LALONG: One Week On The Saddle
IN just a few days as Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong is gradually proving that it may not be business as usual in the state. Already, he has made crucial and far-reaching appointments and policy pronouncements, which would determine the thrust of his administration.
For a start, while addressing the media, the governor berated the decision of his predecessor, Jonah Jang, for hurriedly creating new districts and chiefdoms in the last minute of his administration. Lalong said he was going to set aside this decision in due course.
He also said that he was not going to move into the new Government House at Little Rayfield, which the last administration claimed to have spent N15 billion to build, until a proper review of the contract is done to actually determine its genuineness.
According to Lalong, “We are going to set up a committee to review the contracts. We will look at those ones that are of priority, which we are going to continue.
We cannot say we will just abandon them, because governance is continuous. Remember, we have inherited a huge debt.”
He equally made a statement about insecurity in the state. His words: “You know one of the reasons for insecurity is injustice. We have already told our people that this government will ensure there is justice and equity. When there is justice, at least, part of the solutions would have been found.
“Apart from that, one of the first requests I made to President Muhammadu Buhari, which he acknowledged is to assist us in addressing the insecurity. And you know the President’s priority is also to curb insecurity in the country.
I will pursue this to the logical conclusion. If we want investors to come to Plateau, we must guarantee that the place is secured.” Still on the new Government House, Lalong stressed, “we are coming to serve the people.
So, when you are serving, you must be able to make sacrifices, not engage in luxury of a new Government House. So, it is not a priority to me.
We will stay anywhere, review the contract and see whatever is in that place, so as to make recommendations. The recommendations will determine whether we will still occupy that Government House or not.
I want to assure you that it will not be a waste, even if we don’t occupy it. We will put it to use for other things. “The facility is the property of Plateau State and its people.
The house is not completed. It has not even reached 60 per cent completion stage. So, how do I start rushing and thinking of going into a house that is yet to be completed? Again, the amount used in building the house is very ridiculous.
So, we have put it as a matter of consideration. I cannot go into that house until those issues are settled by Plateau people.”
The governor said, “the mission to rescue Plateau is not only in the hands of APC leadership or the governor and his deputy, but in the active participation of the average Plateau man, in the civil service, in our homes, in the school, in the work place and in our private relationship.”
He said that his administration is determined to build a new socio-economic and political template that will create jobs, alleviate poverty and reduce or remove the potential of violent conflict and other forms of instability.
“Consequently, the policy thrust of our administration in the next four years will be anchored on peace, security and good governance, human capital development and social welfare, agriculture and rural development, entrepreneurship and industrialisation; and physical infrastructure and environment.”
He took a swipe at Jang’s policy on education, which he said has suffered serious neglect these past eight years, assuring that his administration, as a matter of urgency, will find lasting solution to the myriad of problems bedevilling the sector, as well as taking a critical appraisal of the status of all tertiary institutions, especially, the Plateau State University, Bokkos, with a view to repositioning them.
Lalong announced some appointments such as, that of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief of Staff, Government House, Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Deputy Governor, Director – General of Research, the Accountant – General, Principal Private Secretary to the Governor and the Director of Press and Public Affairs.
Mr. Daniel Ibrahim Dul, who contested the Langtang North council chairmanship on platform of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP), and won, but was denied, now has a reprieve, as Lalong swore him in. He also swore in other principal officers.
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