“ THE DIFFERENCE Between BEING clueless and incompetent IS SIMPLE! A clueless person accepts IDEAS FROM PEOPLE WITH CLUES and implement THEM WHILE being incompetent IS THE COMPLETE INABILITY OF A PERSON EVEN When sorounded by people with clues CLOSE TO HIM TO UNDERSTAND AND IMPLEMENT FORWARD LOOKING IDEAS TO THE BENEFIT OF HUMANITY. Once you are incompetent, your understanding is not even limited, IT is absent.”
find out more in this extensive interview with Santos Ayuba Larab a Lecturer with the department of History and International studies University of Jos on Straight talk with Longgul Dakwom
VIEWPOINT: WHAT IS YOUR GENERAL OPINION ABOUT BUDGET AND BUDGETING ON THE PLATEAU?
Santos: First, it is a pleasure to talk with you Mr. Longgul on the issue and let me also appreciate the fact that you think I can also comment on this issue, thanks for this opportunity. To your question, when you talk about budgeting or what you call a budget is not only in relation to Plateau but a Nigerian overview. Budgeting in Nigeria and in Plateau in the recent pass, is virtually a ritual. Ritual in the sense that it is basically a convention and a norm of presentation and not for implementation, it is an event that falls short of the understanding of what a budget is meant to be. It comes from the executive arm of government presented to the legislature as a representative body of the people look at it by various committees that are saddled with the task of legislative business and looking at it cursory and also in terms with the details, but here you find out that a budget is brought three days or one week to the end of a year and then the speaker and his members sit down and approve the budget in less than 24 hours or within 48 hours. A budget is a financial proposal of plans and expenditure on how to take the state in a year, the budget therefore is a proposal with timelines that affects sectors of a state or a country.
TALKING ABOUT BUDGET AS A PROPOSAL, LET’S DO A RETROSPECT, AS OF LAST YEAR THE GOVERNMENT UNDER SIMON BAKO LALONG SPENT A TOTAL OF 10,921,090,865,47 AS CAPITAL EXPENDITURE. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE EXECUTION AND JUSTIFY SAME IN COMPARISON TO THE AMOUNT AND PROJECTS ON GROUND?
I just mentioned what a budget is all about, to your question of taking a retrospective analysis and the figure you quoted as budgeted for capital expenditure. The question is inadequate for the proper x-ray because you would have provided in brief the total budget figure, the recurrent estimate and sources of revenue to fund the budget. With these figures the percentage measure of success can be analyse in terms of deficit and surplus value and importantly the actualisable analysis of the budget. Again, the budget doesn’t just hang on the perspective of implementation without monitoring, tracking and evaluation of its performance. It is on this that a new budget is drawn to meet up with the needs of the people by their constituency in particular and state in general. Do people do budget tracking?, NO! Do we do budget implementation?, NO! The people think that once a budget is presented and passed it is finish, as they just allow those in government to do whatsoever they want to do, without quarterly, intermittent review by sectors, and there is also no review to assess the implementation in terms of implementation at what percentage. To the specific question you asked, my simple response to
REVIEW BY WHOM AND WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF PEOPLE?
By people of course! The citizens! Are those in government owners of government or the people? The people are the benefactors and those in government are merely the beneficiaries. The beneficiaries’ are opportune to govern the people within a state, a constituency and the question to you is what consultations do they undertake in assessing the needs of their constituencies in the preparation of the budget.
BUT I THINK MOST TIME HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MEMBERS TAKE TOWARDS IMPLEMENTATION WITHOUT CONSULTATION?
That is exactly what I’m saying! What is the responsibility of the people in a democracy? They are the benefactors, those who are elected are beneficiaries that are paid with tax payers’ money, they also seat there at our instance and that is why when they don’t consult you, the burden of discipline is in the hands of the constituents to recall them. One of the most glaring failures is the lack of constituency offices for most of the members. My summary of the quality of house from 1999- 2015, the 1999-2003 House of Assembly in Plateau stands as the best and the depreciation in quality increases leaving us with the current one in comparative terms as the worst.
