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Plateau Govt counts N75 billion loses from #EndSARS protests

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

Plateau state government says it has estimated the losses during the #EndSARS protests to about 75 billion naira for now. “This will clearly take us many years backwards, as we do not have the resources to replace the structures vandalized and the items damaged or stolen.”

Making the analysis during the week, the state governor, Barr Simon Lalong, stated that, “We are yet to recover from the devastating economic consequences of COVID-19, which has greatly affected our capacity to provide services. This act of destruction has nothing to do with the initial #EndSARS protests, but a clear act of criminality and unpatriotic behaviour.”

Governor Lalong was speaking on Friday, while on interactive session with the youths in the state at Government House Little Rayfield, Jos.

“As at the last count, we have more than 32 public and private properties that were affected in the looting spree. My dear youths, as a father and your governor, I feel your pains; my heart goes out to all our youths for the many challenges they face daily due to lack of opportunities for jobs and better conditions to achieve their dreams.

“This is a burden that has accumulated over time, which our administration is working hard to address. However, it is always confusing when people demand justice by either violating laws or trampling on the rights of others.

“That can only breed chaos and anarchy, leading to worse consequences than what they sought to address in the first place,” he lamented.

Lalong observed that, “The enormity of the challenges we face cannot be resolved overnight or with a wave of the hand. It is a process, which all of us must collectively work together to achieve.

“However, the question that begs for answer is, “Can these problems be solved by the kind of destruction and carnage we witnessed recently? When we destroy the few infrastructures we have, we can never build the better Plateau that we all yearn for,” he said.

The governor noted that, “Since coming into power, my administration has remained committed to pursuing the economic development of the state through youth empowerment and job creation. That is why we continue to prioritize peace and security, which encourages private investors to create jobs and boost the economy.

“With the  establishment of PLASMIDA to be the driving force for empowering our youths with skills and knowledge that will enable them create jobs and be self-reliant, as at today, the agency has trained about 40,000 youths in different areas and supported over 15,000 micro, small and medium business start-ups.

“We have also taken advantage of our strategic partnership with the ITF, GIZ and other development partners to create opportunities for our youths in agriculture, entrepreneurship and skills development. This is, in addition, to providing incentives for young people to go into farming, which our state is known for.

“We have also done our best to ensure that our youths benefit from all social investment programmes of the Federal Government. Since the N-Power started, 11,364 youths have benefited from Plateau state, while over 2,000 beneficiaries are under the skills acquisition component of N-Power,” Lalong stated.

He buttressed that, “Under the conditional cash transfer, out of the over 26,000 households receiving the bimonthly stipends of 10 thousand naira, 24,070 have youths as caregivers and alternate, who receive the stipends on behalf of the households. In 90% of the households, there are youths, who are beneficiaries.”

Governor Lalong explained that, what he has cautioned against is the blanket condemnation of the entire police due to the atrocities of few bad eggs, adding that, there are many among them that perform their duties diligently, who must be encouraged.

“You can see the kind of lawlessness that we witnessed in the last few days because of demoralization of the police.

“I want to reiterate that the Plateau State Government did not hoard any palliatives as some political interests are desperately trying to deceive the public. We shall continue to explain that we received the items from the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs just shortly before the #EndSARS protests began; this delayed the process for distribution.

“Before then, every palliative we acquired or had received was distributed transparently by the committee, led by the Deputy Governor to vulnerable individuals and groups within the 17 local government areas.

“Do not be deceived by those, who are consumed by desperation for power and can condescend so low to exploit people’s misfortune for political gains. We are a people-centered government that can never inflict pain on our citizens,” he stressed.

He appeal to the youths to always put the interest of the state at heart and learn to build, not to destroy, and be very careful of the negative uses of the social media, which have the capacity for inciting gullible people towards violence, hatred and destruction.

The governor further urged the youths to take advantage of the Peace Building Agency, which has contributed significantly to arresting the vicious cycle of violence through a wide range of conflict prevention and peace building mechanisms, including systematic dialogue, advocacy, peace education and preventive diplomacy.
Governor Lalong assured the youths of his administration’s commitment in addressing their challenges in an inclusive, deliberate and rapid manner, “subject to the resources available to us.

“We shall continue to engage you in a more robust and proactive manner to close all communication gaps for better results,” he stated.

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