Plateau Governor accuses predecessor of squandering N2 billion empowerment loan

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong [Photo:]

Governor Simon Lalong, of Plateau State has accused his predecessor, Jonah Jang, of squandering N2 billion borrowed from a bank for empowerment of women and youth in the state.

The governor stated this on Thursday in Jos, the state capital, during the graduation ceremony of trainees under a skill acquisition programme.

“When we came on board, we were confronted to pay a sum of two billion naira that was spent by the past administration. The sum was meant to eradicate poverty among our youth, but nothing of such was done. I told the bank that I was not going to pay,” he said.

Governor Lalong said he has alerted the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, to help recover the misappropriated fund.

Mr. Lalong of the All Progressives Congress succeeded Mr. Jang of the Peoples Democratic Party as governor in 2015.

According to Mr. Lalong, his predecessor’s government obtained the N2 billion loan from the Bank of Industry.

The governor had instituted a panel to investigate alleged large scale corruption by the administration of Mr. Jang. The panel has submitted its report to the government, though no individual has been prosecuted or punished for corruption based on the findings of the panel.

Mr. Lalong did not disclose whether the panel investigated the N2 billion borrowed funds.

The Director of Press to the governor, Emmanuel Nanle, did not pick his calls on Thursday to provide clarification.

Mr. Lalong said 200 youth from each of the 17 local government areas in the state would receive training before the end of this year under the skills acquisition programme.

About 2889 participants were trained in different skills under the programme being run by a private organization, Apurimac Onus, under an initiative of the governor called the Simon Lalong Empowerment Scheme, SLEMS.

The governor said the training was an attempt to eradicate abject poverty among citizens in the state.

During the ceremony, 168 graduands were provided with equipment to enable them set up projects for which they have acquired skills and to train others.

Beneficiaries were warned not the sell the equipment, but to set up workshops to become employers of labour and contribute to the growth of the economy.

In his address, country director, Apurimac, Godwin Okoko, said his organisation had trained 20,000 women and youth over the past 13 years.

Mr. Okoko also said about 55 per cent of the 2889 beneficiaries of the training programme are women, while 10 per cent are physically challenged.

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