The Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, has exposed how his predecessor, Da. Jonah David Jang, allegedly used workers’ strike to siphon over N7 billion state fund to a private account.
Governor Lalong made the allegation on Thursday in Jos when the leadership of the Nigeria Union of local government Employees visited him.
The NULGE team was at the Government House to express their overwhelming support for Lalong for keeping faith with his campaign promises, especially in the prompt payments of workers’ salaries and pensions.
Lalong said he has inherited undemocratic policies ‘no work, no pay’ and backlog of salaries and arrears from his predecessor, but he is not leaving anything to chance to offset the arrests.
According to him, no responsible government would want to make workers its enemy, adding: “That is what my predecessor used to divert over N7 billion during the strike, where the N7 billion developed wings and flew away.
“Since I came in, I promised that the welfare of workers in the state will remain my topmost priority.
“It is in this regard that when the bailout issue came I called the labour leaders to set up a committee to handle it, but my opponents keep saying I diverted the money.
“The Paris Club also came and I still channeled it to the committee and I told them to ensure it is utilized for the purpose.
“That’s why I am confident and in full support of the probe of state governors so that at the end, the truth will come out.”
Lalong promised that he will liaise with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and the Plateau State House of Assembly for onward transmission of NULGE’s demand to the Presidency for consideration.
He commended the NULGE Leadership and its followers for pursuing a legitimate cause in pursuant of good governance and accountability.
He said the honour done to him will spur him towards providing better welfare package to the state workforce and the entire people of the state.
The team was also at the state House of Assembly and were received by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Peter Azi, who adopted the demand of the NULGE.
Azi said they were all victims of some lapses happening at the grass root level, but assured that the 8th Assembly was ready to make them feel a sense of belonging by ensuring that their requests are given explicit and accelerated approval.
Goodwill messages came from human rights activists, Steve Aluku and Gad Shamaki Peter, who said agitation for local government autonmy was long over due and it is a right that must be accomplished.
Shamaki said the continued delay in the conduct of local government elections in Plateau State is criminal and unacceptable.
Earlier, the National Union of Local Government Employees said it will not hesitate to lead the 2019 gubernatorial campaign in support of Lalong’s ambition to return to the Government House.
The President of NULGE, Ibrahim Khaleel, said this during the meeting with Lalong, where the union canvassed for support for LG administrative, financial and political autonomy.
The Union presented a merit award to Lalong as the best governor for judiciously utilizing the Paris club refund and bailout funds for the payment of local government staff and pensioners.
The Union also used the forum to appeal to the governor to address the issue of their outstanding unpaid “no work no pay salary” he Inherited from the previous administration.
Khaleel said they were on a nationwide advocacy to canvass for local government autonomy.
They are seeking that the provision for the establishment of State Independent Electoral commissions be expunged, thereby allowing the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct elections for the three tiers of government.