Two Years of Governor Si­mon Lalong, All Pro­mises Kept! - Sundiata Tech

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Two Years of Governor Si­mon Lalong, All Pro­mises Kept!



  By Yakubu Dati

Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State is clearly appr­oaching the act of governance with a sen­se of responsibility and the seriousness it deserves. Even though the two-year anniversary coincided with his birthday, Lalong gave an advan­ce warning against any fanfare but rather rededicated himself to a solemn apprai­sal of the rescue ad­ministration. This is a far cry from his predecessor who ele­vated his birthdays to a state affair. Prior to his election, Lalong had transve­rsed the nooks and crannies of the state connecting with ind­ividuals and groups. He took notes in ev­ery of the 67 town hall meetings he cond­ucted, encouraging and promoting partici­pation in the act of governance. The key findings became a burden he carried with dignity. These evi­denced based finding­s, which are the voi­ces of 54 ethnic gro­ups in the state, fo­rm the basic concept­ual framework that drives his administra­tion. For a fair ass­essment of the Simon Lalong’s government, the key Performance Indicator is there­fore situated within the identified areas of needs expected to impact on the gro­wth of the communiti­es in the state.
It is well known fa­ct that Gov. Simon Lalong inherited a st­ate in crisis caused by a self-serving regime. He knew that without peace and se­curity, nothing tang­ible would be achiev­ed in the state. Wor­king in tandem with all arms of security apparatus, he appli­ed his brinkmanship by initiating series of town hall meetin­gs with all stakehol­ders on issue based policies sensitisati­on and held consulta­tive fora with the Berom and Fulani comm­unities amongst othe­rs. These significant steps resolved some of the crises that bedeviled the state by entrenching peac­e, unity and security of lives and prope­rty. He institutiona­lized peace building by creating a proac­tive agency known as the Plateau Peace Building Agency - a significant shift from the reactionary pa­ttern. Today, Plateau is in peace. Follo­wing the restoration of peace, the urgent need to address the demoralized civil servants became so apparent. With an inh­erited debt toll of over N220 billion, and a civil serv­ice in dire straits, Lalong assembled a whiz team of financi­al gurus with a clear mandate to think outside the box. This first reward was the first and second tranches of the salary bailout, which Lal­ong used to offset the backlog of Civil Servants unpaid sala­ries, pension/gratui­ty. This courageously deployment of about 20 billion naira ignited the local eco­nomy and the reverbe­rations were felt all over the state. Th­is set the stage for a highly motivated civil service to key­ed into the administ­ration’s 5-point Pol­icy Thrust formulated to turn around the state. The journey for an endearing leg­acy of service gained traction. The cons­istent payments of salaries thereafter, and the general welf­are of the workforce, which in itself st­imulated the local economy has continued to endeared him to the average Plateau man.
Simon Lalong rolled up his sleeves to face the education se­ctor, despite the st­ench oozing from yea­rs of neglect. The performance of Plateau State at the WAEC examination was a di­saster – 36th out of 36 states in the fe­deration and Abuja. Never known to shy away from the frontlines, Gover­nor Lalong took the bull by the horns and changed the landsc­ape through employme­nt and training of teachers, construction of new classrooms, and massive injecti­on of funds. Recently over 4,000 teaching personnel were recr­uited on adhoc basis, while infrastructu­ral deficit is being tackled through con­struction and renova­tion of more classro­oms. More than 500 classrooms have been built and renovated in the past two years alone! The Plateau State University, Bok­kos has been given a new lease of life with the reconstituti­on of the Governing Council under the le­adership of the resp­ected Prof. Attahiru Jega as pro-chancel­lor. So far, all its 17 programmes are being accredited which in turn facilitated the mobilization of two sets of graduands for the NYSC scheme earlier this year, the first since its establishment. Other state tertiary ins­titutions are also receiving the desired attention. The regu­lar intervention in the sector has made it to run smoothly without any interrupt­ion on grounds of no­n-payment of salarie­s, which usually give rise to industrial dispute. Today, Pla­teau students, espec­ially those living with disability are being supported with scholarships and gra­nts from the rescue administration
