PDP, APC disagree over gains of democracy in Plateau
Claims by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has failed in the last two years to bring the promised change to the people of Plateau State, have provoked controversy about the performance of the administration of Governor Simon Lalong in the political scene.
The PDP had asked the APC to publicly apologise to the people of the state for bringing upon them nothing but pains and regrets for their support stressing that the ruling party has run out of excuses for its failure.
Addressing a press conference in Jos, Chairman of the PDP and former Minister of Sports, Damishi Sango, said the people of Plateau are disgusted by the kind of incompetent government they pinned their hope on adding that the most shameful act of the government is the illegal dissolution of the democratically elected local government councils in the state. Sango said the dissolution did not surprise them “given the general lack of respect the APC nationwide has shown to the tenets of democracy.
“The rescuers of the Plateau have murdered democracy by the dissolution of the elected local government councils. The councils are now being run undemocratically. How does the APC substitute democracy with impunity and ask the people to celebrate democracy? Tragically, we cannot fully celebrate democracy because those who lead us are not democrats.”
But the governor, while responding to questions from reporters on the council dissolution, said the case is in court, adding that it will be subjudice to comment on the issue that is before the judiciary.
He however added that both the dissolved local council chairmen and the Plateau government are on the verge of settling the issue out of court. Sango explained that since the APC received the mantle of leadership, both at the national level and in Plateau, the nation and the state have been the worse for it, adding that the country is groaning, as there is unparalleled distress across the land.
The PDP chairman said that two years of Lalong has nothing comparatively close to the achievements of PDP government and that the situation was so bad that the state cannot even celebrate 50 years of its existence.
According to him, “Instead, commercial prayer seasons were organised. In addition, funds are being wasted on celebrating carnivals in a state where basic functions of state cannot be provided.”
He said the government ridiculously is celebrating the return of peace to the state, the payment of salaries and the continuation of projects of the previous administration, stressing, “with this dismal performance and not a single project to commission after two years, the government only points to the wasted opportunity that the has been turned into.
“We have followed development in other states where the golden jubilee celebrations are used to commission special projects. The Plateau State government, to the contrary, has nothing to commission.
“Where is the over N97 billion received by the government in its first one year? Where is the N18 billion taken from commercial banks in the first three months of rescue administration? Where is the N4.5 billion spent in the first one year on exotic cars? What is the explanation for spending N1.4 billion on placing tracking devices on government cars, which on average per car is in excess of the cost of a new car? Why did government spend over N155 million on insuring cars when the financial regulations do not allow for the insurance of government vehicles?”
He said that Lalong’s administration has been marked by uncanny excuses for non–performance, adding that the governor is eager to take loans from banks while still complaining that his predecessor had left him with huge debts.
According to him, “He (Lalong) tried the desperate and unfruitful step of investigating his predecessor through a judicial commission of inquiry, but where is the result to show for the flagrant waste of state resources?
“Our people have seen that these two years of APC have only gone a long way to confirming that, truly, Lalong is just an accidental governor who came without a vision and, therefore, has had no mission accomplished.”
The governor however beat his chest and said that his administration has created many unprecedented opportunities for the state and the people to grow in all facets of development.
Lalong said since his assumption of office two years ago, the APC government has established standards for governance which included equitable distribution of resources, balancing in appointments and promotions, as well as respect for due process and repositioning the state on the path of greatness.
The government, he stressed, apart from the payment of backlog of counterpart funds in the education, health and other sectors, has introduced substantial legal reforms, resulting in functional institutional governance.
He disclosed further that his government has restored compulsory environmental sanitation with the aim of projecting the state as the most serene in the country.
Identifying some of the problems his administration has been facing since taking over the control of government, Lalong said the state does not have the required financial muscles to carry out some of its developmental programmes and run a seamless administration.
For instance, the governor said that the lack of overhead cost that does not reach his office is equally affecting him as a governor in response to a question on why his commissioners are complaining of cash crunch for overhead expenditures.
He said that if overhead budget should be implemented, then the regular salaries being paid to workers every month would have to suffer a serious setback while asking, “Which one do you want? We must manage well what we have. When you mention overhead, allocation from the federation account is dwindling and it is not enough.”
On allegations that his administration was dancing only to the tune of Abuja to the detriment of local needs, the governor said it is not true. According to him, “When you see something happening in Abuja and it is being duplicated in Plateau State, it is not the script of President Buhari, it is the script of APC.”
He promised to governor the state to make it a reference point not only in peace building but also to make it a political melting pot Nigeria where various segments of the society will live in peace and harmony.
The governor stated, “in the past, Plateau State had been used as a reference point to settle crises in other parts of the country. We need to have a change of heart and return back to our old glory.” He said that his administration would take advantage of the celebration of his two years in office to harmonise and chart new paths of growth and development for the state.
Apparently referring to the political rivalry that may have led to the criticisms of his administration by the PDP, Lalong said there is need to have a body of non-partisan personalities that would be contributing to the state’s growth through offering of good advice.
He said, “For Plateau to take its rightful position in the democratic process, the Plateau Elders’ Unity Forum will have to be resuscitated to add value to our administration.”
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