Echocho Declaration Speech

In the past four years Governor Idris Wada has been governing our state but come November 21st November, 2015 a fresh election for the office of Governor would be conducted as our constitution demands.

I want to be the recipient of the baton. This is not a decision I take lightly, but one that I arrived at after a careful and persistent consideration as well as the need for a servant leader who places people over politics and service above all else. I took the decision to run for governor of our state in 2015 under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after a great deal of thought. I consulted widely with my family, friends and close political associates in Kogi state and nationwide.

In April this year, I started a state-wide public consultation with leaders and major stakeholders in our party and state including traditional rulers, political pressure groups, youths and women groups across the state. Since then I have visited the 21 local government areas of the state, meeting leaders and the rank and file of the party at the grass roots, the heart and soul of the PDP without whom we cannot achieve victory. After many weeks of consultations, what began as a thought has now become a course of action, which I wish to pursue. And today I will step out to purchase the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms for the gubernatorial primary election.

I am running for governor because I believe I can add value to the governance of a state I love so much. My love for the State and it’s people knows no limit. I love the diversity, the can-do spirit, the communal life of neighbour-helping-neighbour of the people; and I believe in what Kogi state can be. And my passion to serve compels me once again to stand for what is right for all Kogites, to make Kogi state what it can be. I offer myself as a Kogite who is concerned about the widespread unemployment that is destroying the very fabric of our society.

During the course of my consultation, I met with and heard from tens of thousands of fellow Kogites from across the three senatorial districts about how we can continue to build the Kogi state of our dream, with jobs and opportunities for every resident in every community. What I have heard over and over is that it doesn’t matter to the majority of our people where the person who provides these jobs and opportunities come from or the language he or she speaks. What matters to them is that there should be jobs and business opportunities for all.

Kogi State is blessed with abundant human and natural resources; such as solid minerals,vast farm lands, vast water resources, intelligent, hard working and talented people. For all of our state’s wealth, there should be no suffering in the land.

But I bet that in every family there is a loved one who has no job, many for years after graduation. And there are some others who are underemployed. I hear of university graduates who are working with school certificate because these are the jobs they could get. Others are riding okada and keke to offer transport services just to make ends meet and hold their lives together. It doesn’t have to be so.

Like most Kogites, I dream of a Kogi state where those who want to work will find appropriate jobs and those who want to set up businesses can do so without bothering about the infrastructure that will enable them to succeed. I dream of a Kogi state where our youths can look at us with hope and we see them as worthy future leaders. I dream of a Kogi state where our tomorrow will always be better than yesterday. I dream of a Kogi state where, where you come from and the languages you speak do not matter. I dream of a Kogi state where the interest of all is paramount and not those of the few. I dream of a Kogi state where you do not have to know a big man before you get what you deserve. I dream of a Kogi state of equal opportunity and no discrimination.

I believe that, through collaborative and inclusive efforts and participatory governance, all Kogites, working together as a statewide team can make this dream a reality in our life time.

The challenges we face going forward are enormous. We all know these challenges because we face them every day in our daily lives. Unemployment, general insecurity, corruption, rising food prices, housing shortage, broken marriages are some of the challenges we must overcome. They are formidable. But I am prepared for them. I believe that job creation holds the key to overcoming all these challenges. If we can tackle the problem of unemployment, all other problems, whether it is robbery, kidnapping, communal conflicts, broken marriages, prostitution etc, will be drastically reduced to the barest minimum because none of us is born bad.

It would have been criminal of me to look the other way when I know I can do something about these problems. That is why today I am asking my fellow Kogites to allow me to serve as governor for the next four years.

My earned experience as an investment Banker for 25years along with my firm grounding in our community give me a unique understanding of the critical issues of our time. I know how government works. I also know how the private sector works. I am ready for the challenge of building the Kogi of our dream.

I have an agenda for the next four years to meet the hopes and aspirations of our people. If the good people of Kogi state give me the privileged opportunity to be Governor, I shall implement a pan Kogi agenda that offer viable solutions that specially reflect the views and wishes of all Kogites rather than those of special interests. I will focus on job creation like a laser beam. These would not be public sector jobs but jobs that will be created mainly by the private sector, with government creating the enabling environment.

I believe that by building a strong and stable economy, a strong and secured society, a cleaner environment and changing our politics, the four point agenda christened as the four pillars of the House of Kogi of our dream, we can create the jobs we so badly need to strengthen our families and revitalise our communities.

Our dependence on the Federal allocation which has crude oil as the main source of revenue not only exposes our economy to foreseeable shocks, it endangers our security because unemployment is presently our greatest security risk. The petrol dollar made us to unwisely ignore every other sector particularly agriculture with its huge job creation potential, thereby robbing us of a source of massive employment for our teeming youths.

By acting decisively to restructure the economy of our state through massive investment in agriculture and rural economies, modernising and expanding our infrastructure including affordable housing, promoting tourism, entertainment and sports, assisting existing and moribund industries and encouraging new ones to set up agro-based industries, we can jump start job creation and achieve greater, more sustainable economic prosperity.

As we recreate our economy, it is also imperative that we secure and strengthen our society and protect the environment, and by so doing create the enabling environment to attract local and foreign investment.

Residents and visitors deserve to live in peace and safety, free from harassment, intimidation, vandalism and fear at home or on the streets of Kogi State.

We can transform our State and strengthen our society by providing better schools and better hospitals for our people. We believe that education and health care should be affordable, accessible and qualitative. I will work to deliver improvements in quality and capacity in our health care and educational sectors.

I believe in our youths. They are worthy future leaders. We must give them genuine hope that the future can be better. As Governor, I will create the necessary environment for the full realisation of their immense innate endowments in entrepreneurship, sports, entertainment or as part of the working class.

In recognition of the silent roles women play in our society as the solid rock of families, I will work tirelessly to enhance women’s rights, insist on 35 percent of women representation in our government and give them the responsibility for all development schemes relating to women affairs. We will up-grade and expand markets across the State because they are the traditional strongholds for women.

We will make our environment cleaner by embarking on a comprehensive urban renewal and regeneration programme to redress urban problems that include poor sanitation, inadequate transportation and traffic congestion.

This necessary transformation of our economy and society and protecting of the environment require new approaches and ways of doing things. We must change our politics and restore faith in government. I am committed to the principles of accountability, transparency, social justice, sustainability and inclusivity — of the whole of Kogi state and it’s entire people. These principles will drive our programme of action for the next four years.

Also in the drive to transform, we need strong institutions, as against powerful individuals. As Governor, I will work to strengthen the institutions of government through an agenda of rejuvenation. The civil service and local government administration in particular will be strengthened and empowered for better, effective and efficient service delivery.

As the next Governor Kogi state, I won’t kick the can down the road. I will confront every challenge that come our way because I understand the urgent need to diversify our economy, secure and strengthen our society and protect the environment to help create sustained economic growth and new jobs for our people. Doing all these will not be easy. But I believe it is do able. That is why I have decided to join the race to seek the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The current Governor and a few others are in the race. We are all qualified. We are all good men and women who mean well for our state. But I can do a better job of transforming our state and taking it to the next level of development. I need the support of everyone in the party to make this happen. Support me in the primaries because my candidacy will ensure easy victory for our party in the governorship election and thereafter, transform our state to the level thought impossible and through this living example make the opposition completely irrelevant in Kogi State.

I am ready to take up the unfinished business of building a Kogi state of our dream which began in 2011 and make Kogi state greater.

So join me. Together, we can make the new Kogi possible.

God bless Kogi State and God bless Nigeria.

Jibrin Isah Echocho,Phd.

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