Jos Christian community gets special recognition for shielding Muslims during EndSARS violence

On 20th October, 2020, violence broke out in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, following weeks of protests by youths demanding the dissolution of the Federal Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

At least three people were killed and two worship centers burnt, but somewhere in Gyel, a completely Christian community in Jos South Local Government Area, locals shielded 13 Muslim youths until tensions subsided, and officially handed them to their leaders in Bukuru.

Touched by this, the Plateau State Peace Building Agency says it is planning a special honor for the community.

“This is a rare act of honor,” said the Director General of the Agency, Mr. Joseph Lengman on Monday, during a visit to the District Head of Gyel, Da. Dr. Nga Dangyang.

What happened in Gyel district is exemplary, said Mr. Lengmang. In the past, he said, “When misunderstanding occurs between Christians and Muslims in Plateau State, you’d only hear of bloodshed but what happened here is encouraging.

“For you to shield those 13 that got a place to stay in Gyel shows we have learned from our mistakes in the past. It is a new chapter that we have opened for peace in this state and the Governor is impressed with it.

“Three years ago in Gashish, an Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Abdullahi did same. For it to happen again shows we are evolving. People are ready to even lay their lives for others, including erstwhile enemies.”

There is nothing greater than peace, added Barr. Auwal Abdullahi, the Executive Secretary, Muslims Pilgrims Welfare Board, Jos.

Barr. Auwal Abdullahi and Mr. Joseph Lengmang

“Without peace, we can’t carry out our daily businesses. Even religious exercises we can’t carry them out, and that is why this rare act of kindness by Gyel Community is worth celebrating,” said the Pilgrims Official.

The Leader of Lyoh-Gyel Community, Mr. Gyang Jatau Doji, in whose house the Muslim youths were shielded, said  he felt obligated to preserve life based on his Christian teaching and relationship with Muslims.

“Once upon a time I shielded some two Muslim kids when conflicts broke out in Kerana. Another time here in Gyel, when there was conflict, I did same. It is second nature for us. This is what our Christian faith teaches, to preserve and not take life. After all, I’ve related with Muslims a lot. The man that first gave me ticket to Israel is a Muslim.”

The District Head of Gyel and Chairman, Jos South Traditional Council, Dr. Nga Dangyang blamed tribalism for the reoccurring violence in the State.

According to him, Christians and Muslims have more in common than their perceived differences.

“Islam and Christianity were brought to us by foreigners. Before then, we were all idol worshippers. Why then do we hate each other? Why can’t we coexist like before? Why can’t we break borders and restore that old mutual relationship?” he queried.

The Community Leader of Bukuru, Chindo Abdullahi, Chairman of Berom Youth Movement in Gyel, Mr. Chomo Emershal, that of Berom Cultural and Educational Organization, Mr. Yohanna Jok, and a Women leader, Mrs. Naomi Yohanna called for an end to drug abuse, kidnapping and farmland destructions to further peace and harmonious coexistence in the State.

Widely called illiterate, these labourers known as "Yan Dako" in Hausa have businesses employing graduates

Central Nigeria: Perhaps, dirty and low-class is the work of a porter – a person who carries loads for a fee, especially in a market. However, in Plateau State, this set of labourers, “illiterate” as they are widely perceived, are among the wealthiest in society.

Never ashamed of their hustle, the labourers, called “Yan Dako” in Hausa, put on their dirty clothes every business day, carry load for others, get paid and invest. Today, some of them own massive investments that employ graduates.

Mr. Joshua Danlami, a Porter for 30 years, owns a hospital, shopping mall, 15,000 bird capacity poultry farm, two storey buildings, bungalows and six trailer trucks. He started as an apprentice from Primary School days, when his parents could not afford his books and uniform, despite being a public school.

“Each time I closed from school, I came to the market to learn. Soon, I started work on my own and today I can say I have made it from this work,” he said.

Joshua dropped out of school at the Primary level, but now has over 40 paid staff, graduates included, in his establishments. Some of his apartments are rented by post-graduate certificate holders, most of whom likely spite or underrate his work.

Another Porter, Alhaji Safiyanu Tukum, owns a filling station and 20 trailer trucks, in addition to multimillion naira businesses, with over 100 paid staff, graduates included. He too dropped out of school at a tender age to start porting. He was spited and rejected among his peers, most of whom now go to him to seek jobs for their children.

