Plateau state government has allayed public fears concerning reports that it had ceded Jos Main Market to Jaiz Bank.
Dan Manjang, Commissioner for Information and Communication, Plateau State in a swift reaction to the speculation, said it is common knowledge that the Jos Main Market is one of the iconic landmarks of Plateau State and a source of pride to the citizens who hold it dear to their hearts.
“The destruction of the market in 2002 has therefore remained one of the most tragic incidents to ever befall the State which caused unquantifiable economic loses, emotional trauma and denied the state tourist and business opportunities which prevailed before its destruction.
He said that during the Simon Bako Lalong government has been faithful to its campaign promise to rebuild the market and it was in pursuit of the promise that it considered requests from the intending investors and financial institutions which in summary required that Plateau State:
a. Gives them a Bank Guarantee
b. Letter of Comfort to own and manage the market for as long as it takes them to recoup their investment
c. Guarantee to off-take 70% of the shops (in other words buy them)
d. Bring 20% of the cost of reconstruction aside the land being its equity etc.
He said these negotiations which involved many experts and key government officials continued and the offers did not favour the State but put it at a disadvantage. Still determined to rebuild the market, the government had to convey a meeting with foreign and local investors who did not also provide any better deal for the State
That was how Jaiz Bank came into the picture.
According to Manjang; “Talks started in 2021 between the State Government and Jaiz Bank. Series of deliberations were held which brought up the following offer by the investing bank.
1. The Bank will finance the reconstruction of the market 100% with the Plateau State Government not required to pay a kobo.
2. The Land (over 7.4 hectares) is the equity of the Plateau State Government which it is contributing to the project.
3. The project will be done in three phases yielding a total of 4,321 shops which will be shared in the ratio of 60% (Jaiz Bank) 40% (Plateau Government).
4. The 60-40% ratio is for the purpose of leasing out the shops only. The entire market still belongs to the Plateau State Government.
5. Those who lease the shops from either Plateau State Government or Jaiz bank will own it for a period of 40 years after which ownership returns to the Government. At this point, new investors can purchase from the State Government or the existing buyers renew their leases.
6. As soon as Jaiz Bank finishes selling its 60%, it will cease to have any interest in the market as those holding the lease will deal only with the Plateau State Government through the management of the Market (Jos Main Market Authority) and the Ministry of Commerce which is a parastatal of the Government.
7. The entire shops will be sold to interested buyers without prejudice to faith, ethnicity or political affiliations. It is open for the public to invest in.
8. The first phase will be delivered and commissioned before the end of the tenure of Governor Lalong.
Based on its performance profile and experience, the Plateau State Government is optimistic of the bank’s capacity to handle the Jos market project and deliver, Manjang said.
Continuing, he said every point in the negotiation with the bank, the government engaged the leadership of the Plateau State House of Assembly and its relevant Committees on the benefits of the project to the State, while the state exco mandated its relevant MDAs to carry out sensitization and awareness by engaging various stakeholders ahead of the signing of the MOU for Rebuilding the Jos Main Market.
“Regrettably, the outcome of this engagement has been twisted, politicised and reported under the caption “Governor Lalong cedes Jos Main Market to Islamic Bank”. This has unnecessarily invoked passions and emotions portraying a false narrative that the State was parting with its cherished heritage to an “Islamic Bank”.
“While the Government respects the rights of its citizens to raise questions on every decision and make their observations and displeasure known, the Rescue Administration wishes to allay the fears being raised as the deal will not work against the State. Rather, it is an opportunity to once again raise the sleeping giant heritage of the famous Jos Main Market which has not added any value to the Government and its people since it was burnt down 21 years ago.
“Government assures the citizens of Plateau State that sensitization and enlightenment will continue before, during and after the reconstruction in order to address genuine concerns which require answers and clarifications.
“Bottom line is that Jos Main Market is the property of Plateau State and shall remain so forever. However, it makes no economic sense for the property to remain in its current state of decomposition when it can be revived and put to use in a win-win situation for the benefit of the citizens.