From Gyang Bere, Jos
Plateau stakeholders have advised Plateau State Government to consult more and widely with Plateau citizens at the grassroots before signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Jaiz Bank on the reconstruction of the burnt Jos Main Market.
The stakeholders made the submission on Saturday during a meeting convened by Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong to sensitize the citizens and get their input into the process of carrying out the project.
Lalong, who addressed the participants, said the stakeholders’ engagement was a deliberate effort by the Government to educate and sensitize the people on the proposal for rebuilding the market and also dispel the misinformation, rumours and misconceptions over the project which has generated needless controversy.
He explained that rebuilding the Jos Main Market is part of the fulfilment of his campaign promise to restore the lost glory of Jos which relied so much on the iconic market that was the best in West Africa and attracted traders, tourists and visitors from within and outside the country until it was burnt down over 20 years ago.
He said the government made several efforts to rebuild the market by advertising and engaging many investors within and outside the country who insisted that they wanted a bank guarantee from the government, as well as absolute control of the market for as long as it takes for them to recover their investment.
He said Government could not meet those conditions and continued looking for investors until Jaiz Bank came up with a proposal to fund the construction of the market 100% with their money while the State will provide only the land as their equity.
Lalong explained that a sharing formula of the shops for the purpose of sale in the ratio of 60-40 will be used under which the Bank will recover its funds and leave, adding that the bank will have no business in running the market and will not own any shop.
He said those who buy the shops will be issued a 40-year lease by the Government for them to utilise the shops and recoup their money after which the ownership reverts to the Government and that the market will be managed by the Jos Main Market Authority (JMMA) as it is the property of Government.
Former Military Administrator of Plateau State, Admiral Samuel Bitrus Atukum under whose regime the market was completed and commissioned, advocated for sustained consultations and enlightenment with the Plateau people to clear all doubts and misconceptions among the people.
The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Plateau State, Rev Fr Polycarp Lubo, and the representative of JNI, Sani Mudi said the rebuilding of the burnt market is a good initiative but said wide consultation should be carried out to get the approval of the citizens.
A lawmaker representing Pankshin, Kanke, Kanam Federal Constituency, Yusuf Gagdi, said the misconceptions and controversy that greeted the news of rebuilding the market were not necessary because some political undertones have been brought into the discourse and seemed to overshadow the good intentions of the Governor.
He said since the shops in the market will not be sold to Jaiz Bank but to all interested citizens of Plateau State under the strict supervision of an Allocation Committee, there is no reason for apprehension because the funding Bank has done similar projects in many States with huge success.