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My administration provided level-playing field for all political parties, candidates to freely canvass for votes by holding rallies, others, says Governor Lalong in new year message


My dear Citizens of Plateau State,

1.     It is with immense gratitude to God Almighty that I address you on the occasion of the New Year 2023. We are grateful to God for sparing our lives and giving us the privilege to be among the living to mark this special day. While we celebrate, we also take time out to pay tribute to those who have been called to glory in the last year 2022. May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed continue to rest in peace.
2.     For those of us still living, 2023 affords us the opportunity to look forward with expectations as we ask God to enable us discover and fulfill the purpose of our existence. We should make every day of 2023 count as we serve humanity in love, and work hard to build our State and country as we stand together to overcome all our challenges.
3.     In the past 7 and half years, I have had the rare privilege and honour to serve you as Governor of this beautiful, blessed and cherished State which has the world-wide reputation as the Home of Peace, Hospitality and Tourism. These years have been very eventful just as they have been challenging.
4.     While we look back at the challenges we have worked through, we certainly have many reasons to thank God for the progress we achieved in these years. We did not only ensure stability of the State in terms of peace, security and harmony, but substantially reversed the negative perception of our State as a place to be avoided.
5.     Today, people are trooping into Plateau State to invest, reside, enjoy holidays or hold national and international conferences while taking advantage of our unique weather, hospitality and tourist attractions. We can proudly boast of a robust State where people of the 53 ethnic groups and different religions choose tolerance, dialogue, unity, vigilance and collaboration over hate, division, bigotry and sentiments.
6.     During the year under review, Plateau State played host to 3 International Conferences and Workshops, well over 18 Local conferences, seminars and workshops as well as one International Golf Tournament. All these are indications that Plateau State has substantially regained its lost glory. These efforts are not that of the Government alone but an inclusive one comprising the good citizens of Plateau State with support from other stakeholders. For this, I remain highly indebted to you all.
7.     Through our collaborative efforts, criminals and crises merchants are exposed and isolated for who they are, and are adequately dealt with according to the laws of the land. I take this opportunity to specially appreciate our citizens for supporting us to restore the fortunes of our State. We also thank most specially the security agencies, traditional rulers, religious leaders, civil society organisations, community development associations, youth and women groups for their active roles in rescuing Plateau.
8.     As we look towards more progress in the New Year, we should remain steadfast as well as continue to THINK and ACT Plateau because the common good is always superior to our individual interests. That is the only way we can respond to threats against our collective aspirations and boost confidence in our State. Just last week, we received the good news of the approval by the United Nations for the establishment a Peace University in Plateau State to serve as a hub for teaching and research in Peace Building and conflict management.
9.     My dear Compatriots, the past year has been a challenging one economically not only for us as a State but also as a nation and globally. Consequently, we were constrained in many ways from carrying out our capital and recurrent projects as robust as we planned. This was made worse by the dwindling resources accruing to the State from the Federation Account as a result of global economic issues. Nevertheless, we did our best in giving priority to critical projects and programmes which we are determined to commission before we leave office.
10.                To the glory of God, we have completed many of them which will soon be commissioned. These include the General Hospital Mabudi, Langtang South Local Government; General Hospital Kwall, Kanke Local Government; General Hospital Riyom; High Court Headquarters Complex Jos; Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre Jos; Shendam Bye-pass, Internal Road Networks and Bridges; and the NUJ Secretariat Complex Jos.
11.                Others are the Riyom and Shendam Water Treatment Plants; Construction and furnishing of 194 Junior Secondary and Primary schools as well as the resuscitated Pankshin and Langtang Water Treatment Plants. Other critical projects we also devoted our attention to last year which will also be commissioned this year are the British-American Flyover and Dualisation to Lamingo Junction Roundabout; Kalong-Angwan Dadi Bridge (which is the longest bridge in Plateau State); Several Secondary schools; Procurement of Ultra-modern medical equipment for the State Specialists Hospital such as Superstar MRI Machine, 64 slices CT Scanner, 4D-Ultrasound Scanner and Digital X-Ray Machine among others.
12.                Due to challenges with the previous contractor, the Legacy Projects which should have been completed and commissioned suffered a setback especially because of poor performance which led to termination and litigations. Gladly, we were able to successfully terminate the contract and re-award it to another contractor who has since resumed site and work is fastracking the completion.
13.                God willing, we shall commission the projects which consist of 6 World class hospitals, 6 model Secondary and 9 Primary schools located across the 17 local Government Areas before the end of our administration.
