PLHA: Key events of the ninth assembly
AS the ninth state assembly prepares to wind down activities for the current legislative session, it is safe to say that the PLHA in terms of performance has done quite well compared to previous assemblies. For most of the session, the lawmakers were focused on providing quality representation to their constituents. As the 2023 general elections drew nearer, their attention shifted to party activities like the primaries and for those seeking re-election, it was a whole ball game all together.
While only a few won their tickets to return to the House of Assembly, many lost their bids. In all of this, the ninth assembly was able to make certain key resolutions, pass major bills as well as intervene on several major issues. It was also seen to openly engage Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) based on its constitutional mandate on oversight. Here are some of the major events that shaped the state ninth assembly.
With the inauguration of the ninth assembly, the search for who would be speaker began in earnest with the ball finally passed onto the member representing Jos East constituency in the person of Rt. Hon. AbokNuhuAyuba. However, Ayuba did not complete his tenure and was impeached in what could be described as a rather controversial manner, paving way for Rt. Hon. YakubuYacksonSanda representing Pengana constituency. The removal of Ayuba did not come to many as a surprise, reasons being that rumours were already being peddled. One major reason for his removal was the perceived strained relationship between him and the state Governor Simon BakoLalong.
Even though there were conflicting sides to the impeachment saga as one side claimed the former speaker was impeached by sixteen members, the other put the number at eight. It will interest you to know that the Plateau State House of Assembly is made up of twenty four members and the constitutional requirement for the removal of the speaker is two third majority which is supposed to be sixteen members. As the impeachment saga progressed, some members earned suspensions for their different roles on the matter. It also degenerated into a crisis leading to physical confrontations and destruction of some parts of the assembly complex.
The physical fight started when the embattled former speaker and other lawmakers loyal to him stormed the assembly complex and were holding an executive session, preparatory for a sitting when youths loyal to him staged a solidarity protest in front of the complex. Upon getting wind of what was happening, the other rival group of protesters believed to be loyal to the new speaker arrived and gained access to the premises through the back gate and began to attack perceived opponents.
The Covid 19 pandemic one of the biggest challenges which will not be forgotten in a long time that the country was confronted with is the Covid 19 pandemic. The pandemic did not only take the lives of many, it almost brought the economy to a standstill; eventually sending it into another phase of recession. The role played by the lawmakers in trying to curb, curtail and contain it’s spread is to an extent worthy of commendation. Several decisions were taken by the ninth assembly on measures aimed at ensuring that the virus did not claim a lot of lives.
Right from the onset of the pandemic, they embarked on massive and aggressive sensitization programmes aimed at enlightening members of their various constituencies. Campaigns were carried out on the need for them to observe all guidelines and protocols put in place by the government. The legislators also went as far as donating a part of their salaries to the Covid 19 State Trust Fund while also making donations of materials like hand sanitizers, face masks and even food items to their constituents at the grassroots. Also, a motion was moved during plenary on the need to do a mass testing of all citizens and residents of the state.
Another notable event which saw members of the ninth assembly playing a major role was during the EndSARS protests. Even though the protests started on a good note, it ended on a very sad note as it was hijacked by hoodlums who seized the opportunity to loot and destroy properties of both government and individuals. Several interventions were made by the legislative arm to see that government responded to the demands of the protesters. In the state for instance, protesters who stormed the Plateau State House of Assembly got the speaker’s attention as he came out to address them. A motion was equally moved during plenary to that effect.
Financial autonomy for state assemblies
It is no longer news that Plateau State will continue to remain a reference point because it was among the leading states on the implementation of financial autonomy. The issue was laid to rest, all thanks to the state governor Simon BakoLalong who did not only show his support but also went to commence it’s implementation in full scale. Today, the state parliamentary workers are enjoying full autonomy courtesy of this gesture.
However, this feat was not achieved on a platter of gold. Recall that protests and subsequent strike were held by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), following the expiration of an ultimatum issued. The protesting workers had stormed the state assembly where the then speaker, Rt. Hon. AbokNuhuAyuba applauded the peaceful manner in which they conducted themselves. He was quick to assure that as representatives of the people, they were conscious of their demand and were interested in doing what the people of Plateau wanted. As the strike commenced, the workers marched around the complex carrying placards with different inscriptions such as ‘grant assembly autonomy’, ‘deepen democracy’, ‘no autonomy for state assemblies, no legislation in Nigeria’.
