By Hamisu Hassan
Terminus Modern Market Jos was closed down in 2002 after a mysterious inferno that engulfed the market in the middle of the night and destroyed more than 270 shops and warehouses with goods estimated in billions of Nairas. The market was a source of livelihoods to business operators, traders and companies within and outside the State. It was also a source of huge revenues to the Plateau State Government.
Recently, there’s memorandum of understanding between Ja’iz Bank and Plateau State Government to rebuild the market for the state at no cost to the State Government. It is very clear after exactly 20 years of closing the market, Plateau State Government either have no intention to rebuild it or have no resources to rebuild the market again. It’s unfortunate, saboteurs and haters have started appearing from obvious quarters to halt the government actions against rebuilding the market. To them, the market should not be repaired by Jaiz. This is ridiculous and amazing at the same time. But some questions which always come to my mind are, is the government really ready to strike the deal? Also, is the governor afraid of some powerful forces, to the extent that they have to agree before the work sees the light of the day?
Plateau State is one of the parasitic states in Nigeria that depends heavily on monthly federal interventions. It has no sources of revenue and no magic to earn more apart from the federal allocation. The pungent, acrid taste of any Plateau State Governor is either to pay wages at the end of the month and forgo infrastructures or engaged in infrastructures and forgo salaries. That’s why the state of development in the state in terms of infrastructures is stagnant and static for good 20 years.
I recently have one on one chat with one of the governorship flag bearer’s of a certain party of the state. I asked him his plans about building infrastructures in the state. He bared his mind and told me that unless Plateau State devices ways of generating more revenues, no magic can be done to have infrastructures in the state.
The Governorship contender said that the State is already heavily indebted to the tune of ₦100 billion Naira. The loans obtained for building Secretariat Junction flyover isn’t settled yet. When the American Junction flyover would be completed, Plateau State would be indebted to the tune of ₦170 billion Naira. Which obviously means the windows for giving loans to Plateau State would be closed. My investigation discovered that the domestic profile of Plateau State 2018 was ₦122 billion Naira.
The reality in the face of Plateau State is very glaring. Plateau has to accept the reality and bow out of the ethnic and religious sentiments that held her neck for decades or lag behind the wheels of misfortunes. It is sad to see this giant state with abundant idle resources and opportunities, such as those of tourism, mineral resources, underground water, business environments, most serene and favorable weather conditions, sufficient rainfall for agricultural and more, but these have become clogs behind its wheels.
Note: It’s my fear that Plateau State Government is fun of playing political fantasy of setting interest in the state during every election to gain more votes but it has no real intention of rebuilding the market in oder not to go out of favors for some myopic interests. But the truth is, the market is a milking cow for the revenue bloc of the state. Being pragmatic in decision making will not augur well for anyone at the helm of affairs. As they said, a stitch in time, saves nine.
Hamisu Hassan is socio political and economic analyst from Jos South, Plateau State. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org