The battle between Nigeria Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung and Governor Simon Lalong over last week’s visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Plateau State seemed to be escalating by the day.
The Minister had earlier complained that the Plateau Governor did not carry him along in the presidential visit, though he was one of the most illustrious indigenes of the state in President Buhari’s cabinet.
Dalong escalated his war against his state governor with accusations that the Presidential visit to Plateau was mismanaged on Monday.
The Minister accused Governor Lalong of ‘misinformation’ over a bridge commissioned by the President in Jos, the state capital during the visit while raising alarm about alleged mismanagement of a loan obtained by the state for the development of a potato factory.
The President had during his visit commissioned a fly-over at the Secretariat junction in Jos, a bridge which Dalong claimed had already been commissioned by former president Goodluck Jonathan.
“The governor should realize where we are coming from and save the state from further drifting into chaos. I have been quite supportive of the governor and his administration despite his repeated turning down of advice.”
“Former President Goodluck commissioned federal secretariat bridge, why did Governor Lalong mislead the president to recommission it again?”
The minister also alleged that Lalong has misappropriated the sum of $2 billion loan collected from African Development Bank for a potato processing factory, accusing the governor of hoarding information about the loan.
But in his response, Lalong said the loan has not been released by ADB and the figure involved is being overblown.
“On the matter of the loan. It is still being processed and not released. This can easily be confirmed on the bank’s website. The amount secured by the Federal Ministry of Finance is 11 million dollars and not 2 BILLION dollars being bandied.
“The facility was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting of Wednesday, July 26 2017. The loan was secured from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the development of the Irish potato value chain, and the project is expected to create 60,000 jobs.”
There have been speculations that Dalung was interested in contesting against Lalong in the 2019 gubernatorial election, but the minister has maintained that he has no political ambition but only concerned about wellbeing of residents of the state.