Mr. Mambok Ahmed, the current Treasurer of the Porters Union in Bokkos owns two trucks, but is a net exporter of agricultural produce. “We get contracts from foreign countries to supply goods worth hundreds of millions,” he said. Mambok has stood in elections twice and lost, but to another fellow in the porting business.

Hon. Useini Amurudu, the man who beat him in the last elections to emerge member representing Bokkos Constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly was a porter for many years. Two other Porters are currently holding active positions in the Bokkos Local Government Legislative Council.

“Our work is widely perceived to be dirty, but for us, it’s a source of wealth. Many people including graduates have come here and found food for their families and money for further education. Some of us here have also gone to school from the money they got from the work,” said Mr. Danlami Adamu, the Chairman, Sassabiya (porters) association, Bokkos LGA.

Without money, one cannot claim high class, said national President of the loaders union, Alhaji Hamza Abdullahi. “We wear our dirty clothes at noon and in the evening we wear clean clothes, with our pockets full,” he said.

The porters in Bokkos last week launched a one storey shopping complex they built from personal contributions. It’s one of many achievements by the group which is clearly determined to do more.The multimillion naira complex has office, shopping and banking spaces for use by members and nonmembers.

From Lawyer to passionate baker, Ochanya, 26, has definitely found a new gold

Ochanya Jessica, CEO, Cakes by Och

Ochanya Jessicah Agbo, 25, a top entrepreneur in Central Nigeria’s Plateau State is inestimably breaking grounds with her new found love – baking.

She is a certified lawyer, with with outstanding records, from both the University of Jos where she had her undergraduate studies, to the Nigerian Law School Kano where she received her Professional training and induction, and as a practicing lawyer.

As an undergraduate, in 2012, Ochanya ventured into baking, just to have extra income and support her widowed Professor mother. This she continued even after graduating and moving into full legal practice in 2015. However, by 2018, what started as a hobby and “extra” income source had bloomed into unquenchable passion.

“I enjoyed creating beautiful pieces and putting smiles on people’s faces. Soon, I discovered that running my business made me really happy,” she said.

The fifth of six siblings started a rare brand of cakes – Cakes-by-Och from that time, and has created top-rated entrepreneurs with she herself creating jobs and inspiring thousands to rise above limitations and be financially free.

“For now I’m focused on growing my business. It’s not just about being a Baker anylonger. I want to grow as an entrepreneur,” she said, casting a bleak future for her law practice.

“Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone but don’t be idle, and don’t depend on your certificate if it’s not paying your bills,” she advised young Professionals like her.

Ochanya, a native of Ohimini Local Government Area in Benue State, born and raised in Jos, is one of the few entrepreneurs changing the popular civil service image of Plateau State, which is thought to be unfavourable for business.

Her ideas, often sourced from relating with the human environment put her out among equals, earning her thousands of dollars, even as a single lady.

Perhaps, if everyone would explore their extra senses and create simple solutions to human problems like her, instead of depending on others for survival, Nigeria wouldn’t be grappling with over 40% poverty rate, and a second recession in five years.

Findings link the increasing crime rate in Nigeria to poverty, which is partly induced by citizens’ over-reliance on paid jobs.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2016 called the country’s youths lazy, and is still being lashed for it, yet, increasingly, youths in the country are decreasing in productivity, and will to change.

The recent EndSARS protests suggest a turn-around. However, observers say even if youths takeover power from the present class of leaders, without a deliberate plan to improve their lives through innovation, it will be politics as usual.

After being robbed the week he quit job for business, Plateau's Haggai Gutap earns UK honor

Mr. Haggai Gutap, left, gets National Productivity Order of Merit award, Thursday in Abuja

Jos, Plateau State: Mr. Haggai Gutap, a Nigerian business expert listed for international honors at the London Graduate School and Common Wealth University both in United Kingdom, next month, may have had it rough at the start of his career.

Gutap is the founder and Chief Executive Officer, Fingertips Enterprise Development Partners International Limited (FEDPIL), a global business training and consulting firm. He was hired in 2016 by Plateau State Government to manage its microfinance development agency, churning out thousands of globally reputed small and medium scale enterprises eversince.

A major setback at the tender stage of his business career nearly ripped him of his self-esteem, focus and will to survive, but he pressed on, becoming one of Nigeria’s major business exports.

In his words, “I had difficulties balancing my vision with the vision of the organizations I worked for. I had plans to be a successful entrepreneur but the environment was not conducive to practice my crazy thoughts and vision.

