100 Days State-Wide Broadcast: Text of a speech by Governor of Plateau State, Barrister Simon Bako Lalong, to Plateau people on the occasion of his 100 days in office, Sunday, September 6.
My dear citizens of Plateau State, today marks 100 days since my assumption of office as Governor of Plateau State on the 29th of May, 2015. The traditional expectation from Government is an unprecedented show of support as demonstrated by the desire for change. I know that our people also expect a quick return to a Plateau where the virtues of true leadership are upheld in the fear of God, a deep sense of commonality in our ethnic diversity, mutual respect, tolerance, peace, hospitality, humility and diligence. Our patriotic desire to serve is therefore anchored on the pursuit of truth and the enthronement of a governance process that shows commitment to social justice, economic progress and respect for the rule of law.
In the consciousness with which I assumed leadership of our dear state, we made promises and gave assurances of what would be done in a term of four years. This is with expectations and from the imagination of the challenges that realistically stared us in the face. We are indeed not willing to relent but sustain the hope of our people in a government that feels their pain and are religiously committed to alleviating their sufferings through the appropriate use of our common wealth.
The enormity of the challenges that we are confronted with have left us with only the immediate option of making quick fixes that will address human basic needs of the citizenry and guarantee the sustenance of a peaceful environment for good governance. In this regard, we remained focused and resolute on addressing the lingering labor unrest through the confidence building dialogue with labour Unions on all the issues in contention. These include the payment of salaries, pension arrears and the immediate response in addressing injustices meted on certain categories of public office holders through the deliberate abuse of the rule of law and public service procedure.
Our attention was focused also on the issue of finding a long lasting solution to the violent conflicts in Riyom, Barkin Ladi and parts of Jos South Local Governments Areas, which have continued unabated and have left the state with painful memories of horror and a large number of internally displaced persons. Our approach to resolving this challenge is hinged on rekindling first, confidence in government’s sincerity to solving the problems and then the willingness of the communities for an end to the crisis. Our efforts in facilitating dialogue through the many consultations are yielding result beyond imagination. Thus, whilst through the efforts of the Special Task Force, the issues of outright criminality and terrorism are checked, the communities themselves through the Peace and Reconciliation Committee set up by government will actively participate in evolving practical solutions to resolving the conflicts.
Our 100 days in office should be seen in the light of the practical steps that have been put in place to address the following myriad of problems that have been inherited
- A workforce whose salaries have not been paid and social welfare needs addressed.
- An educational sector that is totally grounded from the primary to the tertiary level with all the lingering challenge of unstructured governance in that sector.
- Awards of road and other infrastructure contracts without funds to complete them.
- Very Low Morale of Civil Service setting where the bureaucratic parameters and career development potentials have been abused.
- Security challenges that have threatened lives and the means of livelihood in the Northern Senatorial District.
- Virtually empty State treasury and a deplorable condition of limited potential for revenue earning.
- A dwindling inflow from Federation Account.
- A society that is disillusioned, people watching those who have primitively amassed wealth through the privatization of governance and the common wealth of the citizenry move freely in society.
In addressing these challenges, the Transition Committee came into place to identify the level of decay and the state of affairs of the state. Having gone through the report submitted, we shall, as a government, be engaging and implementing the recommendations through a four pronged approach;
- Through the instrumentality of law, we would immediately pursue the recovery of funds and all government properties annexed or carted away. These include fraudulently monies siphoned through the instrumentality of State Agencies for which works have not been done or have not reached the level of payments.
- The restructuring of Governance with the merger of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as the implementation of a civil service reform that addresses the injustices in promotions, appointments and postings.
- The prioritization of projects and completion of on-going projects with emphasis on completing those that address the five policy thrust of this administration, namely,
-Peace, Security and Good Governance;
-Human Capital Development and Social Welfare;
-Agriculture and Rural Development;
-Entrepreneurship and Industrialization and
-Physical Infrastructure and Environment
- The setting up of Technical and Professional Audit Committees to sustain the tracking and recovery process of funds and the application of funds to certain projects, programs and institutions.
In all these, the desire of government is not to witch hunt but to ensure that through probity, accountability and transparency, value for money is obtained in all on-going projects.
In our modest way, having acknowledged the enormity of the challenges on ground and being resolute on solving them, this administration has been able to do the following;
- Pay Workers Salary Arrears for five months as well as three months pension arrears. Government will endeavour to clear the outstanding as the bail-out is received.
- Resumed Road Construction on 18 on-going metropolitan roads
- Almost completed the Federal Low cost Housing network of roads.
- Commenced construction work on the Rantya Road network.
- Purchased and distributed 650 trucks of fertilizer on assumption of office, through a community based distribution, which involves Ward and District Heads, which eliminates the sharp practices associated with middle men.
- Resumed intensive work on the Secretariat fly – over bridge and the Yakubu Gowon dual carriage way.
- Almost completed the rehabilitation and patching of roads within the Greater Jos – Bukuru Metropolis.
- Remodelling and renovation of the West of Mines High Court building.
- Effected Payment of the Community Social Development Agency (CSDP) World Bank Assisted Projects counterpart funds for intervention in ten rural communities.
- Completed the House of Assembly Complex Legislative Chamber.
- Purchase of vehicles for the three arms of government, given the fact that virtually all government owned vehicles were either boarded or carted away.
- Paid back log scholarship for Law School and Tertiary Institutions Students.
- Reinstatement of the Vice-Chancellor of Plateau State University (PLASU), Bokkos, Prof. D. D. D. Sheni and the reconstitution of the Governing Council with Prof. Attahiru Jega as Pro Chancellor and Chairman.
- Facilitated funding of the minimum National Judicial Council (NJC) requirements for approval to have 6 new High Court Judges.
- Funded Plateau United Club Promotion Campaign to the Premiership of the Nigeria Football League.
- Funded Plateau State Contingents participation in the All African Games Trials in Abuja, the National Weightlifting Championship, as well as the Taekwando Championship in Lagos.
- Inaugurated the first Joint Community Peace and Reconciliation Committee after several security consultative meetings on the Berom-Fulani crisis.
- Undertook the first ever advocacy visit by a Plateau State Governor to Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and National University Commission (NUC) to advocate for interventions in Plateau State Tertiary Institutions and accreditation of programs in the University.
- Resumed work on the renovation of the Presidential Lodge.
- Held several stakeholders and ministerial consultations on a wide range of governance issues.
- Cleared up the mountains of refuse that littered the metropolis during the labor unrest.
Beyond the place of expenditure on physical public infrastructure and sundry interventions in critical arrears of education, health, environmental emergencies, government is committed to finding lasting solution to any threat to peace. This has resulted in restructuring of the operational Peace enforcement mandate of the Special Task Force to Operation Safe Heaven as it is now known. In this regards, Government will continue to pursue the outcome of several consultations on security with Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari.
My fellow citizens of Plateau, in the early days of this administration, strategic appointments were made in our efforts to effectively hit the ground running. So far with this team, modest achievements have made in the implementation and monitoring of government policies. I assure you that as we consolidate on setting in place a formidable governance team, more appointments will soon be made into the Executive, Boards and Parastatals.
May I further assure you that inspite of the several odds against us, I will ensure that bridges of reconciliation and peace are built so that we forge a new social and economic order anchored on the principle of social justice, rule of law and equal opportunity. We shall strive to be God fearing in the discharge of duties of governance and shall be just and fair to all.
I will not end this address without thanking you for your patience, God willing, we shall do all the needful to surmount our challenges as we stand together in unity with an abiding faith in the Almighty.
Long Live Plateau!
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!
Thank you and God bless