Kosovo Celebrates Tenth Year Independence

The people of Kosovo are celebrating a decade of the country’s independence as security forces march through the streets of the capital city,

The celebration is a moment of pride for its ethnic Albanian majority although sovereignty remains fiercely contested by Serbia.

The parade is part of a weekend of festivities and comes a day after Pristina-born British pop star Rita Ora headlined a concert for thousands of Kosovars who packed the main square of the capital covered in the blue and yellow colours of the flag.

“It’s been a long journey to get to this point and I think it’s just a start of an ongoing incredible journey for our country,” the 27-year-old told reporters after flying in for the show, which ended with fireworks over the city.

The singer’s family left Kosovo in 1991 to escape the repression imposed by Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic after he stripped the Yugoslav province of its autonomy.

In 1998, a war broke out between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian rebels and Serbian troops that left 13,000 people dead, most of them Albanians.

Belgrade withdrew its forces the following year after a NATO bombing campaign against Serbia.

Kosovo, which has no army of its own, subsequently became a United Nations protectorate and, with the support of Washington and other Western powers, declared independence from Belgrade on February 17, 2008.

“The state of Kosovo has upheld the people’s demand for freedom,” Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said during a special government session in Pristina on Saturday.

But “we are aware that citizens’ expectations for a modern state have not yet been fulfilled”. Another special parliamentary session is set to be held on Sunday morning.

Although more than 110 countries have recognised Kosovo’s independence in the past 10 years, Serbia and dozens of other states have not.

Sovereignty is rejected by Russia, whose Security Council veto prevents Kosovo from joining the United Nations, and five EU countries including Spain and Greece.


Yahaya Bello: Read Full Text of Governor’s 57th Independence Anniversary Speech



My dear people of Kogi State,


I give all the praise to the Almighty God for another Independence Anniversary – the 57th for our dear Nation Nigeria. Everyone who has access to international news media knows of nations which have been confronted with the selfsame challenges that we face here and have descended into war and crises. Today is thus another perfect opportunity for gratitude, if not for the good we have achieved, at least, for the evils which God has kept from befalling us.


Poor leadership, corruption, terrorism, militancy, separatist agitations, even a Civil War which ended 47 years ago constitute some of the self-inflicted troubles which we contend with in the Nigerian Federation. Unlike other nations which have proved incapable of working through their differences and have gone up in flames, we Nigerians have had the good fortune, if not the good sense, to keep talking.


We may not always speak in polite tones, and our passion may sometimes be irrational, but we have maintained communication, and therefore avoided conflict. This is a wonderful blessing, and we must be grateful to God for it.


In Kogi State, I continue striving to exemplify inclusive leadership. I am glad that none of my traducers have accused me of ethnicism or tribalism yet (although now that I have reminded them, they may start tomorrow). If anything, some persons are angry at me for not stuffing Cabinet and other organs of governments with my own kith and kin. I do not owe anyone an apology on this score.


From the inception of my Administration, I have ensured that proportional representation of constituencies across the 3 Senatorial Districts as well as the personal merits of individual appointees have determined who serves where in Government. This posture is founded on my belief that one does not effect change by doing the same old things the same old ways.


In order to force a paradigm and generational shift in politics, I realize that I must keep justice, equity and merit as the moral compass for Government. The only way politics in Nigeria can change to accommodate more young people in high positions of leadership is for youths already in leadership to demonstrate competence and capacity to lead. I shall not speak for others but I repeat a solemn guarantee to succeed well as Governor of Kogi State.

I know that today is not a day to start reeling out a roll call of Projects executed by my Administration in the last 20 months, but I assure Kogites that tremendous progress is being made. In another 4 months, we will mark our 2 years in Office and I promise that the second volume of a Compendium which will contain all ongoing and completed projects will be released to commemorate it. The first volume has been out since January this year and continues to showcase our verifiable achievements. Till then, suffice it to say that we are racing to achieve as much as time and funds will permit.


We are careful to ensure even distribution of projects across all of our constituencies based on needs assessment. All of the 5 thematic areas in our New Direction Blueprint are receiving simultaneous attention. Education, Health, Infrastructure & Utilities, Job Creation & Youth Empowerment and Public Service & Pension Reforms remain vehicles from which to unload our Change Agenda.


While Education and Healthcare remain atop our list of priorities, communities across Kogi State are also being provided with electricity, water supply, roads, etc.


In Education, we have focused on providing quality learning environment and materials in order to unleash the genius of our students. So much has been done in the sector. For instance, I personally flagged off construction of 240 blocks of 2 classrooms each in 80 Primary Schools across the 21 Local Government Areas of Kogi State recently. Upon completion, each of them will be equipped with modern learning facilities and round-the-clock solar electricity to power the ICT components.