ARE YOU SAYING THE PAST IS BETTER THAN NOW?
Yes and is it supposed to be like that? No! it is supposed to improve but again here, the people just sit down and fold their arms they don’t challenge those they elect into offices, they sit down and engage themselves into sycophancy and begging, so the begging culture has also improved in the negative so here what we are saying is that In a budgeting system, the government “Executive Arm” claims to present a budget to the Legislature and then they place projects in your constituencies and they tell you that those projects have been executed, if you look at budget that Lalong presented this year, he outlined roads but sincerely let me ask a question that everybody plies through… from the state capital to Mararaban Jamaa have the government finished it? It appeared in 2015 the last part of the budget that he did, it also appeared in 2016 his substantive budget and is appearing in 2017 and is appearing in 2018. Has the road been completed? Just from Jos to mararaban jamaa. Now as we speak, the so called contractors are at Vom junction and the government is in a rush trying to complete same with all its inconveniencies to the electorates. I pray it is completed within the shortest possible time.
LET ME TAKE YOU ON THIS, THE BUDGET IS TAGGED RESCUE AND CONSOLIDATION. BY DEFINITION OF RESCUE YOU HAVE AN ALREADY BAD SITUATION, COLLECTING OF DEFICIT AND RESCUING A SITUATION AND ALSO TO CONSOLIDATE ON THE GAINS ON THE RECORD OF RESCUE SO, DON’T YOU THINK THE INHERITED ROAD FROM JOS TO MARARABA JAMAA IS ABOUT TO BE FINISHED NO MATTER THE TIME IT TAKES MAY BE BECAUSE OF RE NEGOTIATION ON THE PART OF CONTRACTORS?
When the State Governor gave the APC through the office of the PRO-Bolaji Abdullahi who once served as a Minister his two years assessment with the inclusion of the completed part of the overhead bridge of the Jos-Mararaban Jamaa road, highlighting it as completed contradicts your question and drags the government under the umbrella of deceit. Who is supposed to produce such document to show the work of APC in Plateau? APC in Plateau or APC National? And I give you this as an example, how much did they give Bolaji for the National APC to showcase those projects? This is the same road that Governor Jang started that we criticized for starting late and its cost despite the importance of the road in-terms of expanding accessibility into the capital city. The APC national show cased the same road five times in a pamphlet of just about four pages printed on behalf of Plateau State government to lie to people about the achievement of the governor. But again like you are saying budget of rescue, let me attend to your question. Rescuing of what? I take you back, when Dariye came with adage re-engineering, he re-engineered himself and his cohorts, when Jang came with the adage Redemption, he redeemed himself, his family members and cabal, this people are also here to rescue themselves from poverty, him, his family members, his friends and cohorts are a clear example of pedestrian grabbers. What they are saying with rescue and consolidation is simple they have rescued themselves now, they want to consolidate the stealing, they want to re-consolidate mis-governance and they want to re-consolidate clannish patronage that they are into and people who do understand what I’m saying will understand that, but I pity my people on the plateau. I gave a talk in March 2016 before this government turned one year and what was the question I asked on radio “We fought Jang’s impunity which led us to a replacement option that led to the voting of Lalong”
YOU ARE SAYING WE REPLACED A GOVERNMENT NO ELECTING A GOVERNMENT?
Yes we replaced a the Jang’s government of impunity that was trying to drag us into modern day slavery ! Lalong was a replacement for the absent of an alternative, to God we give the glory and thanks to all people who defiled sentiments to work in unity. I said it and Iam now convince that the government s a virtual replacement as the Governor did not take the advantage to change and move us a step forward. Its really a shame!
