Since the present administration under Governor Simon Lalong of the All Progressive Party, APC, took over from former Governor Jonah Jang of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the two parties in Plateau State have been engaged in war of attrition over stolen government vehicles, high debt profiles, unpaid workers’ salaries, writes GOLOK NANMWA
Recently, the committee put in place by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State to investigate the hoarding of government vehicles by the previous administration said that the former governor Jonah Jang and his wife, Talatu Jang, had illegally made away with 15 vehicles from the government house. The committee which was headed by former Secretary to the Plateau State Government, Ezekiel Gomos stated this while submitting its report to the state SSG Rufus Bature.
Rufus Bature said all efforts to recover the vehicles from Jang had failed and suggested that legal action be taken to retrieve the vehicles. Gomos said though the former governor and his wife were entitled to nine vehicles as approved by exco decision, government house records revealed that they had reclaimed 24 vehicles adding that the 15 extra contravenes a policy put in place by the former governor and had refused to return them when requested to do so.
The chairman said “an atmosphere was created to give the impression that government vehicles were automatic part of the entitlements of anyone working with the Governor, upon exit of office. This encouraging all manners of persons including personal aids and domestic helps go away with such vehicles. This was accentuated by the rash of approvals given by the former governor to such aides immediately it was clear that a new administration was coming into office.”
Gomos further explained that the committee found that vehicles boarded based on state council approval were 191 while vehicles boarded based on the former governor’s executive fiat was 32 and vehicles taken away illegally without approval or exco cover were 24.
He however said the committee had recovered 30 vehicles while 28 former officers had refused to return their vehicles on the grounds that they were approved from the former governor, a decision he says contravenes the state council decision. The committee recommended that all appropriate court actions be taken by the state government to recover the vehicles.
Rufus Bature thanked the committee and assured them that government
Intends to implement most if not all the recommendations.
Responding, the immediate past governor of Plateau State, Senator Jonah Jang denied the allegation stressing that it was false. He also expressed confidence that the election tribunal will help the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to reclaim its mandate stolen by All Progressive Congress, APC, through rigging of the last general elections.
Senator Jang made the remark in his Du residence Jos during a reception organised by his supporters to celebrate his victory at the election tribunal. Supporters of the former governor had organised a party in his compound awaiting his arrival from Abuja.
Senator Jang who was visibly elated with the reception said, “It is not yet time for us to celebrate because winning my Senate election case at the tribunal is not my major concern; it is winning the governorship case that is my concern” he said adding that, “APC never won the governorship election in Plateau state and PDP was not defeated in that election, the power that be just decided to declare APC as winner, APC never won anything.
“All the party candidates and their supporters were told by INEC to go home and sleep promising they will not declare the results that night. But when everybody were dispersed, the same INEC received directive from somewhere to declare the result by 2am. That was the injustice that was done to PDP in that election, but we are on our knee praying to God to correct the injustice. I won my election as a Senator, APC boasted they will remove me through the tribunal, but when the judgement came, God’s will was done, the tribunal dismissed their case for lacking merit.
“The God that delivered my own judgement will also intervene in the case of governorship, that is the victory I am waiting to celebrate, not this one. The APC government in the state has been doing everything to provoke us or intimidate us, but we remain strong and committed to our claim that PDP mandate was stolen, and God on our side, we shall reclaim it”, said Jang.
On the allegation that the former governor is hoarding 25 government vehicles, Senator Jang said, “This is part of the attempt to provoke me and intimidate me, but the truth is, I left with only one Jeep. I handed over everything to them, including all government vehicles, yet they say I stole their vehicles.
“In 2007 when I resume office as governor, I never inherited a single vehicle, but I never complain or attack my predecessor, I carried on. But in this case I did a formal handing over, there are some cars I handed over to him in Abuja and Lagos, they are not talking about that. But like I said, I refused to be intimidated by APC government, they are running a stolen mandate and God will help us reclaim our mandate from them soon” said the Senator.
Responding to the statement credited to the former governor Jang where he was quoted to have said that the APC in the state did not win the April 11 Governorship elections, APC in the state said that even if the April 11 gubernatorial election was to be repeated one million times, the APC would have defeated the ex-governor Jang and his PDP candidate, Gyang Pwajok without any qualms.
The APC, therefore, warned Jang and the PDP to abort their dreams and wake up to the reality that change has come to stay in Plateau State and Nigeria, and desist from making garrulous utterances that are not just sub-judicial, but also give them away as people that should at best be recommended for schizophrenia screening at the hospital.
The statement also reads that “The APC government, led by our Governor, Simon Lalong, is too busy trying to cleanse the Augean stable and exorcise the mess which the immediate past administration bequeathed, rather than being distracted by the shenanigans of party politics.
“It is noteworthy that, out of the eight months’ salary arrears which Jang had refused to pay, the Governor has within three months in office paid up to six months’ salary and pension arrears, as well as bursary arrears to indigent students in tertiary institutions, even before receiving any bailout funds”, the party noted.
The APC also reads that those who have frittered the people’s goodwill and turned themselves to the people’s enemies will face justice in the court as the EFCC and other anti-corruption agencies will soon swoop on them to make them account for the state’s looted funds.
On assumption of office, the state governor, Lalong had vowed that security and staff welfare shall not be joked with, and Consequent upon the approval of a
N5.375 billion naira bailout funds of the Federal Government for Plateau State for the payment of backlog of salaries in Plateau, the Governor of the State, Simon Lalong has approved the constitution of an Implementation Committee of the bailout funds under the Chairmanship of the Head of Civil Service, Huldah Fwangchi.
The governor is also working with the Members of Plateau State Public Service Joint Negotiating Council to update them on the State Government’s Debt Restructuring and issues surrounding the total amount of bailout available to the State, and what is left to clear up all outstanding salaries of civil servants, gratuities and Pensions as well as funds needed for infrastructural interventions which are being processed.
The statement also reads that the governor wishes to thank all civil servants serving and retired as well as the citizenry of the state for their patience, understanding and support. The governor further assured that he will not rest on his oars until all matters concerning salaries emoluments, on-going critical road projects as well as other matters of governance are fully addressed.
Our correspondent gathered at the time of sending this reports that, all is set for the payment of the salaries and arrears owned civil servants in the state.
Meanwhile, the Immediate Past Commissioner of Finance in Plateau state Davou Mang, has said that the immediate past Government of Jonah Jang created assets base worth N200 billion before the end of its tenure in May 2015.
According to Mang, “people should not forget that in government, there are assets and there are liabilities”. Mang while speaking with journalists in Jos said the immediate past regime in Plateau State succeeded in creating asset base for more than N200 billion in projects and interventions such as roads, agriculture, health and education etc. He wondered why people have not seen the asset base created by the Jang administration, but are busy hammering on liabilities alone.