At the swearing in ceremony of the Secretary to the Government of State and the Chief of Staff to Governor Simon Bako Lalong, Hon Noel Kuryil Dongjur recently, as was the one for the commissioners, the opportunity presented itself for new appointees to come to terms with the expectations of the people of the state. KATDAPBA Y. GOBUM digs deep into the mind of the governor and how he wants them to go about their duties.
It is not for the fun of it that states appoint commissioners to help the governor in the day to day administration of the state. Such opportunities for them are to enable them contribute in concrete terms to the development of the state by bringing to the table different ideas that would change the face of the state.
Little wonder in making the choice, which took some time to come, the governor, said he needed people who understood the degree of the concerns that stare the state in the face. In the governor’s words, he quickly served a reminder: You will also recall that during the swearing in of the Secretary to the Government of the State and the Chief of Staff last month, I responded to the perceived delay in appointing Commissioners by explaining that I was being strategic and careful because this time, I am taking full responsibility for those that will eventually be selected to serve our people as members of the State Executive Council.’
If the governor was strategic in his choice, the new appointees are no doubt being called to duty in the face of daunting circumstances relating to the state. Going further, the governor is aware that there is need to get things off the ground ‘following the return of this administration for a second term in office, I made a solemn commitment that with politics and campaigns over; we must hit the ground running in the Next Level for greater productivity’.
No wonder, talking about hitting the road as soon as the list of the commissioner nominees he sent to the state House of Assembly was reported to have been cleared, a unique decision was taken by the government ‘by approving a state-wide familiarization tour of the seventeen (17) Local Government Areas, cutting across the three geo-political zones of the state’.
The novel idea, without been told became a reference point in the history of the governance of the state. In the past, such appointees went into office without having a feel of what is obtainable at the local level; that takes a lot of energy and time to begin to learn certain things which concern the local man, and indeed how his situation can be changed for the better by the government which they stood in the rains or sun as the case might be to bring into power.
That singular opportunity of going round the 17 local government areas of the state before they were sworn in last Monday, October 7, 2019 brought them to the stark realities that much is expected of them as they begin their journey in governance.
But much more than them coming face to face with those who voted the government into power; and what should be done to them by government, according to the governor, ‘the philosophy was to appreciate the Royal Fathers on behalf of the people who gave us the mandate to serve them and further receive their royal and fatherly blessings as partial preparations for the effective take-off as Honourable Commissioners who have been called to serve the State’.
To be candid, it is on record that ‘the tour provided the opportunity to interact and engage in a quasi-peer review with policy makers at the grass roots, which included the Local Government Chairmen and their Management Teams with the view to providing further insights into wholistic policy implementation and understand their vision, challenges and expectations. This will certainly shorten the learning curve after being sworn in’.
If the team that went to the grassroots ‘had a very successful outing and in a better position to appreciate issues as’ they ‘take informed decisions for the common good of the people and state’, hitting the road running will be easy. It is expected that they understand and appreciate what life can be like in the local government areas of the state.
The oath has been administered already; the team has taken over their respective ministries, and they are indeed ‘legally equipped to discharge your duties in your respective ministries’.
That is a fact, but truth is: They should be aware that ‘this mandate however goes with huge responsibilities of service delivery to our people within the ambit of the policy thrust of the second phase of the Rescue Mission’.
One of the areas which states have not given attention to for their development deliberate strategies to meet targets for certain period of years. No wonder that the governor a few months ago ‘commissioned the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to undertake the task of developing a five-year Development Plan for Plateau State, which will shape our final term in office’, the report which has been submitted after intensive ‘engagements with Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Local Government councils, the Economic Advisory Team and other stakeholders’.
It is not a hidden fact that the consultants’ report has since been submitted to the governor. It is a document desiring attention and study by the new team as soon as possible, given the fact that it ‘provides the roadmap for the implementation of our Next Level Rescue Agenda in serving our people effectively’.
As the political heads of their respective ministries, they have enormous responsibilities placed on their shoulders are’ burdens that are very heavy and your position is not for glamour, but of absolute responsibility. Your appointment is a patriotic call to duty, which should be devoid of betrayal of trust’.
Uneasy they say lays the head that wears the crown. The new team is aware of the responsibilities they would be carrying, so much so that they are reminded by the governor that ‘since I discouraged every lobby and influence to personally select you, I am going to drive you so hard and hold you to the highest standards as you carry out your assignments to ensure we achieve tangible results.
‘I therefore expect nothing less than loyalty, diligence, commitment, probity and accountability to our development plans within the three pillar policies of the administration, namely: Peace, Security and Good governance; Physical Infrastructural Development; and Sustainable Economic Rebirth.
‘I will therefore not hesitate to reprimand, chastise, query and where necessary discipline by removal from office, any of you who goes contrary to the agenda of our Rescue Government and indeed extant public service rules’.
It is understood why Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State that day vowed not to spare any member of the newly constituted state executive council who would sabotage his dream of taking the state to a higher pedestal in his second tenure.
When the governor swore the Secretary to the Government of the State, Prof Danladi Atu and the Chief of Staff, Hon Noel Dongjur, he did not mince words about where he wants to take the state to; which by extension should guide the official attitude of their roles as part of the team he wants to take Plateau State to; he reminded them thus:
‘Remember that your appointment is not a license to self-aggrandizement nor self-enrichment or any personal gain for that matter. It is about service to our people and ensuring that this administration delivers on its mandate and leaving lasting legacies for our beloved state.
‘As it is always said, no one (including myself) is indispensable. Therefore, we will not tolerate anyone who undermines Government’s efforts or flagrantly disregards directives. Poor performance, dereliction of duty, non-chalance or outright sabotage is not acceptable and will not be appreciated or tolerated’.
Certainly, the government needs to ‘fulfil the challenges of leaving a lasting legacy; you need every support from all and sundry. However, without prejudice to your different affiliations and the right to demand for quality service and good governance, let me specially plead that relations, friends and party loyalists should not exert unnecessary pressures on your wards as these could easily derail them and have negative effects on their effective performances in service delivery’.
Without being told ‘you will agree with me that we have so much to do within the short time available to us. We are very ambitious in marketing Plateau to the World as the most favourable destination for investment and true home of peace and tourism that it is.
The Governor allocated portfolios to them thus: Hon. (Mrs.) Elizabeth Wapmuk (Secondary Education), Yakubu Dati, Ministry of Lands, Survey and Town Planning, Hon. Sylvanus Dankano Tapgun, Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Barrister Chrisantus Ahmadu, Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, and Hon. Ibrahim Sa’at Bello, Water Resources and Energy.
Others were, Hon. Dayyabu Garga, Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Ninkong Lar Ndam, Health, Barr. Rinven Bitrus Zurfa, Housing, Dr. Hosea Finangwai, Agriculture, Mrs. Tamwakat Weli, Tourism and Culture, Mrs. Regina Soemlat, Finance, Mr. Katmena Audu, Higher Education, Hon. Usman Yakubu Idi, Environment.
Dakur Jude Eli was appointed as the Commissioner of Mineral Department, Hon. Sylvester Walangko, Budget and Planning, Hon. Dung Musa Gyang, Science and Technology, Hon. Pam Botmang, Works, Hon. Jerry Werr, Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs and NGOs, Hon. Mohammed Mohammed Abubakar, Transport. Mrs. Sambo Rebecca, Women Affairs, Hon. Dan Manjang, Information and Communications, just as Hon. Abe Joseph Aku, the Commerce and Industry portfolio.