Simple question for a simple answer! Jang brought in impunity and across party lines people rose and challenged same. Lalong came in as a replacement, he came in with his pedestrian and poverty stricken mind alongside his cohorts. Today are they not doing worst than what we fought Jang for? Is it clannish patronage? Or is it ethnic patronage? Or is it pedestrian stealing by those in government or is it life style by the governor himself and his closest cohorts? I raise these questions with all sense of responsibility and ask if this was what the people expected? Yet my dear people of Plateau are keeping quiet because fear and need for patronage is our desire at the expense of development.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY CLOSEST COHORTS IN YOUR CONTEXT OF USAGE?
Those closest to him, family, friends, former colleagues’ in their political sojourn and even some of the persons in important positions are they fit and competent? People in Nigeria cite the instance that the last government was clueless, but I ask the question, between cluelessness and incompetence which will you take?… so we are expressing and we are faced with incompetent governance at its peak, we are caught in a climate of incompetence by those who were given the mandate to lead us. For me I would in rather choose a clueless person, because if he sees people with a clues, he stands the ability to understand and implement those suggestions, but the contrast is the case with an incompetent person because even where there are suggestions from persons with clues, an incompetent person cannot understand not to talk of implementing same. The case of Plateau now is one of a catch-2-2.
BACK TO THE BUDGET, THE TOTAL SIZE 145,488,066,352.00 ARE YOU THINKING WE ARE ABOUT PLACING ANOTHER HUGE AMOUNT TO INCOMPETENT HANDS?
But again you are asking an obvious question with answers, and your question goes down to not only this government but back to 1999, show me a budget that is balanced, balanced in the sense that revenue generated, statutory revenue shared from FAAC,, internally generated revenue and VAT that gives a balance budget. Budgets for many states defile surpluses and equilibrium budgets as they are always in deficits and non-developmental in nature as recurrent estimates are always above capital. What forward looking measures would you get with recurrents which are basically consumables?
RECURRENT BECAUSE THE FACT IS CLEAR PLATEAU IS A CIVIL SERVICE STATE.
Should we remain a civil service state, when individuals who come to Plateau are making more money? Where do they make the money? We use the civil service adage always as an escapist argument to justify laziness and corruption.
I MEAN THE GOVERNMENT MUST PAY THE WORKERS
I’m not against paying the workers because it is earned and not a gift from anyone. Why are pensioners still owed? Why are gratuities still owed? Of people who have served a government overtime and have retired meritoriously? Is the payment of these components achievements?
DO YOU HAVE THE FACTS AND STATISTICS? BECAUSE AS IT STANDS GOVERNMENT SAID IT CLEARED ALL THE ALLOWANCES
The facts are to be provided by you and not me, I can only help direct you to where you can ask questions. But the truths about these issues are notorious as we have these people in our various clans. If they are paying pension up-to-date they have not paid gratuity to completion, that I don’t stand to be corrected. Which should come first upon retirement and which is the most important to a retiree? When you talk of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) again I ask this question- do you calculate internally generated revenue with PAYEE or with the Private sector both the formal and informal? Do you calculate internally generated revenue with the Joint Task Board, which is derived from Federal institutions and shared by all tiers of government. So, count the number of Federal Institutions, is it Remote Sensing in Jos East, or is it JUTH in Jos North or is it the number of companies that you have in Jos South asper taxes from companies and VAT so that people will have a better understanding of accruals. What about the informal sector, why won’t the board disaggregate and tell us what the formal and informal sectors raise? This method establishes issues of transparency and accountability as antidotes to the corruption in the board. The budget speech and the budget in its entirety is a contradiction in its complete self as there are no specifics to the complete breakdown? So what is it that we cannot do? So when people tell you Plateau is a civil service state, it is just an escapist way of reducing a people with value to becoming complacent and lazy by adhering to routine. Plateau, I still disagree is not a civil service state entirely, what our people need is a value re-orientation, because of the orientation that we are a civil service state, we do not dare and get into business but yet those in business strive on government supplies and encourage corruption. And we say we have a board of internal revenue that cannot even transform the internally generated revenue not to talk of collecting same. Dis-aggregate the revenue and you see exactly the analysis. What a shame!
