Monday 26th June, 2017
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In two years, Lalong delivers stability, socio-economic development

In two years, Lalong delivers stability, socio-economic development

CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN reports that the two-year old administration of Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has brought security stability and notable socio-economic development against all odds in his two years in office
When Simon Bako Lalong emerged gov­ernor of Plateau State after a keenly contested elec­tion in 2015, there was skepti­cism on the part of people of the state who were getting used to frequent ethnic clashes. Be­tween 2001 and 2015, over 5000 persons lost their lives, while properties worth billions have been destroyed in intermittent attacks and killings in the state. Both Muslim and Christian sects in the state have been blamed for the re-occurring violence that brought the once vibrant econo­my of the people to a standstill.
Therefore the election of Lalong on the platform of the All Progressive Congress, APC was viewed as a long standing desire by the people to search for the much elusive peace, even if it means giving opportunity to an­other political party.
Lalong, born on May 5th, 1963 is a native of Ajikamai in Shen­dam Local Government Area, where he won with a landslide victory under the platform of the PDP to represent his people in the State House of Assembly.
Emerging as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly in October 2000, Lalong’s rare leadership qualities earned him the record of the longest serving Speaker in the history of Plateau state legislature (2000 – 2006 i.e. seven years of unbroken quality leadership).
Lalong, who emerged victori­ous in APC gubernatorial pri­maries, scored 2,222 votes, with Prof. Emmanuel Garba and Bar­rister Solomon Dalung scoring 304 and 293 respectively.
In the main election, Lalong polled 564, 913 votes to beat the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Gyang Pwajok, a serv­ing senator representing Plateau north in the National Assembly, who polled 520,627 votes.
The outcome of the April 11 polls indicated faith in the abil­ity of Lalong to rescue the belea­guered state.
After his victory in the polls, Lalong promised to carry all seg­ments of the state along. He said: “The great roles, support and contributions the Plateau people played and ensure our victory during the just concluded state governorship election would for­ever be remember,”
He added: “We would ensure that all the 53 tribes in the state make their imput in our govern­ment. This is a government for all. The APC government in Pla­teau State would heal the wounds of hates and dis-unity.”
“I want to assure all Plateau people that we would also work with an Elders Advisory Council from Abuja for good governance of our people,” Many in the state believe that Governor Lalong has performed creditably, to the consternation of some doubting Thomases
One area that has continued to be applauded by the people is the return of peace to the state. This is as night life that was dead un­der the last dispensation has now come alive in Jos Tin City and other parts of the state. Speaking on the state of affairs in the state, Dan Majang, the Media Adviser to Governor Lalong opined that the Rescue government has succeeded in bringing peace to parts of the state. According to him, “there is no week in recent months that people have not come from outside Plateau to hold conferences, seminars and workshops in Jos, the Plateau State capital”
This is corroborated by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, who lauded Gov. Lalong over the prevailing peace in Plateau. The Sultan, at the opening of a four-day retreat for members of Sokoto State Execu­tive Council, Permanent Secre­taries and Directors-General in National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru said: “All of us are happy to see how peaceful Plateau has become after many years of hos­tilities. I want to commend the governor for his tireless efforts at restoring peace in the state.”
Commenting also on the development, a former Com­missioner of Information in the state, Honourable Yakubu Dati said, “The enduring peace in the state in which there has been about twenty (20) consecutive months without any serious cri­sis has restored confidence to the business community in the state, and this has in no small measure, improved businesses and econo­my of Plateau.”
Lalong, himself is aware of the importance of peace to the peo­ple of the state: “What we are do­ing now is to consolidate on the peace that we have on the Plateau because areas that were seen as no-go areas no longer exists on the Plateau. People now move in anywhere. It is the same Plateau that we are trying to bring back again; so, we take advantage of the nature that God has given us: the weather.
“Once you have peace, cer­tainly, people will come to invest in your state. A lot of people are beginning to come back to Pla­teau. Before now, when I came in, I was busy looking for inves­tors and each time I go they will ask me, is there peace in your state.
With the return of peace, in­frastructural and economic de­velopment has now become a common feature of the state with some observers holding out that the two years old administration has lived up to its billings.
With the recent approval giv­en by President Muhammadu Buhari to release Paris Club re­funds to the state, it is expected that tempo of economic activities will increase with expected road projects, renovation of schools and hospitals, amongst others, were resumed. Recently, the state government approved N3 bil­lion to reacquire Barc farms, a subsidiary of the state-owned Jos International Breweries, earlier sold to a private farmer 24 years ago.

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