One of the issues dominating public discourse in Plateau State at the moment is how to entrench public probity and accountability. In this wise, the state government thought it wise to check the account books of past government officials with a view to recovering funds and property stolen from public coffers. In doing so, the state government wants to introduce an all-inclusive governance by carrying all the 54 tribes in the state along.
Governor Simon Lalong stated this in Jos during a breakfast parley and interaction session with the state correspondent chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in commemoration of his 53th birthday celebration.
Recently, the state governor constituted a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to ascertain and establish all financial allocations, funds, grants or monetary interventions and revenues which accrued to the state or in the name of the state government, departments, agencies (MDAs), officials or agents from the federal government of Nigeria or any international institutions or donor agencies from 29th, May 2007 to 29th, May 2015.
This was first contained in a press statement signed by Emmanuel Nanle, his director of press affairs and made available to newsmen in Jos. The statement read that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry would be chaired by Justice Stephen Adah and Alhaji Sani Yahaya Mavo is to serve as secretary to the commission. The terms of reference include “to ascertain and establish all loans granted to or obtained by the Government of Plateau State of Nigeria through any of its Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), and the purpose for which such loans were obtained and whether the loans were used for such purpose.
“To ascertain whether any property belonging to the Government of Plateau State or any of its Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), Parastatals and Institutions which were sold or in any way concessioned to any person or institution by any Government Ministry, Department, Agency (MDAs), or officials within the period, followed due process or procedure and whether the proceeds of such sale or concession were paid into appropriate Government coffers.
“It also reads that it is also to ascertain whether any property or properties purchased or acquired for or in the name of the Government of Plateau State were purchased in line with due process and procedure.
“To ascertain all contracts awarded by the Government of Plateau State or any of its Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), Parastatals or Officials between 29th May 2007 and 29th May 2015, the process or procedure followed in the award of such contracts, the value of each contract (including any variations and whether such variations were necessary and done in good faith), the level of execution or completion of each of them and the amount paid to the contractor as at 29th May 2015.
“Also all the total amount paid by the Government of Plateau State as salaries and allowances of serving and retired State Civil Servants, Local Government Employees and Political Appointees from 29th May 2007 to 29th May 2015; And to further establish whether any person or employee of Government received multiple payments of salaries or pensions, and the role played by any person(s) toward such payments “, the terms refer.
The commission was given three months from the date of its inauguration to submit its report. Speaking at the inauguration of the members of the committee, Gov Lalong said the occasion goes further to show our commitment as a government to ensure probity, accountability and transparency in the act governance.
Corruption in all it’s ramification stagnates and infact retards development. Every leader worthy of the people’s mandate is therefore under the compulsion of duty and conscience to ensure public accountability. This is one of the modest attempts at fighting corruption in the state.
Like Thomas Paine observed, public trust ought to be held with the most scrupulous conscientiousness of honour. This is why today, through the public declaration of purpose, the commission is expected to look into the activities of the past administration, while on the other hand, it will also serve as a cautionary sign and clarion call to political office holders and civil servants as well, to know that at the end of the present term, they will be called upon to also give account of their stewardship.
Interestingly too, the same parameter which is used to assess others today, the present administration hopes the same will apply to them whenever they leave office. This is the conviction and consciousness with which this commission was inaugurated.
The state governor also assured the citizens of the state that members of this commission were carefully chosen: “Their credentials have proven them worthy, having been adjudged worthy in character, cognate experience and soundness of mind, to carry out this commission.”
However, in a swift reaction, ex-Governor Jang, in a statement signed by his aide, Clinton Garba said, “Following the constitution of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State to probe the affairs of government from 29th May, 2007 to 29th May, 2015, Senator Jonah Jang of Plateau North Senatorial District in the National Assembly joyfully welcomes the development in the interest of peace and stability”, it read.
The statement read that for the umpteenth time, the former governor and Senator finds it most apt to reiterate his stand on the issue in perspective, as it relates to his stewardship in Plateau State which has undoubtedly benefited the people. He added that he absolutely, without equivocation, has nothing to hide. He said he did his best for the state and will continue to shield her from all adversaries, foreign and domestic.
“As at the last count, the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is the sixth committee Lalong has constituted, mandated, empowered, and inaugurated to probe the tenure of the former Governor, and like the rest before it, nothing would be gained except the visible characteristics of all associated with power acquired by accident. From the Deputy Governor’s committee to the others who engaged in arithmetic abracadabra to bamboozle people with figures which existed only in the minds of their apologists and praise singers, so much money has been expended in what is now a wild goose chase.
“To all thoughts and intents, Senator Jonah Jang is ever ready to give an account of his time as Governor of Plateau State even though his good works, legacies, and good intention would surely outlive him, as long as the process is without bias and predetermined outcomes. We are studying the composition and terms of reference of the Judicial Commission as constituted by the
Governor, so we can take an informed decision which shall be our position on the matter”, he further said.
A member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who gave his name as Printim Belang said he believes that Jang would come out clean. According to him, “the projects embarked upon by the past administration is there for all to see.
While Nagelu Garba, an All Progressive Congress, APC, a chieftain in Plateau, hailed Governor Lalong for the inauguration of the panel of inquiry saying that the past administrations needs to account for it stewardship to the people.
Similarly, the Plateau State chapter of Inter-Party advisory council, IPAC, has said that the setting up of a commission of enquiry to probe the last administration was a good development. The state chairman of the council, Hon. George Ndu, gave the commendation in a press statement issued in Jos the state capital.
In his words, he said: “IPAC as an umbrella body of political parties in the state, observed with keen interest, the prudence manner in which Lalong administration is handling the lean resources of the state and its ability to cleared the backlog of civil servants salaries is high commendable.” Nankant Israel, another citizen of the state, called on members of the committee not to be biased but to do their duties diligently.

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