Assuming office on the 29th of May 2015, Governor Simon Lalong pledged to run a transparent and an all inclusive governance without playing a politics of personnel vendetta
Inheriting a huge debt from his predecessor, Lalong constituted a committee that will look into the spending of the previous administration with the aim of recovering stolen funds. But this he has pledged to do in accordance with the law as provided in the constitution.
However, in keeping with his campaign promise he began with the payment of huge salaries owned by his predecessor and also continued with completing most of the abandoned projects spread within the length and breath of Plateau.
According to Lalong, “even though some of the projects of the past administration are doubtful, but because of the people, we have to complete them”, he said.
He is also quoted saying that the backlog of salaries his administration inherited from the previous administration is most paramount to him of which he has demonstrated commitment in paying with the bailout funds of 5billion naira from the Federal Government. No wonder Plateau was rated among the five states by the Central Bank of Nigeria, that utilized its bailout funds to pay salary out of the 27 states that benefited from the gesture.
Appointing his commissioners that will help him fulfill his mandate, Lalong took out time to hold a retreat with them in other to enable them key into his vision. With other cabinet members, they converge at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru.
The retreat, with the theme ‘Delivering Effective Service in an Era of Dwindling Resources’ had resourceful speakers from political, religious, and legal worlds bringing their wealth of experiences to beare.
The likes of the former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, Reverend Father Hassan Matthew Kukah, Bishop Benjamin Kwashi, Professor Dakas C Dakas, among others took their time to lecture the participants on the habit of prudent management of state’s limited resources to achieve the desired goal of delivering good governance.
The choice of NIPSS was equally hailed by Lalong’s supporters, who reiterated that it was clear evidence that the governor was actually ready to cut cost, when he didn’t have to take the retreat to faraway venue from home. Lalong also charged his cabinet against corrupt practices and wasteful spending.
He warned that failure was not part of the agenda of his administration, noting that “Our economic challenges have compelled us to think ahead, look ahead, prepare ahead and stay ahead, if ever we sincerely desire to make the kind of positive impact we seek to make on our sincere bid to make lighter the burden of existence for all our citizens.”
The retreat, facilitated by the Jos Business School (JBS), saw Lalong affirm his government’s commitment to creating enabling environment that would grow the economy of the state through Public and Private sector Participation (PPP), and warned participants that there would be no room for failure.
He said the reforms and structural adjustments at the federal and state levels, aimed at cutting the cost of governance and exploring alternative sources of funding are the change ideology which upholds in Plateau.
“The tangible and progressive development we seek demands continuous knowledge-driven action which saves cost and maximises opportunities. For this policy thrust to be realisable, I must emphasise that team spirit, financial prudence, discipline, dedication to duty, leadership drive and strategic implementation of policies, programmes and actions are necessary ingredients for success.
“I therefore urge you all to begin a process of critical thinking on the quick fixes that would make you hit the ground running in your various ministries and agencies. We have already set in place strategic initiatives and programmes with timelines over short, medium and long terms for the actualisation of our policy thrust, which will be unveiled at this Retreat.”
Coming from a new government under a new political platform, it would be expected that there would not be continuity in governance as the new political party in power will want to jettison the works of the previous administration to chat a new course.
However, this can not be said in the case of this current government on the Plateau, as political observers however said that the situation is different, as Lalong has strived to complete the abandoned projects inherited from his predecessor.
Among other project inherited was the Plateau State House of Assembly Complex, which was under construction by the time Gov. Lalong took over office, but has been completed and commissioned within 3 months of assumption in office.
Others are construction of 18 on-going metropolitan roads, the Federal Low Cost Housing network roads, Rantya Road network, Purchase and distributed 650 trucks of fertiliser on assumption of office, through a community based distribution, which involves Ward and District Heads to eliminate the sharp practices associated with middle men and the resumption of intensive work on the Secretariat fly-over bridge among others.
He has also reinstated the Vice-Chancellor of Plateau State University (PLASU), Prof. D.D.D Sheni with the reconstitution of the Governing Council, headed by Prof. Attahiru Jega as Pro Chancellor and Chairman.
Also, Lalong has vowed to harness other key areas of comparative advantage, namely Agriculture, Tourism and Mining and has intensify investments to create employment and boost revenue base for sustainable development.
While resolving to continue to work and improve its collaboration with development partners and multi-lateral agencies for the common good of the state, the Governor has also expressed determination to overhaul and arrest the continued decay in the education, agriculture and health sectors, which are key elements to development of the state and welfare of the people.
Noting that the role of the civil service in the delivery of the 5-Point Policy Thrust is critical, Lalong emphasised the imperatives of the reform processes and procedures. And in line with this, he added that all MDAs should leverage on the use of ICT in order to improve the productivity of its workforce and build a knowledge-based economy.
He has also said that governance would continue to work in partnership with, and support all relevant security agencies, NGOs and communities in consolidating the peace already achieved in the state, seeing that peace and security are essential recipes for meaningful development.
Not forgetting his background, as a lawyer, he has facilitated funding of the minimum National Judicial Council (NJC), requirements for approval to have 6 new High Court Judges,
A former Chariman National Population Commission (NPC) Chief Samu’ila Makama in his assessment of Lalong has said, “We all crave for a change in governance in the state, we have kept our eyes on Gov Lalong for the past year and I can he has done well. He has given us hope that his administration will do us proud”.
“I am particularly delighted with the quality of credible people he has appointed so far especially that of Prof Attahiru Jega to help us develop our state university. Prof Jega is an experienced scholar, he was a former president of ASUU and a former Vice Chancellor of Bayero University Kano. With that experience Prof Jega knows
exactly what to do to develop ouryoung university. The institution was badly mismanaged by past administration to the extent that ten years after the establishment of the university it has not graduated any set of student. So bringing in Prof Jega at this stage is a good omen for the university”, he said.