The honourable minister of sports, Barr Solomon Dalung has taken to his weekly “Sunday Corner” column to further accuse the Plateau State Governor, Barr. Simon Lalong of sidelining himself, Mrs Pauline Tallen, Traditional rulers and other top dignitaries during President Buhari’s visit to Plateau on 8th and 9th March 2018.
With the opening line “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”, Dalung averred that Governor Lalong and the Plateau state government refused to tell him, nor involve him in any of the activities leading up to the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Jos – and such, he like many leaders were bit-part players and mere observers during the entire 2 days working visit.
He said, having not been invited, I confronted the Governor but he mildly dismissed knowledge of the lack of invitation, and after two days, sent me a letter inviting me to the airport reception and the town-hall meeting only”.
Dalung then went further to make many weighty allegations:
- That the president was misled into believing that all the road networks slated for commissioning in the metropolis were constructed by Governor Lalong. Saying it is morally wrong for Governor Lalong to tactically hide the fact that most of the projects were Governor Jang’s legacy/visionary projects.
2. That the only two projects Governor Lalong has executed in his 3 years of being in office, are (a) the road leading to his house (i.e, the State Lowcost – Dong Road) and (b) the 40 tractors (not 400) which were commissioned by the president. Dismissing salary payments, he said “I don’t consider payments of salaries as achievement” so I will not count that.
3. That Governor Lalong has consistently accused the previous administration of Jonah Jang of leaving a debt burden of N240 billion, but that he himself has failed to account for the many loans he collected, including bail-out funds and the Paris debt club funds.
4. He queried why Governor Lalong was silent about the 2 billion dollars loan (equivalent of N720 billion) he collected on behalf of the state government from the African Development Bank for the building of a potato processing factory –which he said is yet to be seen.
5. That the Federal Executive Council in November 2017 had approved a massive loan for Plateau state (payable in 25 years)
6. That Governor Lalong obtained a loan of N2 billion for the completion of the Zaria Road Stadium, but that the project remains in Limbo.
7. That given the massive loans (N720 billion and others) collected by Governor Lalong, the debt profile of Plateau currently stands at approximately N1 trillion Naira – i.e., N1000 billion. (ViewPointNigeria: if this allegation is true, then it means there has been a 400% increase in Plateau’s debt profile in 3 years)
8. That he disagrees with the renaming of the famous Yakubu Gowon road, because General Gowon is President Buhari’s senior (both in age and service) and as such the move is ill-thought and embarrassing. Particularly given the fact that General Gowon has held the privilege of having the road name after him for 40 years. Speaking further, he said “it is the worst thing that can happen to an elder stateman like General Gowon. When his own abandon him in this manner it is tragic. This is a political decision of Governor Lalong, desperately taken to secure his 2019 ambition –it is not the will of the people. As a people, we condemned this act with all sense of love for General Yakubu Gowon as a father, while advising Governor Lalong to withdraw this unpatriotic decision and publicly apologize to General Yakubu Gowon and President Buhari for embarrassing them both”.
9. That all billboards erected by himself at strategic places at the Airport and in Jos metropolis ahead of President Buhari’s visit were taken down on the instruction of Governor Lalong.
10. That all people wearing T-shirts with his portrait during the visit were systematically isolated and prevented from assessing areas of activity throughout the period of the visit.
11. That all traditional rulers were banished to Jishe Government lodge –and were only allowed representation through the Gbong Gwong Jos.
12. That unlike the falsehood churned out that many projects were only 30% complete at the inception of the APC administration, that two key projects were 70% complete
13. That during the “Peace Road Map” launch, only selected individuals who were hitherto coached and rehearsed to sing praises to the Governor were selected and allowed to speak.
14. That members of the state traditional council were not recognised, even though they were there present.
15. That former Deputy Senate President, Alh Ibrahim Mantu, Former Military Governor of Plateau, S.B Atukum and former Deputy Governor, Dame Pauline Tallen were on the high table but they were never recognized or allowed to say a word at the town hall meeting.
16. That only one speaker (i.e., the representative of JNI) was forthright in speaking his mind, when he raised the issue that the Muslim community has consistently been denied licence to establish an Islamic tertiary institution.
17. That his (Dalung’s) request during the town-hall meeting to make comments were turned down by Governor Lalong and Joe Ari (who anchored the programme).
In conclusion, Dalung said “If the visit of the president was intended to secure 2019 for Lalong, it has exposed his ambition to great risk and multiplied his opponents”.
“While re-election is the primary concern of Governor Lalong, fighting, killing, maiming of innocent people continues unabated. As to how this unfolds, no doubt Plateau is under siege by an army of praise singers and sycophants whose only interest is the pockets. And history is on the verge of repeating itself again”.
See Barr. Solomon Dalung’s post at: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Dalung
The points/grouses raised by Barrister Solomon Dalung with regards the running order of the events e.g., not recognising everyone (traditional rulers and top dignitaries) etc, we believe may be an oversight on the part of Government, because during important functions such as that. There are bound to be breaches of protocol and oversights because not everyone can be allowed to speak in view of time constraints etc. However, being the ranking minister of the state – Dalung should have been involved in the planning of the visit and allowed to chip in a word or two at the townhall meeting. His frustrations are therefore very valid, however, the complexity of planning such a massive function will mean there is bound to be collateral damage etc. But he definitely is owed an explanation in that regard.
That said, other allegations around the amount of loans received, in the context of projects executed remain very weighty and will need clarification, given how broke Plateau already is.
For instance, the allegations of Plateau state now in debt to the tune of N1 trillion (1000 billion) is alarming and shocking. This will need to be looked into very seriously – because if that is the case, then a lot of questions will need answers.
Other allegations of President Buhari not being told about the true position of the projects he was commissioning, the rife insecurity that remains etc remain very valid.
To get a balanced view, ViewPointNigeria is already reaching out to the commissioner of information to get a response.
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