14.                To our most esteemed civil servants, I want to specially thank you for your support, patience and understanding in the preceding year which has been a difficult one in terms of State finances. Like I mentioned earlier, the sharp fall in funds accruing to the State from the Federation Account has hit all States negatively. In our own case, we have used other sources including deepening our IGR to be able to sustain payment of salaries, pensions and allowances. We remain up to date in payment of pensions to our retirees who served us with dignity, integrity and diligence.
15.                Let me assure you that we will continue to do our best to keep the ALERTS flowing and also ensure that we do not leave any arrears by the time we leave office. As you are aware, this Administration in collaboration with the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria has provided home renovation loan to over 2,500 civil servants in the approximate sum of three million naira each across Ministries, Departments and Agencies to ease housing challenges they face. This is in addition to the assistance by Government to the Nigeria Labour Congress in the purchase of the land for the NLC Housing Project in Jebbu Miango, which I personally performed the ground breaking.
16.                Government has taken note of the shortfall in manpower and has therefore approved the recruitment of qualified staff for the various MDAs and Tertiary Institutions to ensure that we have continuity in the bureaucracy for better performance and efficient implementation of Government projects and programmes in the service to the people.
17.                To address the challenge of access to quality, affordable, and prompt healthcare by civil servants and our citizens in general, the Plateau State Health Insurance Management Agency, PLASCHEMA has continued to register thousands of enrollees who now get healthcare services across registered health facilities in the State.
18.                As part of our commitment to social justice and inclusive Governance, we have kept faith with the policy of giving every part of the State a sense of belonging. Last year, we finalised the process and created 268 new Districts, 2 new Chiefdoms as well as restored 3 Chiefdoms scrapped by the previous administration. This is in addition to installing new traditional rulers to replace those who had died and the stools were vacant. I want to use this opportunity to advise the Chiefdoms which are yet to conclude the process of filling vacant stools to do so without further delay.
19.                We have also initiated the process of considering the creation of New Development Areas in order to bring governance more closer to the people. We hope the citizens and stakeholders will give the process the needed support to ensure its success.
20.                Following the long agitation for the return of schools established by Voluntary Associations particularly those run by Christian and Muslim religious organisations, the Rescue Administration which is a listening one has decided to grant this desire. Consequently, I have approved the process for the return of 32 mission schools in Plateau State earlier taken over by the Government to their original owners in the first phase of this programme which will commence this February. I have directed the Secretary to the Government to put in place a Technical Committee to ensure the successful transfer of these schools with immediate effect.
21.                 My dear Citizens, we are entering the New Year in the heat of campaigns for the 2023 General elections where the people will elect their new leaders. This is an opportunity for every eligible citizen to exercise his or her constitutional rights of freely deciding those to lead them. We all have the duty to ensure that we fully participate in the process and conduct ourselves peacefully to ensure that we have a smooth transition.
22.                Here on the Plateau, my administration has provided a level playing field for all political parties and candidates to freely canvass for votes by holding rallies, meetings and other engagements without hindrance. Despite being the DG of the APC Presidential Campaign Council and desiring victory for my party and its candidates, I have not used the instrument of power to give any undue advantage to my party or its candidates or even attempted to suppress the opposition.
23.                This is because of my belief in democracy and the realization that the interest of Plateau State and its people should always be put above individual, group or party interests. While we struggle for power, we have to remember that power is transient and about service to the people. It is not about personal aggrandizement or parochial interests. At the end of every political contest, we shall remain brothers and sisters and citizens of this great State.
24.                May I therefore appeal to those who have registered but yet to collect their PVCs to ensure they collect them immediately before the window closes. Already the collection is moving to the ward level and INEC is calling on all citizens to avail themselves of the opportunity. While we do that, let us renew our resolve to support the electoral umpire and security agencies by ensuring that we shun violence, hate speech and incitement using religion, ethnicity and other negative ideas.
25.                I wish to thank the Legislative and Judicial Arms of Government for their support and collaboration in the discharge of our responsibilities. We shall continue to work together as we serve our people. A few days ago, I signed into law the 2023 Appropriation Bill timely passed by the House of Assembly. We shall begin implementation immediately as we march victoriously towards our last day in office.
26.                Finally, I wish to appreciate the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly particularly our representatives in both Chambers for carrying Plateau State along in Federal Government projects, policies and programmes which has resulted in establishment of more Tertiary institutions and agencies in the State.
27.                I wish us all a very prosperous and fruitful new year.God bless Plateau State and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Rt. Hon. (Dr) Simon Bako Lalong, KSG, CON
Executive Governor of Plateau State,
1st January 2023.

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