BENUE STATE GOVERNOR, HYACINTH ALIA SETS UP BIRTHDAY COLLOQUIUM IN HONOUR OF AKUME AT 70, SAYS IT WILL BE AN ANNUAL EVENT

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The Benue State Governor, Rev. Fd Hyacinth Iormem Alia has organised a colloquium/symposium in honour of HE Senator George Akume to celebrate his 70th birthday and welcome him home for Christmas. At the event which took place inside the main auditorium of the College of Health Sciences, Benue State University, Makurdi on Tuesday, 26th December, 2023, He extolled the virtues of the political icon and leader. The full text of his address at the event is as follows:

“My pride knows no bounds today as I join thousands of our people to welcome home a political colossus, a democratic patriarch, and a man whom upon the birthing of the fourth republic in Nigeria, laid the foundation for successive leadership in our state.

We are gathered here today not merely to acknowledge the passage of time, but to celebrate a leader—the state pillar of our great Party; a man who has over the years, risen steadily from being a political creation to a creator in our political landscape.

After very careful thoughts by my administration on how best to honour our leader Sen. Dr. George Akume, CON, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, on his 70th birthday anniversary, we decided to put together this colloquium/symposium as part of activities to mark his homecoming. The aim is to also use the opportunity to foster discourse on good governance and national cohesion.

As a matter of fact, it is the determination of my administration that this colloquium/symposium becomes an annual ritual in honour of a man that is arguably the cradle of the Fourth Republic, as far as our enclave is concerned.

May I on behalf of all sons and daughters of Benue, use this platform to re-echo our profound gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, for finding Sen. Dr George Akume, worthy of service to our fatherland, in the capacity of SGF.

We also thank Mr President for several other notable leadership positions which time will not permit me to outline, wherein various sons and daughters of Benue origin, have been appointed to contribute their quota towards national development. This is a clear demonstration that indeed, Benue is seriously being considered in the scheme of things.

I want to specially commend you Sen. Dr. George Akume, for ensuring that since the inception of the Fourth Republic, you not only develop a whole generation of persons who grow to become, in various respects leaders, but for also allowing that group of people to develop ideas to even contradict and controvert yours many times. And many times, you either gave in to those ideas, or simply walked away without truncating them, all for greater good.

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While some may regard that as foolishness or a weakness, I personally regard it as the greatest virtue of a true democrat who is open-minded and flexible in the marketplace of ideas.

In Nigeria, only few individuals dedicate their political missions to the advancement of common good. Among these rare individuals stands the Retired Permanent Secretary, a two-term governor of Benue State, a three-term Senator of the Federal Republic, a former Honourable Minister for Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, and presently the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

For over two decades, Sen. Akume has exemplified, both in rhetoric and action, a steadfast commitment to Social Compassion and Welfare Advocacy. This political philosophy, deeply entrenched in the essence of well-being and a profound reverence for human dignity, has served as a guiding principle throughout his tenure in public service, from his days as Permanent Secretary through to date as Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

His enduring commitment to these ideals underscores an uncompromising belief in politics that places the welfare and dignity of every individual at the forefront. It is this principled approach that shapes his legacy, marking him as a leader dedicated to the enhancement of our society.

For instance, within this short period of your current appointment which I consider to be very strategic, you have played a very pivotal role in the ratification of several federal projects/intervention programmes here in the State. For instance, the approval by Mr President for the establishment of the ‘Renewed Hope Shelter Programme’ pilot scheme in the state, aimed at relocating IDPs back to their various ancestral homes, was partly possible through your instrumentation.

This is not to mention several other intervention programmes ranging from provision of relief materials to flood victims in the state, to approval of funds for palliatives to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal.

With particular regards to palliatives, may I respectfully inform you that my administration decided to use some of the funds to cushion the effect through the procurement of 100 buses which have already been handed over to the State-owned Benue Links transport company, so as to ease the movement of people across the state at the most affordable rates possible. As I speak, Benue commuters are already all smiles, thanks to that transportation palliative.

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More so, we have flagged off the distribution of grains and food items as additional palliatives, to households across the 276 council wards in the State.

Our esteemed leader, it may interest you to know that now that politicking is over, my administration has buckled up and begun work, with a view to bringing forth dividends of democracy to the people with whom we are bound by a social contract.

Apart from boosting agricultural activities across the state through the timely provision of fertilizers to farmers at subsidized rates, we have also begun the construction of 16 strategic roads within Makurdi metropolis, with plans of extending same in due course to other parts of the state.

Furthermore, while ensuring prompt payment of workers’ and pensioners’ emoluments as at when due, we are also currently in talks with a number of companies and private organisations with a view to resuscitating all the moribund industries across the state, as well as building new ones to boost socio-economic growth.

The health sector is also a priorty as we have already engendered several reforms, appointments and rehabilitation/opening of some public health facilities/centres across the state, including the Muhammadu Buhari Mother and Child Hospital, amongst others. As I speak, our attention is being shifted to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), Makurdi, where radical reforms are already underway to deliver on our promise of provision of adequate and affordable healthcare services.

The “Light-up Makurdi” streets light project is ongoing. In addition, our administration in collaboration with Mircosoft, has already sponsored 10,000 youths who are undergoing ICT related training.

Furthermore, while we are focused on attracting new investments to the State, our administration is making case to be considered for 13 percent derivative given to states with mineral deposits from the Federation Account. By this, we are optimistic that again, you will use your good office to help drive the initiative.

In the area of security, collaborations with various security agencies and formations in the state have been epic, all geared towards ensuring lasting peace and tranquility. Various stakeholders as well as the civil society, have also been very cooperative in the business of peace and security.

The SGF Sir, we are doing so much already that time wouldn’t permit me to lay all out here for you to see. And so much still needs to be done which we are ready and equal to the task. Besides, that is the reason we signed up for this administrative journey.

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Before I conclude, I want to unambiguously debunk the circulating rumours of discord between the SGF and myself. These speculations exist solely in the imaginative realm of opportunists, instigators of turmoil, and merchants of mischief who thrive on chaos. The said fracas is only a figment of the imagination crafted by those who seek to profit from crisis.

Meanwhile, for pockets of disenchanted members of our party here in the state, we are already in talks to address various areas of discontent. However, while we try to do so, we shall ensure that the will of the masses who voted us into office, prevails. This is because we are determined not to distort the organic relationship between the people and our government.

I therefore enjoin each and every one of us to dismiss such baseless notions and focus on the shared commitment to truth, unity, and progress that defines our collective journey.

As the Chief Host of this triumphant homecoming of our leader Sen. Dr Geoerge Akume, I heartily welcome you home on behalf of all Benue people; and we congratulate you as you turn 70.

We wish you a happy stay at home until your return to continue your good work with the top echelons.

Long live Sen. Dr George Akume!
Long live Benue State!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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