By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong has interacted with youths in the State as part of his consultation with stakeholders to ensure lasting peace in the State.
The interactive session which came on the heels of the recent looting and vandalization of public and private property in the State took place at the Government House, Little Rayfield, Jos where the Governor disclosed that preliminary reports show the losses incurred as the result of the incident stand at N75bn.
Addressing the participants, Lalong said his administration has been friendly to the youths and cautioned them against engaging in retrogressive behavior which has the tendency of hindering the development of the State.
According to him, “My dear youth of Plateau State, we have gathered here in continuation of our consultations with stakeholders towards our journey to progress and development. You will recall that I have had engagements with traditional rulers, elders and community leaders in recent weeks. Sadly the engagement with the youths was obstructed because of the uncertainties that arose as a result of the #ENDSARS protests and subsequent disturbances that followed.
“It is therefore with a deep heart that I welcome you to this interaction as we review the events of the recent past and look at the way forward. Indeed, these are very challenging times for the nation and our State because of recent events which have left us counting our losses. Lives have been lost, properties destroyed and the voices of the youths clearly and loudly heard across the nation and beyond.
“Let me first express my deep commiseration to the families of those who have lost their lives and others who have suffered injuries or lost their properties during the unfortunate recent happenings in our State. I went round some of the affected areas together with Members of the National Assembly Caucus from Plateau State and the Minister of Women Affairs to assess the level of destruction. What we saw was horrific and despicable.
“The level of destruction and carnage is unbelievable and unacceptable. We are still trying to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the total cost of the damage. However, the preliminary report by a team of experts I constituted has estimated the losses to be put at about 75 billion naira for now. This clearly takes us many years backwards as we do not have the resources to replace the structures vandalised and the items damaged or stolen. Indeed, this act of destruction has nothing to do with the initial #ENDSARS protests, but a clear act of criminality and unpatriotic behaviour.”
He further appealed to the youths to “always put the interest of our State at heart and learn to build, not to destroy. Be very careful of the negative use of the social media which has the capacity for inciting gullible people towards violence, hatred and destruction. My appeal to all our youths is to always avoid any action that can threaten our unity and peace. Plateau belongs to all of us and we must build it together.”