By Golok Nanmwa
Plateau state Governor Simon Lalong on Wednesday said his Administration has and would never think of abandoning the course of the Plateau project as being insinuated by some people for cheap political relevance.
He also said that by divine intervention, Plateau is a project in God’s hand.
Lalong made this known while speaking at the 95TH COCIN General Church council (GCC), held at COCIN headquarters compound church auditorium in Jos.
He said his administration has done everything possible within its reach to deliver to the people a State that is devoid of crisis, free for all to practice one’s religion of choice and to go about their normal businesses without molestations.
Speaking at the occasion Lalong said: “Today marks yet another hallmark of event in the time of the Rescue Administration, which provide the avenue for meeting with the Church and Members of the Congregation. An auspicious occasion like this provides us the opportunity to share with the church vital information on the Policies and activities of Government that have engendered peace, unity and development.
As a Government, we know that Plateau State is a project in the hands of God and that we are only instruments for the actualization of God’s mandate. We have therefore undertaken to submit ourselves to His leadership so that we can enjoy the Lord’s blessings in Governance.
In this vain, on assumption of office in May 2015, we made it a priority that Peace, Security and Good Governance must take the centre stage for any meaningful and sustainable development. This led to the establishment of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee that deliberated and made far reaching recommendations for government to implement. Amongst these recommendations are what we have today as the Plateau Peace Building Agency, the first of its kind in the country and doing a good job of advocacy, pro-activeness in conflict management, etc.
Another far-reaching recommendation, which government embraced was tackling the issue of IDPs. As you are aware, on 24th July 2018 I constituted a 7-Man Committee on Rehabilitation of the Internally Displaced Persons IDPs. This Committee worked assiduously and submitted their report on Monday 12th November 2018. In the course of carrying out this assignment, the committee took stock of lives and properties destroyed. They made far-reaching recommendations on what should be done and strategies for implementation towards lasting solution to the unfortunate incidences. In the spirit of integrity, accountability and transparency in leadership I have given assurance of government’s resolve to study the report and release the white paper for immediate implementation. I personally undertook a visit to Gashish Community yesterday for another on-the-spot assessment, preparatory to commencing of the resettlement programme; just as I have consistently reiterated that despite the past structured and premeditated violence through farmer-herder clashes in some parts of the country, including Plateau State, there will be no land grabbing and that all displaced persons will be resettled and rehabilitated in their original places of abode.
During the period under review too, things might be slow in terms of policy implementation, but in the spirit of “slowly, but surely”, coupled with patience, we have made tremendous progress in ensuring that peace returns and is sustained. We have achieved this during our three years of uninterrupted peace.
Furthermore, as some of our strategic initiatives in engendering peace and security in the state, this administration attracted the establishment of the 205 Combat and Rescue units in Kerang and Mobile Police Squadron in Shendam. We also procured and distributed over 50 security vehicles, equipped with modern communication gadgets.
I had also approved the recruitment and training of neighbourhood personnel attached to Operation Rainbow for community policing and intelligence gathering.
There is also recent approval to establish Mobile Police Barracks in Gashish District of Barkin Ladi. In fact, as a demonstration of support towards government’s efforts, the community through the Nigeria Electricity Supply Company (NESCO) has given a temporary site for mobile police barrack, pending development of its permanent site. we remain eternally grateful for this patriotic gesture, which will indeed fast-track the resettlement of the IDPs.
In appreciating the fact that education as a potent weapon of self-actualization, and emancipation and the historic role of the different religious organizations in inculcation of moral and religious values, I have approved the processing and return of Schools to their owners. In the same vain, effective from June 2018 I approved the resumption of payment of grants to recognized Voluntary Schools. Above all, and in the interest of justice, I have directed the compilation and computation of the thirteen (13) years outstanding grants that have not been paid to these Voluntary schools by past administrations. We believe release of such funds will have positive multiplier effects in contributing to the Human Capital Development in the State.
On 28th August 2018, the State sponsored and hosted the Summit of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Northern Region summit on the role
of Christian Religious Leaders in sustainable peace and security in Northern Nigeria as a panacea for development.
I implore the church to work in synergy with our Government which is your Government, to clarify issues and records before presenting them beyond the boundaries of Plateau, so that we will give adequate and proper statistics of events unfolding in our State to the outside world. It is on record that of recent, statistics of the IDPs given to the presidency does not tally with what we have as a government simply due to none collaboration with the relevant government Agency. I have to say this, as the statistics given out is far less than what we have in our records. Such distorted information has far reaching implications of not only sending wrong signals of alienating some bona-fide citizens but will shortchange our dear state in the area of funding and handling of the resettlement and rehabilitation of our IDPs. Truth and facts are sacrosanct in any society that aspires to grow.
Our doors as a government will remain open to all and sundry for your advices and prayers for peace, development and mutual coexistence of all inhabitants of Plateau State. May I at this auspicious time appeal to the conscience of all religious leaders to avoid the use of the pulpit for political statements that tend to divide us, instead of uniting us for the common good. As Men of God, Elders, Mentors, Role Models, Light and Salt of the World, whatever you tell your Congregation should be predicated on Truth of facts and Truth of reason.
Politics is a process of decision making on affairs affecting all members of the society. Politics cannot be separated from Governance, which is the exercise of political, economic and social authority to regulate human interaction for the security and welfare of the society. These twin ideals are of absolute responsibility and not just for glamour or which political party is in power. Understanding these ideals therefore require us to set aside our differences and search for a common ground for the common good of the State and its Citizens.
Indeed, and without prejudice, the involvement of Church in politics should be a welcome development, within the context of promoting democratic ideals and good governance for the common good. The Church as a grease and lubricant in any political machinery should be able to change the orientation of both the followers and leaders to understand that government is meant to serve society and not for personal or parochial interests. The Church too, with the Clergy as our light and salt should strive to keep the flocks together, with constant reminder of expected role in service, charity and fear of God.” the Governor said.