(1) With the bad press that Plateau state has endured in the recent past, what measures have you taken as the Director of Press affairs to counter the negative propaganda and perceptions.

Issues that pertain Plateau state usually run deep in people’s minds and this makes them tobecome sentimental and sometimes take sides during debates or political discourses. This is so because Plateau state has earned its place in the comity of nations as a centre of attraction for a variety of reason.

For instance, its immense natural resources, tourism endowments, clement weather and the friendly disposition of its citizens are huge attractions to people nationally and internationally which has made it a melting pot for many nationalities.

In addition, the strategic location of Plateau in the central part of the country naturally puts it under focus. Plateau has also given this nation not only the longest serving Head of State, but equally one the most respected in the person of Gen Yakubu Gowon couple with other roles it has played in the political development of Nigeria. Worthy of note about Plateau is that many distinguished sports and entertainment personalities have their professional roots in Plateau state.

With the above mentioned facts, you can understand the interest that people have in Plateau state -she really is worth dying for.  Additionally, at present the state of insecurity is not only about Plateau but the entire nation. In view of this, we have tried to tell our own side of the story both nationally and internationally without indulging in propaganda, mis-information or deceit. We have adopted a multi-media approach to disseminating the requisite information, telling the world about our shared heritage and common destiny whilst also highlighting the beauty of Plateau and the congeniality of its people. It’s worth noting that Plateau state government had long cried out early in the day about the insecurity threatening  it, and it is now unfortunate to see that the situation has enscalated to engulf the entire nation!

(1) With the bad press that Plateau state has endured in the recent past, what measures have you taken as the Director of Press affairs to counter the negative propaganda and perceptions.

Issues that pertain Plateau state usually run deep in people’s minds and this makes them to become sentimental and sometimes take sides during debates or political discourses. This is so because Plateau state has earned its place in the comity of nations as a centre of attraction for a variety of reason. 

For instance, its immense natural resources, tourism endowments, clement weather and the friendly disposition of its citizens are huge attractions to people nationally and internationally which has made it a melting pot for many nationalities.

In addition, the strategic location of Plateau in the central part of the country naturally puts it under focus. Plateau has also given this nation not only the longest serving Head of State, but equally one the most respected in the person of Gen Yakubu Gowon couple with other roles it has played in the political development of Nigeria. Worthy of note about Plateau is that many distinguished sports and entertainment personalities have their professional roots in Plateau state.

With the above mentioned facts, you can understand the interest that people have in Plateau state -she really is worth dying for.  Additionally, at present the state of insecurity is not only about Plateau but the entire nation. In view of this, we have tried to tell our own side of the story both nationally and internationally without indulging in propaganda, mis-information or deceit. We have adopted a multi-media approach to disseminating the requisite information, telling the world about our shared heritage and common destiny whilst also highlighting the beauty of Plateau and the congeniality of its people. It’s worth noting that Plateau state government had long cried out early in the day about the insecurity threatening  it, and it is now unfortunate to see that the situation has enscalated to engulf the entire nation!

 

(2) In a few words, could you highlight the key achievements of the present administration?

This administration has scored gains in a variety of areas, these are quite apparent and evident to people in Jos and environs. I shall attempt to highlight some of these key achievements.

The Jangadministration has launched a successful ethical and social re- orientation campaign aimed at changing the psyche of Plateau youth. Top of this campaign has been the war against alcoholism and other social vices which have been the bane of plateau youth. This campaign has also been brought into the business of government which has resuscitated responsible work ethics among the workforce.  These gains have made people believe in government and to view government as a working entity as opposed to just a business-as-usual institution which is plagued by empty promises, corruption and inefficiencies. What many people thought was impossible has been made possible through the concerted and strategic development strides of this administration. 

 These achievements are best appreciated within the context of the 10 point agenda as outlined below:

The present administration has tried to tap into the vast agricultural potential of Plateau state by investing over  10 billion Naira into the establishment of Agricultural Services Training Centers (ASTCs). This is in conjunction with Israeli agricultural experts.  Specifically, theses “One stop” agricultural Centres have been set up in each of  the three senatorial zones of the state, with a view of assisting farmers with expert advice in respect of soil testing, fertiliser quantification/application, provision of mechanised farming facilities, there are over 300  tractors and other farm implements such as  combined harvesters etc. 

 The plan is to have the company (ASTC) registered as a limited liability company in the near future in order for it to be self-sustaining and not dependent on government for funding. The farmers who would benefit from the programme are encouraged to organise themselves into cooperatives, through which they are able to access these services -specifically refrigeration (cold room) and marketing platforms.

