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Plateau State: How Transition Com

In its recent report submitted to Governor Simon Lalong in Rayfield House, Jos, the Transition Committee headed by Professor Sonni Gwanle Tyoden has indicated the former Governor Jonah David Jang left total debt of N222.3 billion by May, 2015, while expenditure were conducted like a bazaar.

The committee which was made up of 12 Central Committee Members and 188 other members which worked in 27 subcommittees, each handling a particular aspect of government operation, turned in what could be considered the most comprehensive reports on government activity by any government in the state so far. All the sub-committees completed their assignments and we are today on behalf of the members, submitting the comprehensive report for government’s attention and necessary action.

According to Professor Tyoden: “Because of the importance of some of the recommendations for the emplacement of good governance; the urgent need to address the issue of key appointments needed to steer the process of governance; and also the need to correct evident lapses in some actions and policies of government resulting in inequities and gross injustices, we urge that His Excellency should study our report carefully with a view to implementing the recommendations made herein.

“Your Excellency, from the findings of the transition committee, this state has been rendered prostate. “As a result, the task ahead is not going to be easy, thus the need for the government and the people of Plateau State to brace up for the challenges ahead. “As government prepares to take the hard decisions that will be required to correct the mistakes of the past and reposition government for the arduous task of rebuilding Plateau, the actions of government should be put in proper context.

“The government is not out on a vendetta to witch-hunt anybody, but it has a   duty to correct whatever mistakes might have been made, so that we can have a more prosperous and united future on a platform of equity, fairness and justice for all. “Your Excellency, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, from our findings, we wish to observe that while governance between 2007 and 2011 can be said to have been conducted along familiar lines, with some semblance of respect for known rules of procedure and civilized democratic governance, after 2011, there was a sharp decline and the descent of governance to the level of bestiality, where impunity, nepotism, sectionalism became the order of the day, with dire consequences for good governance, the unity of state and the collective welfare of the vast majority of the people of Plateau State.

“For a poor state like Plateau, the management of government funds and finances left much to be desired. “The committee encountered many instances of wanton irregular and doubtful expenditure, misapplication of funds and disregard for laid down known financial rules and regulations. “Day-to-day administration witnessed   the grotesque monopolization of power by a clique and the personalization of authority and the instruments of government.

“For instance, there was an individual who was a jack-of-all-trades, who appropriated three titles to himself, each conveying separate and identifiable functions. “He was a “Statistician-General”, a “Salary Administrator” and a “General Manager” all at the same time. “With such arrogance of power Your Excellency, you can imagine the damage that was visited on the process of governance. “Moreso, when laid down rules and regulations and known governmental procedures were deliberately jettisoned and desecrated with impunity, resulting in a situation where government processes were reduced to the whims of individual government officials, with dire consequences for service delivery and good governance.

“Infrastructural development and road construction in particular, where some appreciable impact could be said to have been achieved, one cannot but be struck by the lopsidedness and selective distribution of such facilities and services, as 80% of such projects were located in a particular section of one senatorial district.

“Another cause for concern here also, is the penchant for the then government to bite more than it could chew, thus so many projects were embarked upon at the same time without a clear picture of   the source to finance them, resulting in the large number of uncompleted projects that currently litter the city of Jos and its environs and a corresponding accumulation of unpaid certificates and bills on the table of the Accountant General.

“While specific and general recommendations have been made in our report, I want to crave your indulgence to draw your attention and highlight a few areas of interest. “First, is the issue of the need to settle the discrepancy between what the state got as income and what was left at the exit of the outgone government. “From the records, between May 2007 and May 2015, the sum of N525.35 billion was the total income accruing to the State, statutory allocations inclusive, but the state was left with a debt of N222.3 billion by May, 2015.

