Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State says harnessing the benefits of Nigeria’s diversity is key to eliminating most of the challenges besetting national development.
Governor Lalong who spoke shortly after reviewing the independence parade held at the Rwang Pam Township stadium Jos said Nigeria has made significant progress during its 62 years of existence as a sovereign Nation.
He said despite the challenges the nation has passed through, its citizens have remained resilient and continue to have faith in the unity of the country. What he said remained important was for Nigerians to do more in appreciating the diversity of the country as well as harness it for growth.
“Nigeria is a great nation with abundant human and material resources comparable to very few countries in the world. These blessings have passed through different attempts to harvest them for the good of the citizens who are diverse in ethnic, religious, social and political orientations. Our diversity which in itself is a major resource has also put demands on managing our endowments to the point that many question whether it is a blessing or a curse. However, we should never forget that Nigeria’s diversity is in its greatest strength and not its weakness. Therefore, we should devote more time, energy and resources on things that unite us than our differences of origin which in most cases we have no control over. We should equally devote more energy towards ensuring that people are treated fairly, justly and with dignity that is guaranteed by our constitution. Plateau State under our watch presents this template of managing diversity”.
Lalong who said he was addressing the State on Independence Celebration as Governor for the last time, described the event as very nostalgic for him and one that reminds him about the journey so far.
He said “Many of you will recall that when we came on board, we were confronted with many challenges that threw our State into a near state despondency and hopelessness.
From the high level of insecurity and unrelenting attacks on our people, to the huge months of unpaid salaries, pensions and arrears as well as abandoned projects littered across the State, we knew that the task was a huge one. However, I am happy to say that despite the many setbacks we were confronted with such as global crash in oil prices, criminal attacks, Covid-19 among others, we have been largely successful in restoring Plateau State to its status as the Home of Peace and Tourism.
He said his Rescue Administration can proudly boast of being one of the few across the country to vigorously pursue the completion of abandoned and inherited projects started by previous administrations including Government of a different political party. Rather than allow the common patrimony of Plateau people to rot away under the guise of political ego, he vowed to complete many of the abandoned projects inherited for the benefit of the people.
“While handling the inherited and abandoned projects, we also initiated many new projects with most of them completed, commissioned and put into use while others are on the verge of completion. Our administration believes that this approach is the best way to sustain development and defend the Plateau Heritage. In the coming months, we shall be commissioning some of the completed projects and others soon to be completed. Some of them include the New High Court Headquarters Complex, General Hospital Mabudi, General Hospital Kanke, Kalong-Angwan Dadi Bridge (the longest bridge in Plateau State), the Shendam Internal Road Networks, and the Potato Value Chain Processing Centres in Bokkos, Barkin Ladi, and Mangu. Work will soon resume on the Legacy Projects located across the 17 Local Government Areas of the State. Our commitment is to ensure that we complete ongoing projects before the end of this administration”.
On security, the Governor appreciated all citizens for their support and collaboration towards the restoration of peace and security in Plateau State over the years saying although total success in eliminating criminal attacks have not been achieved, the State has substantially overcome the wanton destruction of lives and properties through ethno-religious crises and other senseless attacks on the people.
On the forthcoming general elections, he said “Let me therefore use this opportunity to call on all politicians to put the general interest above their personal or party interests before, during and after the elections. We should never do anything that will jeorpadise, the peace, security and unity of Plateau State and Nigeria just to win elections. Without peace and stability, there will be neither democracy nor room for any politician to canvass for votes or aspire to lead. We must act with utmost responsibility and caution because despite political differences, we are all Plateau citizens and shall continue to remain brothers and sisters. Similarly, I urge the youths to shun all forms of actions that are inimical to conduct of peaceful elections such as thuggery and violence. Nobody should deceive you into believing that you are relevant or you can be made rich through violence. Think about your future and reject those who hide their children but recruit the children of others to carry out political violence on their behalf. Our administration has demonstrated that it is committed to providing opportunities for youths through empowerment and job creation. That is why I challenge you to take advantage of empowerment programmes rather than participating in political violence”.
He reassured all stakeholders that the Government under his watch will ensure that that the rights of citizens and political parties and their candidates to freely sell their manifestos and canvass for votes as enshrined in the law are protected.
However, he warned that those who want to use politics to cause chaos and disharmony will be confronted by the security agencies that are empowered to maintain law and order. Similarly, those who also want to cause trouble through fake news, hate speech, and incitement should be ready to face the law.
Commissioner for Information and Communication Hon. Dan Manjang in a remark appreciated the Governor for successfully hosting the event and also ensuring that there is peace and harmony in the State.
Dr. Makut Simon Macham
Director of Press and Public Affairs to the Governor of Plateau State.
1st October 2022.