BUT EVEN THE TEN BILLION OF THE CAPITAL PROJECT OF THE LAST FISCAL YEAR AS CAPTURED IN THE 2018 SUMMARY IS SAID TO BE FAR ABOVE THE WORK DONE WHEN COMPARED THE GOVERNMENT EVEN APPRECIATED THE PATIENCE OF THE CONTRACTORS?
Because our people don’t read, I ask people go to “budgIT” we use our social media for face book not “facing the Book” we use for whatsapp not knowing what “is up” we use it for Instagram “ not knowing the instance where we are”, we use the social media for so many things that encourages us to waste money with no return on investments and for important things like the last part of the fifty percent Paris club refund? How many of us are in tandem with what was released by the Federal government to Plateau State? And the breakdown of how it was expended?
HOW MUCH ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
Plateau got about 10.6 billion out of a total amount of over 258 billion shared to all states. So why didn’t he mention it in the budget as a takeoff grant for next year’s budget?. Go to Tudun wada- Rukuba Road link, Angwan Rogo, Sabon Layi, etc captured as finished and see if these works are completed.
TAKING EDUCATION A TOTAL SUM OF 11,744,754,607.00 IS PROPOSED. SCIENCE SCHOOLS KURU, MANGUN AND SHENDAM WERE CAPTURED FOR BUILDING AND RENOVATION AT 3000,000,000.00 AGAIN FIFTEEN SECONDARY SCHOOLS PER SENATORIAL ZONE WILL ALSO BE RENOVATED /BUILD CAPTURED ALONGSIDE RENOVATION OF SCHOOLS IN EVERY SENATORIAL ZONE, SO WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE EDUCATION VIZ RENOVATION OF SCHOOLS AND OTHERS?
In the education sector which incidentally is a field iam opportune also there, the question is what do you look at? The quality of the personnel or the buildings? So do you renovate without enhancing the quality of the personnel and their welfare? Which impacts more and which allows for the stealing of our collective wealth? So look at the quality of the personnel who teach in those schools and then look at the so called renovations. Dariye, Jang renovated and now Lalong but the question is- What did the renovations turn into? You pass through that place, is it about the fence, the quality of teachers or their welfare? Was it about the lab where students will learn or was the library stocked or school provided with internet facility where students have hands on and then we develop a generation that will compete with global standards and outlive us. But again, you see the so called renovations are for purpose, they do this renovation as vent to steal people’s money and at the end of the day like I have always agued, if you have built and renovated public schools and you think it is okay, let the children of those politicians go to those schools from Nursery, Primary, Secondary to University levels, only by invoking this policy will you see improvement in the educational sector because they will not deny their own the best.
PLATEAU STATE IS HOME OF PEACE AND TOURISM, BY THAT MOTTO I BELIEVE IS A BEACON TO CONSIDER. SO LET’S TAKE TOURISM WHICH THAT SECTOR IS ALLOCATED THE SUM OF N354,900,000.00. LOOKING AT THAT SECTOR WE SEE RENOVATION OF HOSTELS AND PARKS. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON TOURISM IN PLATEAU?
First, those occupying that office do they know what tourism is? And I take you back when Abraham Yiljap during Jang almost at the tail end of the government got over a billion much was given for the renovation of Plateau Hotel, almost half a billion or so and what is the state of Plateau Hotel now? Now under this government in the budget of 2016, 2017 with the figure that you mentioned now? The questions I always ask are- What happened to Assop Falls? What happened to Kurra Falls? Wildlife Park in Jos, the encroachment that has gone through wild life park is it from Tudun Wada –Mado issues. What happened to the Mado Place, where is the blueprint of Mado Tourism Village and what has become of it? I think Jos Wildlife Park because of our terrain and geography stands the best in Nigeria. Does the Commissioner know all these places? Taking you back to the issue of competence or incompetence, what blue print do they have for us to come close to that aspiration because plateau is a peaceful state. Under the tourism thing people are talking Jos carnival, what kind of carnival do we have? Is it in any way compared to the Calabar carnival? They have maintained it for how many years now, eighteen years because it started with Donald Duke and if you have ever been to Calabar carnival you will understand what a carnival is. A carnival is important, but the question is what is the rate of return on investment that you take hundred of millions and invest in such ventures at a time of recession? Only those who organized it know how much they spent on the so called Jos carnival and even the Governor attending the carnival with whosoever they attended were they dressed in a carnival fashion or a dressing that expressed the essence of the carnival? Wearing a T-shirt and a jean and something like a cap on his head. So even the principal doesn’t even understand what a carnival is, possibly he has never attended or seen a carnival in its proper form.
