Again, verbal war engulfs Plateau political atmosphere as Governor Jang and Governor-elect Simon Lalong, have locked horn over accountability, alleged last minutes looting of the state treasury and plot to impede smooth transition ahead May 29 handover. Reports UKANDI ODEY
The political atmosphere is rancorous in Plateau State. There is palpable anxiety as countdown to May 29, 2015 handing over from the current government of Governor Jonah Jang to the incoming administration of Governor-elect, Simon Lalong has consciously begun.
The initial verbal exchange between Governor Jang and Barrister Lalong over allegations of last minute looting of the state treasury by the outgoing administration has snowballed into renewed hostilities between the supporters and political parties of the two gladiators.
Unfortunately, this is happening just few days to the end of Jang’s tenure and at a time when the two camps are expected to iron out things towards a smooth transition of power from the current Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration in the state to the incoming All Progressives Congress (APC) government.
Close watcher of the development Blueprint learnt is creating political anxiety on the volatile Plateau.
Not too long ago the governor elect accused the Jang administration of looting the state’s treasury and planning to sell-off government properties. However, Jang denied the allegations in the same breadth turn accused the incoming administration of plotting to distract his government from completing its tenure peacefully.
With the overheated atmosphere, the transition committee in place is unable to work as allegations and counter allegations dominate the air.
But Jang is insisting that the governor-elect cannot dictate for his government. According to him, he is still in charge till May 29 and should be allowed to run the government until his term expires. Even party elders and community leaders have taken sides over the matter, creating an anxious situation for us here on the Plateau,” Andrew Dabin, State Coordinator of African Leadership Foundation (ALF), said.
In fact, Lalong recently in a statement signed by his media aide, Mr. Festus Fuanter, accused the outgoing administration, led by Governor Jang, of plans to hurriedly sell off government properties particularly the Plateau Supply Company Warehouse and Mini Housing Estate along Dogon Dutse Road; PIPC Duplexes in Gwarinpa, Abuja and other locations as well as the looting and carting away of government properties, including vehicles, household furniture and other items.
He also alleged that the Jang-led administration was engaging in massive and lopsided employment, replacements, falsification of civil service placements and promotions in the civil service as well as engaging in huge and questionable withdrawals from government accounts, demands for loans as well as the illegal engagement of accounting and auditing firms to balance the books of accounts of agencies of government used for the funding of elections of government sponsored candidates warning that any such transaction will not be respected by the incoming administration .
But Jang, in his response via a statement, described the allegations as “spurious” and wondered why an incoming administration would begin to peddle unsubstantiated claims in order to further malign the person of the governor whom he said has done his best for the good of Plateau State.
The statement, which was signed by the Executive Assistant to Governor Jang, Mr. Garba Clinton, advised the incoming administration to concentrate on having a smooth transition process and going further to surpass the Jang administration because the bar of leadership has been raised instead of making unfounded allegations that are not true
It reads: “The same Plateau people who gave the mandate to the incoming administration graciously gave the Jang administration the opportunity to serve and this they have done to best of our abilities as evident in the numerous projects that dot the Plateau landscape, adding that now that Plateau people have decided that another person should be at the helm of affairs, “Our advice to the incoming administration is that it should concentrate on having a smooth transition process and going further to surpass the Jang administration because the bar of leadership has been raised. Plateau people now know what it means to taste meaningful development and will not accept anything less.
“We on our part will remain a vibrant opposition anchored on x-raying the policies and programmes of the incoming government vis-a-vis what we have to offer. Ours is going to be an issue-based opposition which will criticise the programmes of government not an attack on personalities who we may have fallen out with.
“We call on all peace loving people to therefore ignore rumours and fallacious statements being peddled either in the media or by word of mouth. The Jang administration is putting together a comprehensive hand over note with all its actions as contained in the Plateau State Strategic Development Plan; a document which is the guide for the development of the state.
Consequent upon the development, 45 communities in the state said they were solidly behind the governor-elect and his party in their quest to ensure that the treasury of the state was not looted ahead of the exit of the current administration. They also urged Lalong to do everything possible to stop the sales of government properties under whatever guise.
The communities spoke through a group known as the Plateau Development Forum (PDF) at a press conference held in Jos, the state capital. The spokesperson of the PDF, Comrade Idris Muktar, made the position of the communities knownn.
The group said under no circumstance should the treasury of the state be pillaged by politicians on their way out of office. The group insisted that as governor-elect, Lalong can question certain activities of the current government he may find suspicious.
According to them, “this demonstrates the readiness of both the governor-elect and his party to take charge of the affairs of the state. It is a good sign that they are conversant with the day-to-day running of state government and are ready to hit the ground running whenever they are sworn-in to office.
“All our communities as represented by the signatories are in support of Barrister Simon Bako Lalong, the governor-elect and the APC as our representatives empowered by the April 11 election to defend our interest henceforth and as such should do everything possible to safeguard the treasury of Plateau State,” the group said.
Some stakeholders in the state like the Chairman of African Democratic Congress, (ADC), in Plateau State, Alhaji Sabiu Musa Ibrahim, have begun to intervene. The ADC chairman urged Jang and Lalong, to allow wisdom to prevail in the interest of peace and progress in the state.
He advised the two politicians to concentrate on having a smooth transition process and going further to surpass the PDP administration instead of creating tension in the state through allegations and counter allegations.