IPC empowers female journalists, Bloggers with digital skills
WHEN the Female Journalists and Bloggers converged in Abuja for the two-day skill enhancing, capacity building, mentoring training workshop, they had a lot of expectations.
They started by first presenting their pre-training expectations with most of them expressing a strong desire to arm themselves with the required digital skills to compete effectively with modern journalistic trends of reporting.
The two-day training organised by the International Press Center (IPC) and funded through the component 4b: Support to the Media of the European Union support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) II Project took place at the Peniel Apartments Conference Hall Abuja, from 21st to 22nd November 2022.
The training which sought to build a professional media as catalysts of democratic accountability, credible elections, and good governance was very interactive with intensive practical class sessions.
With about 80 percent of participants from the north and a selected few from the Southern part of the country, the female journalists were taught on ways to attain credibility and professionalism.
Nigerian Editor, Africa- Check, Mr. David Ajikobi in his presentation on “Factual accuracy and combating fake news: The place of fact-checking and data use in reporting of 2023 elections, identified relevant digital tools and applications for meeting the goal.
“Ensure you Fact-check claims by politicians and avoid being caught up in the bandwagon effects of spreading false stories and claims” he warned adding that “Everyone who creates and shares information in this political era has an agenda”.
“Anti government and government groups and individuals seek sympathy, fraudsters seek money, Bloggers seek online traffic therefore find the root of conspiracy theories and fact-check news to identify the actors”, the fact-checking Expert Ajikobi advised.
On his part, Founder of Journalism Clinic and Blogger of mytori.com, Mr. Taiwo Obe spoke on “Impactful reporting of electoral processes and 2023 elections: Focusing and telling stories that matter”, pointing out the entrepreneurial aspects of media work, impactful content creation and ways to set up a news hub in line with the trending digital trends of online news media by using smart phones.
Post evaluation: Trainees experiences
Sometimes, such trainings come and go with the winds without making any impact on the trainees but the organisers of the IPC/EU training urged the female journalists to go back to their newsrooms and blogs as more vibrant and result oriented personalities.
In a bid to find out how impactful the training is, one of the trainees and the Nigerian Television Authority reporter Bauchi Office, Elizabeth Kah said she benefited immensely from the training.
“I am glad I now know how to fact check fake news websites, images and videos, how to utilise my phone to promote my work using various apps like Canva and anchor, how to focus my reports on the under reported in the society, use evidence in reporting for the people to enable them take informed decisions in the 2023 elections and in other areas, employ safety tips while covering the 2023 elections. I also got a good opportunity for Networking with female journalists from other states of the country” said the NTA reporter.
Another beneficiary of the training, an Editor of the News Agency of Nigeria, Gombe Office, Hajara Usman Leman said she was glad to be a part of the life-changing experience and training.
“The workshop was timely, and the training I got has broadened my horizons, especially in the aspect of fact-checking fake news, the need for a journalist to write stories that will make an impact in somebody’s life”.
For a Blogger, Faith Awa Maji from Katsina State, who also benefitted from the training, she disclosed that she has now gathered more journalistic digital skills to enhance her blog Faith Maji’s Blog.
While calling on more national and international bodies to embark on such digital trainings to empower Nigerian women, the Blogger said she is now more informed and equipped with the right tools and skills.
“Just see how this two-day training has impacted my life” She said adding: “No doubt, Nigerian Female Journalists are lagging behind but we are coming back to the fold through this training by the IPC and the EU. Hence, I call on government, Donor Agencies, Non-governmental Agencies and related bodies to make training of female journalists and Bloggers a priority”.
Another reporter from the News Agency of Nigeria Ekiti Office, Bolanle Lawal, commended the IPC and EU for organising an eye-opener forum for female Journalists across the country.
“I went for the training with high expectations for Election Reporting but I was amazed that I got more than Reporting. The training opened my eyes to opportunities in technology such as canva designs, web designs and many more. I also learned about Online media platforms”.
