Electorates in the affected communities in Jos North are threatening to boycott the forthcoming local government elections if abandoned projects are not completed and that will amount to disenfranchisement.
It would be recalled that after being neglected for almost Sixteen years by the past successive administrations in Plateau State, in February 2017, when the administration of Governor Simon Bako Lalong started repairing some major roads within the Jos central area, NEWMARKET inclusive, there was jubilation and high expectations of completing the projects within the stipulated time frame.
But typical of Nigerian politicians who sometimes deny the masses some of their rights for political reasons, the NEWMARKET ROAD construction project was halted along the line, giving some flimsy excuses which are not beyond the powers of every responsible and responsive government. I am not unmindful of the community we live in, which may not be unconnected with the reason this government wants to play safe, even with some people thinking it was then, a reservation for the 2019 election campaigns.
In fairness, some of the roads were completed before the 2019 elections, some after, with others recent.
On the NEWMARKET ROAD, which is yet to be completed for almost four years now, the major reason that anyone can give for abandoning the project has been that some shop owners along the road, not more than TEN, refuse to be cooperative with the contractor. However, to every discerning mind, that is not enough excuse to subject a whole community and a very strategic business center as such to undue hardship, the collapse of businesses, and a lot more losses even to the government itself because, we have seen in many instances where government at all levels exercise their constitutional powers in taking certain actions, even against the wish of the masses, for what they use to term public interest. The scenario of the Jos Main Market for whoever knows is a clear-cut example.
Governor Lalong had once told journalists, at a media parley held at the Victoria Gown hall, Government House, that lack of funds was majorly the cause for non-completion of the New Market as well as that of Yandoya/Rikkos road projects, but the NEWMARKET road project was transferred to Jos North Local Government Council, it was gathered a directive was made that, the council should seek for a loan facility, which it was reliably gathered that the sum of N280 million was secured from one of the commercial banks, specifically for the completion of some of this projects.
They were, eventually, awarded the contract, and work started on Friday 11th June 2021, targeted for completion within one month, to be precise on Saturday 10th of July 2021, that is, a period of one month. Alas; few days after work stopped, even when the contractor had spread red clay on the surface of the earth, giving hope, but the next day was yet another bad experience for the people as working tools were once more evacuated till date.
Moreover, as the new contractor was set to return to the NEWMARKET ROAD project site on the 11th June 2021, it was discovered that overriding individual interests, be it positive or negative from the major players of the contract is at play.
This is not farfetched because, after the project has been transferred to the Authorities of Jos North local government by the Plateau State Government, the very day a contractual letter was to be issued to the new contractor, there emerged one Mr. Maicibi Vwarji a politician, who brought a letter which, he said it was Governor Simon Lalong that sent him, demanding that, he should be awarded the contract.
The fact that the contractor was said to be in the interest of the governor, ties the hands of the council management committee chairman, for he cannot continue, persuade the contractor to do that which is legitimate for the overall public interests.
We, therefore, call on the Plateau State Governor to come to terms with this reality on the ground not forgetting that, the communities of ABBA NA SHEHU AND ALI KAZAURE that suffered most as a result of the bad state of NEWMARKET ROAD, added to the thousands of people transacting businesses in the said market on a daily basis; formed a very large chunk of the votes that were very instrumental to his emergence both in 2015 and 2019 and as such, we do not deserve this neglect from the Rescue Administration of Governor Simon Bako Lalong.
We equally call on the management committee chairman of Jos North Local Government Shehu Bala Usman, to as a matter of urgency expedite action through using all options available, in ensuring the completion of this and other projects within his domain, for Jos North is the worse victim of democracy as a capital city of Plateau state.
Instructively, we are drawing his attention here because electorates in the affected communities are threatening to boycott the forthcoming local government elections if these projects are not completed and that will amount to disenfranchisement.
Many Communities within Jos have since 2012 to date, suffering from the same neglect, case the reference which is most disturbing is the communities is YANDOYA, and TUDUN OC, was on the cause of my discussion with a woman from the area whose two adopted sons died, as result of the poison deposits in the sand used for the road construction which was abandoned by the Plateau State Government.
Other communities with similar problems include Jenta Adamu, Rukuba Road, Gangare, Unguwan Rukuba, Rikkos, and others too numerous to mention.
As concerned citizens, ours is neither politics nor personal interest, but simply to remind public office holders to account, in line with the official oath they have taken, to put public interest above their personal interests.