PLATEAU: Debts Controversy And Unpaid Bills
IN the coming days, the Governor Simon Lalong-led administration of Plateau State will be saddled with issues of the state debt profile, as well as, the unpaid workers’ salaries, which led to the two–month old strike called by the state branch of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
Apart from the debt profile, which former governor Jonah Jang put at N18 billion, while Lalong insists it is N104 billion, allegation of an empty treasury is also rife. Lalong made allegation while addressing judicial workers led by Chief Judge of the state, Mr. Justice Pius Damulak, during a visit to the governor.
He pointed out that he found no kobo in the state treasury, while stressing that his predecessor owed the workers seven months salaries. Justice Damulak had complained that the state judiciary was starved of funds under the past administration while urging Lalong to regard the judiciary as a key sector in the state machinery which should not be toyed with.
The revelation of N104 billion debt came as a shock to the people of the state because last month they were told by the former commissioner for Information and Communication Alhaji Mohamed Abubakar Badu that the state was owing only N18 billion.
However, the Special Assistant/Media aide to former governor Jang, Mr. Clinton Garuba, had spiritedly defended his master, saying that while it is true that in the handover notes given to the new administration, the debt profile as made available to newsmen, “it must be pointed out that the Jang administration did not borrow N104 billion as is being insinuated in some quarters.”
According to the statement by Garuba, “The immediate past government only borrowed an external debt of about N18 billion with evidence of several developmental projects to show for it.
The balance of the said N104 billion spreads across contractual agreements for ongoing projects and those approved but not yet mobilised, outstanding of six months salaries of civil servants.
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