PLATEAU: OUR CHALLENGE NOW IS TO SUSTAIN THE PEACE ALREADY GAINED IN ORDER TO BRING ABOUT SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT—GOV LALONG (SPEECH AT TRADE FAIR UNEDITED)

SPEECH OF THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE, RT. HON. SIMON BAKO LALONG, ON THE OCCASION OF THE PLATEAU DAY AT THE 2018 JOS TRADE FAIR, POLO FIELD, JOS, ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2018.

PROTOCOLS

It is my singular honor and pleasure to attend, once again, another occasion of the Plateau Day in this year’s Jos Trade Fair today.

First of all, let me give credit to who credit is due by congratulating the Plateau Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mining and Agriculture, PLACCIMA, and Anista Marketing and Event Limited, the organizers of this Trade Fair, for their painstaking efforts in organizing a successful and memorable event which memory will remain indelible in the minds of many participants for many years to come.

GOV. LALONG

The theme of this year’s Trade Fair, which is: “Sustainable Development of MSMEs in a Challenging Economic Environment,” is indeed apt and timely. This is because it encapsulates the realities that the present business and investment strategies face. Government has deliberately put in place some measures with a view to overcoming these economic challenges by establishing some institutions at the inception of this administration.

These institutions include the following:

  1. PLASMEDA (Plateau State Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency) to facilitate regulation compliance.
  2. OSS (One-Stop-Shop) to provide information to potential investors and the Ease of Doing Business in Plateau State.

Today, I can confidently assure you of the abundant human and natural resources that are begging to be harnessed in our dear state. A Trade Fair such as this, therefore, avails stakeholders the opportunity to meet, collaborate and cross-fertilize business ideas, as well as showcase their respective potentials.

The cool and serene weather of our state is unique and the beautiful sceneries that are found all over the state all combine to make Plateau State a sure tourist destination. A visit to places like Wase, Mangu, Pankshin, Riyom etc, will surely convince any serious-minded entrepreneur in the tourism sector to invest therein.

Plateau State is blessed with solid minerals like tin, columbite, silicon, limestone, kaolin, etc, that are all in large quantities. In agriculture, government is collaborating with a private firm, the Agricultural Services and Training Centre (ASTC) which is located in each of the three geo-political zones of the state. This firm works directly with the farmers by way of providing tractor services, seeds/seedlings, consultancy services etc. This is in a bid to make farming not just interesting but also attractive to, especially the youths.

One major lynchpin of the Rescue Administration has been its deliberate decision to tackle the state’s industrialization challenge headlong by engaging in the revamping of hitherto moribund state-owned industries which were abandoned by past administrations for decades. Our efforts in this regard have paid off handsomely.

For instance, the Plateau State Fertilizer Blending Plant, Bokkos has since been resuscitated. For the first time in the history of Plateau State, we now have a functional Fertilizer Plant that is fully operational at optimal capacity. The products are available, affordable and of excellent quality. Just last month, for instance, a WORLD QUALITY ALLIANCE ORGANIZATION gave an award in Lagos to BEJAFTA GROUP LTD, the major investors handling the Fertilizer firm. The plant is being operated under a Public-Private Partnership with the state government. Bejafta won the best fertilizer of the year award in the fertilizer category.

Also, the hitherto abandoned state-owned Highland Bottling Compay in Barkin Ladi, has since been resuscitated. The company is now producing table water (GovWater) which has already hit the market. Very soon, with the availability of funds, the firm will commence the production of malt drinks and other products.

Two other firms, the Jos International Breweries, PLC, and the Jos Ultra Modern Market, have reached advanced stage in our efforts to revive them. Government has also entered into a PPP with a foreign firm and even released a part-payment for the resuscitation of the Jos Ultra Modern Market. Government has also paid part of the money to acquire BARC Farms, a subsidiary of JIB PLC, which was erroneously sold to an investor.

Efforts have also reached an advanced stage for the acquisition of a Permanent Trade Fair ground. We are also opening up satellite markets to boost commercial activities in the state and to also decongest the city.

Having enumerated government’s efforts and plans towards aggressively addressing the challenges that investors encounter, I once again, acknowledge in a very special way, the relentless efforts of the organizers of the Trade Fair, whose efforts have culminated in the success of the event.

However, this speech will be incomplete without me mentioning the security challenges we have faced as a state and how we have been able to address them, thereby, bringing about the relative peace which we now have that has culminated in the enabling environment for us to hold this year’s Trade Fair without any incident of violence.

This is even more significant when we understand that both in the short and long run, no business activities will take place and no investors will put their money in an unsafe environment. Thus, the challenge now is for us to sustain the peace by all means possible in order to bring about sustainable development and achieve the Plateau State of our collective dream.

In the first three years of this administration, you would recall that our security strategies paid off and we experienced relative peace before the enemies of progress and peaceful co-existence struck recently. Nonetheless, government remains undaunted and so, in collaboration with security agencies, we are leaving no stone unturned, so as to smoke out the agents of death from our midst and forcefully relocate them from our state to wherever they came from.

I, therefore, call on everybody to be vigilant even when it seems peaceful within your neighbourhood. People should report any suspected criminal act or unusual movements to the law enforcement agents who are up and doing in order to ensure that peace reigns in our state in particular and the nation at large.

While we pursue peaceful coexistence for our citizens, we must also understand that the source of livelihood of the people is not just guaranteed but boosted through economic activities like this Trade Fair. This will ensure that the source of livelihood of the people bounces back in the state akin to our recent emergence from economic recession as a nation.

Finally, may I humbly invite you, ladies and gentlemen, to come with me as I take you to the Plateau State Pavilion to see for yourselves a few of the numerous investment potentials we are blessed with in Plateau State.

Thank you and God bless.

Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong

Executive Governor

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