“Along the line I had to take though decisions to start my business. At that time, I started from zero. The week I resigned my appointment, I was robbed and I lost virtually everything, including my car but I went ahead and today the firm I started is in over six states of Nigeria and our vision is to raise a crop of workforce that is globally competitive.”

Haggai Gutap

Gutap has since childhood been result driven. He hates self-pity and laziness. He hails from a poor farming village in Plateau State’s Mangu Local Government Area, and anything that seeks to keep him where he was the previous day is enemy.

“I always cherish efficiency in anything I am doing. I love impacting on people’s lives and continuous self-development. At work, I always want to ensure that honesty, transparency, adherence to time and commitment are highly observed. Anyone whose superiors or subordinates cannot trust will soon close shop,” he said.

His greatest inspiration has always been the quest to solve human problems and improve life in communities through creative thinking. This is a result of past experiences and constant association with “people of substance – something I can always learn from”, he says.

His nomination for the London honors is a great challenge as according to him, “it shows for every step I take, the society watches and evaluates my impact,” but at again, it is a call to more innovation, dedication to duty and focus on results, he said.

When he assumed work as Director General, Plateau State Microfinance Development Agency, he keyed into the vision of the rescue mission administration of Governor, Dr. Simon Bako Lalong.

Here, Gutap designed and executed programs for skills acquisition in various trades, Entrepreneurship and financial literacy, coaching and Mentoring services for MSMEs, as well as special support to outstanding MSMES in the state through grants.

He equally helped in the domestication of the presidential initiative of ease of doing business, making the State first to set up a One-Stop-Shop for the registration of all kinds of businesses.

Through this, the State has produced outstanding MSMEs that are now employers of Labour. This perhaps explains why he was on Thursday given a Presidential National Productivity Order of Merit award, in addition to next months international honors.

Despite that, Gutap tells us, “Continuous self-development, commitment to higher responsibilities and openness to new ideas and innovations are a must for me.” He advised fellow youths to be consistent in their pursuits, working for “results not money”, and always seeking personal growth.

Football: Governor's surprise visit to training players attracts new Turkish jerseys

Central Nigeria: Barely 48hrs after Governor Simon Lalong made a surprise appearance at Plateau United Football Club's training ground in Jos, Turkish manufacturers have delivered new set of jerseys to the team. 

The Turkish manufacturing firm, Kapspor, had signed a contract to deliver jerseys ahead of the team's CAF Champions League appearance.

On Wednesday, Governor Simon Lalong visited the team during their training session at Zaria road stadium, to charge them to victory in their preliminary match on Sunday against Simba of Tanzania in Jos.

Club Officials told the Governor about the delay in the arrival of jerseys and on Thursday, the consignment arrived.

General Manager of the club, Pius Henwan attributes the development to the Governor's "love and passion" for the team. 

Kapspor is kitting the Plateau United FC for the second time having signiled a two-year contract.

The new kits will be launched on Saturday alongside new players, Officials say.

Social movements better with defined communication platforms - Plateau IT pointsman

David Daser

A Nigerian internet expert, Mr. Oluwadaser David says social movements are more effective with unified communication options.

A dedicated platform for information sharing on social media, Daser says builds security and trust for members of a movement.

"There is a need to have an identified source of information, as communication among social movements can be effect through social media which will help foster the achievement of goals," said Daser, the Director General, Plateau State Information Communication Technology Development Agency (PICTDA) at a recent chat on "social movements and the use of social media for social impact, organized by SMSGAfrica, in Jos, Plateau State.

Social media is a game changer for social movements, providing open and participatory communication options, said Mr. Teyei Joel, another discussant at the event.

The platform, a broadcast Journalist, Ponfa Fanap said should be regulated, but only through "technology companies".

Adding, Ms. Maryam Mohammed advised admins of social media groups to regulate information flow in their groups.

Founder of Tomruk iHub Multiverse, Mr. Job David Ayuba advised government to design programs to enlighten citizens on responsible social media use.

Jos mother dies on hearing of only son's murder

Mrs. Theresa Yohanna Bwai, 52, a diabetic patient for over ten years, last Wednesday, died of cardiac arrest, after receiving the tragic news of her only son’s death.

Mr. Bwehfa Isaac Yohanna Bwai, 22, was born to Theresa and her husband, Yohanna Bwai, after about ten years of childlessness. The couple never had another child till she went blind from a condition Doctors link to her prolonged diabetes treatment.

