APC, PDP trade words over Lalong’s performance
• ‘His government is an accident of power’
• ‘Attack diversionary to score cheap political points’
The breather enjoyed by Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state, from the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may be over.
The PDP in the state chaired by a former Minister of Sports, Damishi Sango appears to have woken from its slumber and have suddenly found its voice as the main watchdog for the people.
After a studied silence and ‘careful assessment’ of the activities of the ruling APC in the state since its inception in May last year, PDP came out with a verdict of ‘very low’ performance by the administration.
In particular, Sango accused the government of financial recklessness and mal-governance contending that Lalong’s administration received over N97 billion as revenue in the past one year and there was nothing on ground to show for it.
But APC and the state government rebuffed the allegations of recklessness accusing PDP of bias, malicious and diversionary tactics deployed by the opposition party to score cheap political points.
Sango said despite the huge funds received, it was not utilized towards alleviating the suffering of the people, pointing out that after more than one year, the people were still suffering under the APC government.
Besides, he alleged that squandered the resources of the state when the administration spent N1.4 billion to purchase and install purported GPRS tracking devices in 100 cars, saying: “The governor must explain why his administration spent N1.4 billion to purchase and install GPRS tracking devices on 100 cars. This means that N14 million was spent to track one car for one year.”
Furthermore, the PDP chairman said, “The APC administration is creating unnecessary distraction by constantly engaging in whipping up sentiments and controversies over the handover notes from the previous administration.”
A supporter of PDP in the state, Mr. Musa Chollom, also described the APC government as “an accident of power. APC did not believe that it would produce a governor. That is how power goes to people who do not bargain for it. That is why APC was beside itself when Lalong was declared winner of the election. APC did not plan for that. That is why it has nothing to show for it after almost one and a half years in office.”
“The only saving grace the governor is enjoying is the continuation and completion of Senator Jonah David Jang’s unfinished projects. Lalong has not initiated any new projects. I am, therefore, not even moved by his attack dogs on Hon. Sango when he made the right accusation,” Chollom added.
However, the state Secretary of APC, Alhaji Musa Bashir Sati, said though PDP was entitled to its opinion, the allegations were baseless and untrue.
According to him, the APC administration has been prudent with the finances of the state and that it was an open fact that the PDP administration had been associated with financial recklessness.
“The true position is that, if there is any political party that has been marked out by history as reckless, it is the PDP. Everybody has seen it. Even passersby knew the recklessness of PDP and it cannot be compared in any level with that of the APC if at all APC is reckless.”
“But if anybody is thinking of blackmailing APC of being reckless, well that person is entitled to his opinion. But we know that APC has been so prudent in managing the affairs of this state. The issue here is that people don’t seem to understand the level of statement they make. They just assume that by making sensational statements, they will cause confusion,” he added.
The APC scribe maintained that when APC came to power in the state, it inherited a backlog of unpaid salaries spanning a period of about 10 months, claiming that the treasury was virtually empty.
“And we have been able to pay people their salaries. Civil servants have been paid up to date. Instead of people appreciating what Lalong administration did, they are busy castigating and talking as if this is the first time the administration has come into being.”
Sati said that people do not seem to understand that the left – over projects by Jang administration were still there, adding that it is the responsibility of Governor Lalong to complete them and he has not shied away from that responsibility as he is completing them.
“The people don’t understand issues. These are the contractors we inherited from the past administration. They collected part of the money but have not been able to execute the jobs. By the time we came on board, the contractors had downed tools. So, we have to mobilise them and we cannot mobilise them without money. So, they went back to work,” he contended.
Similarly, the Director of Press and Public Affairs to the governor, Mr. Samuel Emmanuel Nanle, said the figure quoted by Sango, was a figment of his imagination, claiming that PDP in the state was still suffering from post – election trauma; that the allegations were just an attempt to stir up controversies and sentiments to cover up their failures.
According to him, the government received the sum of N10.5 billion from federal government bailout funds and N14 billion for budget support fund, adding that the latter was only a loan in principle, which was staggered for 13 months.
He challenged PDP to prove the allegation that N14 billion was spent for GPRS and trackers by placing the vouchers in public domain.
His words: “So they are just waking up from their slumber? It is good for them. But we are challenging them to come up with the vouchers to back up their claim and place it in public domain because credible opposition is borne out of facts. From all indications, they are yet to come out of post – election trauma.”
On his part, the Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Mark Longyen, who described the allegations as a malicious and a ridiculous diatribe, said it was a diversionary tactic employed by the opposition to score cheap political points.
He claimed the allegations were aimed at diverting the people’s attention from the likely outcome of the recently inaugurated Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Governor to investigate the financial transactions of the immediate past PDP administration of former Governor David Jang.
Lalong had three weeks ago, inaugurated a six – man Commission of Inquiry to investigate the financial dealings of Jang’s administration. Already, the Commission had called for memoranda from members of the public.
Although the Secretary to the Commission, Alhaji Sani Mavo has been on air almost every day asking for memoranda, sources confirmed that as at press time, no memorandum has been received.
This, it was learnt was hindering the Commission from carrying out its assignment, a development that might force the Commission to ask for extension of time.
Some persons have expressed reservations over the setting up of the Commission. Mr. Nde Alexander Molwus, a former Chief of Staff to governor Joshua Dariye, who later became Political Adviser to Jang, said that by the decision, “the governor has been misled into old-fashioned practices that do not add value to governance.”
He described the effort by Lalong as “a waste of public resources that has no prospect to impact on the people in terms of good governance or dividends of democracy,” regretting that Lalong do not appear to have learnt from the past.
He recalled that similar effort by Dariye, and later Jang, ended up as mere theatrical shows with adverse and grating implications for the public.
“When Dariye came, he set up the Dangin Commission. But at the end of the day, the follow-up effect was ridiculous. Jang also came and also embarked on the same downtown hunting, and was eventually stopped by the law court. So, in both cases, only resources went down the drain, but the ends sought were never met. And I don’t think this will be different,” Molwus said.