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Plateau: Gov. Lalong, ex-Minister, Dalung on war path over $350 million AfDB potato loan

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Moses Mark

Plateau State Government has tackled former Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr. Solomon Dalung over alleged frivolous allegations that Governor Simon Lalong took a loan worth $350 million dollars from Africa Development Bank (AfDB) for the development of Plateau’s potato value chain but the project is not visible in the state.

Commissioner for Information and Communication, Hon. Dan Manjang refuted the claims and said the funds were used judiciously for the purpose it was meant for.

Dalung raised the allegations while speaking in a webinar discussion and claimed that: ” Plateau State Government took a loan worth $ 350 million (N140 billion) from the African Development Bank (AfDB) payable over a 25 years period, for the development of Plateau’s potato value chain.

He claimed that as a serving Minister at the time, he was a member of the Federal Executive Council and took part in that approval –but to date, no single value chain infrastructure development of potato can been or verified.

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But Manjang said it is a fact that Plateau State benefited from loan facility from the African Development Bank, it is rather sad that Dalung who claims to have been part of the approval of the facility does not know the amount of the loan.

“As at today, the Potato Value Chain Project has completed many projects while others are on-going. Some of the projects include: 9 Community Markets (Barkin Ladi, Bassa, Bokkos, Jos East, Jos North, Jos South, Mangu, Riyom and Pankshin.

“6 Community Markets have been completed and handed over to the Local Governments and Communities. 3 Community Markets and Diffuse Light Stores are awaiting handing over. 9 Diffuse Light Stores, 2 Processing Centres, 200km Spot Road Improvement across the 17 LGAs of the State, 17 Spring Captures and 26 Water Harvesting Structures for expansion of Dry Season Irrigation farming in Plateau State.”

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Manjang said the Loan signed between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Federal Ministry of Finance for the benefit of Plateau State is USD 11.2Million and not USD 350Million as claimed by Dalung.

“Of this loan, 70% is being committed to Infrastructure, 20% for Capacity Building and 10% for Project Management. While he painted a picture as though the money was approved and given to Plateau State Government in cash, the fact is that the disbursement of the loan to Contractors and Consultants is paid directly by the AfDB under strict guidelines that are set by the bank.

“Iitially, the project covered only 10 out of the 17 LGAs based on the area of coverage of completed Fadama II project in the State. However, His Excellency Governor Simon Lalong demonstrated his passion for the progress of the programme and made a case for inclusion of the 7 other LGAs to benefit from the infrastructure component of the project during the appraisal mission which was accepted by the Bank.

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“The whole 17 LGAs are today beneficiaries of the project. In addition, the Governor mandated the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to carry out research on the possibility of growing the crop in all the Local Governments of the State. The research returned positive and today, potatoes can be grown in the entire State.”

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