I was happy to hear from our Commissioner for Health a couple of months ago that we have met our 4-year target of 100% immunization against childhood killer diseases already. Our statistics on Maternal and NewBorn Health initiatives also show-marked improvement from what we met on ground. Most pregnant women in Kogi State today have access to free maternity kits and care today.


Primary and Secondary Health Care Centres across the 21 Local Government Areas have either been renovated or built from scratch and equipped with drugs and equipment. We also recruited scores of medical personnel to help improve access to medicare for our people. 12 state-of-the-art ambulances were bought and distributed across Kogi State to facilitate speedy evacuation of critically ill patients to larger medical facilities in urban and semi-urban areas.


Empowerment and welfare programs for our youth and other population groups have been held to one level or the other in all of the 21 Local Government Areas. We have also been lauded as one of the most responsive state to the Social Investment Programs of the Government. Like I said in my New Year message earlier this year, 2017 is going to be a hallmark year for projects.


The Administration will continue to apply dialogue where it can make a difference in any industrial dispute. However, at this stage in our Public Service and Pension Reforms, we have a duty to pay more attention to the law, including the Public Service Rules as well as the sustainability of the reforms we are putting in place. The whims and caprices of vested interests cannot therefore be admitted to determine our responses in any way.

We do not understand what could possibly be wrong with putting into the hands of individual workers the tools to determine their own rating (and therefore progress) on the job, even after we have left office. Our aim with the clock-in, clock-out devices which Labour Leaders are rejecting is to empower each worker to leave a digital footprint which authenticates his or her participation during the typical work day. If this aim is defeated, all of the aspirations of genuine and conscientious workers to be assessed based on actual performance will remain a mirage, like in the past.


Prompt payment of salaries is still a vexed issue, but we will do our best to keep our workers happy given the competing demands on the income of the state per time. However, it is inevitable that from time to time we must ask workers to stand with us in sacrifice. We hope they will oblige in the overall interest of the state.


In similar vein, prompt payment of Gratuities and Pensions is only possible within the ambits of a Contributory Pension Scheme. Like the automation of the workforce, a Contributory Pension Scheme for the Kogi State workforce is inevitable reform. We commend workers who come around to work to the overall interest of the State. We cannot allow ourselves to become deterred from implementing much-needed reforms. We also urge all workers not to be misled as Government is doing everything possible to address the various challenges confronting the workforce. We are a responsible Government and we shall live up to our responsibilities.


The Administrations was gratified to be invited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to send a Team to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York City as one of only four states in Nigeria considered success stories for their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our Team enjoyed a successful outing at the United Nations Headquarters, made a presentation at the Nigeria side event and signed a Memorandum of Understanding for deeper collaboration with the UN and her agencies. This is good for Kogi State and her people.


Let me remind us that the rains are still here and there is still need to remain vigilant against flooding and other associated natural disasters. The most potent tool against flooding is to keep existing drainage systems free of garbage and other rubbish. The next is to be wise and evacuate to higher ground if flooding appears imminent and you live in a low-lying area.


On our part as Government, we have designated camps for Internally Displaced People in each Local Government Area deemed at risk, and should it become necessary to deploy a Camp in any locality, Kogites can expect their Government to act with despatch in sending fast responders and launching emergency protocols.


As I conclude this address this 1st October morning, in the year 2017, I find myself in bitter-sweet mood. The sweet feelings flow from the GREAT POTENTIALS which Nigeria possessed long before Independence, and which remain unabated despite 57 years of checkered history. The pain comes from bitter emotions evoked when I consider the COUNTLESS MISSED OPPORTUNITIES we have had from October 1, 1960 to October 1, 2017 to transform our great potentials into great progress.


The British may have had their own ulterior motives when they amalgamated the old Northern and Southern Protectorates into one Nigeria in 1914, but I believe they also provided us an opportunity which hitherto did not exist, i.e. the opportunity to be much more greater than we would have become as individual tribes or territories.


In my opinion, and I think most Nigerians will agree with me, that even though we have not harnessed our gains after amalgamation, the present Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR is making efforts to optimize our potentials as a Nation. This is evident in a more secured Nigeria after years of terrorism threat, we are consciously diversifying our economy to Agriculture and Mining, the very vulnerable are now being focused on using various current programmes and policies – e.g Condition Cash Transfer at National level, N-power and Market Money, Home Grown School Feeding Programme etc. as a State, the GYB Food Security Project, Youth and Artisan Empowerment Project and the upcoming GYB water for life Grassroot Project and finally, GYB Model Primary and Unity School to foster cohesion amongst the upcoming young ones and quality education.


