By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Plateau State government has denied the allegation of taking $350m African Development Bank, AfDB loan saying such allegation is frivolous as the government only took $11.2 million of which, 70% of the amount is being committed to infrastructure, 20% to capacity building and 10% for project management.
A former Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung last Thursday at a webinar discussing why Plateau State lost its relevance at the national stage, accused the Governor, Simon Lalong of non-performance despite taking loans that have no impact on the lives of citizens.
Dalung said, “$350 million (N140 billion) was approved for the Plateau State governemnt by the Federal Executive Council for the purpose of the potato value chain. I was a serving Minister at the time, so I was part of that approval but to date, no single value chain development of potatoes can be verified so I ask the question, where is the infrastructure or the money?
“We as citizens have to ask questions else our grandchildren will become slaves in their own lands since people are eating the futures of our grandchildren today.”
Responding to the allegation, the State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dan Manjang faulted Dalung saying he is engaging in another round of wild and malicious allegations.
Manjang in a statement issued at the weekend in Jos said, “This response has become expedient for two major reasons. First, to refute some of the daylight lies and misinformation that Mr. Dalung reeled out before they are swallowed by unsuspecting persons and the gullible that stand to be misled.
“Secondly, the organizers of this webinar had already extended an invitation to the Plateau State Commissioner for Information and Communication to be a special guest at the next discussion to speak about the key achievements of the Rescue Administration scheduled for 8th October 2020.
“It is on record that Mr. Dalung as then Minister “supposedly” representing Plateau State in the Federal Cabinet tried unsuccessfully to oppose the loan memo presented by the then Minister of Finance during the FEC Meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari. Having failed in his bid, he has not rested in his fruitless effort to discredit the program ever since by fabricating lies. Does he want to drag the name of the Federal Executive Council, the highest executive decision-making body in the land to disrepute?
“Contrary to the bogus and imaginary figures quoted by the former Minister, the loan amount signed between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Federal Ministry of Finance for the benefit of Plateau State is USD 11.2Million and not USD 350Million as claimed by Dalung. Of this loan, 70% is being committed to infrastructure, 20% for capacity building and 10% for project management.”
Manjang added, “While he painted a picture as though the money was approved and given to Plateau State Government in cash, the fact is that the disbursement of the loan to contractors and consultants is paid directly by the AfDB under strict guidelines that are set by the bank. This is done gradually under the terms of the agreement and not lump sum as he would want the people to believe.
“If he wanted to be truthful, he knows that no single kobo is managed by the State Government. This is done through the Potato Value Chain Management Project Office which is not a parastatal or agency of the State Government, but operates under the supervision of the AfDB just like Fadama project among others.
“Initially, the project covered only 10 out of the 17 LGAs based on the area of coverage of completed Fadama II project in the State. However, Governor Simon Lalong demonstrated his passion for the progress of the programme and made a case for inclusion of the 7 other LGAs to benefit from the infrastructure component of the project during the appraisal mission which was accepted by the Bank.
The whole 17 LGAs are today beneficiaries of the project. In addition, the Governor mandated the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to carry out research on the possibility of growing the crop in all the Local Governments of the State. The research returned positive and today, potatoes can be grown in the entire State.”