In Ron, a tribe in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State, fondly called Chala, a local greeting, Bwehfa means “God gives”. The boy was a source of joy, and a treasure that the couple would give their all for.

Due to her condition, Theresa had no job. Her husband, a federal civil servant retired a few months ago. Bwehfa, a Second year undergraduate student of National Film Institute Jos, had projected to care for them soon as he started earning after graduating. He had taken to music and photography to complement his parents’ income as he pursued his career in film production. But Wednesday was his last day on Earth. 

“He left home for school in the morning and unlike him, by 6pm he wasn’t home yet. We tried to reach him on the phone but could not, then shortly later we were alerted to his corpse in the neighborhood,” said a relation.

Bwehfa was peaceful and fun to be with, said a neighbor, in ECWA Staff Community along Zaria road, Jos, but why would anyone kill him? Police suspect he was attacked by violent cult gangs.

Perhaps, being in the performing arts, he’d been approached by a gang in the neighborhood to sign up as a member, but he declined. It is also likely that he had clashes with a member on stage, at school, in the street or just anywhere, over power, a girlfriend, anything… Chances also that he was associated with a rival gang.

Be that as it may, the testimonies about him were positive when he was buried right next to his mother yesterday, in Daffo, Bokkos LGA. Furthermore, no direct links have been confirmed between him and cult groups.

Cult Activities in Jos

Cult related violence has worsened in the last one decade in some Northern suburbs of Jos, the capital of Plateau State. The latest of such attacks is the last three weeks’ murder of an artisan in Rayfield, in Jos South, by suspected cult members from a northern suburb, and last two weeks’ murder of a male hairstylist in Hwolshe, also in Jos South, by suspected cult members from a northern suburb. Bwehfa’s murder, last week suggests serial murder, taking place after each week. 

Why the attacks however, no one knows, at least just yet. Securities are still investigating, but even if they find links to any cult groups, it might be difficult to arrest them, given their reported high firepower.

Special Task Force operatives however last week paraded over a dozen suspected cultists, mostly without any exhibits, an important variable in securing conviction.

Northern Pastors award Muslims, others fighting for justice in Nigeria

A Northern Nigerian group, Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association (ACIPA), headquartered in Jos, Plateau State, has awarded five Muslims for “courage and resilience” in defending peace and justice.

Mr. Ahmed Wakili, a Muslim BBC Reporter from Nigeria and a Jos based radio station owned by a Muslim Politician – Unity FM, were listed for the media awards while the Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian House of Reps, Mr. Idris Wase, and a Plateau Monarch, Mohammed Sambo appeared in the “special merit” category. Col. Dahiru Bako, a deceased Muslim Officer of the Nigerian Army was listed among posthumous award recepients.

ACIPA has previously awarded a popular Muslim singer, Mr. Danmaraya Jos, a philanthropist, Mr. Tanko Yakasai and a military Officer, Col. A.I. Mohammed.

Plateau State has for over two decades faced violent clashes between Christians and Muslims. The African Center for Strategic Studies says 60,000 people have died in the conflicts since 2001, nearly twice the number of people killed by Boko Haram terrorists. The conflicts have created segregation and mutual suspicion amongst citizens, which appears to reflect in their social and political choices.

ACIPA, likely the first Nigerian Christian organization to list Muslims for awards is setting a record for peace, unity and development, said a Plateau Monarch, Mr. Isaac Wakili at the award ceremony in Jos, Sunday.

“We shall arise as a united peace loving people after we have defeated religious intolerance, insecurity, poverty and all forms of challenges to life,” said Wakili, the Chief of a Jos northeastern tribe, Afizere.

The group exists to unite Nigerians from all religions to solve the country’s socioeconomic problems, said a Trustee, Rev. Justin La-nibett-le. “Many things are wrong in Nigeria. Divisions will only worsen them. We need unity to fix this country,” he said.

Future editions of the awards will include more people from the predominantly Muslim Northern Nigeria, said ACIPA President, Rev. Shehu Luke. “We are poised to be salt and light of the world as catalyst for Love, Peace, Reconciliation, Unity and Development,” said Shehu.

Other award recepients were Masara Kim Usman, MKB Publisher recently intorrogated by Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) over an investigative security news report he published, as well as a female Voice of America Reporter, Zainab Babaji. 

Former Speaker of the Nigerian House of Reps, Yakubub Dogara, an electoral Official, Mr. Nentawe Gosheve and philanthropists Kim De Montaxel and Sutu Jatau were awarded in the distinguished merit category along with a former Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe. Retired Major General Andrew Audu, Air Cmdr Ruth Garba and Mr. Nawani Aboki also appeared in that category.

