• Christians kick against renaming of road after president

Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed the commitment of the federal government to support and assist the peace-building agency of Plateau State Government to end the vicious cycle of violence in the state and lay the foundation for sustainable peace, enjoining other states of the federation to emulate Plateau by setting up similar institutions.

Buhari, who is currently in Jos on a two-day working visit, where he inaugurated some projects executed by the state Governor, Mr. Simon Bako Lalong, and launched Plateau Peace Roadmap, also held a town hall meeting with stakeholders in the state.

The president said: “I have been monitoring the activities of the Plateau State Peace-Building Agency; I am indeed quite impressed with gains and successes recorded in the area of conflict management and peace-building, which have returned this state on the path of relative peace. As I formally endorse and launch the Plateau State Roadmap to Peace, let me express the federal government commitment to support and assist the Peace Building Agency in its effort to arrest the vicious cycle of violence and lay the foundation for sustainable peace.”

Buhari also promised to look into the genuine request for the dualisation and construction of the road from Abuja to Jos and the gateway extending to the North-east, given the economic viability and conveniences.

He added that he would also look into Lalong’s request for more slots for the state in federal appointments so as to reflect federal character in line with his government’s determination to address the issues of marginalisation in the spread of appointments and other privileges.

“The desire of the state to turn Riyom General Hospital to Trauma/Disaster Hospital is a genuine one in view of the location of Riyom as the gateway into the state capital from Abuja. I will direct the Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to work in close collaboration with the Plateau State Government towards the actualisation of this project,” Buhari assured them.

In his speech, Lalong who told the president that he met a dislocated state, said: “When this administration came on board on May 29, 2015, the scenario in the state was that of despondency, despair and discomfort, as the citizens were groaning under varying degrees of adverse socio-political and economic conditions. The citizenry was even further plunged into life-threatening insecurity challenges with many lives lost and properties wantonly destroyed in the wake of crises and sporadic attacks. On the economic front, this spectacle of instability had drastically affected the economic well-being of our enterprising women and youth group. For the common man, life was very challenging as the government then became helpless.

“Even more pathetic was the backlog of workers’ salaries as civil servants were owed arrears of eight months salary, teachers were owed seven months and most pathetic too was unpaid pensions of over 12 months and 13 in some local government areas. We also met a seriously demoralised civil service characterised by low performance and productivity due to neglect of staff welfare and training. This gloomy scenario was in the face of a staggering debt profile of over N222 billion which we inherited. The prospects of getting out of these tragic spectacles at first looked almost impossible, were it not for our resilience and the president’s timely interventions in critical areas of need.”

The governor disclosed that the secret behind the success story of his administration “lies in our vision, commitment, trust, painful sacrifice and judicious use of limited resources. It may also interest the president to know that the five-pillar policy thrust of my administration has remained the Trojan horse on which we rode towards tackling the enormous developmental challenges confronting us in this state.

“These policy thrusts include peace, security and good governance; human capital development and social welfare; agriculture and rural development; entrepreneurship and industrialisation, and physical infrastructure and environment. These policy thrusts are targeted at meeting the peculiar developmental aspirations of the Plateau citizens, while taking into consideration contemporary economic challenges and our new normal in the areas of agriculture, mining and tourism.”

Meanwhile, a Christian group in Plateau State, Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association (ACIPA), has condemned the re-naming of Mararaban Jama’a – Bukuru road after President Buhari by Lalong.

But in a statement signed by Reverend Luke Shehu, the group rejected the re-naming, describing it as “obvious plunder of Governor Lalong in a desperate effort to please the grand patron of Fulani, flag bearer of Danfodio Jihad and the recently coronated Bayajidda. Not only did Lalong mischievously claim credit for Jang’s PDP projects, Lalong has just re-named the Mararaban Jama’a to Bukuru expressway after Buhari.

“Lalong does not know the relevance of Mararaban Jama’a road as a gateway to Jos. The entire Plateau people must arise and protect our collective heritage and value before the hangman’s noose is pulled under our very eyes.”
Aside from the Mararaban Jama’a road, the president also inaugurated Secretariat Junction Flyover and Miango Road before proceeding to the Gbong Gwom palace where he met with state traditional council.

Most of these projects were though commenced by the past Governor of the state, Jonah David Jang, they were taken to completion by Lalong.

The president, whose aircraft, Nigerian Air Force marked 5N-FGW, touched the ground at the Yakubu Gowon Airport about 11:54a.m., proceeded to inaugurate the projects after inspecting the guard of honour and exchanging pleasantries with the dignitaries.

His visit temporarily united diverse politicians in the state, who came out irrespective of party affiliations to receive him at the airport.

Some of the dignitaries who came out to receive the president were Lalong’s Nasarawa State counterpart, Mr. Umaru Tanko Almakura; Senator Jonah Jang, Senator Joshua Dariye, Senator Ibrahim Mantu and members of the House of Representatives from the state among others.