Making female journalists to be relevant, impactful, and professional in their job especially in the digitised media era, was the main reason why the training was organised in the first place, said IPC Executive Director Lanre Arogundade earlier in his welcome address.
He disclosed that over 30 female journalists will be mentored to write impactful award winning, human angle political stories that would touch on female politicians, underrepresented groups, and the political system.
He also advised the female media practitioners to gear up and be armed with modern technological skills and media trends to be relevant and on the job.
Also in her remarks the President, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, Ladi Bala, was emphatic as she challenged the women to utilise the opportunities given them to gain new digital skills to do their job in the Newsrooms in a challenging world.
She tasked the trainees to be at the forefront of reporting People with Disabilities, participation of female politicians and other under represented communities and groups in the 2023 elections.
On her part, Head of International Society of Media in Public Health Abuja, Mrs Moji Makanjuola in a paper tagged “Electoral processes and 2023 Elections: According priority to issues of women and other underrepresented” challenged participants to write and capture impactful stories that discuss accessibility, gender policies of government and electoral bodies, and voting statistics of women and underrepresented groups in human angle forms.
Women Journalists are too organised, they don’t want to take risks. But there is a thin line between what journalists do and advocacy. Therefore we should endear to write stories that come from the heart”, She said.
Lalong welcomes Jaji participants, Bokkos stakeholders
AFTER hosting the APC Presidential Campaign Flag off last week in his state, and touring some stakes to campaign for his party as head of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, a team of course participants from the Nigerian Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, Kaduna State were guests of the Plateau Governor this week.
Governor Simon Bako Lalong expressed happiness while receiving them at the Government HousE, Jos on Monday.
He urged the participants to enjoy the temperate weather and peaceful disposition and hospitality of the Plateau people.
He however said in tacking the insecurity affecting the country, the highly revered institution should be more committed to meeting the training and retraining needs of personnel of the Nigeria Armed Forces to equip them in modern and effective trends of combating security challenges confronting the nation.
He expressed delight that the timeliness of their theme of study which touches on youths will go a long way in addressing challenges of unemployment and youth restiveness.
The Governor commended Armed forces for doing their best in securing the internal security of the nation and pointed out that as the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, he is at the forefront of championing the course of security strategies that will stem the tide of the challenge especially in the North.
The Nigerian Armed Forces Command and Staff College is a joint service institution established to train operational- level military officers of the highest professional standard with the aim of adding value to leadership skills of the Armed Forces
The Study Group that came for the visit were 51 Participants of the Senior Course 45 of the institution comprising both Nigerian and Foreign Students from Tanzania, Bangladesh, Congo Brazaville, Malawi and Ghana.
Their course work to Plateau State enables them to explore their theme of study which is “Youth Unemployment and International Security”.
Team Leader of the Study Tour who is also the Director of Joint Studies of the College, Brigadier General Ibrahim PonsahBindul during the visit told Governor Lalong that the study aims to highlight the causes and challenges of unemployment amongst the youth which can also be a trigger to criminality among the young people, with a view to chartting a way forward.
The Governor also in a bid to address the lingering security breaches that resulted to killings and destruction of properties in Bokkos Local Government Area of his state, after receiving the Jaji delegation, equally hosted stakeholders of the local government to a meeting.
This is because of recent, some communities in the local government including Kwatas, Butura with the latest happening in Maikatako have faced attacks resulting to loss of lives, homes and properties.
In his approach to tackling the challenge, Lalong met with the stakeholders from the Ron and Fulani ethnic groups made up of religious, traditional, tribal, youth, community, and other leaders to interact one-on-one on ways to find solutions to the problem and put an end to such barbaric acts.
“I called this meeting to hear from all sides on how to address the spate of violence in your area that is a cause of concern to people and the government”.
“The submissions you give today will assist the government and security agencies to carry out thorough investigations”.
As the meeting went into a closed door session, the Governor however urged all the stakeholders to speak freely and frankly to him about the problem especially the cause of the problem.
