PLATEAU: Jang’s Mixed Blessings For The Rock City
JONAH Jang of Plateau State is one of the governors that have successfully completed two terms (eight years). He was in office from 2007 to 2015. In 2007, the electorates overwhelmingly voted for him across the state, which informed a strong desire to perform. He had very strong challenge from the Deputy Senate President then, Alhaji Ibrahim Nasiru Mantu, who had the courage to challenge the incumbent governor (Joshua Dariye), who was illegally impeached, before the Supreme Court reversed the decision. Mantu wanted a governor who would be loyal to him.
Knowing that Jang cannot be anybody’s stooge; Mantu sponsored former Sports Minister, Mr. Damishi Sango, after the bid to use former deputy governor, the late Michael Bot-Mang, failed. Sango was resoundingly defeated at the party primaries by the strong Jang Organisation.
On assumption of office, he set up a committee headed by Prof. Gaius Lombin, with the last governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015 elections, Senator Gyang Pwajok, former Commissioner, Barrister Nankin Bagudu and others as members. The mandate of the committee was to provide blueprint for the administration. The blueprint was hinged on human capital development, generation and utilisation of resources and infrastructural development. The governor used ‘Jang Organisation’, which was his pet project, a PDP campaign structure, to realise this objective.
Thus, after the political dust had settled, several projects/contracts were awarded by Jang, some of which were; the Mararaban Jama – Old Airport Dual Carriage, Plateau Hospital – Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Road, Gadabiu Flyover, ASTC Agricultural Project in partnership with an Israeli Foundation.
He also embarked on a five-kilometre road projects each across all the 17 councils in the state and many other projects in Du, Jos South. These projects were completed and commissioned by President Jonathan during Jang’s first tenure, except the five-kilometre roads in each of the councils.
One important achievement of the governor in his first four years was the appointment of management committees for the councils, where he did not release full subvention that accrued to them, but was approving salaries and overhead, as according to him, they were not elected.
However, after the 2008 council election, he swore in the elected chairmen and released all that accrued to them. There were numerous projects embarked upon and executed by the councils, as there was enough fund to do that in their councils.
Some of the projects executed by the elected chairmen include, construction of council secretariats, renovation of schools, construction of roads, primary health care units. The chairmen were able to pay local council workers, including outstanding arrears. All these are to Jang’s credit.
However, he had a lot to deal within the party, though, there was no strong opposition against the ruling PDP in the state. There was intra-party wrangling, which led to the National Working Committee (NWC) dissolving the state’s NWC and constituting caretaker committee, leaving the party divided. The division was settled at the Court of Appeal in favour of the governor’s faction of the party, which was led by Prof. Dakum Shown.
The remote cause of the crack in PDP was the governor’s inability to carry stakeholders along in the area of appointments, award of contracts and decision-making process. The faction created by this political crisis had to fight Jang to the national level.
As a result of the crisis in the party, Labour Party started showing strongly in the state, but the inability to produce a consensus candidate ruined the opposition’s chances in 2011.
In 2011, based on the blueprint Jang had in the seven-point agenda, he continued in the implementation of that agenda. Road contracts were awarded, secretariat, flyover, secretariat – Mararaban Jama Road, the New Government House at Little Rayfield, Revenue House, Renovation of Deputy Governor’s Office, Construction of Special Science Schools across the three geo-political zones and several road projects were awarded across the state. Some of these projects are about 75per cent completion. It will be difficult to complete all of them before May 29.
Jang’s administration, no doubt, will be remembered for its inability to pay salaries, pensions and gratuities, ranging from three months to six months. He is going to leave the backlog of arrears to the incoming administration. That was why the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the civil society in the state protested what they termed a far cry from his first tenure, when he paid arrears of gratuities to retirees from 1977 to 2007. Salaries were paid on 25th of every month.
He also introduced the Integrated Personnel Payroll Services (IPPS), which carried out biometric data of genuine public servants and fish out ghost workers. The e-payment facilitated quick payment of salaries and arrears. He also introduced Tax Identification Number (TIN) in the payment of all government revenues, thereby, boosting the Internally Generated Revenues in the state.
One other area that the governor cannot be quickly forgotten is his inability to give priority to human capital development. There was no employment in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); rather, irregular transfers were carried out. Other area the people of the state cannot forget quickly is the setting aside of districts, development areas and village areas that were created and gazetted by the previous administration. He kept setting up committees, which made various recommendations, but did not revisit creation of districts, village areas and chiefdoms.
The introduction of a two-year life span for the elected chairmen in the state, which was challenged and nullified by a high court in Jos, is what cannot be brushed aside easily. Before the coming of his administration, elected chairmen enjoyed three years. Lastly, the lack of respect for geo-political zoning in the state introduced by him at the last lap of his administration cannot be wished away in a hurry.