Ahead of May 29, 2023, handing over the day, politicians and civil servants in Plateau State have been urged to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition process that would guarantee new leadership structures in the State.
The caution came on the heels of allegation of continued bickering by the two major political parties in the State about the preparation for the handing over.
Speaking at a press conference in Jos on Wednesday, Jacob Pwakim, the Executive Director, Youth Initiative Against Violence and Human Rights Abuse (YIAVHA) a non-governmental organization cautioned against any act that would truncate the exercise saying the ceremony is not a mere ritual but an important aspect that deepens democracy.
His words, “As we count down the days to the assumption of office by elected persons into various executive arm of government on May 29, 2023, YIAVHA calls for caution on the part of politicians and civil servants to have a peaceful transition process and a stable take-off of new leadership structures in Plateau State…
“It was reported that the sitting government inaugurated its own main transition committee and asked the Governor-elect to set up his team to have a joint committee that will enable them to interface on issues for a smooth and peaceful transition, which should not be the practice.
“We would like to put on record that the transition committee is beyond a ritual ceremony but a serious business that presents an opportunity for both the outgoing and in-coming governments to discuss the contents of all handover notes of ministries, departments, parastatals, and agencies. It is also for them to familiarize themselves with the contents in the assets and liabilities register of the state.
“Where there is no collective setting up of the committees, it has the tendency to undermine the smooth takeoff of the new government. The time of the incoming team would then be spent trying to understand those contents after handing over rather than to settle down for the business of giving quality leadership to Plateau citizens.”
He added, “We request that there be collaboration between the sitting governor, Simon Lalong, and the governor-elect, Caleb Mutfwang. This collaboration should be extended to the various committees as requested by law in the interest of Plateau citizens. It is not about inter-party rivalry but an act to save Plateau from delayed governance.
“Also, we would like to call the attention of the outgoing governor, appointees, and civil servants working in these last days of the administration not to indulge in activities that may jeopardize the stability of the new administration. It is true that the sitting governor can still make decisions and take actions until the new governor is sworn-in on May 29, 2023, but the outgoing government should be guided by both the moral and legal burden of responsibility, not to take actions that contravene the laws guiding the state and the principles of good conscience.
“According to our sources, the outgoing administration struggled to pay N2.1 billion as wage burden for January 2023 and N2.8 billion in February of the same year without the inclusion of the over 4,000 workers recruited in the last two months.
“This only means that the intention around the addition of the 4000 workforce did not have deep consideration for the income of the state and may not have been done following due process. This has the tendency to create a labour crisis upon the assumption of office by the incoming governor.”
Pwakim frowned at the alleged “indiscriminate sales of government lands, buildings, vehicles, tractors, and other equipment within and outside the state. For instance, in Jos (i) Dogon Dutse Quarters (former Army Barracks)- new beacons are being fixed; (ii) West of Mines Quarters (adjacent Police Area Command, Jos Metro). (iii) Senior Staff Quarters, Bauchi Road (iv) Rogotak-Za’ang (the land housing the new Jos South Mini Stadium and the surrounding lands).
“In Abuja, items within the Plateau State Housing Estate at Gwarinpa. In Kaduna State, (i) property of the State Liaison Office; (ii) Vehicles and Office equipment: In Lagos: (i) property and lands (ii) vehicles and office equipment, among numerous others.
“There are allegations that vehicles belonging to the government are being converted to individual ownership at the Plateau State Board of Internal Revenue, while spare parts of some official vehicles are being exchanged for substandard ones.
“We wish to draw the attention of governor Simon Lalong, the people of good conscience, and the entire citizens of Plateau State to the grave allegations with a view to taking proactive measures to stop the happenings that have the capacity to affect us all…”