This is not the first time the Governor is using this approach. He had employed a similar approach last year to tackle the Irigwe/Fulani conflicts which eventually led to the signing of a peace agreement by the warring factions, and the peace and stability that has returned to the area.
The peace processes have been spearheaded by Plateau Peace Building Agency which creates the opportunity for forgiveness, reconciliation and re- building of confidence, trust, and rehabilitation of communities affected by conflicts.
Bawa Foundation’s milk of kindness for kwande
By EZEKIEL DONTINNAIT was out of their desire to to enhance the provision of modern and available healthcare facility for their people that the Bawas of Kwande District of Kwo Chiefdom, thought it wise to bring close home a state of the art hospital.
What seemed at first like a mustard seed planted had grown to produce many fruits in Kwo Chiefdom, has put smiles on the faces of not only the people of Kwande, but the entire people in the Southern Senatorial Zone of Plateau State.
There is no denying the fact that, a private health care hospital of that magnitude is one of its kind in the state, not to talk of having it in such locality. Truly, this gigantic project to say but the least would have been sited in the capital city of Jos or Abuja if it were for money making, but the Bawas thought of doing that in memory of their late parents-Peter and Anna Bawa.
They built and donated a 50 bed capacity hospital that is well equipped with facilities, a facility ambulance and mortuary. All this was not to only support their people healthwise, but out of their love for the community which demonstrates that they are part and parcel of the Kwo Chiefdom.
However, history have it that the their father, late Peter Bawa, was an astute administrator and was the first Northerner to rise to the office of the Chief Federal Labour Officer, Federal Ministry of Labour. Their mother, late Mrs. Anna Peter Bawa, was a grassroot politician and was a one time councillor and later Board Member of Jos Metrological Development Board (JMDB) respectively.
Considering the rare contributions of their parents to humanity and society, the Bawa family decided to do something spectacular in memory of their parents and in service to their motherland. It is certainly true that when one cares to know and understands the heartbeat of his people and move to bring succour to them by putting in place what can cushion their hardship, it is a prove to the fact that home is home and the happiness of his people is what matters much to him.
While commissioning the project the Plateau State Governor, Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, CON, represented by the Commissioner for Local Government Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Sylvanus Tapgun, rated the family of Miskoom Peter and Nnah Anna Bawa high for their great sacrifice to construct a state of the art hospital in Kwo Chiefdom in Qua’an-Pan Local Government Area to help cushion the health situation of the people.
He said, “I am here not to commission this gigantic edifice, but to share with you the goodness of this day. This is one clear example of how our people’s level is being raised. I want to thank this family for the blessing that has been bestowed on them and also wish to pass it to their father land to show that they are part and parcel of this land.
“I want to also thank you wholeheartedly, on behalf of the government and people of Plateau state for contributing to the solutionpf health challenges of the state, because this is another blessing that has come to Kwo Chiefdom and plateau state”, Lalong said .
The Executive Chairman, Qua’an-Pan LGC, Hon. Ernest Da’a, said, “as a Christian, we know that the Bible says that on the last day, God will ask whether we had visited him in the hospital or clothe him when he needed to be clothed or whether you gave him food when he was hungry. But in your own case, you did not only visit the sick, but you brought the hospital to our home and it is quite dear”.
Also, former member, House of Representatives from Nasarawa State, Hon. Ahmed Wadada Aliyu, said, “We bless God for the Bawas! It is one thing for you to have the wherewithal and it is completely a different ball game for you to be blessed by God to want to use the wherewithal to put such edifice particularly, to address health need. For me, I pray for them, commend them and I am challenged because I am a leader”.
His Royal Highness, Miskoom Fidelis Longtoe Attahiru1, the Long Kwo of Kwo Chiefdom, who could not hide his joy charged sons and daughters of the Kwo Chiefdom to emulate such gesture saying, “under my watch, I promise the Shitgurum family that, I will do everything possible to maintain and sustain this great gesture”.
Meanwhile, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Bawa Foundation and the donor, Miskoom Dr. Godfrey Peter Bawa Shitgurum, MON, ”I feel great, I feel honoured and satisfied that after we serve God, we will serve humanity. We have given the hospital. It is now left for them to sit down with the Long Kwo who is in charge of the hospital and know what to do.
