A SPEECH BY H.E. DR. OGBONNAYA ONU AS CHAIRMAN, ON THE OCCASION OF THE INVESTITURE OF HIS EXCELLENCY, ALHAJI DR. ALIYU MAGATAKARDA WAMAKKO, GOVERNOR OF SOKOTO STATE, AS THE VERBATIM MAGAZINE MAN OF THE YEAR ON MAY 14, 2015, AT GIGINYA HOTEL, SOKOTO.

PROTOCOL:

It is with happiness that I welcome you all to this historic event, taking place in the ancient and important town of Sokoto. The organisers of this event could not have chosen a better venue. In celebrating excellence and achievements in governance, Sokoto stands out as the home of the great teacher and leader, Usman Danfodio, as well as Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sarduanan Sokoto and President Shehu Shagari, Turakin Sokoto.

It is with humility that I thank the editors of Verbatim Magazine, for asking me to serve as Chairman of this very important occasion. The Verbatim Magazine has become the bright shining star in the firmament of Nigerian news magazines. Though young in age, it has shown that investigative journalism, at its finest, can be the hallmark of true journalistic practice. When Newswatch Magazine was taken out of circulation under very unusual circumstances, most Nigerians were very unhappy that they had lost the flagship of Nigerian Newsmagazines. The birth of Verbatim Magazine, by many of the senior editors of the defunct Newswatch magazine, has again reassured many Nigerians that excellence is still attainable in Newsmagazines in the country. I salute the editors and staff of Verbatim Magazine for the good work they are doing. I encourage them to continue until they achieve all their set goals.

Your Excellencies and most respected fellow Nigerians, we are here today to celebrate excellence in governance. We have come to honour a leader of his people. At a time when many of the cherished values have been set aside and neglected in our country, we have come to recognise a leader who put the interest of his people first, in many of the things that he did. His Excellency, Alhaji Dr. Aliyu Wamakko, the Governor of Sokoto State, in his distinguished public life, put service above self. He showed so much compassion, and worked tirelessly to look after those who ordinarily cannot look after themselves. He is the man of the masses. He is the man of the people. He loves his people, and in turn, his people love him. He built roads and extended electricity supply to virtually all parts of the State. By doing this, he brought development to the rural parts of the State. He showed his love for our country, by working very well with all Nigerians resident in Sokoto State. He was a friend to all. His developmental strides in education, agriculture, health, transportation, information, housing and urban development, endeared him to the people of the State. No wonder he was overwhelmingly elected as a member of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

When this great Nigerian saw the wrong direction our country was moving, he was disturbed. He did not keep quiet. He spoke out and decided to act. He was one of those, who in the best interest of the nation, moved away from the comfort then provided by the ruling party, to join an opposition political party, whose future at that time was not certain, but had promised Nigerians change for the better. As a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), he served as Chairman, National Convention Committee that organized the First National Convention of the then young APC. He served with distinction in that very important position; he did everything to resist the pressure to postpone the Convention and finally made sure that the National Convention produced the first elected National Executive of the Party. Nigerians owe a lot of gratitude to him, for working very hard to have a change in government, the first of its kind in the history of our dear country, where an incumbent President lost election, creating an environment which has given hope for a brighter future to Nigerians. The tension that characterised the pre-general election days are no longer there. The mere announcement of the result of the Presidential election strengthened the Naira, our national currency and was favourably received by the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The expectations of Nigerians have risen drastically as their confidence in our country has increased.

In the next few weeks, he will be going to the Senate. While in the Senate, Senator Aliyu Wamakko will work closely with President Buhari, to build a nation where every citizen is equal before the law. He will work closely with the President to enthrone fairness and justice in Nigeria. As the threat of the Boko Haram is subsiding, it must be recognised that youth unemployment is now the greatest potential threat that the nation faces, hence they will have to work to create jobs for our young people, so as to move them away from the streets and put them to work. As he goes to the Senate, he will leave Sokoto State in the capable hands of Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. Speaker Tambuwal is a worthy successor who will build a bright future for our people of Sokoto State.

As we celebrate excellence in governance, in a democracy, we must realize that democracy can only grow and endure in an environment where elections are free, fair, peaceful and credible. So far in our country, Nigeria is divided into two parts. On the one hand in the North and the South West, elections are reasonably free and fair. On the other hand, in the South South and South East results of elections, to a large extent, are written in homes. All Nigerian citizens must be made to feel that they are participating in choosing their leaders. This is the only way to build trust between the people and those that govern them. In order to facilitate the conduct of free, fair, peaceful and credible elections, serious consideration should be given to the use of electronic voting, in such a way that all elections are conducted on the same day.

Once more, I congratulate the Verbatim Magazine Man of the Year 2014. I wish you success in your public service in many years to come. I thank you all.

May Almighty God bless Nigeria.

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