In the posthumous category, Mr. Paul Bassi, and Philip Usman were listed alongside Wakili as Channels TV, NTA Jos, and Jay FM Jos got the media awards along with Unity FM.

"High city hawkings signal hunger but Jos national festival is investment" - Business expert

A woman hawks with a baby strapped to her back

Central Nigeria: Rwang Pam township Jos, Plateau State on Monday became full with spectators, cultural performers, government officials, and security operatives as the 2020 National Festival of Arts and Culture started.

As typical of such events, petty traders - mostly hawkers were there to make sales. But perhaps, the high population of hawkers at the event and other strategic locations in the city was somewhat unanticipated, suggesting "there is real hunger in the land," said Business expert, Ms. Bolcit Barshep.

Ms. Bolcit Barshep, MD, Anista Marketing Ltd.

No one thought the event would've held, due to covid-19, said Ms. Bolcit, the Managing Director, Anista Marketing Ltd. However, "that it is holding is a miracle," she said, surprised at the large turnout of people, "vendors from other states" included.

Officials have faced criticisms over the event holding in a recession, shortly after covid-19 lockdown. However, Bolcit says, it is an investment opportunity.

In her words, "The array of people that have graced the event have confessed how cool the weather is which is well sorted out in the hospitality industry and I have heard some of them say it's an opportunity to site some recreational sites here.

"There are many more opportunities here in the agric, tourism and mining sectors. Anyone who has come here for the event must have picked one thing or another, which I believe will turnaround the fortunes of our people."

The Plateau State Commissioner of Information, Dan Manjang, on said there were "more than revenue" gains for the State in the festival.

"Many people will be selling their merchandise and that will lead to savings and tax payment. The hospitality industry in particular will earn and pay tax and that will increase IGR. But beyond that, there will be skills acquisition training, new investment opportunities for us and above all, a new image of Plateau as people come and experience the peace we are enjoying beyond what they probably read in the papers," said Manjang.

The event officially opened on Monday to last till 28th of November had in attendance at the opening at Rwang Pam township stadium, Senator Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Chairman, Senate Committee on Tourism and Culture, Mai Mala Buni, the National Caretaker Committee Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, and a host of others.

Holding at Langfield Leisure park Rayfield Jos, the event features traditional board game, Archery, Indigenous Fabrics competition, children's Essay Competition and cultural Quiz competition, Officials say.

Other events are choral music competition, traditional cuisine, children's indigenous instrumental competition, children's craft and cultural performances.

Nigeria's first all-stars rally to hold in Jos, 2021

Papa Ajasco attends Jos 2020 NAFEST

Plateau State, Simon Lalong says the State will soon hold a mega event to "celebrate" all those who started their careers in the State before hitting stardom.

The "Glorious Stars Event", a special award ceremony, aims to project "the true and positive narrative that Plateau State has been known for," Lalong said at the 2020 National Festival of Arts and Culture in Jos.

"Plateau State boasts of a rich history of producing global stars in virtually all fields of human endeavour including Sports, Entertainment, Performing Arts, Innovation, and the Movie Industry. Indeed, our State occupies a strategic and distinct position in the socio-political history of this country, having hosted other national historic events including NAFEST about 20 years ago," said the Governor.

The event which he said earlier meant to hold this year, but was disrupted by Covid-19 will hold next year, with President Muhammadu Buhari among awardees.

President Buhari was Garrison Officer Commanding 3rd Armoured Division, Jos, in the late 70s, before he became Head of State in 1983. 

Plateau State hosting the 2020 Festival of Arts and Culture, according to Lalong, is a confirmation of the restored public confidence in the State "with the Restoration of Peace".

"Before we came into office, many were skeptical of coming to the State because of the crises that occurred. 

"However, this has since changed as my administration embraced all stakeholders and initiated collective dialogue and constructive engagement to get to the root of the problem.

"With the support of all including the security agencies, we have succeeded in restoring substantial peace while mapping out strategies to deal with criminals," he said.  

Proudly J-town: Two international awards, one National clash for Plateau Microfinance Official

Mr. Haggai Gutap, the Director General, Plateau State Microfinance Development Agency (PLASMIDA) has been nominated for special awards by the London Graduate School, and American Business University. 

The "excellence" award by the London Graduate School and "Lifetime Achievers award" by the American Business University both hold between December 2020 and January 2021, it was gathered.