It was a joyous moment when the Bawa family commissioned and donated the hospital to their community under the watch of His Royal Highness, Miskoom Fidelis Attahiru 1, the Long Kwo of Kwo Chiefdom. This, they did to mark the 65th birthday of Dr. Godfrey Peter Bawa Shitgurum, the Chairman, Duncan Maritime Ventures the Bawa Foundation.
Both young and old trooped to the venue of the commissioning to celebrate the great gesture freely done to them. Children were not left out of this celebration as they were colourfully dressed in the Goemai attires singing praises with adults chanting Goemai heroic slogans when the Chairman, Peter&Anna Bawa Foundation, Dr. Godfrey Peter Bawa Shitgurum arrived the hospital.
There were display of traditional dances by the Goemai masquerades such Bakwa Riga, Tong-beres, Munashi, Lukwo among others as the Plateau State Cultural Troop and Idoma dancers entertained dignitaries added colour to the occasion.
The occasion climaxed with dinner at the Crispan Events and Suits Jos. The wife of the celebrant, Bishop Bawa described her husband as an exceptional hardworking manwhose kindness knows no bound Within the mood of event the celebrant’s birthday, was marked with a Golf tournament organized by the celebrant at the lamingo Golf Course Jos.
Leading them on the wrong path
DO as I say, implying not as I do, is a very popular saying well accepted in schools, homes and even religious settings. In Nigerian schools where hierarchy is well established, the seniors are usually above the law when they are not within the watchful eyes of the school authority. However, they will mercilessly punish any junior student that breaks the law.
In the religious setting, it is referred to as hypocrisy. Surprisingly, it is a common practice very much practiced by those at the helm of affairs. I have witnessed where a pastor’s son was getting married, and the couple was exempted from the mandatory tests that were required before the knot was tied to verify if everything was okay.
Unfortunately, the oversight exposed the church to shame. Barely 8 months later, the pastor’s daughter in-law gave birth. Their biased attitude was exposed and the pastor could not sweep the shame under the carpet.
Some years back, a marriage almost ended when the children made a discovery. The kids had observed that for days their dad was obsessed with his phone. He would sit and be watching a particular video on the phone full of excitement.
Curiosity got the better of them, so late one night, they got hold of their dad’s phone and went straight to the videos. Most of the videos revealed to them their father’s sexual appetite. However, what threw them overboard was a sex video of their father, the pious Alhaji and their housemaid. It was so ugly.
Full of wisdom, their mother did not confront their father. But took the housemaid for shopping before quietly sending her to her village.
In a similar situation, this time the marriage went on the rocks when a woman discovered that her husband had a secret life he had hidden behind the facade of godliness. This woman loved and respected her husband. She assumed that the feeling was mutual.
She was the model Christian woman. Any time she collected her salary, the moment she came home, she would kneel down and present it to her husband. She went like this: “Daddy, here is my salary”. Her husband would take the lion share and hand her the rest which she would receive with thanks.
Apart from being a salary earner, she was very enterprising and was a very successful business woman. Thanks to this woman, they bought a car, built a house and were living well.
However, their boat was rocked on the day that the father was forced by NEPA’s erratic nature to leave a video cassette he was watching late the previous night in the video player.
It is usually said: 99 days for the thief, one day for the owner. That was exactly what played out. Just as the children were getting dressed to go to school, power was restored and the video cassette immediately continued playing (it was not switched from the wall). The kids were shocked to see their father being portrayed as a father of twins with a strange woman by his side with whom he wore asho- ebi. The children must have thought their father had an acting career, so they called the attention of their mother.
The woman said she looked and refused to believe that her holier than thou husband, the man who shared tracts every time was the same man she was seeing as a husband to another woman and father of twins. As she watched, she saw some of her in-laws enjoying themselves at the naming ceremony. She said she was very hurt.
Unfortunately, that was when the man of the house got wind of what was happening. He came out thinking it was going to be business as usual but his submissive wife grabbed his shirt by the neck in an iron grip. It took several neighbours to loose the grip.
