The Commonwealth has never lost its relevance
Speech By His Excellency, Alhaji (Dr.) Abdullahi Adamu, (Sarkin Yakin Keffi) Executive Governor Of Nasarawa State On The Occasion of Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s Visit to Karu, Nasarawa State Thursday, December 04, 2003
Your Royal Majesty,
Distinguished Ladies and gentlemen.
As a ten year-old primary school pupil in 1956, I was among hundreds of young boys and girls drawn from the twelve provinces in the then Northern Region to welcome Your Royal Majesty to Kaduna on your first official visit to Nigeria. I have treasured that sweet memory for 47 years. It was a lucky day for me as it certainly was for other boys and girls who participated in the welcoming ceremony by the government of Northern Nigeria headed by that incomparable nationalist, the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto. We waved the Union Jack to Your Majesty from a distance.
Today, we are privileged to welcome Your Royal Majesty to the headquarters of Karu Local Government area of Nasarawa State. I was lucky to see Your Majesty from a distance in 1956. I am honoured to receive Your Majesty in 2003. Few men can be this lucky. And fewer men would wish for a more treasured day than this. This is a great day for the government and people of our beloved state.
On behalf of my dear people of Nasarawa State, we welcome Your Royal Majesty and Your Majesty’s entourage of distinguished ladies and gentlemen to this brief ceremony. Although this is a brief visit, it will live in our fond memory for the rest of our lives.
We express our sincere gratitude to President Olusegun Obasanjo, your host on the occasion of Your Majesty’s current visit to our country. Our president has a well-deserved reputation as a warm and wonderful host.
Permit us to commend Your Majesty’s committed leadership of the Commonwealth. It is remarkable that the Commonwealth has never lost its relevance in contemporary world affairs. It has become stronger and continues to be a sane but loud voice in a turbulent world. We salute Your Royal Majesty.
Nigeria is a changed country in many respects since your first visit in 1956. When Your Majesty’s government granted our country independence on October 1, 1960, it was a federation of three regions. It is now a federation of 36 states.
Nasarawa is one of the 36 states in the federation. It was created in 1996. The state has a population of about 3.2 million people. Our state is a rural state with three remarkable features. Firstly, it is a commonwealth of ethnic nationalities. Almost all the 250 tribes of Nigeria have a home here. No other state in the country can boast of this rainbow coalition of ethnic nationalities. Secondly, our state is rich in solid mineral resources. Thirdly, Nasarawa is the true food basket of the nation.
Your Majesty has seen some evidence of this in the course of this ceremony. You have had a brief taste of life in a typical rural Nigerian setting. Most of us in this country have our roots in the rural areas where more than seventy per cent of our estimated 120 million people still live.
We feel honoured that Karu was chosen for the formal launching of Voices, a radio programming designed to explore issues of governance and human rights and responsibilities as they relate to how our people live in a democracy. It is a joint project of the United Kingdom’s Department for Foreign and International Development, the BBC World Service Trust and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. We welcome this initiative as a major contribution to the sensitisation of the citizenry to their rights and responsibilities in a democracy.
Your Royal Majesty, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for your very kind attention. It is now my honour and privilege to invite Your Majesty to unveil the plaque commemorating your historic visit to Nasarawa State.