Locally, Mr. Gutap has been selected for the National Productivity Award, by the Presidency, holding on 25th November, 2020.

Gutap holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Degrees in Economics and is completing research for the award of a Doctorate in Development Economics at the Nigeria Defense Academy, Kaduna.

He is a reputed development expert with core competence and experience in Microfinance, value chain, rural and Enterprise Development, Economic and Investment analyses. 

Gutap is an accredited trainer by the Centre for Management Development (CMD), International Labour Organization, ITC/ILO, Lusaka Zambia, Central Bank of Nigeria/Anteneo Manila University of Philippines, and Small Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).

He is equally an Agricultural value chain and SME finance expert certified by the School of African Microfinance, a certified Economist from the Chartered Institute of Economists and a student Member, Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers of Nigeria.

A team leader for implementing Climate Change Adaptation and Agricultural Business Support Programme (IFAD/CASP) Katsina state and the North East Zonal Coordinating Consultant to Nigeria Incentive Based for Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the revered economist was until recently, consultant to the Central Bank of Nigeria, World Bank, African Development Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), German International Cooperation (GIZ) sponsored projects here in Nigeria. 

He was also the lead consultant responsible for the establishment of the first Farmers Microfinance Bank in Nigeria (Fadama Farmers Microfinance Bank Ltd.) in Jos, Plateau State under the World Bank sponsored project Fadama III.


Plateau wins best MSMSE 2018

Plateau wins best Science and Technology Innovation, 2019

Plateau wins Best Furniture Designs 2020

As Director General of Plateau's only local enterprise development agency, and likely the first in Nigeria which currently exists as the only state affiliate of SMEDAN, Gutap has trained and financed thousands of entrepreneurs who are currently mopping the State of unemployed youths. 

Three of these SMEs in 2018, 2019 and 2020 won National Awards under the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Clinic programme of the Federal Government.

More than a festival in Jos: Massive cultural display at 2020 National Festival of Arts & Culture

Update: Special committee funds allegedly diverted by Plateau Official unreleased by Govt - findings

Contrary to reports alleging that over N100million meant for special Committee allowances had been diverted by an Official in Plateau State, Mr. Fabian Ntung, further investigations have revealed that only N53,220,000 was approved with 1/5th of the total sum paid.

Mr. Ntung, the Chairman, Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC), had, while serving as Permanent Secretary in the State's Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs Ministry, applied for the funds to “compensate” members of a staff progression and analysis committee for the extended time and scope of their assignment, from six weeks in June 2013, to nearly 26 months in August 2015.

But contrary to the earlier report that each of the 43 members of the committee, was entitled to N4.5million, amounting to over N190million in total, the actual funds requested were confirmed to be N53,220,000 which were approved by Governor Simon Lalong.

The paid 1/5th of the total sum - N10,644,000.00 was found to have been disbursed to the committee members in December 2015 - the funds mistaken for “Christmas package” in the previous report.

Further findings trace delays in the release of the remaining N42,576,000 to administrative bottlenecks in the State Ministry of Finance, despite constant follow-up by concerned authorities. MKB therefore apologizes for the errors and misrepresentation of facts in its earlier report, regretting any inconveniences caused, particularly to Mr. Ntung.

Plateau youths oppose planned recall of Senator: "He is a silent achiever"

Senator Hezekiah Dimka, representing Plateau Central in Nigeria's National Assembly, is a “silent achiever,” with unspoken records of impact, a group of youths said, Saturday.

Dimka has been “identified as one of the few Senators the 9th Assembly relies on to push its agenda”, and one of the most active members of the Red Chambers, the Coordinator, Coalition of Plateau Central Zone Youths (COPCZY), Ezekiel Jamok, said in a press conference in Jos.

“Since commencement of legislative activities by the 9th Assembly, one and a half years ago and in line with constitutional mandates, Senator Hezekiah Dimka, the Senator representing Plateau Central District has worked to push forth some initiatives/bills that appeal to the good people of Plateau Central zone.

“His actions are refined in response to public sentiments aimed at improving the people’s values and specific welfare sectors manifesting his achievements which reflect his earlier stated legislative interests to include; education, security, agriculture, women and youth development,” Jamok said.

The Senator has recently been “disparaged,” said the youth leader, by a group seeking his recall, but has remained “one to beat”, said Jamok.