ARE YOU SAYING THE EXPERIMENTED CARNIVAL IS NOT WORTH IT?
No the way it was implemented is not worth it and so also was expended tax payers money.
BUT IT IS PPP ARRANGEMENT?
Again why don’t you state the terms for the partnership, how much did the public contribute in terms of financing? Who defined the terms? What consultation was held before execution? How many groups were meant to participate? Go and ask the Commissioner the same way you are interviewing me, tell me one partnership in Plateau that you know that is working?
THE JOS MAIN MARKET AS AN INSTANT WORK HAS COMMENCED. IT MEANS THE PPP IS WORKING?
Okay find, what the terms of the engagement? And then compare it with the tenure, is the tenure hundred years, if they started, is the valuation clearly spelt out to the citizens? What is the consultation? Infact do you know the steels in the market, forget the once that are vandalized. Do you know the quality and value of steel in Jos main market? Go and ask those in the metallurgical industries. I cry for this state and how much did those given the contract sell the steel? So what if that steel can give let’s say two billion and you didn’t remove the steel that belongs to the people before the state got into the partnership? So there was no analysis. You are given them land is it not part of partnership?
WHAT IS YOUR CONCLUSION TO PLATEAU PEOPLE?
We must be responsible to our task and responsibilities? We must be alive to it so if there is budget it affects you, it affects me and everybody, there must be a deliberate effort by those in government. They must also provide the information to those of us outside government but electorates and everyone must be involved in tracking. At different instances we must call our representatives to discuss and where they fail to implement resolutions, constituents have the right to protest and call back representatives.. The other part of it is that we should live in the fact that we are the benefactors and not beneficiaries of the democratic system like those in government. The purpose of governance is service to humanity, community service and not personal service, it’s not personal aggrandizement, it’s not clannish patronage, we are not their slaves so they shouldn’t be worshipped by we being sycophants at different levels, we being beggars at different levels, when ill health comes, it doesn’t choose your religion or your ethnic group and the same with poverty. When we go to the market, the purchasing power parity doesn’t choose your ethnic group, doesn’t choose your religion, it hits everybody and like the claim we are in a regression because of mismanagement and mis-governance. Nigeria to my mind is not in a regression. Those in government are just looking for excuses, so the government is quite a disgrace and sincerely, so long as the people don’t rise to defend their rights and to get these people to work ! Then we all blame ourselves and not our servants! If Plateau people return a failed government back because of weak sentiments and we don’t stand to our responsibility, then we in for it because I only have a vote.
YOUR CONCLUDING WORDS. KINDLY GIVE YOUR OWN ADVICE TO THE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE; RT HON SIMON BAKO LALONG
You want me to advice the Governor of Plateau State? he doesn’t have the understanding of recognizing and accepting advice even from some good brains in his government.His understandability and comprehension of governance is in question and back to what I said earlier, your choice between being clueless and having people with clues, the clueless person will accept clues and implement it while the incompetent person even with people with clues in your government who are willing and are hitting themselves to sacrifice for humanity by giving clues the incompetent lacks understanding and is afraid to implement anything as ability is not only limited but absent.
ARE YOU SAYING THE GOVERNMENT IS INCOMPETENT?
Your guess is as good as mine!
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