By Taye Obateru
The first year of Governor Jonah Jang’s second tenure receives mixed reviews from stakeholders. Just like yesterday, Governor Jang took the oath of office for a second four-year term on May 29, last year and on Tuesday, May 29, one had gone and three more to go in this final tenure.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge, to borrow a cliche, and coping with the unending security challenges in the state could be said to have been a major pre-occupation of the governor in the last one year.
What with the Boko Haram insurgency that has seen two churches bombed and the renewed attacks on villages by suspected Fulani herdsmen and other security issues that have elevated the state to the unenviable status of one of the flash points in the country.
Following his re-election, Jang who won accolades during his first tenure for transforming the state capital – dual-izing roads, constructing the first fly over in the city and giving a semblance of sanity to governance – promised to consolidate on his achievements during the second tenure.
On constituting his cabinet, he arranged for a retreat for top government officials at the Obudu Resort in Cross Rivers State where the 10-point Agenda which he pursued during his first term was fine-tuned into what was tagged a Three Pillar Policy geared towards accelerated and sustainable development.
While some argue that the administration did well in the first year of the second tenure through various programmes, there are those who believe not much has been achieved. Special Adviser to Governor Jang on Special Duties, Mr. Yakubu Jang rolled out the achievements of the administration in the past one year:
“The present administration has achieved a lot within one year in terms of development efforts. In the education sector where a state of emergency was declared by this present Governor, immense positive results are being recorded. I want to tell you that several landmark projects on the development of education are at the verge of completion.
The Special Adviser also cited the hitherto abandoned Zaria Road International Stadium which has now reached 70 per cent completion, and the purchase of mini taxis and tricycles to ease transportation and also to provide employment for youths in the state.
However, there are those who feel the last year was not as rosy as painted. In particular, the decision of the administration to dissolve three local government councils yet to complete their tenure despite a court order, her insistence on building a new Government House at billions of naira which critics feel is not a priority at this time and the decision to redeploy local government staff to their councils of origin are cited by some people.
Spokesman of the Labour Party in the state, Mr Sylvanus Namang is among those who feel that the administration has not lived up to the expectations of the people in the past one year. “The second term of Governor Jang is a disaster. It is a clear failure, because the basic responsibility of every government is to secure human life. Look at how precious lives have been lost. All over the world the art of government is serious business for serious minded people,” Namang said.
“Look at the civil service; seven months salary have not being paid. Plateau State used to be tops in educational ranking especially in the North, but since Governor Jang assumed leadership the rating has dropped. We should know that the future of every nation depends on education. Similarly, the health sector has collapsed; where is the Specialist Hospital in Barkin-Ladi?
What about the abandoned cottage hospitals that former Governor Dariye built? I want to tell you that most of the doctors in Plateau State Hospital has move to JUTH.”
Reminded of the achievements of the administration in the construction of roads, Namang said “Government is not measured by construction of roads alone. There should be a mass housing scheme for workers like other state governments are doing. It is also sad to hear that the state government is deploying all local government workers to their various LGCs. It is a disaster because some councils will not have enough the manpower or maybe they want to reduce it to money sharing ventures”.
Namang’s position was shared by the state Chairman of Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, Alhaji Yusuf Kanam who argued that the second tenure had so far not been inspiring.
Chairman, Management Committee of Barkin Ladi Local Government Area Mr. Emmanuel Loman did not subscribe to insinuations that the past year had been uneventful. He instead showered Jang with praises for building on his past achievements.
Said he: ”Governor Jang has actually consolidated on his administration’s achievements. He has opened up the state with development. Though an old man, Da Jonah Jang has a passion of a young man, He has put up many things of standard for the citizens of the state.”
Despite the different views on the first year of Governor Jang’s second tenure, there are those who believe that the policy thrust and projects enunciated in the 2012 Appropriation Act if implemented, would elicit different tunes from critics by this time next year.
They contend that the governor will do well to translate his declaration while presenting the bill tagged “Budget of Continuity and Inclusive Growth II” to the state House of Assembly on December 20, last year, into reality.