sworn that His Excellency will not be allowed to focus on delivering this New Direction Agenda as promised. Their fear is the continuous erosion of their corrupt hold on the politics and finances of Kogi State from its creation to the detriment of the People.
 
I make this report because some battles, like the elections, the Tribunal stages of the Elections Petitions etc may be over, but the war is still on. You have remained steadfast on the side of God and Good with His Excellency and this Administration. You have to be even more vigilant going forward as our adversaries' penchant for infamy and mischief seem to know no bounds. I am however certain that God Who has begun to give us victories, will bless us with the ultimate victory they cannot challenge or work against anywhere.
 
I am really happy that you have requested me to speak on the Kogi State Government's New Direction Agenda today. Without beating about the bush, and as one who was there almost from the beginning, let me state categorically that it was His Excellency's idea, and a very brilliant one at that. His Excellency conceived it and ran his campaign on it. The rest of us bought into it, some earlier and some later.
 
Let no other person ever try to take the credit. The New Direction Agenda remains His Excellency's Brainchild and Passion even as Governor. His Excellency's Administration has given itself just one job - to deliver on the New Direction Agenda. Fortunately, the New Direction Agenda is such a laudable Project that no lover of Kogi State will fail to be excited by it.
 
NEW DIRECTION AGENDA: THE EXPECTATIONS
 
They say that if you want to understand a product better, ask the manufacturer. Thus, for best understanding of the New Direction Agenda, we must ask my principal, His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State - the Architect of it. In his Foreword to the Kogi State Government's New Direction Blueprint, His Excellency talked at length about the origins, purpose and methodology of the New Direction Agenda. I quote extensively from that:
 
'…with the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in March 2015…we (saw)…an opportunity for discerning states to reinvent themselves and the fortunes of their people. We resolved to do so for Kogi State if God, and our People, should ever bestow on us the Privilege. I and my able lieutenants began to collect our ideas into a dropbox of possibilities. In the fullness of the divined-appointed time…I was elected the 4th Executive Governor of Kogi State. When we took Office, we engaged Consultants, The New Direction Blueprint Team, to build the technical infrastructure for their delivery. The New Direction Blueprint is a compendium of the recommended Projects, missions, visions, policies, strategies, targets and outcomes which will together define the New Direction to accelerated development in which (my Administration and I) are steering Kogi State…' - Alhaji Yahaya Bello
 
So, what are the expectations from, and under the New Direction Agenda?
 
Since the art and act of good governance is a partnership between the Governor/His Team and the Governed, there is a corresponding mutuality of expectations by the two categories of stakeholders, one from each. The Government, using the New Direction Blueprint as a roadmap is expected to deliver comprehensive and accelerated development of Kogi State in all socio-economic indices over the life of the Administration of His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. The Administration in turn has expectations of its own from the people.
 
The Plan is that in any of our constituencies, ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL, any interested person can look at the Blueprint after it is publicly unveiled by His Excellency and determine with some precision what developmental activities the Government should have commenced, continued or completed in Education, Healthcare, Job Creation and Youth Engagement, Infrastructure and Utilities, Public Service and Pension Reforms, etc at any time within her overall tenure.
 
The idea is that while the People have a right to expect His Excellency through the Administration to continue fighting hard, mobilising sufficient funds and utilizing them judiciously in making these great things outlined in the Blueprint to happen for Kogi State, everyone's hands must also be on deck, playing their roles. Some of the things we can do include paying all assessed taxes, rates and levies due to Government promptly and protecting Projects sited in our communities, both the existing and new ones.
 
Let me talk more about caring for the amenities and utilities provided by Government in our Communities. We must all 'own' and protect projects sited in our Communities by Government. I warn our people that my principal does not dignify nonsense. There will be no money to replace any willfully vandalized asset. So, if a primary Health Care facility is destroyed by its Community because a passing trailer knocked down a woman going to market, who later dies because there was no doctor on duty when she was rushed to the Centre, na the community go hear am o. If you work with the Government we can get justice for the woman, but if you burn down your Primary Health Care Centre in anger, you will have to do without one till further notice.
 
On that principle of give and take, we will leave the Expectations for now. I am sure that at the appropriate time, maybe during the formal public presentation of the New Direction Blueprint, my Boss will dwell more on that.
 
NEW DIRECTION AGENDA: THE CHALLENGES
 
The major Challenge to our actualization of the Blueprint is funds, finances, or simply, money. His Excellency has repeatedly assured us in different speeches and at different fora that every other thing needed to put the New Direction Agenda to work is basically in place. The ideas are in place. The innovation and drive are there. The manpower and technical expertise are there and more critically, the Political Will flowing from His Excellency is there in abundance. The only dicey input is funding. 'No money, No Honey' may sound harsh, but in the current global and domestic economic realities, it is the sad Truth.
 