I reiterate our commitment in Kogi State and Nigeria where there is room for all citizens and constituencies to achieve their maximum potentials.


In the spirit of our 57th Anniversary as a Country, I wish all Kogites, Nigerians and our motherland, Nigeria, Happy Independence!


May the Almighty God bless us all.




Dogara Advocates Unity as Nigeria Marks 57th Independence Anniversary

The Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara has said in a goodwill message issued in Abuja to mark Nigeria’s 57th Independence Anniversary that Nigerians need to strengthen the bond of unity and cohesion as a people of common interest and destiny in the process of nation building. He said Nigeria would come out of her current challenges.

Mr Dogara also enjoined the citizens to shun every harbinger of hate, division and violence, saying “May I use the occasion of this year’s Independence Anniversary to urge us all to reflect on those things that unite and bring us together as people, and shun individuals and groups with divisive tendencies… At this time, more than any other, we must adopt the right strategies and utilise the advantages of our diversity to our benefit as well as blend our differences for positive outcomes in the process of building the Nigeria of our dream.

“True independence will continue to elude us until and unless we attain independence from tribalism, sectionalism, primodialism, religious extremism, partisan political bigotry, materialism, corruption and ancillary forms of retrogressive tendencies that threatened to consign us to the forgotten age”.

The Speaker also promised that the House of Representatives would continue to provide the needed legislative framework that would further galvanise the people and unite the nation as well as help fine solutions to the country’s socio-political challenges.

Nigeria @57: Aregbesola Harps On Unity And Culture Of Productivity

The Governor of Osun, Rauf Aregbesola, has congratulated Nigerians on the celebration of the country’s 57th Independence Anniversary on October 1.

Aregbesola conveyed the felicitation to Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora in a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Mr.  Sola Fasure.

He tasked the people on the need to avoid violence, ethno-religious conflicts and any other behaviour capable of threatening the peace and unity of the country.

He said though the country had witnessed several challenges since independence, it has nevertheless made significant progress in its almost six decades of independence.

Aregbesola enjoined Nigerians to continue to tow the path of peace and always promote positive values that would move the country forward.

The Governor said Nigerians need to wake up to their responsibilities and take their destinies in their hands.

According to him, the era of over-dependency on rent economy foisted on the nation by oil is gradually winding down and, as such, Nigerians should imbibe the culture of hard work and gainful productive activities.

Ogbeni Aregbesola urged all governments at the federal, states and local governments to put 50 million Nigerians to work and where each earn at least N25,000 from real productive value, N1.25 trillion will be generated in the economy every month, a development capable of catapulting the country into a superpower within two decades.

“I congratulate Nigerians and the people of Osun on this year’s independence anniversary and I call on us all to continue to work for the unity of this country.

“Our strength lies in our unity.  We should therefore avoid anything that will destroy our unity and corporate existence.

“I urge Nigerians to cultivate the habit of hard work and high productivity in order to create wealth, stimulate national prosperity and the growth of the economy.

“We had experienced the best in crude oil dependency as we are currently living the worst of it. It is obvious now that a mono-economy based on crude oil can no longer sustain us and take us to where we should be as a country. Therefore, diversification and improved productivity should be the driving force to revamp our economy.

“It has become imperative, therefore, for all governments – federal, states and local governments – to fashion out strategies for the active participation of at least 50 million Nigerians in monthly productive activities that will create a new value of N25,000 each. This action alone will guarantee the generation of N1.25 trillion every month.

“If this is realised, Nigeria will certainly be a super power within next two decades. As the hope of the Black race, this is the least we must do now.

“If we move in this direction, I am optimistic that this country will get over its challenges and continue to maintain its place in the comity of nations,” Aregbesola said.

He added that the sacrifices of the country’s founding fathers and all those who brought the country to its present position would not be forgotten.

He concluded that in spite of the problems the country had gone through, there is still a silver lining in the sky, urging that all hands must be on deck in order to take the country to its destined position of greatness.

Osinbajo, Saraki Express Hope For A Better Nigeria

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the President of the Senate, Mr. Bukola Saraki, on Saturday expressed the belief that Nigeria will soon emerge from its current challenges to become a better nation.

They spoke in separate interviews with State House correspondents at the end of the Presidential Change of Guards Parade organised to mark Nigeria’s 56th independence anniversary inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Osinbajo said he was convinced that Nigeria would soon begin to witness growth in all facets of life.

