Niyi Odebode and Friday Olokor
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, has asked the Plateau State Government to explain the $2bn loan it collected from the African Development Bank.
Dalung had last week criticised Governor Simon Lalong for naming a newly inaugurated road in Jos after President Muhammadu Buhari.
The minister had said, “Another disaster of the President’s visit was the renaming of the Yakubu Gowon Way as Muhammadu Buhari Way. To say the least, it is embarrassing.
”Gowon was the President’s boss, how can he be stripped of a 40-year-old privilege and honour in his home state? This is the worst thing that can happen to a man like the elder statesman. I believed that General Gowon is feeling betrayed and abandoned by his own people.”
But the state Commissioner for Information, Yakubu Dati, had said the minister’s comment showed that he was being used by the Peoples Democratic Party to rubbish the gains made by the All Progressives Congress government in the state.
The commissioner said that the Yakubu Gowon Way was still in existence, adding that no road was renamed.
But Dalung fired another salvo on his Facebook page on Monday, challenging the state government to answer the questions he raised concerning the loan profile of the state.
He asked, “Where is the $2bn (N720bn) loan collected from the African Development Bank for the potato processing factory payable in 25 years? Where is the factory located? Or where is the money kept and whose account? Why did the state government keep the issue of the loan secret? What is happening to the LG funds?
“What is happening to five per cent meant for the traditional council? And if peace had returned to Plateau, why was the LG elections suspended because of security concerns? Is this not true that ex-governor Jonah Jang constructed all the roads in Jos and Bukuru metropolis except for the state low cost Dong Road?
“You were present when former President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the Federal Secretariat Bridge. Why did Governor Lalong mislead President (Muhammadu Buhari) to re-inaugurate it again? What advice did you (Dati) give the governor on this? Mr. Commissioner, speak to issues and provide answers. You owe us explanation.”
Denying the minister’s allegation, Dati said the Ministry of Finance had secured a N3.38bn loan for the mass production and development of the Irish potato value chain.
He stated, “The loan has yet to be released as it is still going through bidding and procurement processes. It was approved by the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday, July 26, 2017. The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said the loan was secured from the African Development Bank for the development of the Irish potato value chain, and that the project is expected to create 60,000 jobs.”
According to him, the state will provide N599m as counterpart funding for the project, adding that the loan has a five-year moratorium.
The commissioner stated, “The loan would be used to develop the Irish potato value chain in 17 local government areas of the state.
“The implementation would be jointly executed by FADAMA project and a unit in the state Ministry of Agriculture. About 70 per cent of the loan would be used for the provision of infrastructure, extension services, improved planting and marketing.
“The whole exercise is aimed at boosting production and minimising wastages.”