In Plateau ‘PDP’s allegations of fraud against me are ridiculous,’ Governor Lalong says

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong has denied allegations of corruption levelled against him by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

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Governor Simon Lalong play

Governor Simon Lalong

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Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong has denied allegations of corruption levelled against him by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The allegations were made by the Chairman of the Plateau PDP, Damishi Sango.

Lalong made the denial via a statement released by his media aide, Mark Longyen.

The statement reads:

The attention of the Plateau State Government has been drawn to media reports credited to the state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Damishi Sango, who at a press conference on Tuesday, reportedly made wild and largely unsubstantiated allegations cum fabrications, ostensibly to cast negative aspersions on and maligning the person of our indefatigable Governor, the Rt Honourable Simon Lalong, and the APC-led administration in the state, just to score cheap political points.

Ordinarily, the APC Government would not have dignified Sango and his PDP cohorts with a response because even the least informed Plateau common man knows that the allegations are just wild allegations that, by and large, put logic on its head and curiously devoid of documentary evidence, and so should be ignored by all right-thinking individuals.

In fact, joining issues with the PDP and its leaders, who are clearly bent on drowning with their dying party, is tantamount to over-flogging a dead horse, which PDP represents, but our response is to to set the records straight for posterity and expose Sango’s diatribe as the ranting of the leader of a political party which requiem mass the APC Government in Plateau State is already celebrating.

It is indeed not difficult for any discerning mind to decifer that the timing of the PDP press conference, which is coming barely a week after the Governor inaugurated a 6-member Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe the immediate past PDP government of former governor Jonah Jang over alleged multi-billion naira profligacy, is a mischievously orchestrated opposition falsehood and diversionary tactics aimed at unwittingly gaining public sympathy, and settling political scores with the Governor over the probe.

The good people of Plateau State should, therefore, not allow themselves to be deceived, used and dumped by these same leaders of a party, which is best known with the acronym of "People Deceiving People," whose obnoxious agenda is a sinister move to divert attention from the multi- billion naira looting sleaze that the PDP and its leaders bequeathed to Governor Lalong, which the Judicial Commission of Inquiry he recently constituted is about to unearth and make public‎.

Now, to address the issues raised by Sango one by one, the former Sports Minister, who is on record to have been unsuccessfully contesting for the governorship of the state since 1999 and has perennially been woefully losing on all occasions on account of his huge unpopularity, is said to have claimed that the Lalong administration has received over N115 billion as revenue from the Federation Allocation and loans since inception and has squandered all the funds.

This is both malicious and ridiculous because it is a clear demonstration of how Sango and the PDP are twisting facts and figures in order to paint the Lalong administration black, a sort of Pull Him Down syndrome, something akin to giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

The net payments accruing to Plateau State from the Federation Account on a monthly basis, after the multi-billion loans taken by the Jang administration are deducted, are available on the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance, and one would have expected Sango and his PDP co-travellers to visit the site and confirm the figures, which indicate an average monthly allocation of less than N2 billion, which can hardly settle Plateau's wage bill of about N1.5 billion, before going to press, but they deliberately failed to do that.

The PDP chairman, who made the allegations in his maiden press briefing, also claimed that he was set to reposition PDP and reclaim the governorship seat from APC in 2019, and falsely stated without proof of documentary evidence, that the APC government spent N4.5 billion on the purchase of luxury cars for selected government officials "at a time pensioners and civil servants were being denied their pay package."

Again, this is another case of the opposition PDP deliberately twisting facts and figures in the most malicious manner imaginable. The records are there to prove that the Lalong administration inherited a paltry N96 million sum and had to take a bank loan of N4.5 billion in June 2015 for the purpose of settling a part of the eight months unpaid salaries of striking workers and nearly one year of pension arrears,and not to purchase exotic official vehicles as claimed.

Sango further accused Governor Lalong of taking commercial bank loans amounting to over N18 billion with nothing to show for it, adding that yet Lalong  has been crying out loud that he inherited crippling loans from the immediate past PDP administration of former governor Jonah Jang.

Again, this is another false claim clearly aimed at rubbishing the Lalong administration to score cheap political points. It is on record that this administration inherited a quantum of multi-billion naira abandoned or uncompleted projects from Jang's government and in its wisdom decided to continue with them in the belief that government is a continuum.

As such, it accessed a Federal Government backed facility of N10 billion tied to the excess crude account. It also received another Federal Government intervention sum of about N10.5 billion, as bailout, to clear the remaining arrears of workers' salaries, which it has paid with only July, 2016 salaries outstanding at the moment. How on earth would someone with access to information about all these claim that Government has nothing to show for such funds?

The PDP chieftain also accused Lalong of purchasing  and installing GPRS car tracking devices for 100 official cars at a whooping sum of N1.4 billion, which he claimed, translates to a cost of N14 million to track one car for one year.

This is particularly laughable, as there is no iota of truth in the claim, which in itself clearly stands logic on its head again. Let nobody be deceived. We challenge the opposition to come up with documentary evidence about such a transaction and publish same for posterity.

Sango further alleged that the Lalong administration spent over N500 million on the patching and rehabilitation of roads within the Jos metropolis in the last one year, with potholes still adorning the roads.

It is true that at the onset of the Lalong administration, the sum of N500 million was expended on the rehabilitation of about 18 metropolitan roads in Jos through the state's Direct Labour Agency, to the admiration  of many commuters in Jos, who gave government a pat on the back for it, so what is wrong with that? The amount is meagre, a mere drop of water in an ocean, considering the enormity of the challenges of road rehabilitation and attendant cost implication of rehabilitating the remaining roads.

According to Sango, who is a former Chairman of Barkin Ladi LG, the Governor Lalong administration also "diverted Local Government funds, and things could worsen in the months ahead with LG staff being owed up to a year’s wages.

This, without doubt, is pure fabrication from the pit of hell, as Governor Lalong has, time and time again, reiterated his resolve never to tamper with local government funds, has kept to his words to date, and has virtually cleared almost all arrears of salaries he inherited from the PDP government. Again, we challenge the opposition to publish their facts, if at all they have any.

Sango further took a swipe at the Lalong Government for keying into the Federal Government's Agricultural Ranching Policy, describing it as "selling of the dignity and inheritance of the people of Plateau on the altar of seeking for relevance from Abuja in the name of a rejected grazing reserve policy."

What a blackmail after instigating the people through wanton demonstrations‎ to demonise the policy and failing to achieve their mischievously orchestrated agenda against the government!

From this it is clear that the PDP chairman is living in the past and speaking from the perspective of an uninformed position because the government has since keyed into the Federal Government's Ranching Policy, not Grazing Reserves Policy as claimed, and the people have already overwhelmingly embraced Ranching, which is a lucrative, modernized form of livestock farming, after series of wide consultations, and is now awaiting implementation.

Let Sango be reminded that Grazing Reserves and Grazing Routes were gazetted by the Jang administration in 2009, and even financial allocations made for same in the state's 2014‎ budget under him. Governor Lalong considers Jang's Grazing Reserves and Routes as archaic and socio-economically inimical to the interest of Plateau State, hence the Ranching option.

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Government, therefore, calls on the PDP opposition in the state to desist from distractive, dirty politics and join hands with the Lalong administration in moving the state forward by making valuable contributions, or alternatively, remain as a vibrant opposition party that will strengthen democracy in Plateau State.

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