I feel highly honoured to be recognized by The Silver Bird Group as its Man of the Year 2017.
Although I knew about my nomination, I was completely surprised when I had the announcement that I had won. Nevertheless, I was quite excited to have been chosen over and above those that were considered.
Since 1999, I have not only been in politics; I have also occupied positions of public trust. First, as a local government chairman, later as Chief of Staff, a Minister of the Federal Republic, and now the Governor of Rivers State.
In all these positions my commitment is, and has been, to promote, defend and advance the best interest of our people and contribute to the progress of our State and the nation.
But, as office holders, we cannot credibly be our own judges. This role belongs to the people and the institutionalized mediums of accountability, to which the critical media is one.
And so, today, I am incredibly honoured to receive this award, not just because of its reputation, but also because it represents the very ideals that motivates and sustains my interest in public service.
We came into office at the most difficult period of our economic history. We all know how difficult it has been with the State Governors since 2015.
We could as well advance all sorts of excuses for non-performance as the current Federal Government is doing in justification of its massive failure to deliver on its promises.
But, we decided to be different and we’ve been quite different in our approach to governance. While we refused to be daunted by the level of rot we met, we also believed that promises are sacred and that with prudent and targeted management of available resources, we can deliver much more for our people.
Today, the testimony is everywhere that in Rivers State where we govern, things are working and working very well for our people, especially in the area of road, education and healthcare infrastructures.
And so, nothing can be as valuable and satisfying as a government when our modest efforts and achievements are objectively evaluated, benchmarked and publicly appreciated by the watchdogs of this nation.
It is therefore with a great sense of gratitude that I dedicate this award to the people of Rivers State who have never waivered in their support and conviction about our commitment to building a new Rivers State where the good things of life, including peace, security and economic opportunities are available for everyone.
All I can say is to thank every one of you, including the disorganized opposition, in the State, for keeping us focused on our development agenda. But for your prayers, support and encouragement, we would not have come this far in addressing the infrastructural and development challenges of our State in so short a period of time.
Looking ahead, I want to assure all of us that we are not resting on our laurels, as a high level of performance and efficient service delivery will continue to define the character and content of our government for the rest of our tenure.
As a State, God has blessed us and, we have been of tremendous blessings to this nation, which has refused to reciprocate in equal measure.
For years, we have been crying hoarse over the impunity in our country, which rather continues to soar for the worse under the present Federal Government.
This being so, the situation of the country today confronts all of us with no other choice but to rise above ethnic, partisan or religious cleavages to rescue our country and our democracy from the ditch it has fallen into as no nation can develop with leaders that have refused to separate politics from governance.
As God gives us the wisdom and the courage to set our country on the right track, I wish to assure our people that for as long as God gives me breath, I will continue to promote, defend and advance our collective rights to exist and prosper in this nation with our God-given resources.
Thank you again Silver Bird Group for finding me worthy to be honoured and celebrated. I am humbled by it and I promise to do my best not to be unworthy of it.
Thank you for your attention and may God bless us all
(At Silverbird awards in Lagos)