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May 29 fever grips states

Governor-elect rejects N15b Govt House
Fashola, Ambode meet security chiefs
Suntai packs out of Govt House
APC to review governor’s ‘rush hour’ pacts
Some 48 hours to the inauguration of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, there seems to be a surge of activities in the land.

Dignitaries are arriving for the ceremony, which will take place at the Eagle Square in Abuja. Guinean President Alpha Conde arrived yesterday. The city’s streets are festooned with flags.

A committee has started the accreditation of the media for the historic event for which all the big hotels have been booked.

In states where new governors are to take office – incumbents will also take the oath of office – there is a build-up to the day. Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola and Governor-elect Akinwunmi Ambode met with security chiefs at the State House in Marina.

Fashola handed the security apparatus in the nation’s commercial capital to his would-be successor at a meeting of the State’s Security Council.
Fashola bade farewell to the Council, which he has headed since 2007.

Members of the Council at the meeting are: Commander 9 Mechanised Brigade, Ikeja, Brigadier General Ahmed Sabo; Commander AirForce 435 Base, Ikeja, Air Commodore Lere Osanyintolu; Commander NNS BeeCroft, Navy Commodore Teikumo Daniel Ikoli; Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, who represented Commissioner of Police Kayode Aderanti and Director, State Security Service, Mr. Ben Olayi
Also there were: Chief of Staff to the Governor Lanre Babalola; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Ade Ipaye; Special Adviser on Security and Policing Matters Major Tunde Panox and Executive Secretary, Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF), Mr. Fola Arthur-Worrey.

In PlateauState, Governor-elect Simon Lalong has said he will not work from the new Government House in Jos, the state capital.

The governor-elect said the N15 billion property had not been completed, adding that he does not need such luxury to serve the people.

He said: “I am not going to occupy an uncompleted building as a government house. In any case, I don’t need such a house to work for the people of Plateau State.

“In serving Plateau people, I don’t need a luxury office. I’d rather prefer people of the state live in luxury homes with all social services provided. So, I don’t think a new government house is a priority of Plateau people. I don’t need such an office to serve my people.

“I was told that new government house has cost over N15 billion and it is still uncompleted. I can’t live in such an office when Plateau people have no water to drink, children are not going to school, civil servants are not paid, there is no medical care in rural areas and most villages have no roads. So, I don’t need such capital-intensive government house. Such a project amounts to a misapplication of scarce fund.”

Lalong said his administration would review uncompleted projects left by the outgoing Jonah Jang administration before completing them.

Jang had urged the incoming administration to complete ongoing projects before starting new ones.
But Lalong said: “I am going to complete all ongoing projects I am going to inherit. But I will have to review them and know the cost implication. The abandoned projects are numerous. I have to review all of them. I need to know which contractor is involved and how much has been spent so far on each of the projects.

“Governor Jang has claimed he is leaving a debt of over N8 billion for me, excluding the N28 billion bond he collected before the election. Then, he is owing the civil servants at least seven months of unpaid salaries and unquantified workers’ allowances and pensioners’ funds.

“On all these financial liabilities, I am going to set up a committee to review them and advise government accordingly.”

Also yesterday, the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) prevented Jang from inaugurating some projects for non-payment of workers’ salary.

The governor was billed to inaugurate a radio station at the Jos Campus of the State Polytechnic.

The aggrieved workers barricaded the entrance to the newly-built Revenue House of the State Internal Revenue Service.

A spokesman for the workers, Mr Paul Dakogal, who is also the Chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (SSAN), said: “It is inappropriate for Jang to inaugurate any project. Governor Jang did not contribute any resource in facilitating the project. How then can he inaugurate it?

“When we heard that the governor planned to inaugurate a radio station, among other projects in the state, despite the workers’ strike, we decided to stop that nonsense.

“He has not paid workers for more than a year and students are at home because of strike. Yet, he intended to inaugurate projects.”

Dakojal recalled that for four years, the polytechnic could only produce two sets of graduates.

Dakojal said the Education sector in Plateau had deteriorated in the past eight years.

The Niger State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) plans to review what it called “rush hour” agreements or Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) by outgoing Governor Babangida Aliyu with any company or individual.