That day, Mr high and mighty came down from his high horse. It was discovered that he had been keeping a secret family in a satellite town in Abuja not too far from his home. His family members knew about it and a few trusted friends. His wife was the last person to know.
How did he succeed in keeping two families? Every month he used to tell his wife he was going on official duty to Lagos. The wife used to see him off and would make sure he was seated in the bus before he would send her back home in tears. Sitting in the luxurious bus until he sent her home was the closest he went to Lagos. Immediately she left, he would come out of the bus and go to his concubine’s house, his second home.
In the office, his colleagues used to refer to him as pastor because he was always distributing tracts which spoke about salvation, sinful habits etc. When the wife informed the office, they could not reconcile his two identities.
The wife felt cheated because she believed he was using her money to take care of his second home. And true to her word, that was the case. In a twinkle of an eye, love turned to hatred especially when the wife discovered all the lies her husband used to tell her about official duty (he was never sent on any, he was a junior staff) and the issue of non payment of salary.
As it stands now, the man can’t feel, free at home. His children are hurt and disappointed in him. He has lost his respect at home, office, community, the church. And has lost both families. His wife would have nothing to do with him. Concubine could not take the heat, so she took the twins and ran off. He is now back to square one.
Who said one can eat his cake and have it?
Teachers Day: Celebrated or tolerated
A few days ago, Teachers Day was celebrated. At most quarters, accolades were poured unceasingly on teachers for their sacrifices and selfless services. But even as they were celebrated, a handful of people reflected on the terrible teachers that they had either in their primary, secondary or tertiary institutions.
A lady who had her primary education in Kano in the 80s said about 2 years of her life were wasted by a very lazy teacher who spent more time under a gigantic tree in the centre of the school than in class. She said she spent part of her days in school straining her ears to hear what the teacher in the next class was teaching his pupils because she was hungry to learn.
Fortunately, the day came that their malam left and their class was asked to fix themselves in any of the class 2s which then was class 2 A – J. This lady took off at the speed of lightning to the class next to there’s as her other classmates went to their friend’s classes. That was when education really began for her.
On Teachers Day, my kids decided to run through their teachers. At the end of their discussion, they had categorised their teachers in two: those that were a blessing and those that were a curse. My daughter said she had a particular male teacher in primary school that most of her classmates came to dislike. His stock in trade was favouritism. His favourites were always right and never did anything wrong. And they were the ones always leading in class even though they were not the best. He made the other pupils feel like second class citizens. How they celebrated when he left the school.
An Abuja based young man says you will hate teachers if you meet one bent on making you look bad no matter what you do. His case was bad because he was in the same class with the proprietress daughter who always picked on him because he refused to be intimidated by her or her mother. That put him in the school bad book. He was often picked on for no just reason to be punished. He said his teacher played the proprietress’ card so well that he came to hate school. School then was synonymous to beating, punishment. That was until his mother got wind of the conspiracy and confronted them before changing his school.
A colleague recounted her son’s experience in primary school. He was a very brilliant boy and was on top of the class in all subjects. But every prize giving day, he was never among the first 3. The teacher made sure those that received prizes were those who enrolled in her after school lesson. She wanted to justify their investment and to lure more parents to employ her service. In the process, she almost crushed a bright star. If not for the encouraging words of his parents, he would have lost hope and zeal for education.
Recently, I took my nephew for transfer examination. He was schooling in GSS Shendam and decided to transfer his education to Jos. We both came back with our tails buried between our legs. His performance was very poor. The school told me that he is not even qualified for JSS one in their school talk more of SS2 that we were claiming.
The report I got was that he is a brilliant boy, that was why I boldly took him to write exams for a mission school. Who would have thought that simple spellings would be a challenge. Who would have thought that reading would be a challenge for a student in senior class.
One wonders what he was taught in primary school. What did they spend their time teaching him in English. If a child can be in senior class without understanding of sounds, learning to read, then Nigeria has a long way to go.
We hear of teachers in the village becoming successful farmers who use pupils or students as their labourers for marks. Have the authorities concerned ever investigated the stories?