“In other words, the sum of N747.65 billion could be said to have been expended on Plateau State citizens, in the last eight years. Looking at the State in its current condition, we are at a lost where all this money went to. “Second, the Central Bank of Nigeria remitted the sum of N2billion to the coffers of Plateau State Government for the benefit of small and medium scale industries in the state. “However, about 90% of this amount which was remitted to the state on the 17th of March, 2015 was drawn in two days (between 24th and 26th May 2015), for unexplained expenditure, without a single small and medium scale enterprise in the state benefitting from the money, yet the hand-over notes dated 29th May 2015, stated that the government was yet to access the fund.

Third, and in addition, various sums totaling N6.1 billion were transferred from the accounts of SUBEB, SURE-P and Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, to State Government accounts, without justifiable explanations on how the funds were used. Four, on the 27th of May 2015, four political appointees of a certain government agency who were not entitled to severance allowances as specified by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission, illegally paid themselves the sum of N30million, severance allowance.

“Five, the hand-over notes received from the proceeding government claimed the level of indebtedness of the government was N103.9 billion as of May, 2015. Our findings put the figure at N222.3 billion. “Furthermore, what was left as credit in all the government accounts put together, was N93million. “Six, while the outgone government claimed to have spent N8.6 billion on the new Government House at little Rayfield, our findings put the figure at N16.4 billion and work is still on-going.

“Seven, the sum of N28.2 billion was raised from the capital market on the eve of the departure of the former government ostensibly to refinance existing state loans in three commercial banks. Government will need to have a second look at the status of the projects covered by the bond.

“Eight, the sum of N420 million was said to have been released to Kaiser Trading House Ltd for the supply of fertilizer and the establishment of the fertilizer project in Foron. “A visit to the site shows no development on ground, thus the need for further investigation on this transaction and project to know where the money went. “Nine, in the same vein, the sum of N2.28 billion was said to have been invested in the Kuru Cassava project.

“While work has started at the site, there is need for further investigation to determine whether or not the amount of money said to have been expended, is commensurate with what is on the ground. “In addition, the whereabouts of two containers with tools and imported equipment for the project which could not be traced by the committee, need to be established. “Ten, many appointments and promotions were made during the tenure of the preceeding government and particularly before its departure, that did not follow due process.

“To rejuvenate the Civil Service and boost morale among our workers, such appointments and placements will need to be reviewed, giving due cognizance to seniority, merit and State character. “Eleven, given the lean resources at the disposal of government, it is the view of the committee that the structure of government might need to be reconsidered and trimmed down, while government needs to rethink the continuation of some practices and patronages that add no evident value to the welfare of the people of Plateau State.

“Twelve, some institutions of government demonstrated institutional weakness giving rise to the series of abuses of procedure and office witnessed during the tenure of the last regime. “The membership of such government institutions and agencies will need to be reassessed to place square pegs in square holes and to create a basis for functional efficiency in government. “Thirteen, it is a cause for concern that despite the hype on the use of biometric technology to unravel the exact number of civil servants in the employment of the Plateau State government, two years later and after the heavy investment on the exercise, we still do not know how many workers we have and the exercise seems unending.

“Government should take a closer look at the whole biometric exercise and determine whether the investment has been worth it and take necessary action. “Your Excellency, as can be seen from the nature of some of the issues highlighted above, there may be need to set up more specialized technical or audit committees and the engagement of security agencies to conduct further investigation. “This we suggest should be done as soon as possible.

“Furthermore, sir, we need to buttress the point that though governance is a continuous process, government must be guided by what is in the best interest of the State. “Plateau has suffered enough, we need to look forward and move as a family, united by brotherhood and commitment, to enthrone fairness, equity and justice which are the hallmarks of good governance. “Finally, Your Excellency, on behalf of my colleagues, members of the committee, I want to thank you for this opportunity to contribute to the smooth take-off of the new government and the effort to institutionalize the culture of good governance on the Plateau.

-Yakubu Wuyep in Jos gives a graphic breakdown of Transition Committee Report that indicted former Governor Jonah Jang

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