“Some of the bills he has sponsored and presented on the floor of the Red Chambers are Bill for the establishment of Federal University of Technology Kabwir (awaiting second reading), bill for the establishment of the Institute of Information and Communication Technology, Kanam (a degree awarding institution), and, bill for the upgrade of NDLEA Training Institute, Jos.

“Aside the constitutional mandate of law making, other projects he proposed, which we believe would benefit the people and have a direct impact on the communities are Construction of motorised solar boreholes, construction of four numbers of three block class rooms, skills development and capacity training for youth and women, supply of tri-cycles (Keke Napep) and motorcycles for youths, provisions of grinding, water pumping and knap spraying machines, provision of rural electrification/construction of solar street lights, and advocacy and sensitization on narcotic drugs and rehabilitation programmes,” Jamok stated.

Other projects according to the youth leader are construction of Pankshin-Tapshin-Gambar-Sara-Kal-Gindiri Road networks, Construction of Panyam-Bokkos-Wamba-Wamba Road Networks, Construction of Pankshin-Ballang-Nyelleng-Sara-Lere-Gindiri Road Network, construction of Babban Lamba-Sharam Road Network, and Provision/installation of 500KVA transformer.

Journalist's eulogy

"The name Hezekiah Ayuba Dimka is synonymous with security," says veteran Journalist, Katdapba Gobum.

Dimka, the chairman, Senate Committee on Drugs and Narcotics can be as "engaging" as he reveals the quality of the elite police officer that he had being, says Gobum in a widely circulated online article.

The ex Police Commissioner is however not just all about social but also food security, Gobum wrote.

“He has longed to depart from the usual political crowd that has characterize our polity.

“No wonder, only recently, he came to the aide of farmers in the zone with fertilizers, knowing there cannot be anything worth giving than this in this season; even as he is aware the zone is populated by farmers.

“Those who were affected by recent disasters in some parts of the zone are remembered and not forgotten,” the piece reads.

Political journey

Senator Hezekiah Dimka is of the Ngas tribe of Kabwir village in Kanke LGA of Plateau State. He was born in March 1952 at Kabwir.

Dimka attended the Nigerian Police College, got commissioned and rose to the rank of commissioner of police having served in different locations across Nigeria, notably in Imo and Delta states until his retirement.

After his service in the Nigerian Police in 2008, he joined politics to help Nigeria, his Constituency, Plateau Central in particular, to attain sustainable growth and development.

In 2018, he was appointed to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) Board by President Muhammadu Buhari. He was later elected as a Senator representing plateau Central Senatorial zone under the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2019

Top Plateau Official allegedly diverts over N100m meant for special research team

Over N100million meant for the offset of responsibility allowances for a special government committee set up to produce the first ever data on staff statuses and progression in Plateau State has disappeared, inside sources have alleged.

The committee on staff progression and analysis was set up in June 2012 to work, in conjunction with the State’s ICT Committee and the Local Government Service Commission, to capture all relevant information on staff progression within the State Civil and Public service.

On completion of its assignment in June 2013, an additional task was given for the commitee to study both secret and open files of staff, active and out of service, in all the seventeen (17) Local Government Councils of the State and the LG Service Commission’s headquarters.

The committee was tasked to capture all records that relate to staff establishment status. This includes data from the establishment of the system in the 60s and 70s. It was also to establish and comment on any abnormalities on staff records regarding progression, cadre and other relevant service matters. Furthermore, the commitee was to suggest queries and/or discipline for any anomalies in the system. The assignment included a staff evaluation of the State’s Universal Basic Education Board.

In all, the committee treated over 60,000 staff files, completing its assignment in August 2015. Its reports are said to currently save the State over N400million monthly from ghost workers, in addition to identifying over 3000 existing vacancies, which the State attempted to fill in 2019 but was overwhelmed by over 50,000 applications.

The reports have also led to massive reforms in salary, pension and entitlement payments, placing the State among few in Nigeria with the most motivated workforce. Similarly, it was on the committee’s recommendation that the State in 2015 established separate Ministries for Secondary and Higher education, the first in Nigeria, which have stabilized both systems, placing the State top in education.

The Plateau State Local Government Service Commission (LGSC) in June 2020 conducted its first general staff transfers in decades, also drawing from the committee’s assignment. 7,551 out of the 10,378 unified staff across the 17 LGCs of the state were shuffled, following demands by the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) on “No Work, No pay”, Staff Promotion, lack of conversion and the transfer of Staff who had spent more than five years in a particular station.