These vulnerable children have right to education. Being under-privileged does not mean they should be used or made to feel like second class citizens. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Passing through a community here in Nigeria, one of my aunts in company of a few friends, heard a teacher of primary school teaching her pupils English. It was an interactive class.
Teacher: The girl is sitting on the window. Do she?
Pupils: Yes, do she.
Teacher: The boy is playing. Do he?
Pupil: Yes, do he.
And we blame Governor El Rufai for sieving Kaduna State teachers. If our children are to be taught, they should be taught by qualified teachers who will not confuse them but groom them in every way possible.
JMMA: Between lawmakers and constituents
IF you have been following events on the Plateau in the last couple of months, then you must be familiar with the controversy surrounding the Jos Ultra Modern Main Market. You will recall that the market, popularly known as Terminus Market which was said to be the largest modern indoor market in West Africa, got burnt in 2002. Ever since, it has remained a shadow of itself with no hope of regaining its lost glory despite efforts by past administrations in the state.
Then came the Lalong administration, who thought it wise to rebuild the market once considered as the pride of Plateau. In his efforts, Governor Simon Bako Lalong approached the management of Jaiz Bank, requesting to partner with it on the rebuilading project.
Jaiz Bank by the way operates an Islamic and Sharia compliant banking system in Nigeria. According to reports, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was expected to be signed between the Plateau State government and Jaiz Bank to rebuild and reconstruct the burnt Jos Main Market at the tune of about ten billion naira.
Details from the agreement showed that upon completion of the market, Plateau State will own fourty percent shares while Jaiz Bank gets to have more control by owning the remaining sixty percent shares. The decision arrived at was based on the fact that the project is to be fully funded by the bank.
The Plateau State government will only provide land, security and an enabling environment with the project billed to be completed within the period of twelve months while duration on the proposed deal is to run for a period of fourty years. This terms and conditions of course did not go down well with most stakeholders on the Plateau as it faced condemnations and backlash, resulting in a huge controversy.
The heightened reactions generated however, prompted a call for all legislators of the Plateau State House of Assembly to engage their constituents in order to create more awareness and better enlightenment on the MoU and benefits deriveable thereof.
It was also hoped that the feedback gotten from the meetings in the various constituencies will inform the lawmakers position on the matter. As the people’s representatives, it behoves on them to ensure that their constituents who are major stakeholders have a say concerning the project.
Leading the meeting in Kanke Local Government Council was the member representing Kanke constituency who is also the House Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Wallok Goma. He was in company of the council Chairman, Hon. Henry Gotip, the District Head of Amper Nde Emmanuel Koprit and other traditional rulers, including former legislators, religious leaders and politicians from the area.
The lawmaker did not mince words when he spoke on the importance of the infrastructure in question, as he demanded that the people be educated on the nitty gritty of the project. As far as Wallok was concerned, this will avail them the opportunity to contribute by offering useful advice that would help the state government actualize its intentions.
Mr. Peter Dogo, a member of the state technical team on the project who was on ground to shed more light advised stakeholders from Kanke constituency to support government on this project. He expressed optism that the town hall meeting will give the needed support for the state government to sign the MoU. Interestingly, some of the constituents obliged and were emphatic on some areas like the fourty years duration, the sixty to fourty percent stake while insisting that the issue of insurance must be revisited before signing the agreement or any document.
In Mangu North East, the member and representative Hon. Adamu Abdul Yanga began the day’s engagement by educating and enlightening the people on the significance of rebuilding the once revenue spinning terminus market. Hon. Yanga apart from conscientizing his people on the rationale behind the choice of Jaiz Bank to handle the project noted that the primary aim of government was to revamp commercial activities which Plateau was known for.
Stakeholders in Mangu worthy of mention, gave their affirmation to the government to go ahead with the reconstruction of the market. An interesting thing noticed was their expression of dismay at the negative commentaries going on in the public domain concerning the project. Many wondered why using Jaiz Bank should be an issue when it is for the benefit and betterment of the state.
For the people of Pankshin North constituency, the planned
Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties involved must be put on hold until certain gray areas are addressed. Like other legislators, Hon. Philip Peter Dasun representing Pankshin North constituency parleyed with his constituents before arriving at the decision taken. The meeting had in attendance, the council Chairman Hon. Kadmena Goteng, the state Commissioner for Higher Education Dan Hirkop, Deputy Leader of Pankshin legislative arm Hon. Panman Tokat with other stakeholders made up of youth and women representatives.
