Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau has given all government officials in the administration of Senator Jonah Jang, accused by a 12-man transition committee of misappropriating public funds two weeks to return the monies or face the wrath of the law.
He gave the ultimatum on Tuesday at the new Government House, little Rayfield in Jos, the state capital when he received the report of the transition committee.
“In line with the advice of President Muhammadu Buhari, who urge past government officials to return stolen public funds in their procession, I am giving two weeks to government officials in our state to return monies taken illegally, even before government begins the implementation of the recommendations of the committee”, Mr. Lalong said.
The governor also revealed that his administration got only two official cars from his predecessor.
The committee, led by Deputy Governor Sonni Tyoden, had while submitting its report, claimed that the Jang administration incurred a debt of N222.3 billion.
“Records show that between May 2007 and May 2015, the sum of N525.35 billion was the total income accruing to the State, statutory allocations inclusive, but the state was left with a debt of N222.3 billion by May, 2015”, the committee said.
“In other words, the sum of N747.65 billion could be said to have been expended on Plateau State citizens in the last eight years. Looking at the state in its current condition, we are at a loss where all this money went to”, it lamented.
The committee further disclosed that some individuals in the Jang administration became lords unto themselves.
“There was an individual who was a jack of all trades, who appropriated three titles to himself, each conveying separate and identifiable functions. He was a ‘Statistician-General’, a ‘Salary Administrator’ and a ‘General Manager’ all at the same time”, the committee said.
Receiving the report, Governor Lalong pledged to fully implement the recommendations of the committee.
“Government will, without delay, study and commence the implementation of the recommendation of the committee with a view to repositioning government for the important task of delivering on the mandate given to her”, the governor said.
“We will make available to the people of the state details of the committee findings so as to guard against misrepresentation of facts and mischief makers who will want to confuse the general public on the work of this committee.
“May I also state for the purpose of emphasis that the expectation of the people on composition of EXCO and other necessary ministerial restructuring would be addressed in line with the recommendation of the transition committee”, he added.
Lalong vowed that all those said to have milked the state dry would not go unpunished.
According to the committee, a lot of irregularities were carried out by the immediate past government of the state.
“The committee encountered many instances of wanton irregular and doubtful expenditure, misapplication of funds and disregard for laid down known financial rules and regulations”, Mr. Tyoden said.
He alleged that impunity, nepotism, sectionalism were hallmarks of the Jang administration
“From our findings, we wish to observe that while governance between 2007 and 2011 can be said to have been conducted along familiar lines, with some semblance of respect for known rules of procedure and civilized democratic governance, after 2011, there was a sharp decline and the descent of governance to the level of bestiality, where impunity, nepotism, sectionalism became the order of the day”.
The committee also faulted what it called lopsidedness in allocation and spread of projects in the state.
“Even in the area of infrastructural development and road construction in particular, where some appreciable impact could be said to have been achieved, one cannot but be struck by the lopsidedness and selective distribution of such facilities and services, as 80 percent of such projects were located in a particular section of one senatorial district”.