DALUNG EXPOSES HYPOCRISY OF LALONG LED ADMINISTRATION TO SAVE PLATEAU FROM FURTHER DISASTER
11th March, 2018
You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free says the Holy Scriptures. We are all slaves of falsehood and hypocrisy except we accept the truth so that we are freed. The greatest freedom is derived from the truth, no wonder Frank Fanon argued that “the future shall have no pity for those men who possess the exceptional privilege of telling the truth to their oppressors but chose to take refuge under silence, mute indifference, or sometimes cold complicity.
There was a major political development on the Plateau last week when President Mohammadu Buhari visited the state. The two day working visit was at the request of Governor Lalong for Mr President to commission projects and launched the peace road map at a town hall meeting. Preceding the arrival of Mr. President, Governor declared two days public holiday for the preparations. The media and social media were populated with jingles of President Buhari’s state visit. With these the stage was presumed ready to welcome the President to the home of peace and tourism.
It has been argued by moral philosophers that you cannot ride on the back of a horse of injustice to go in search of justice. The member of the Federal Executive Council from Plateau is the Minister of Youth and Sport Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung. Unfortunately, it was the president who wrote and directed him with five other ministers to proceed to Jos to receive him, but Plateau State did not deemed it necessary to inform him even as a son of the state. Upon the receipt of Mr President’s directives, the Minister contacted the Governor who mildly dismissed knowledge of the lack of information but after two day wrote Dalung to invite him to only airport ceremony and town hall meeting. Even though Governor Lalong has never consulted or contacted or invited the Minister to any state functions except once, APC stakeholders meeting in 2016.
On 8th March 2018, Mr President arrive Yakubu Gowon Airport Heipang amidst guided reception where only those who were considered as advocates of the rescue mission of Governor Lalong were allowed. All bill boards erected by the Minister at strategic places at the Airport and the town were brought down at the directives of Governor Lalong. Also people wearing T-shirts with Dalung’s portrait were systematically isolated and prevented from assessing areas of activity throughout the period of the visit. Traditional rulers from the state were only represented by Gbong Gwong Jos, while the rest were banished to Jishe. There were no traditional dances from the state to welcome Mr President as it is the practice. After inspection of guard of Honour, there was introduction of few dignitaries, then procession for commissioning projects started.
Mr President commissioned three projects, Yakubu Gowon way, State Low cost – Dong road and the Federal Secretariat Bridge. Of these projects, only state low cost -Dong road which led to Governor Lalong’s private residence and ended at the Speaker Plateau House of Assembly village is a new project. The Federal Secretariat Bridge and Yakubu Gowon way with all other road networks in Jos and Bukuru metropolis were constructed by Governor Jang. The two projects were 70% completions before PDP was defeated in the 2015 general elections. At the town hall meeting, Mr President also launched the plateau peace road map. This was the guided town hall meeting where screened speakers were tutored to sing praises of the Governor. Members of the state traditional council were not recognized despite their presence. Former Deputy Senate President, Ibrahim Mantu, Former Military Governor of Plateau, S.B Atukum and former Deputy Governor, Dame Pauline Tallen were on the high table but they were never recognized or allowed to say a word at the town hall meeting. No any other person was allowed to speak except chairman PYC, President NCWS, CAN Chairman, Chairman, JNI and Chief Jethro Akun, who speak for the elders. Sen. Dariye spoke for the National Assembly but his reckless praises of Lalong, while dismissing the seriousness of the occasion was another mockery.
All these speakers only sang praises of Governor Lalong. They also created the impression to Mr President that all is well with Plateau because Governor Lalong has brought durable peace on the plateau and paid salaries and pensions up to date. Only one speaker, the representative of JNI who raised the issue of injustice to the Muslim community in respect of denial of license to establish Islamic tertiary institution. The request of the Minister to make comments was turned down by Lalong and Joe Ari who anchored the programme. In all the programmes and protocol, the Minister was never mentioned even his portrait was not included. This might not be unconnected with the phobia that he may contest governorship in 2019. I have wondered seriously why Lalong claimed to have performed yet feared perceived opponents. The following day 400 tractors were said to be billed for commissioning but only about 40 were haulage into the new Government House under the cover of the dark. The massive turned out of the people to receive the president made the visit a huge success, but I doubt if it is an endorsement of Lalong’s desperado.
Sadly, Plateau missed the opportunity to present the problems of the state to Mr President. Also Mr President was misled to believe that all the road networks in Jos metropolis were constructed by Governor Alert. It was morally wrong for Lalong to fail to acknowledge that it was Governor Jang’s legacies. I was an ardent critic of Governor Jang’s administration but I will not fail to credit his legacies because of differences. The only projects Lalong did is the road to his house and 40 tractors, “I don’t consider payments of salaries as achievements accordingly to Rt Hon Simon Bako Lalong while criticizing Jang as Governor. The irony of the entire macabre dance called town hall meeting is that plateau people presented themselves to the president as physcophants. Even as one of the speakers was telling the president that Lalong has brought peace to Plateau, little did he know that killing and burning of his village was going on. What a shame?
Governor Lalong accused the previous administration of Jang of leaving a debt burden of #240 billion, but failed woefully to account for the loans he collected including bail out and Paris club funds. Was all these monies spent on payments of salaries or pensions or completion of projects. Why was Lalong silence about $2 billion loan equivalent of #720 billion collected by the state government from African Development Bank for potatoes processing factory. The FEC approved the loan for the state in November 2017, payable in 25 years. What about the #2 billon collected for the completion of Zaria road stadium? The debt profile of Plateau as it stands today is getting to a trillion Naira if not more. What infrastructure does Lalong administration has to show for the ADB loan and other loans collected locally? This is worrisome beyond mere praise singing.
I am not opposed to Lalong’s second tenure because it will be determined by the people of plateau but I will not failed in my responsibility as a social critic to speak the truth which is my trademark because I am involved. I am a founding member of APC but will not condone injustice which was which was the basis of change. I opposed Dariye and Jang, if I will be silence now then it means I am a hypocrite. Another disaster of the President’s visit was the renaming of Yakubu Gowon way to Muhammadu Buhari way. To say the least, it is embarrassing. Gowon was the President’s boss how can he be stripped of a 40 years privilege and honour in his home state? This is the worst thing that can happen to a man like the elder statesman. I believed that General Gowon is feeling betrayed and abandoned by his own people.
This is a political decision of Lalong desperately taken to secure 2019 ambition but not the decision of the people of plateau. We condemned this act with all sense of love for Yakubu Gowon as a father, while advising Governor Alert to withdraw this unpatriotic decision and publicly apologized to Yakubu Gowon and the President for embarrassing them. If the visit of the president was intended to secure 2019 for Lalong, it has exposed his ambition to great risk and multiply his opponents. While re-election is the primary concern of Governor Alert, fighting, killing, maiming of innocent people continues unabated. As to how this unfolds, no doubt Plateau is under siege but army of praise singers and physchophants whose only interest is the pockets. And history is on the verge of repeating itself again. We must all rise against injustice or else we will all consumed.
I love you all.