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In Plateau State, No, Not Nearly Simon Lalong

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I would start this essay by borrowing copiously from a friend I simply would refer to as 'AN', he captures the mood nationally with the introduction below, and all I would do is insert the Plateau nexus.

Former world heavyweight boxing champion, Mohammed Ali, had once remarked that a challenger needs to “whop the champion” if he wants to win the championship belt. He had made this remark following one of his very few controversial fights, which most boxing enthusiasts adjudged a tie.

Mohammed Ali, the Greatest, had not been in his elements on the night; he neither stung like a bee nor floated like a butterfly. The boxing world was aghast; few pundits had temporarily speculated that the very resourceful legendary champion was about to rewrite the books again. But as the fight went past the 10th round it dawned on even the champion's most fanatical fans that their idol was fast “running out of gas.”

The champion had been a flat-footed defender for a better part of the  scheduled 15 rounds bout. At the end, expectedly, the challenger, KenNorton, an ex-marine, triumphantly threw up his arms, smiling broadly. Of course, I won! He must have thought then. But much to his heartbreak, the three ringside judges ruled in favour of the champion. Crest fallen, the challenger sobbed like a baby.

Ken Norton might have scored more points than the champion, thus making him marginally the better fighter in the contest, but marginal differences never make decisive impressions; more so on very big issues such as a world championship fight. Therefore, though the fight might have been a draw, at best, the champion was allowed to retain the crown.

The moral is clear: an underdog needs to do the extraordinary to qualify for a change of status. Apparently, Ken Norton couldn't go that critical extra mile to do the extraordinary. The challenger was not a champion material. Later events would vindicate the three judges in the Ali/Norton fight. Big Bad George, the much feared heavyweight boxing champion, subsequently knocked out Ken Norton in 2 Rounds. Soon after, Mohammed Ali humbled George Foreman in 8 Rounds! Though Ken Norton and Mohammed Ali might have been neck and neck in physical strength, the latter decidedly dwarfed the former in will power and intellect.

Politics is a game where the will and intellect truly rule, because politics is ideally a game of ideas. It is the inherent forces of political ideologies that generate the numbers. Unfortunately, because of the dearth of ideologies in Nigerian political arena, it is money rather than ideas that generates the numbers. This is why Nigerian politicians and their supporters change political parties in a fashion after long-distance passengers hopping on and off different airlines.

There is little to choose between political parties in Nigeria, the parities are six of one and half of dozen of the other.

This is also one of the valid reasons why successive Administrations' performance ratings have been essentially the same. They have all performed well below Nigeria's socio-economic potential. Nigerians have thus grown weary of the repeat abysmal performance.

A change is desperately desired. Little wonder the word “change” has a nation-wide appeal as an electioneering slogan. The All Progressives Congress (APC), the main opposition party, has cleverly adopted the slogan, but has the party got what it takes to change Nigeria's socio-economic fortunes for good? Has APC the intellectual capacity, sincerity of purpose and strength of will to do the extraordinary? Is APC the much-awaited political party, or are Nigerians to wait for some years yet? These are some of the questions that should occupy the mind of the electorate as it chooses between APC and the ruling People's Democratic Party, PDP.

Narrow the questions above to Plateau state, it is not so much about money but so much about ethnicity–The phrase is “Berom Agenda or the mythical “Du Declaration”. At this point I would quickly remind my readers of the “Langtang Mafia” of old, which was even national.

My apologies for the interjection–However, it is crucial to remind the electorate that it takes two to dance the political Tango. Whilst the electorate eagerly looks to a political party that would positively change Nigeria's fortunes, the electorate itself needs a fundamental change of mindset. The electorate is the one agent that would herald the positive change. For that change to happen the electorate must begin to emphasize clearly defined ideologies rather than money, TRIBE or religion as a basis for choosing a political party or candidate.

On the premise of the above my friend, Rt. Hon. Simon Lalong simply has failed. In the last few weeks, having objectively evaluated his preparedness to take Plateau to the proverbial Promised Land. He may have convinced the ethnic warlords, he may have convinced those with personal scores with Jang, (and mind you I have one) but Lalong has not convinced or demonstrated to Plateau sons and daughters that he has the will and intellect to go the critical extra mile to do the extraordinary?

The elections would not hold at|on|in FACEBOOK, the elections will not really be about hate, yes, salaries must be looked at, and all the politics that come with it, however the Lalong crew seems not to have done enough to convince beyond aggrieved elites that the farmers, traders, and locales have aligned with GNS Pwajok.

While Plateau's immediate urgent challenges are well known, these include inadequate infrastructure; inadequate energy supply; growth-inhibiting unemployment; bloated government expenditures; endemic official corruption; and insecurity.

One must note that Lalong with all the baggage of what many considered, as the state's “LOCUST YEARS” has not proposed beyond pedestrian solutions to these problems.

On the great issues of the moment, however, Lalong has done paltry more than issue promissory notes to provide solutions when voted into office.

Simon Lalong tells us, he would address unemployment, but has not told us how it proposes to address the youth unemployment and has yet to tell us how he proposes to tackle the nation's infrastructural challenge.

Lalong seems obsessed with the state's debt profile; yet he has not proffered solutions to government debilitating expenditure profiles. Simon Lalong has not revealed to Plateau citizens, his plans to combat official corruption. And is it because of questions from his past militating against his present ride.

How many accounts did he run as Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, how many times was he anchor of payments to subvert the will of Plateau people–Can he submit his accounts or will he be open to a corruption challenge of such of financial probity of his person?

In a nutshell, Lalong and his APC janjaweeds has not told us how it proposes to solve our pressing challenges. All that Lalong has told Plateau sons and daughter is a rehearse of what we hear at election campaign rallies by other political parties, inclusive of the PDP's: perfunctory if routine pledges to solve the existing problems – an undertaking of sorts to learn on the job.

Going through previous political rallies of the APC in the state, Lalong electioneering rallies have been utterly devoid of thought-provoking innovations. Quite frankly, the on-going comments are at once offensive to our collective sensibilities and intelligence. After over 8 years of Jang's administration which was in no way perfect, Plateau deserves better than a campaign that is tearing the state apart on tribal and ethnic sentiments–one which Lalong seems to be ridding one.

For Lalong and his supporters, nearly does not kill a bird, it is a nearly attempt, and Mohammed Ali, in this case GNS will win!

Written by Sunday Penshak.

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