Additionally, over 400km of roads and bridges have been constructed in various parts of the state and work remains on going on several more within Jos and Bukuru metropolis –with at least 6km of roads constructed in each of the 17 local government area headquarters of the state. Additionally, the first flyover in Plateau state has been constructed and commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan during a two day working visit to Plateau some time back whilst the second one situated at secretariat junction, Jos is currently under construction.  Furthermore, the road from Airport Junction in Jos city to Yelwa club junction in Bukuru stretching to Bukuru – Jos Express way is currently being dualised among many other road works across the state. Government believes these roads should alleviate traffic congestion currently confronting Jos city when completed. The J D Gomwalk state Government secretariat which has never been renovated since its inception is now wearing a new look with work on the first phase over 90 percent complete.

Regarding Peace & Security, even though this remains a work in progress and of top priority, notable strides have been achieved in keeping and maintaining peace within the state. We should however not lose sight that the security situation in Plateau state predates the Jang Administration and therefore all those pointing fingers of accusation are not being fair to the administration.  The Jang administration constituted the state inter-religious council which is co- chaired by the state chairman, Jamatul Nasril Islam(JNI) and his Christian counterpart of the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN). Several stakeholder meetings have been convened by the government all in a bid to proselytise the message of peace and tolerance. The Plateau state government is also currently working with several NGOs and peace advocacy groups, to send out messages of forgiveness and peace as well as promotion of harmonious coexistence. In addition, several patrol vehicles equipped with state-of-the-art gadgets have been procured and distributed to security agencies to assist with their work. All these are in addition to the role being played by the Federal Governments Special Task Force in the state, the result of which Plateau is enjoying peace and on its path to regaining its place as “home of peace and tourism”  

The previously abandoned Zaria road stadium in jos is currently under construction and should be finalised next year. The about 45 thousand capacity stadium is being built to international standards with covered roof, comprising state-of-the-art facilities for gymnasiums, tennis courts, swimming pools etc. People should not forget that this project was abandoned for over 20 years and only this administration had the initiative and foresight to resurrect it in line with its vision for youth development and regaining plateaus place as a major breeding ground for sportsmen. 

Through the transportation sector, the government has sought to empower the youth through the procurement and distribution of approximately 400 taxis, in a bid to curtail poverty and improve the transport situation within the state. Additionally, up to 400 tricycles were also procured and distributed to qualified youth in the state, who have since commenced various transportation businesses.

In the Education sector, a massive provision of instructional materials, training of teachers and renovation activity has been undertaken for a variety of classrooms in various areas of the state. In the first phase, government undertook the renovation of 10 primary schools in each of the 17 local government councils of the state. The second phase has since commenced. In respect of secondary schools, 5 were renovated in each of the 3 senatorial districts of the state. And for tertiary institutions, the Government released N2 billion for further development of systems within the Plateau state university, Bokkos. Top attention is being given technical education towards developing the middle skilled manpower. For this, the Bukuru Technical College is being up graded and equipped to meet current trends in the field. 

There has also been a total overhaul of the water system within Jos and Bukuru metropolis –this exercise had not been undertaken for the past 30 years, so it is quite a significant milestone. The cost for the project was approximately N2.2 billion and the next phase would be the upgrade of pipes and systems within the metropolis. This is because after the overhaul was undertaken, it was then found that the job was done so excellently, that the pressure attained became too high for the old pipes and system to handle, leading to bursting and leaking of water from these structures. A complete “reticulation” of the pipes therefore had to be undertaken, during which the rusted pipes and systems would be replaced to withstand such high hydrostatic pressure.

Regarding health, there is an on-going upgrade of hospitals within the state –one in each senatorial zone to referral status. On the other hand, at least one hospital in each local government area will be upgraded to a 60 bed hospital. 

Government has re-launched the hitherto comatose sanitation programme, with a view of attaining a minimum level of cleanliness in the state. In addition, waste vehicles, bins and facilities have been installed to assist with waste management within the municipal, whilst up to 10,000 women (mainly widows) have been engaged to sweep roads in the metropolis. The employment of these widows helps to augment the income of their families and gives them a lifeline. A beautification has also been undertaken and is being sustained. 

The National Youth Service scheme has also gotten the attention of the Jang administration more so that Plateau state is the home of the founding father of the NYSC programme.  Government thought it was expedient to build a befitting legacy for the programme as the state does not have a standing orientation camp since the NYSC was introduced.  Hence, the permanent orientation camp in Mangu Local government area is being constructed and by the end of this year this project is expected to be completed.

 I hope I have tried to keep to the few words you noted in your question?

In closing, it must be said that Governor Jang as a person is a very modest and humble individual, with all the achievements and milestones (as explained above, but he maintains a low profile –only seeking for people to judge his achievements for themselves and only driven by the desire to serve the people while giving God the glory. For Governor Jang, “Foundation laying” or “Commissioning” ceremonies have no place in his style of governance.  

 

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Exclusive Interview with Mr James Mannok, Director of press, Plateau State Government House

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