“I think it is a time for a lot of hope and expectation. I think that in the next few years, we will demonstrate the real capacity of our country in every facet of our life. We will prevail,” he said.

Saraki urged Nigerians to cooperate with their leaders with a view to moving the country forward.

He said although things are tough, the nation has the wherewithal to weather the storm.

He said the National Assembly had already come up with a 20-point resolution for the executive that will assist the country come out of recession.

Saraki said, “Well, things are tough. I have said it many a time that we must face reality. I don’t thing it is unsurmountable. I believe that we can do it.

“Like I said earlier, we have stayed united; we have stayed focused, determined and hardworking. It is not something that we cannot achieve. The potentials are there. We will weather it.

“Already, as you have seen, we have sat down to address the important issue which is the economy. We have come out with about 20-point resolutions to the executive that we think they should do. We also have about four for ourselves. And we have started doing it already.

“The last session, we started addressing some of these issues that we are sure will make us come out of this recession in a short while. We will start preparing for 2017 Budget to ensure that there will be releases of funds that would be spent to do that.

“On the issue of the Niger Delta, we will also be favourably disposed to looking at the budget of amnesty programme in 2017 to send the right signal. This is what we are looking at.

“We understand the challenges and we will play our own role to ensure we get out of it.”

A former Chief of General Staff, Ebitu Ukiwe, advised Nigerians to follow the path of righteousness so that the future could be rosy for the country.

“There are many ways of sharing or understanding what the future could be. If we follow the path of righteousness and correct all the nagging problems, the future will be rosy.

“But if we continue allowing all the problems all over the place, disrupting the society with the worst of crimes and so on, the future will be bleak.

“But I chooe to believe that we can make the future much better that what it is now,” he said.

Another ex-CGS, Oladipo Diya, urged Nigerians to remain united.

“Nigeria is moving ahead. As we go ahead, we encounter all problems. We fix the problems, we pray to God that the strength of Nigeria should be sustained. We should remain united and happy,” he said.

Independence Celebrations: Time To Rework Our Political And Economic Foundations – Tinubu

National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has described the 56th independence anniversary of the nation as an opportunity to reflect on ways to rework and strengthen the nation’s political, social and economic foundations.

In a statement issued by his media office in Lagos yesterday, Tinubu urged Nigerians to support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, describing the current economic situation in the country as a necessary rite of passage for any nation desirous of greatness.

He said although the nation is not yet where it ought to be at this point in her life, it has witnessed appreciable progress in her 56 years of independence.

The statement reads in part: “Nigeria’s political, social and economic foundations need to be reworked and strengthened.

“Our institutions are not functional enough to deliver on the goals for which they were set up.

“This independence anniversary therefore offers us another opportunity at reflections.

“But beyond that, it demands from us all the sacrifice needed for nation-building and re-commitment to the vision of our nationalists who saw the greatness in this country and worked to advance it.

“The times are tough, no doubt. The reasons are not far-fetched.

“However, the journey to recovery has begun in earnest and I enjoin you all to support the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in this journey.

“I ask you all to embark and stay on this journey with us so that we can build up our institutions and our country and indeed our lives again.

“I congratulate all Nigerians and welcome you all to a new and great possibility.”

Recession Will Not Last, Buhari Assures Nigerians In Independence Day Speech

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration is trying to do the right things in addressing the economic recession.

The president made the statement in a nationwide broadcast to mark the country’s 56th Independence Anniversary on Saturday.

Buhari, who acknowledged that recession for many individuals and families was real, gave an assurance that the situation would not last long,

He commended all Nigerians for making “incredible sacrifices.’’

“I know that uppermost in your minds today is the economic crisis. The recession for many individuals and families is real.

“For some, it means not being able to pay school fees, for others it’s not being able to afford the high cost of food (rice and millet) or the high cost of local or international travel, and for many of our young people the recession means joblessness, sometimes after graduating from university or polytechnic.

“I know how difficult things are and how rough business is.

“All my adult life I have always earned a salary and I know what it is like when your salary simply is not enough.

“In every part of our nation people are making incredible sacrifices,’’ the president said.

He reassured Nigerians that he would continue to ensure honesty and transparency in governance and stop the stealing of Nigeria’s resources.

The president said the steps would ensure provision of qualitative healthcare, security, education, infrastructure for commerce and additional jobs for the youth.

“I ran for office because I know that good government is the only way to ensure prosperity and abundance for all. I remain resolutely committed to this objective.

“I believe that this recession will not last.

“Temporary problems should not blind or divert us from the corrective course this government has charted for our nation.

“We have identified the country’s salient problems and we are working hard at lasting solutions,” Buhari said. (NAN)