Photo: Lalong, Mutfwang
Ex-Gov Lalong bequeathed N307bn debt —Lombin Committee
Former Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, bequeathed a whooping debt of N307 billion to the administration of his successor, Caleb Mutfwang.
Prof. Ganyir Lombin, Chairman of a Strategic Plan and Transition Committee, which was set up earlier, disclosed this on Monday when submitting the committee’s report to Gov Mutfwang.
Lombin noted that Lalong bequeathed a near-bankrupt state, with weak institutions, low public morale, and a high level of insecurity.
Presenting the report at Government House, Jos, he said, “The State is in dire financial distress. Its total debts and Liabilities, including contingent liabilities amount to about N307bn. This is far more than the amount reflected in the Handover notes.
“The handover notes stated that the revenue which accrued to the Plateau State Government from May 2015 to May 2023 stood at N872 billion.
“The total expenditure was only given from May 2015 to December 2022 and not up to May 2023 at N810 billion, but the state’s total debt figure now is over N307 billion.
“Does this suggest that there was no expenditure from January 2023 to May 2023? Or was it deliberate misinformation? The government needs to look at this critically and where necessary, take appropriate action.
“There is no clear figure for the state’s Monthly Wage Bill. However, this administration has inherited a backlog of four months of unpaid salaries to public servants amounting to over N11 billion. Outstanding gratuity and Pension arrears of N24 billion was also inherited.
“The Legacy Projects are marred in controversies and unresolved legal cases, which have stalled their implementation. Currently, the sum of N12 billion for this project is still in the custody of the Trustees of the funds.
“There are 3, 692 items of Government Assets and Properties, including cars, houses, etc that were sold and auctioned at a ridiculous prices both within and outside the state. This needs to be further investigated and, where necessary, appropriate action be taken.”
Lombin expressed gratitude for the opportunity given them to serve the state in that capacity but said that the committee was faced with some very formidable operational challenges that did not allow them to make a joint presentation with the outgone administration.
He said that the Lalong government did not avail the Committee the opportunity of making inputs into the handover documents submitted to the joint committee before May 29, 2023.
The Committee Chairman said that the handover notes presented to the present government by the out-gone administration on 29 May 2023 were scanty and lacked necessary details as they did not follow the agreed template developed by the Joint Committee.
He described the task ahead of Gov Mutfwang as enormous but not insurmountable, adding that the people of the state were optimistic about the new administration’s determination to succeed in the pursuit of the their collective interests.
Receiving the report, Gov Mutfwang said, “I want to assure you all that these reports will not gather dust on the shelves. We are going to make prudent use of them and study them appropriately.
“These reports will give rise to further investigations, will give rise to further studies that we need to embark upon and we will not waste time in doing so, by the grace of God.
“You highlighted the debt burden. I knew that throughout the campaign, we were under the mistaken belief that our debt burden was around N200 billion and to hear that it is N307 billion is quite intimidating and worrisome”.
“But by the grace of God, the challenges we are confronted with are not insurmountable. Of particular concern is the issue of security which unfortunately has become to us, a major distraction.
“We are confident that by the grace of God, with some of the new security personnel on ground, and with the Special Adviser on Security assuming responsibility, we will be able to see a difference, not too long from now.”
The Governor expressed his determination to fulfill his constitutional mandate of protecting the lives and property of the people of Plateau State and said no stone would be left unturned in ensuring that the Plateau acronym of Home of Peace and Tourism is restored within a short time.