24 hours after the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, issued a damning statement against Simon Lalong, Plateau state governor, the state government has issued a rebuttal.
On Monday, the minister accused Lalong of misleading President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate a bridge which was completed by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Dalung also alleged that the plateau state government mismanaged over $2 billion loan collected from the African Development Bank for potatoes processing factory.
President Buhari had paid a two-day working visit to Plateau last week, as part of his “condolence tour” of violence-ravaged states.
While condemning Lalong for sidelining him during the President’s visit, Dalung further accused the governor of playing to the gallery by renaming a road, formerly named after a former military ruler, after Mr. Buhari.
“Where is the $2 billion loan collected from African Development Bank for potatoes processing factory payable in 25 years? Where is the factory located? Or where is the money kept and whose account? Why did the state government keep the issue of the loan secret? What is happening to LG funds? What is happening to 5 per cent meant for the traditional council?” the minister said.
“Another disaster of the president’s visit was the renaming of Yakubu Gowon way to Muhammadu Buhari way. To say the least, it is embarrassing,” the minister said in an interview he posted on his Facebook page.
“Gowon was the president’s boss, how can he be stripped of a 40-year privilege and honour in his home state? This is the worst thing that can happen to a man like the elder statesman. I believe that General Gowon is feeling betrayed and abandoned by his own people.
“And if peace has returned to Plateau, why was the LG elections suspended because of security concerns? Is it not true that Governor Jang constructed all the roads in Jos and Bukuru metropolis except for state low cost -Dong road? You were present when former President Goodluck commissioned Federal Secretariat bridge, why did Governor Lalong mislead the president to recommission it again?” he said.
Reacting to the minister’s claim, Yakubu Dati, the Plateau State commissioner for Information and Communication, described Dalung’s claims as false and misleading.
Dati also denied that Plateau State procured a loan of $2 billion.
“For the records. Plateau State debt profile is N122 billion from an inherited debt of N220 billion. The records are available at the Debt Management Office for confirmation. The bandied figure of N1 trillion is tales by moonlight,” the statement reads.
“On the matter of the loan. It is still being processed and not released. This can easily be confirmed on the bank’s website as attached. The amount secured by the Federal Ministry of Finance is 11 million dollars and not 2 BILLION dollars being bandied. The facility was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting of Wednesday, July 26 2017. The loan was secured from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the development of the Irish potato value chain, and the project is expected to create 60,000 jobs.
“Plateau State would be providing N599 million as counterpart funding for the project. The loan has a five years moratorium; thereafter, whatever remained of the loan would be paid at the rate of 1 per cent in 20 years. The loan would be used to develop the Irish potatoes value chain in 17 local local government areas of the state.
“The implementation would be jointly executed by FADAMA project and a unit in the state Ministry of Agriculture. About 70 per cent of the loan would be used for the provision of infrastructure, extension services, improved planting and marketing. The whole exercise is aimed at boosting production and minimising wastages in Plateau State which is the largest producer of Irish potatoes. The rescue administration remains focused on delivering on its mandate.”