At the submission of its reports on 29th September, 2015, at a colorful ceremony at the Plateau State Government House, Jos, the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong who inherited the project when he took over as Governor in May 2015, promised to immediately pay the committee’s responsibility allowances.

Each of the 43 members of the committee, was entitled to N4.5million each for the staff evaluation of the State Civil Service Commission, Local Government Service Commission and State Universal Basic Education Board for the three year period of the assignment. The Government however, made slight downward reviews to the initial total sum of about N200million, due to shortage of funds, but made releases within weeks of the Committee's submission of report, it was gathered. This followed a memo to that effect by the then Permanent Secretary, Local Government Service Commission, Mr. Fabian Ntung.

Mr. Ntung who was nearing retirement at the time, reportedly handed between N70,000 and N80,000 as “Governor’s Christmas gift” to each of the committee members, his biological brother included, in December 2015, "pending" the release of the “outstanding” allowances.

Five of the committee members died during the assignment, with another two, passing after the assignment. Their allowances were to be given to their family members, but Mr. Ntung reportedly told inquiring Civil Service Officials that the State was bankrupt and unable to pay the allowances. When asked to produce a copy of the memo approved by the Governor, the then P.S. allegedly declined. Sources however say the memo and all related documents misteriously disappeared from all government offices soon after, till Mr. Ntung retired.

At the moment, there are no direct links between Mr. Ntung, who is the current Chairman, Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission and the disappeared funds, but his alleged refusal to avail copies of the approved memo for the payments leaves questions to answer. The State Government might do well to prove its stance against corruption by investigating and acting on the issue, to maintain integrity and prospects in future elections.

Unijos gifted digital fabrication machines by France

The French Government on Thursday launched a miniature digital fabrication laboratory it built for the University of Jos, in Central Nigeria. 

The near 50X100 size laboratory is equipped with 128 equipment and accessories – a design workstation, 3D printer workstations, computer numerical control machines, electronic work bench, mechanical workstation and art/craft workstation.

It is a result of an existing partnership the University has with France, for “prudence and staff exchange”, said Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Sebastian Maimako. 

France's interventions in the University started in 1980, expanding in the last decade with the sponsorship of five University of Jos staff in French Universities, and the establishment of a climate change research decade in the University.

The new Fablab is the first of its kind, likely in Nigeria. Students of engineering from the country previously took manufacturing courses online at $5,000USD for Diploma certificates, said the Project Coordinator and Dean, Faculty of Engineering, University of Jos, Prof. Stephen Mallo.

The Fablab will however reduce the stress, as a place where “creative ideas are hatched, rapid prototyping is done as well as mentorship, learning and innovation takes place,” said Mallo.

It is meant to facilitate “learning, research and innovation” for staff and students in the University and the entire human society where it will be needed, said the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jerome Pasquier.

Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, represented by his Commissioner for Higher education, Goteng Audu, praised the French Government for the donations, pleading for other institutions owned by the State to be considered as well.

Nigeria - France relationship (see reference)

Nigeria is France’s leading trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth leading in Africa, behind Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. In 2019, trade between the two countries amounted to €4.479 billion. In 2018, Nigeria ranked 28th among suppliers to France in the world. Conversely, Nigeria was France’s 60th customer. Moreover, with an FDI stock of €9.4 billion in 2018, France is one of Nigeria’s leading investors.

Culture is yet another area France and Nigeria’s cooperation is particularly extensive. The Institut Français in Nigeria, in Abuja, and the network of 10 Alliance Française branches are at the heart of France’s cultural activities in Nigeria.

Regarding education, the Agency for French Education Abroad runs the École Française Marcel Pagnol of Abuja and the Lycée Louis Pasteur of Lagos, and is a partner of the École Française Total of Port Harcourt. The Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects helps develop French language education opportunities in Nigeria’s higher education system. The number of French language learners in Nigeria is steadily rising.

In the area of development, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) focuses on the diversification of the economy of the country, the low carbon energy transition and sustainable and productive farming to ensure food security.

Since 2018, the AFD has been working in new sectors: higher education, water and sanitation, cultural and creative industries and digital technology. From 2010 to 2018, the AFD funded 30 projects in Nigeria totalling €1.5 billion in undertakings.

Nigeria and France equally have strong partnerships in the area of security, but much of such details are classified and hardly unavailable, except for training, humanitarian aid and other less classified interventions. Generally, security and defence cooperation from the government of France aims to provide support to Nigeria’s army, navy and police forces.