Plateau
Simon Lalong

#EndSARS: Plateau lost N75bn to looters, says Lalong

NEWS DIGEST – The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong has said that public and private property worth N75 billion were lost to the recent #EndSARS protests across the state.

The governor disclosed this on Friday in Jos at an interactive session with representatives of youths in the state, held at the Government House.

He said that “The level of destruction and carnage is unbelievable and unacceptable. We are still trying to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the total cost of the damage.

“However, the preliminary report by a team of experts I constituted has estimated the losses to be put at about 75 billion naira for now.”

He also revealed that more than 32 public and private properties were affected in the looting spree.

He said the losses would impede development projects in the state, which he said was yet to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor, however, urged the youths to be patient, as their challenges cannot be resolved overnight.

“My dear youths, as a father and your governor, I feel your pain. My heart goes out to all our youths for the many challenges they face daily due to lack of opportunities for jobs and better conditions to achieve their dreams.

“This is a burden that has accumulated over time which our administration is working hard to address.

“You would agree with me that the enormity of the challenges we face cannot be resolved overnight or with a wave of the hand. It is a process which all of us must collectively work together to achieve,” he said.

Mr Lalong noted that his administration is committed to youth empowerment and job creation, saying peace and security were critical to attract investors.

He said the Plateau Small And Medium Enterprises Agency (PLASMEDA), was established to facilitate the empowerment of youths with skills and knowledge.

“As at today, the agency has trained about 40,000 youths in different areas and supported over 15,000 Micro, Small and Medium business start-ups,” he said.

According to him, 11,364 youths in Plateau have benefited from the social investment programmes of the Federal Government, and appealed to the youths to put the interest of the state at heart.

He cautioned them against the negative use of the social media, saying it has the capacity of inciting gullible people towards violence, hatred and destruction.

He assured them of his commitment towards addressing their challenges, with a promise for continuous engagements to bridge all communication gaps.

A representative of the #EndSARS protest in Plateau, Bankat Milaham said a holistic systemic reform was required to address the challenges in the country.

“The government should fulfill its promise by setting up security outfits in communities.

“We demand the pronouncement of a state emergency in the education sector and a 50 per cent increase in its budgetary allocation,” he said.

Mr Milaham also called for total overhaul of the health sector, increase in its budgetary allocation and the resuscitation of all moribund industries.

Also speaking, Chairman of the Youth Wing of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Markus Audu, recommended the engagement of more youths in governance.

He said government should make deliberate efforts in putting an end to attacks in communities, adding that the governor should have phone-in programmes to have direct feedback from the electorate.

In his contribution, State Chairman of the National Council of Youths Organisation, Mr Ali Ali, identified communication gap as the major setback of governance.

Other participants at the event were representatives of people with disabilities, Makop Dan, who appealed for free education, job opportunities and social intervention programmes for his members.

NAN