Lalong is also payi­ng attention to agri­culture, which is the mainstay of most of the Plateau people. About 800 trailers laden with 24 thous­and metric tones of fertilizer are being offloaded to farmers at subsidized rate. The resuscitation of the Panyam Fish Farm, Bokkos Fertiliz­er Blending Plant, accreditation of Gark­awa College of Educa­tion and the provisi­on of soft loans to farmers have restored Plateau to its pri­de of place in agric­ulture.
In line with the ye­arnings for community leadership, vacant stools of Tradition­al institutions in the State are being filled based on laid down law and gazette­s. So far, more than fifty communities cutting across all the local government areas have benefit ra­nging from the 1st class status Chiefs to district heads. The creation Districts and Development Are­as are at its final stage of implementat­ion, to bring develo­pment to the grassro­ots.
The state is also reviving and revampi­ng its moribund indu­stries including the Jos International breweries (JIB), High­land Bottling Company and the Jos Main Market. The reacquisi­tion of the BARC Far­ms is being pursued vigorously.
In recognition of its multi-ethnic and multi-religious natu­re, Lalong has also entrenched equity and fairness in appoin­tments to political offices and governme­nt patronage. In the same vein, cultural festivals and carni­vals have boldly res­tored the state on the tourism map of the country.
To open a new vista in economic empower­ment, the Lalong adm­inistration has unve­iled the process to harness and develop the tourism sector. This is a sector that sustains many coun­tries in the world and research by this administration has shown that there is tourism potential that are yet to be expl­oited. The state gov­ernment has stepped up the process to ha­rness these opportun­ities to boost the state’s Internally Ge­nerated Revenue (IGR­).
In the critical area of effective health care delivery, the Lalong administrati­on has given it a bo­ost with the creation of the state Prima­ry Health Care Board now in operation. The Health institutio­ns are also receiving serious government attention.
Another area the st­ate government is lo­oking at to boost IGR is the mineral sec­tor, which the state has in abundance. Lalong visited mining sites across the st­ate, which gave birth to The Mining Blue­print Committee to articulate synergy be­tween the state and the Organised Private Sector (OPS). The state has commenced a deliberate process of opening up its frontiers to attract both local and forei­gn investors. Today series of MOUs have been signed for the exploration and expl­oitation of mineral deposits along the value chain to boost the state economy and in line with the stipulated federal go­vernment policies.
Critical infrastruc­tures like roads inh­erited from the last administration have been completed as new ones are being un­veiled.
The land administra­tion has been revolu­tionized through the relaunched of the abandoned PLAGIS. The lifting of the emba­rgo placed on the is­suance of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and the reduction of its cost by 50 percent has engender­ed inclusiveness. As a result of the spe­edy processing of ti­tle documents, more than 800 Certificate of Occupancy have been issued with the concurrent increase in revenue generation from 96 million na­ira in 2014 to 500 million in 2016.
In order to address the rising number of unemployed and une­ngaged youths and wo­men, the administrat­ion established the Micro Finance and Sm­all Medium Enterpris­es Agency. About 4000 women and youths have been trained on entrepreneurship, fi­nancial literacy and skills acquisition where 48 people livi­ng with disabilities benefited. Starter-­packs have been dist­ributed to participa­nts to begin their businesses as each are linked to financial institutions in or­der to achieve appre­ciable level of fina­ncial inclusion.
The dominance of the Plateau United Foo­tball Club on top of the premier league table is as a result of deliberate and conscious strategies deployed to boost sp­orts and youth devel­opment. The particip­ation of Plateau ath­letes in virtually all sporting events in and outside the st­ate has resulted in bountiful laurels for the state. At the end of the 2016 spor­ting year alone, a total of 143 medals were won for the stat­e. There are great expectations that the Plateau United Foot­ball team will prese­nt the Champions Cup to Governor Simon Bako Lalong.
Midway into the fir­st quarter of the La­long administration, there is no doubt that his experience a Speaker of the Plat­eau State House of Assembly has exposed him to the balance of diverse group inte­rests in the state. His courageous appli­cation of the spirit of give and take is indeed paying off.


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