In the lawmaker’s words:
“At the end of our Pankshin town hall meeting with stakeholders, following the fact that this matter is a very critical one and has attracted the interest of the whole state, we arrived at two basic decisions, that consultations be widened and deepened to the understanding of the common man in the village and that gray areas especially the fourty years of administration of the shops and the sixty percent share to be dispatched by Jaiz Bank be made clearer to the understanding of the common man if not, such MoU should not be signed”.
Toeing the line of his colleagues on the economic benefits of rebuilding the project, House Majority Leader and member representing Mikang constituency Hon. Na’anlong Gapyil Daniel opined that rebuilding the burnt Jos Main Market will no doubt create a robust avenue for revenue generation.
According to the legislator, for many years Plateau was referred to as a ‘civil service state’ simply because of its low economic and commercial activities. He was of the view that had the market been in existence, this notion would not have come up in the first place.
For him, it was time to change the narrative, hence the need to rebuild the market.
While making clarifications on the MoU, Na’anlong disclosed that the state government had on three occasions approached Jaiz Bank before the financial institution finally gave its consent to embark on the project. The lawmaker who did not hide his approval described Jaiz Bank as a serious financial and business entity that is willing to commit hundred percent of its resources on the project.
He equally revealed that some details in the MoU were arrived at after the bank undertook a feasibility study of specifications in the contract.
The council Chairman Austin Bako on his part, said he did not see anything wrong with the idea as he encouraged the people to support the idea so that government can improve the state economic potentials. Main issues raised by stakeholders was that of security around the market. They were also of the view that the interest of Plateau people must be protected at all cost, especially in the final draft of the MoU.
Majority of them expressed fear at the sixty percent shares allocation for shops given to the bank. Those in attendance included the Miyom of Garkawa Joseph Dabup, former council Chairman Daniel Kungmi amongst others.
It was indeed not different in Bokkos as Hon. Amurudu Usaini, member representing the constituency tasked his people to pay attention to the details since it was the desire of government for legislators to generate feedback on the issue. Even though members of Bokkos constituency did not object to the idea of rebuilding the market, one of the women representatives Victoria Yusuf insisted that government should use local contractors while advicing that ongoing projects be completed first. In attendance during the town hall meeting were the council Chairman Joseph Goluwa, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Tourism and Culture Issac Maren as well as a former SGS Lita Shindai amongst others.
Lalong congratulates Rose Ndong over appointment
PLATEAU State Governor Simon Bako Lalong has expressed excitement over the recent appointment of Ms Rose Chundung Ndong as the Executive Commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management, Board of the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission.
In his congratulatory message, the Governor described the appointment of Ndong, an illustrious daughter of Plateau State by President Mohammadu Buhari as yet another demonstration of the Presidents love for the people of Plateau State, and an affirmation of confidence in their capacity to deliver on critical national assignments.
Lalong advised Ndong to use the opportunity presented by the appointment to showcase her talent and experience in the exploitation of the nation’s oil and gas resources expressing optimism that she has been properly prepared to take up the challenge by her many years of service to the nation.
He recalled her early years of professional service as a geologist in Plateau State where she among others, served as the Provost, Nigerian Institute of Mining and Goesciences and Managing Director of the Nigeria Mining Corporation Jos, before moving on to other responsibilities at various Federal Government Agencies and abroad.
He also advised her to use the opportunity to ensure that the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari of ensuring the development of the nation’s petroleum and gas potentials across the nation is achieved in order to make the nation energy sufficient.
He reminded the appointee that the nation is in dire need of energy security and growth in the oil and gas industry which has been opened up with the recent unbundling of the sector with the passage and signing into law the Petroleum Industry Act.
He wished her a successful tenure and promised that the Government and people of Plateau State and indeed the North Central Zone will support her to ensure that she adds value to the sector.
Abdulkareem Hails Bello’s Equity, Fairness, Inclusiveness In Governance.