Of course, there are financial projections to the New Direction Blueprint and the flow of funds to the state is the major determinant of what Projects the Administration can execute per time. This means a lot will depend on the ability of the Administration to meet the income estimates. However, we subscribe to the philosophy that where there is a will, there is a way. Rest assured that paucity of funds cannot derail the New Direction Agenda. Already, His Excellency has put his creativity to work in this regard. In the New Direction Blueprint document itself he charges every official to see the Blueprint '…primarily as an overarching marketing instrument, not an expenditure tool' and directs them to use their various offices to source and attract investments and developmental projects to Kogi State.
 
His Excellency and the entire Administration is counting very hard on the prayers, goodwill and tangible cooperation of our people, our friends and our well-wishers.

 
NEW DIRECTION AGENDA: THE BENEFITS
 
I do not think that anyone here needs me to itemize to them the benefits if the KOGI NEW DIRECTION AGENDA succeeds. In any case, here is a list of some of the most outstanding:
 
1. Quality and Free or Affordable Education for all.
2. Quality and Affordable Healthcare.
3. Quality and Affordable Transportation.
4. Security of Lives and Property.
5. Food Security.
6. Affordable Shelter and Safe Environments.
7. Constant Electricity and Power Supply.
8. Job and Wealth Creation.
9. Enterprise Development.
10. Longer Life Expectancy
11. uplifting at least 1 million citizens above the global poverty line/threshold in Kogi State.
12. creating more jobs or equalLing the present number of public officers - through agriculture, mining and small/medium enterprising
13. Etc.
 
In conclusion, I want to drop somethings for the youth to take away and think deeply on. The challenge of the youth of our generation is not a lack of ideas, but a lack courage. Ideas, even great ideas, are a dime a dozen. If I take a census of everyone with pivotal ideas on how we can improve Kogi State, Nigeria and even the World we live in right here and right now in this Auditorium, we will all be surprised at how many transformational ideas will flow. But who has those ideas, lying in the heads of the owners, helped?
 
In my opinion therefore, ideas alone do not make the difference in the lives of people. The one critical thing is ACTION. The Chinese say that 'anyone who will wait for fried chicken to fly into his mouth will wait forever.' The Youth of this generation must not continue to wait indefinitely for anyone to come from somewhere and help them work their ideas. No. They must rise up and work it out themselves.
 
When His Excellency conceived the idea that he was able and capable to run for Governor and bring a New Direction to Kogi State, he did not just leave it inside his head. He acted with wisdom and deliberate focus through the very first youth group - the kogi youth arise grou, a leading member of the support  groups with over 5000 members. I must use this medium to say a big thank you. Recall His Excellency remain the chairman/patron/sole sponsor of that group yesterday, today and into the future. It is a reality today that is gradually transforming the lives of Kogi People. Remember that His Excellency did not just come out his mother's womb and started running for Governor.
 
He went to Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Schools. He stayed in school at each stage and he finished. He started work at the bottom as a Civil Servant. When he determined that Entrepreneurship was his calling, he gave up the security of a steady salary, took the risks of investing his capital in business and suffered the challenges of the competitive market place. When he started to find some success there, Politics beckoned out of a heart for his People and the need to offset the 'visionlessness' of previous Administration. When he decided on Politics, he also took the risks of actually stepping into the Political Arena with all the dangers that can pose to his successful businesses from bad belle people.
 
What I am saying to the youth today is: Pursue your dreams! Take one of your many ideas and start to develop it now. Give it time, effort and your resources - big or small. Stop waiting for Government or other people. Take responsibility for your own life and success. When His Excellency tried to enlist us for the New Direction Agenda, it was not easy. I was a high level executive in a multinational oil company with great prospects for the future. I had to resign because I believed my boss' vision and because it spoke to what was in my own heart and plans already. Do you know what it means to take your pen and resign from such a job in today's Nigeria? Do I look like I am regretting today? THE TRUTH IS THAT IT WAS NOT EASY.
 
Stop waiting for 'easy' my brothers and sisters and start taking action. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. You may need to go back to school from here. You may need to learn a trade. You may need to sell something to raise capital. Just do what it takes to become the person of your dreams. You start where you are today. I can promise you that God has so organized the Universe that as you start and remain undeterred, help will come. It may be from a program of this Government in the days ahead, or it may be from other sources, but if you get on the journey, God will give you a lift.
 
Thank you.
 
God Bless His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
 
God Bless the Kogi State New Direction Agenda.
 
God Bless Kogi State of Nigeria.
 
EDWARD DAVID ONOJA
CHIEF OF STAFF TO
HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO
GOVERNMENT HOUSE
LOKOJA
JUNE 19, 2016.


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