I, Rep. Dachung Musa Bagos, Member Representing Jos South Jos East Federal Constituency at the National Assembly Abuja.
With locus standi as representative of concerned constituents do caution that these are not the best of times for our country and our dear Plateau State to take decisions that have suspicious perceptions by the citizens.
Just when we are reeling from the recent hike in the price of petroleum products, the skyrocketing inflation against the background of the total collapse of state security architecture resulting in the heightened fear and apprehension over the daring raids, kidnappings, and killings of innocent citizens by terrorist elements, news filtered out that the Lalong led Government which has less than ten months left in office, is in a haste to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Jaiz Bank Nigeria Plc over the rebuilding of the burnt down Jos Main Market.
The MOU contemplates giving the bank control of this choice strategic asset for 40 years through a 40-60 % assets sharing formula in favor of Jaiz.
The Market was commissioned and put to use during the administration of late Chief Solomon Daushep Lar about 40 years ago and became the major economic and commercial nerve center of the state as well as hub/corridor for wholesale goods to the far northern states until its destruction in 2001 under questionable circumstances. Indeed, the Jos Main Market became the jewel in the crown of Plateau’s economy and was a priced edifice in the hearts of the people of the state.
The news of the 40-year lease/funding agreement between the State government and Jaiz Bank has sent shivers down the weak and battered spines of citizens who view 40 years of Jaiz’s control and management of the market as reckless, risky, and an act of mortgaging the future of the state far beyond the lifespan of most of us.
First of all, what is the legal status of Jaiz as it stands today?
It was reported in The Vanguard newspaper of 16th June 2012 accessed on www.vanguardngr.com that:
” A Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, held that the Central Bank, CBN, Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, lacked the constitutional powers to issue a license for the operation of a non-interest bank under the Islamic commercial jurisprudence.
Delivering judgment in a suit that was filed by a lawyer, Mr. Godwin Sunday, challenging the institutionalization of the Islamic banking system in the country by Sanusi, the court maintained that the action was in flagrant violation of section 10 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The court presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole noted that in line with the extant provisions of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, BOFIA, Cap B2, Laws of Nigeria, 2004, the CBN governor, ought to have secured the nod of both the National Assembly and the Minister of Finance, before issuing license and guidelines for the operation of Islamic Bank in the country.”
From my findings, that judgment is yet to be set aside and the State government is entering into an MOU with Jaiz even when the National Assembly and the Minister of Finance are yet to be approached by the Central Bank of Nigeria to give their nod to the commencement of Islamic Banking in Nigeria because of section 10 of the 1999 Constitution as amended which affirms Nigeria to be a secular state.
A look at the draft MOU will also show that a mention was made of the interests of communities. Very well aware that no indigenous community was consulted before the government embarked on this project. Unless not aware.
Furthermore, the position of an MOU is still fluid because some cases are of the view that if Jaiz breaches it, the Plateau State Government will be left with no remedy as it is not an agreement but merely an understanding put down in writing.
The MOU also spews of unconstitutional background because the Plateau State Government cannot be the beneficial owner of the land where the Market is situated as the beneficiaries of the land are the people of Plateau State in whose favor the Governor holds the land in trust under the Land Use Act.
Leaving me with questions to ask:
1. Has the State government settled all liabilities on the land the Market is situated on?
2. What has happened to the huge money that the government spent on demolishing the Market?
3. Is there any white paper from any investigation or panel of inquiry since the market was burnt? What were the causes and recommendations by the panel?
Note: Under the 1999 Constitution as amended, the State Government has no powers over markets but Local Government Councils as seen in the Fourth Schedule to the said 1999 Constitution.
5. From where did the State government derive its power to enter into this MOU when the Constitution did not give it that power?
6. Also, the Law establishing the Jos Main Market Authority, does it give the Governor the power to enter into the MOU with Jaiz?
It is also worthy of note that the Plateau State Government has a whopping seven responsibilities as against only four by Jaiz.
The people of Plateau State also desire to know:
7. Who owns BUNYAN Construction Company Limited, the contractor,
8. Who will be the ultimate owners of the 2,592 shops that Jaiz shall own?
Since clause 3(c) of the MOU makes it mandatory that the Plateau State Government embarks on sensitization of Local Communities which I believe has not been done, I urge the State government to put a hold on its goal of signing the MOU on the path of honor and patriotism to sensitize its people based on facts and economic reality for a greater Plateau because the next generation of Plateausians must not be endangered.
“A stitch in time saves nine”
Rep. Dachung Musa Bagos
Member Representing Jos South Jos East Federal Constituency.
National Assembly Abuja.