by Christiana Gokyo, Jos
“Nigeria has been described as a great nation with abundant human and material resources, compared to very few countries in the world, and these blessings have passed through different attempts to harvest them for the good of the citizens, who are diverse in ethnic, religious, social and political orientations.
The Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, disclosed this in his speech after reviewing the Independent Parade held at Rwang Pam Stadium Jos, when he said “Our diversity, which in itself is a major resource, has also put demands on managing our endowments to the point that many questions whether it is a blessing or a curse.
“However, we should never forget that, Nigeria’s diversity is in its greatest strength and not its weakness and, therefore, we should devote more time, energy and resources on things that unite us rather than our differences of origin, which in most cases we have no control over.”
“We should equally devote more energy towards ensuring that people are treated fairly, justly and with dignity that is guaranteed by our constitution. Plateau State under our watch presents this template of managing diversity,” he stressed.
“Harnessing the benefits of Nigeria’s diversity is key to eliminating most of the challenges besetting national development. Nigeria has made significant progress during its 62 years of existence as a Sovereign Nation,” Lalong stressed.
He noted also that, “Despite the challenges the nation has passed through, its citizens have remained resilient and continue to have faith in the unity of the country. The important thing was for Nigerians to do more in appreciating the diversity of the country as well as harness it for growth.”
Lalong said, he was addressing the State on Independence Celebration as Governor for the last time, and described the event as “very nostalgic” for him and one that reminds him about the journey so far.
“Many of you will recall that, when we came on board, we were confronted with many challenges that threw our State into a near state despondency and hopelessness,” he stated pointing out that, “From the high level of insecurity and unrelenting attacks on our people, to the huge months of unpaid salaries, pensions and arrears as well as abandoned projects littered across the State, we knew that the task was a huge one.”
According to him, “Despite the many setbacks we were confronted with – such as global crash in oil prices, criminal attacks, Covid-19, among others – we have been largely successful in restoring Plateau State to its status as the Home of Peace and Tourism.
“The Rescue Administration can proudly boast of being one of the few across the country to vigorously pursue the completion of abandoned and inherited projects started by previous administrations, including Government of a different political party.
Rather than allow the common patrimony of Plateau people to rot away under the guise of ‘political ego,’ he vowed to complete many of the abandoned projects inherited, for the benefit of the people.
“While handling the inherited projects, we also initiated many new projects with most of them completed, commissioned and put into use, while others are on the verge of completion,” he stated.
According to him, his administration believes that this approach is the best way to sustain development and defend the Plateau Heritage, assuring that, “In the coming months, we shall be commissioning some of the completed projects and others soon to be completed.
“Some of them include: the New High Court Headquarters Complex, General Hospital Mabudi, General Hospital Kanke, Kalong-Angwan Dadi Bridge (the longest bridge in Plateau State), the Shendam Internal Road Networks, and the Potato Value Chain Processing Centres in Bokkos, Barkin Ladi, and Mangu,” he said.
Also assuming that, work will soon resume on the Legacy Projects located across the 17 Local Government Areas of the State, and their commitment is to ensure that they completed the ongoing projects before the end of his administration.
Speaking on security, the governor appreciated all citizens for their support and collaboration towards the restoration of peace and security in the State over the years, saying, “Although, total success in eliminating criminal attacks have not been achieved, the State has substantially overcome the wanton destruction of lives and property through ethno-religious crises and other senseless attacks on the people.
On the forthcoming general elections, the governor called on all politicians to put the general interest above their personal or party interests before, during and after the elections, adding, “And we should never do anything that will jeopardize, the peace, security and unity of the State and Nigeria just to win elections.”
He stressed that, “Without peace and stability, there will be neither democracy nor room for any politician to canvass for votes or aspire to lead; and we must act with utmost responsibility and caution, because, despite political differences, we are all Plateau citizens and shall continue to remain brothers and sisters.”
He urged the youths to shun all forms of actions that are inimical to conduct of peaceful elections such as thuggery and violence, adding that, nobody should deceive them into believing that they are relevant or they can be made rich through violence, while urging them to think about their future and reject those, who hide their children but recruit the children of others to carry out political violence on their behalf.
“Our administration has demonstrated that, it is committed to providing opportunities for youths through empowerment and job creation; that is why I challenge you to take advantage of empowerment programmes rather than participating in political violence.”
He reassured all stakeholders that, the government under his watch will ensure that the rights of citizens and political parties and their candidates to freely sell their manifestos and canvass for votes as enshrined in the law are protected.
But the governor warned that, “Those, who want to use politics to cause chaos and disharmony, will be confronted by the security agencies that are empowered to maintain law and order. Similarly, those, who also want to cause trouble through fake news, hate speech, and incitement should be ready to face the law.”
Commissioner for Information and Communication, Hon. Dan Manjang, appreciated the governor for successfully hosting the event and also ensuring that there is peace and harmony in the State.
The parade also featured a March-past by the students of various schools, who participated, while winners were given prizes.
Our correspondent reports that, 20 schools participated in the parade, with ten Primary Schools and ten Secondary Schools.
Meanwhile, for the primary schools, first position went to LEA Tudunwada Jos, second position to Messiah Christian Academy Jos and the 3rd position went to Model School Hwolshe Jos.
While the first position for the Secondary School goes to St. Louis College Jos, 2nd position to GSS Hwolshe Jos, and 3rd position to GSS Kabong Jos.