The party kicked against the lease of the new state-owned hotel opposite the Government House in Minna to a private firm to manage for 30 years.

In a statement yesterday in Minna, the state capital, by its Publicity Secretary Jonathan Vatsa, the party said it discovered that the hotel was built from the Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) funds given to the state.

APC alleged that the facility was leased to a private firm with interest to the outgoing Aliyu administration.

APC said it would have disregarded the outgoing government’s last-minute moves but needed to lay everything before the people to promote accountability and fight corruption.

It said: “We feel that the people of the state should be aware before our party takes over government.”

The statement warned that “all MoU and agreements signed at rush hours that are outright rip-off of the state’s scarce resources and/or against the interest of the state will be duly revisited”.

It added: “We will not allow few individuals to make the majority of Niger residents to suffer. Rather, it will be that the few will suffer for the good of the majority of the people of Niger State. This is even divine. We will, by the grace of God, restore the glory of Niger State, even if few people are to suffer for it.

“The era of digital charades aimed at benefiting the few is over. We shall not be party to unrealistic agenda in the name of setting the state on the path of development. Wwe know we cannot do it alone. As such, we will carry along all Niger residents on the path of change for restoration.”

Also, the party expressed concern over the re-absorbtion of some retired top civil servants into the civil service – all aimed at creating problems for the incoming government.

Benue State Governor-elect, Samuel Ortom warned those wishing to work with his administration to focus on service rather than money.

Speaking with our reporter ahead of May 29 inauguration in his Makurdi home, Ortom said his administration would not condone “primitive accumulation of wealth by political appointees and public office holders”.

The governor-elect said it is morally wrong for a Level Seven officer in the civil service to acquire expensive property and live an ostentatious lifestyle.

He said such a government official would arouse questions about where he or she got the funds for such a lifestyle.

Ortom said his administration would fight corruption and flush out corrupt officials so that the people could enjoy quality living.

The governor-elect urged those planning to use his administration to make money to go into private businesses and become richer.

He said he had a vision in 1992 to become the governor of Benue State.

According to him, his coming to the Government House in Makurdi is a divine arrangement.

Ortom promised not disappoint the people and God, who made his dream come true.

The governor-elect also promised to rule with the fear of God, eradicate poverty, ensure fairness to all, run a transparent government and promote love and unity.

His priorities, he said, include the creation of wealth, restoring peace, growing micro-industries and promoting massive trading so that people would not depend on government alone.

“I have been around for a while and I’m conversant with the challenges. I will do things that will add value to the people and put smiles on their face,” Ortom said.

Taraba State Governor Danbaba Danfulani Suntai has packed his personal effects from the Government House in Jalingo, ahead of Friday’s handover.

Suntai has been recuperating at the Government House as a ceremonial figure, following the injuries he sustained when a plane he piloted crashed near Yola, the Adamawa State capital, on October 25, 2012.

The governor started packing his belongings on Monday and continued yesterday.

His wife, Hauwa, held a “strictly by invitation” farewell party last week with 30 women in attendance.

Suntai will complete two terms of eight years on Friday without building a personal house.

His deputy, Abubakar Sani Danladi, who has been acting, bought a house for him in Jalingo, where his belongings were packed to.

Taraba residents called for “special prayers” for him and his successor, Governor-elect Darius Dickson Ishaku, for a peaceful transition.

The prayers, offered in churches, began last Sunday.

Scores were killed when the March 28 election was declared as inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), even as Ishaku, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was leading the only woman candidate and flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Aisha Alhassan.

Ishaku’s supporters did not throw a party to celebrate when he won by a runoff with an aggregate of 369,318 votes.

“Now, we want to celebrate. People should be allowed to jubilate and celebrate when they triumph in an election.

“We were not allowed to celebrate the victory. Rather a curfew was imposed for a week.

“Before the rerun election, our supporters were killed because they were celebrating victory. The inauguration should not be the same, Peter Ada, a trader, told The Nation yesterday.

Ada urged the Acting Governor Abubakar Sani Danladi to strengthen security to protect lives and property during the inauguration.

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