In continuation of the consultations towards rebuilding the burnt Jos Main Market, a stakeholders meeting has been convened by Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong to sensitize the citizens and get their input into the process of carrying out the project.
Governor Lalong while addressing the participants, said the stakeholders engagement was a deliberate effort by the Government to educate and sensitize the people on the proposal for rebuilding the market and also dispel the misinformation, rumours and misconceptions over the project which has generated needless controversy.
Lalong explained that rebuilding the Jos Main Market is part of the fulfillment of his Campaign promise to restore the lost glory of Jos which relied so much on the iconic market that was the best in West Africa and attracted traders, tourists and visitors from within and outside the country until it was burnt down over 20 years ago.
He said the Government made several efforts to rebuild the market by advertising and engaging many investors within and outside the country who insisted that they wanted a bank guarantee from the government, as well as an absolute control of the market for as long as it takes for them to recover their investment.
He said Government could not meet those conditions and continued looking for investors until Jaiz Bank came up with a proposal to fund the construction of the market 100% with their money with the State giving only the land as their equity.
Thereafter, a sharing formula of the shops for the purpose of sale in the ratio of 60-40 will be used under which the Bank will recover its funds and leave. The bank will have no business in running the market and will not own any shop.
However, those who buy the shops will be issued a 40 year lease by the Government for them to utilise the shops and recoup their money after which the ownership reverts to the Government. All the while, the market will be managed by the Jos Main Market Authority (JMMA) as it is the property of Government.
The Governor therefore debunked the misinformation being pedelled by politicians that the Government was handing over the heritage of the State to an Islamic Bank for 40 years, describing it as false and a calculated attempt to truncate the laudable initiative.
He said his administration has the record of recovering sold assets of the State such as the BARC Farms and JIB, and will not on any way contemplate to sell the Jos Main Market to anyone.
While assuring that more consultations will be carried out, the Governor appealed to the stakeholders particularly leaders of religious, traditional, ethnic, professional and other groups to play their role of educating the people to see the benefits of rebuilding the market whose absence has made the once beautiful centre of Jos a slum and eyesore.
Secretary to the Government of the State Prof. Danladi Abok Atu who presented the report of engagements with the traders, religious leaders, elders, civil society, PIDAN, professional bodies, women groups, physically challenged, traditional institutions, among others, said the general views of the groups is that the market should be rebuilt but with proper education and enlightenment on some of the misconceptions that have been making rounds in the media and other spaces.
In his contribution, former Military Administrator of Plateau State Admiral Samuel Bitrus Atukum under whose regime the market was completed and commissioned by then Military Head of State Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, advocated for sustained consultations and enlightenment.
Member representing Pankshin Kanke Kanam Federal Constituency Yusuf Gagdi said the misconceptions and controversy that greeted the news of rebuilding the market was not necessary because some political undertones have been brought into the discourse and seemed to over shadow the good intentions of the Governor.
He said since the shops in the market will not be sold to Jaiz Bank but to all interested citizens of Plateau State under a strict supervision of an Allocation Committee, there is no reason for apprehension because the funding Bank has done similar projects in many States with huge success.
Similarly CAN Chairman Plateau State Rev. Fr. Polycarp Lubo and the representative of JNI Sani Mudi supported the rebuilding of the market with more consultations being carried out in the process.
Former Managing Director of the Federal Housing Authority Architect P.D. Gyang who spoke on behalf of Plateau elders and Hon. Ayuba Burki speaking for people living with disabilities wonderd why the issue that is strictly busines is being associated with religion and ethnicity, whereas traders of different faiths always do business together in the market.
While they support the issue of more consultations, they said it was very important to hurry and begin the process of rebuilding the market so as to remove all the traders that are selling around the terminus, Ahmadu Bello Way, Rwang Pam Street and other areas that have made the once admirable Jos city centre an embarrassing thing.
At the end of the deliberations, the stakeholders agreed that consultations should be carried out up to the grassroots which led to the Governor mandating members of the Plateau State House of Assembly to go and hold Town Hall Meetings within their constituencies within one week and report their resolutions to Government.
The Governor also used the opportunity to speak about his appointment as the Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, assuring the people that his appointment is not a minus but a plus to Plateau State especially within the ruling party.
He explained that contrary to some views that his appointment is about religion and an attempt to ridicule Christians and the North Central, some people who are shouting on top of their voices never supported Christian aspirants during the Primaries and also sidelined the North Central and prospective nominees for the Vice President from the zone and Plateau State because of selfishness.
He assured the people that he will do his best in the assignment given to him as a loyal part member but will always protect and safeguard the interest of the people of Plateau State wherever he finds himself.
Dr. Makut Simon Macham
Director of Press and Public Affairs to the Governor of Plateau State.
6th August 2022.
Photos; Josiah Jenvulu