By: Hon. Yakubu Dati,
At the inauguration of the Governor Simon Bako Lalong led administration in Plateau State, the Governor made it clear that his administration is coming with a clear vision for the development of the state and would, as a matter of priority, concentrate on five areas, which policy has been termed the 5- Point Policy Thrust.
These are Peace, Security and Good Governance, Human Capital Development and Social welfare, Agriculture and Rural Development; Entrepreneurship and Industrialization, and Physical Infrastructure and Environment.
After about 33 months in office, it would suffice to say that progress have been made in these core areas that are beginning to define the current administration in Plateau State.
It is common knowledge therefore that the current administration inherited a state, which psyche has been assaulted by an avalanche of crises and, which needed healing to get back on track.
Taking seriously the fact that, without peace there cannot be any meaningful development, the current administration immediately set out to work out Strategies that would ensure a lasting peace in the state.
Part of the strategies devised was to put in place an all inclusive government, that gives every section of the state a sense of belonging, as part of the problems of the past it was observed, was the feeling of alienation by certain parts of the state.
This policy, made it imperative not to unnecessarily malign a particular section but, to take everybody along in the scheme of things in terms of project allocation and appointments for the mutual benefit of all citizens of the state.
Having achieved that, the government realized that to go side by side with this policy of an all inclusive government is to pursue dialogue with warring communities and find out what exactly was the sore point that has made it difficult for people to line together and work proactively towards resolving such issues.
The dialogue proved useful as communities began to express their minds and let out long bottled up grievances which were on the verge of exploding.
The result is that, communities that were in the past as no go areas for some citizens are now open and have become melting point of social and economic activities.
It then became clear to the administration that the issue of peace and continuous dialogue with communities to understand their grievances is a wholesome task and cannot be done in piece meal if effective results are to be achieved,
The need for a body with the primary responsibility to pursue that task the dawned on the government and that was when the Plateau Peace Building Agency was established.
The establishment of the agency has underlined the seriousness with which the Lalong government is taking the issue of peace.
All these efforts restored confidence among the ethnic nationalities living on the Plateau and rekindled hope on the possibility of having a peaceful state built on the foundation of equity and social justice and brought out the best in these citizens.
The state government also moved swiftly to resolve boundary issues within and outside the state.
Still in the bid to ensure peace, the state government also adopted a different approach in its relationship with the central government and chose not to be antagonistic but work in synergy with the Federal Government in providing logistical support to security agencies.
All of a sudden, the image of Plateau as a crisis prone state with belligerent leaders who are hostile to support from external forces began to give way and the governor began to have unlimited access the central government in Abuja which has influenced a lot of things in the state.
In no time, focus shifted back to Jos and activities of the federal government and its agencies and parastatals which were taken out of Jos began to reoccur.
Social life began to return to Jos and other towns in the state with an an increase in recreational activities to the extent that Jos is regaining its glory as a tourism destination, attracting conferences and boosting economic activities for its people and government.
Much as all these goals have begun to redefine the concept of good governance in the state and have driven away the tension and apprehension in matters concerning the state, the government felt there was a need to do an introspection and work on any loophole that could cause ill feeling or demotivate its work force and it almost immediately set machinery in motion to ensure prompt payments of salaries.
The issue of nonpayment of salaries to the civil servants had lingered for long and had continued to cause embarrassment to the state government not to talk of the untold hardships to the citizenry and its implication to the socio-economic well being of the state.
The security implication of continually pauperising the citizenry was also not lost on the government and the governor decided that as one of the first set of remedies he is going to put in place would be ensuring the welfare of its workforce because, as they say, charity begins at home.
The Lalong administration thereby resisted the temptation to use the scarce resources of the state on some egotistical ventures and decided to put to good use payments from the Paris Club bail-out funds and overdraft.
The government did not also close its eyes to the financial implication of having a debt overhang of N220billion inherited from the previous administration.
This has crippled many enterprises and small scale businesses as contractors were not being paid and there was little money in circulation to patronize these businesses.
The government set to work huge sums to defray the liability through salary payments and contractual obligations, among others.
These have indeed injected life into the state and Plateau, known as the beautiful, is reliving its essence as vibrant social economic hub of northern Nigeria.
To be concluded.