Forms for the federal government Public Works Scheme in Plateau is said to be hijacked by some persons as against the real beneficiaries as MUHAMMADU Tanko reports.
In Plateau state, some groups and individuals are raising concerns alleging shortchange in the disbursements of 17,000 forms meant for the federal government-planned Special Public Works Programme (SWP.)Some of the allegations were that the state governor, Mr Simon Lalong, his deputy Sonny Tyoden, politicians, some senior civil servants, top class traditional rulers, religious bodies and civil society organisations (CSOs,) were allotted most of the forms as against the commoners whom it was directly meant for.This is contrary to an earlier statement by the chairman of the FG-SWP committee in the state, Hon Rufus Bature, who had informed the press that each electoral wards in the state would get, at least 50 forms to share amongst the poor people. However, Blueprint exclusive finding revealed that disbursements of the forms which were commenced two weeks ago by the committee falls short of the expected transparency. A check at some electoral wards and some local government areas indicated that fewer people got the forms whose distribution were enshrouded in mystery.
Complain by JNI
According to Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), “The whole Muslims in Plateau state were allotted only 350 forms, through this association to share amongst all Islamic organisations and their 17 local government branches,” an insider in the Islamic body said.According to the source, this has shown that the Muslims are been shortchanged. “It is unfair that only 350 forms were given to entire Muslims of the state.”When contacted, the state publicity secretary of JNI, Malam Sani Mudi, indeed confirmed that 350 forms were given, however declined further comments.
On his part, the state chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Fr Polycarp Lubo, said 650 forms were given, but said they have no course to complain since all forms are meant for the people of the state to benefit.”In the interest of peace, we accept what was given to us. I don’t have a problem; they gave CAN 650 forms, it is not the issue of comfortability but is the issue of sharing it to people of Nigeria.
Community leader too
A community leader in Jos North, Mr Nasir Usman, also alleged that his community members at Ali Kazaure Ward were not considered in the disbursements as according to him, only few forms were given out of the said 50 approved.The situation is similar in most of the areas visited by Blueprint..The management committee chairman of Jos-north local government council, Hon. Shehu Bala, said; “Only 30 forms were given to his council, and some wards got 1, some got 2.”
CSOs not left out
A representative of the civil society groups, Ms Fatima Suleiman said, “500 forms were allocated to all COSs in the state but failed to give further comments.
Blueprint source revealed further that each local government chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was allotted 88 forms.”I know for sure that all the 17 local government chairmen of the APC were given 80 eight forms each while council chairmen were also given 30 forms each,” the source disclosed.
Alleged allocation to government officials.
Another allegation was that Governor Simon Lalong, his deputy, commissioners, permanent secretaries, local government council chairmen and traditional rulers were given many forms.”It was alleged that his Excellency, Governor Simon Lalong, was given 1,000 forms, his deputy got 500, each commissioner got 20 forms, each permanent secretary got at least 10 forms, the secretary to the state government got 50 forms, the Gbong Gwom Jos got 100 forms while other paramount rulers also got big shares,” a source within the 20-man committee informed Blueprint.
The committee chairman’s response
In response, Hon Bature said there is no any shortchange in the disbursements of the forms. According to him, “There is no any shortchange in the distribution of the forms, the forms are now being returned. We have disbursed all forms to the various interests in Plateau.”We only received directives from Abuja on how many forms would be given to each senator, House of Representatives and House of Assembly members.”On the alleged shortchanging of some wards, he said, each wards has its special code on the form which would make it impossible for any to be shortchanged. “The correct information is that we have giving out 50 forms to each wards, 1000 forms to each local government area. The people do not queue up to see them physically to think anyone has been shortchanged or not.”From the returns we are getting, all wards are represented, so I believe that at the end of day we would have complete list of the wards and local governments and people would see those whose names have come from their wards and local governments.”According to Hon Bature; “Each local government and each ward have special code on its forms allocated based on the demography of Plateau state.”He said whether the forms were given to groups or associations, they will still get back to the same people. “At least, 40 forms were shared to women groups in each of the local governments; 20 forms were given to each member of the House of Assembly.”On the alleged shortchanging of Muslims in the state, Hon Bature said, the committees decisions was devoid of any religious sentiments not to even talk about demography of believers.”If for instance I give forms to Wase, three quarters may go to the Muslims and one quarter maybe to the Christian side. So, in a place like Bassa, three quarters may go to the Christians, and one quarter may go to the Muslims, because of the demography of Plateau state.
“So for religious groups we looked at the demography, and JNI (Jama’atu Nasril Islam), got I think 20 forms per local government, then CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria), got 31 per local government,” he stressed.Hon. Bature explained that the youth groups were given 1000 forms per each zones of the state.”Our work is just to do the selection of the candidates, and then we hand over to the NDE.On the alleged allocation of forms to Governor Lalong, his deputy, traditional rulers and others, Hon Bature declined further comment, but said, “You interviewed me yesterday and I gave you all the information you needed. In an assignment like this there is no limit to what you hear or what you read,” he replied to message on WhatsApp platform.
State gov’t declined comment
Governor Lalong’s director of press, Dr Makut Macham, also declined to make any comments but directed the reporter to contact Hon Bature.”Hon. Rufus Bature is the chairman of the Plateau state committee. You can find details of how they distributed the forms from him please,” he directed, via his WhatsApp platform.