President Goodluck Jonathan was in Nasarawa State on Monday for the inauguration of the N6.3 billion Federal High Court complex in Lafia. ADEMOLA ADEGBITE highlights activities that attended the event.
For the government and people of Nasarawa State, the visit by President Goodluck Jonathan last Monday was historic. Expectations about the visit were high, given the fact that the president was to inaugurate a newly completed federal high court complex in the 16 year-old-state, which prides itself as the home of Nigeria’s solid minerals. Expectedly, Lafia, the state capital, was the host.
Security operatives, many of whom were deployed from Abuja, occupied strategic areas in Lafia as early as 6.30 a.m. The operatives comprised men of the Nigerian Army, the police, the State Security Service (SSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). The somewhat watertight security which Lafia had not experienced in a long time made the president’s visit more colourful.
Markets were temporarily closed. The almajiris, who usually constitute nuisance on the streets, were not left out. They also organised themselves together to welcome the president.
The entire city of Lafia became a beehive of activities with traffic jam recorded on most major roads. The only federal highway that links Abuja to Makurdi was blocked for more than four hours, subjecting the users, especially travellers from the northern and eastern parts of the country, to a hard time. The city was filled with posters of President Jonathan and Governor Tanko Al-Makura, welcoming the number one citizen to the state capital.
Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state seized the occasion to make a statement about their preparedness to wrest power from the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) the state. The party made its presence visible in every corner to impress the august visitor who is a top member of their party.
Street urchins too had a field day showering encomiums on the president and the governor. Suspected thugs from the PDP and CPC also engaged in a subtle struggle to outdo each other advertising their perceived parties.
Widows of slain SSS officials staged a peaceful protest when the convoy of the president, represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, entered the venue of the inauguration ceremony. They demanded justice for the murder of their spouses allegedly by the Ombatse militia men at Alakyio village in Lafia East Development Area on May 7. They called on the state government, the police authorities and the judiciary not to set the matter aside, while appealing to them to ensure that those behind the killings were made to face the law.
The vice president arrived at the new complex at about 11.08 a.m., donning a blue agbada, a cap and a black shoe, amid tight security. He was accompanied by Governor Al-Makura; Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku; Minister of State for Education, Mr Nyson Nwike; National Orientation Agency (NOA) Director-General, Dr Mike Omeri; a former governor of the state, now a senator, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, other members of the upper and lower chambers of the National Assembly and many other bigwigs of both the PDP and CPC in the state. Traditional rulers, chiefs, human right activists, judges of the state high courts and other members of the Bar were not left out of the epoch-making event.
In his speech, the president said the project was an expansion of justice delivery and a manifestation of the commitment of the judiciary in the dispensation of equity and justice to all. He said it also demonstrated the cordial relationship between the executive and other arms of government, particularly the judiciary, in nation building.
The president called on well-meaning Nigerians, especially the elite and opinion leaders, to deploy their intellect and energy in deepening the workings of the judiciary in national development. President Jonathan also called on stakeholders in the judiciary to always pursue things that will promote judicial and legal practices.
“You cannot afford to fail at this time when we are poised to deliver in all spheres, especially on the rule of law and natural justice. Let me also add that judiciary is living up to the expectation of Nigerians in dispensing justice and it deserves our applause. This should not, however, be misconstrued to mean that we should play to the gallery; rather it is to serve more, and accurately for Nigeria.
“The transformation agenda of this administration is on course. We have resolved to ensure that we fulfill our promises, especially in core areas of infrastructural development, job and wealth creation, economic stability, transparency, good governance and national security, as we exposed during electioneering, which culminated from the mandate we received from Nigerians. However, it is imperative for us to state that all hands must be on deck, and as citizens, we should all strive towards contributing our quota so that together, we shall attain our lofty aspirations as a nation,” he said.
While commending Al-Makura for his contributions to democracy and for keeping his campaign promises to the state, the president acceded to his requests for the establishment of the 330/132/33KV power sub-station in Lafia and the construction of Doma-Abuja road to combat perennial ecological problems in the area and as well serve as alternative route in case of artificial hindrances, saying “the requests are already in the drawing board and concluded for implementation.”
According to the president, “I will also like to add that the hydro power project in Nasarawa State has also been included for completion by the Federal Government and we have also concluded plans to dualise Abuja across Nasarawa State to Benue State. We all aware that the new bridge at Eweto across River Benue is on course and is being completed on schedule,” he assured.
He concluded by saying that about 5,000 youths and women were being employed annually from Nasarawa State under the Federal Government employment scheme.
Al-Makura explained that achievements recorded by his government in two years were not unconnected with the determination of CPC to bring dividends of democracy to the doorsteps of the populace, irrespective of tribe, religion or political inclination.