Lalong, Dalung at Loggerheads over $350m AfDB Loan


. Seriki Adinoyi in Jos

Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong and a former Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung have been at each other’s throats over the mismanagement of $350m African Development Bank (AfDB) loan.

While Dalung accused the governor of squandering the fund on developing Plateau’s potato value chain, without anything on ground to show for it, Lalong described criticism of his administration as ill-advised and misconstrued.

Speaking at a webinar, Dalung revealed that as a serving minister in the first tenure of President Mohammadu Buhari, he was a member of the Federal Executive Council that approved the credit facility.The former sports minister, however, lamented that no single value chain infrastructure development of potato can been seen or verified in the state.

He, also, lamented that the governor, other than completing the ongoing projects that his predecessor had initiated, had nothing to his name as an achievement.

He, therefore, wondered if Lalong’s administration was only meant to complete projects.
He accused Lalong of misleading the President Buhari to commission a flyover built by Governor Jonah Jang as his own project, describing it as disgusting.

In his response, Lalong described Dalung attack as unfortunate, noting that Dalung, as a Minister of Youth and Sports between 2015 and 2019, achieved nothing.

Lalong, who in a statement by the Commissioner of Information, Mr. Dan Manjang, dismissed the claim that the state took a loan of $350 million.

He said, “Even though it is a fact that Plateau State benefited from loan facility from the African Development Bank, it is rather sad that someone, who claims to have been part of the approval of the facility does not know the amount of the loan.

“This has aptly put a lie to his desperate attempt to take glory for the transaction that he knows little to nothing about. It is on record that Dalung as then Minister “supposedly” representing Plateau State in the FEC tried unsuccessfully to oppose the loan memo presented by the then Minister of Finance during the FEC Meeting.

“Having failed in his bid, he has not rested in his fruitless effort to discredit the program ever since by fabricating lies. Does he want to drag the name of the Federal Executive Council, the highest executive decision making body in the land to disrepute?

“Contrary to the bogus and imaginary figures quoted by the former minister, the Loan amount signed between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Federal Ministry of Finance for the benefit of Plateau State is $11.2M and not $350Million as claimed by Dalung.

“Of this loan, 70 percent is being committed to Infrastructure, 20 percent for Capacity Building and 10 percent for project management,” he said.

Lalong said that the disbursement of the loan to contractors and consultants “is being paid directly by the AfDB under strict guidelines that are set by the bank, and done gradually under the terms of the agreement and not lump sum as he would want the people to believe.

“If he wanted to be truthful, he knows that no single kobo is managed by the State Government. This is done through the Potato Value Chain Management Project Office which is not a parastatal or agency of the State Government, but operated under the supervision of the AfDB just like Fadama project among others.”

Lalong queried if the said projects were not meant to benefit the people.

“Would he have been happier for if the governor chose the path of neglecting inherited projects to start new ones just because he wants to look good in the eyes of the people?

“Had he chosen that route, the likes of Dalung would have been the first to wail over the Mararaban Jama’a to Secretariat Junction road which was a nightmare for motorists and commuters.”