Corruption allegation: Plateau govt replies Buhari’s minister

Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state

Following accusation of corruption levelled against the Plateau State Government by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, on Monday, the state government has reacted.
On Monday, the minister accused the Plateau State Government of mismanaging over $2 billion loan.

According to the minister, the APC administration in Plateau was not prudent in managing resources.

“Where is the $2 billion loan collected from African Development Bank for potatoes processing factory payable in 25 years? Where is the factory located? Or where is the money kept and whose account? Why did the state government keep the issue of the loan secret? What is happening to LG funds? What is happening to 5 per cent meant for the traditional council?” the minister said in a statement he personally signed in response to an earlier verbal attack on him by the APC chairman in the state, Latep Dabang.

The two had traded tackles over the handling of a recent visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to the state as part of his tour to states ruptured by bloodletting in recent months. In reacting to the APC chairman, the minister chose to take a swipe at the state governor, Simon Lalong, accusing him of graft and fraud.

President Buhari was in Plateau State last Thursday as part of his visit to violence-ravaged states.

Scores of people have been killed in ethnic-related violence in Plateau, mainly between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities. Over a dozen people were killed in the state even on the day the president visited.

A day after the president’s visit, the minister accused Governor Lalong of side-lining him from the visit. He said he was not officially informed of the visit by the state government, despite being a minister from the state; and that even when he attended a reception organised for the president, he was not allowed to speak. He also accused the governor of playing to the gallery by renaming a road, formerly named after a former military ruler, after Mr. Buhari.

“Another disaster of the president’s visit was the renaming of Yakubu Gowon way to Muhammadu Buhari way. To say the least, it is embarrassing,” the minister said in an interview he posted on his Facebook page.

“Gowon was the president’s boss, how can he be stripped of a 40-year privilege and honour in his home state? This is the worst thing that can happen to a man like the elder statesman. I believe that General Gowon is feeling betrayed and abandoned by his own people.”

In his response to the minster’s outburst, the APC chairman criticised the minister, allegedly describing him as a lunatic.

The minister, undeterred by the insult accused the Governor Simon Lalong administration of lying about the security situation in the state; and of ”deceiving President Buhari”.

”And if peace has returned to Plateau, why was the LG elections suspended because of security concerns? Is it not true that Governor Jang constructed all the roads in Jos and Bukuru metropolis except for state low cost -Dong road? You were present when former President Goodluck commissioned Federal Secretariat bridge, why did Governor Lalong mislead the president to recommission it again?” he said.

However, the Commissioner for Information and Communication in Plateau State, Yakubu Dati, in a statement sent to PREMIUM TMES chose to react only to the allegations of corruption levelled against the state government noting that Mr. Dalung’s allegations were false, and unfounded, and only meant to portray the state government in bad light.

The spokesman also said that the Lalong administration has been able to reduce the debt it inherited by it predecessor, Jonah Jang, by over 50 per cent

Mr. Dati, in the statement also denied that the state procured a loan of $2 billion. He also explained other financial dealings by the Plateau State Government.

The statement reads:

“For the records. Plateau State debt profile is N122 billion from an inherited debt of N220 billion. The records are available at the Debt Management Office for confirmation. The bandied figure of N1 trillion is tales by moonlight.

”On the matter of the loan. It is still being processed and not released. This can easily be confirmed on the bank’s website as attached. The amount secured by the Federal Ministry of Finance is 11 million dollars and not 2 BILLION dollars being bandied. The facility was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting of Wednesday, July 26 2017. The loan was secured from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the development of the Irish potato value chain, and the project is expected to create 60,000 jobs.

”Plateau State would be providing N599 million as counterpart funding for the project.The loan has a five years moratorium; thereafter, whatever remained of the loan would be paid at the rate of 1 per cent in 20 years. The loan would be used to develop the Irish potatoes value chain in 17 local local government areas of the state.

”The implementation would be jointly executed by FADAMA project and a unit in the state Ministry of Agriculture. About 70 per cent of the loan would be used for the provision of infrastructure, extension services, improved planting and marketing. The whole exercise is aimed at boosting production and minimising wastages in Plateau State which is the largest producer of Irish potatoes. The rescue administration remains focused on delivering on its mandate.”

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