By Godfree Matthew Esq.,
As days draw near, hopes and aspirations are getting closer to terms with reality. A dream nursed and nurtured for decades is now coming in contacts with reality in the minds of the aspirants. In season like this, the phrase “the Plateau of My Dreams” may characterize the contents of many manifestos. An interesting aspect of these dreams by the aspirants is that all of them are dreaming on the same bed (Plateau State Governorship Seat). But how can we be convinced and vouched for the integrity of their dreams about Plateau State, since there are no witnesses to dreams? This question become pertinent considering the saying that “you can share the same bed but you can‘t share the same dream.” The Governorship aspirants come 2023 can be said to share the same Bed (Plateau State), can they actually share the same dream (Vision) For Plateau State.? Let’s allow Justice ‘Time’ the task of answering this question.
The vision of becoming the NO.1 citizen of Plateau State in 2023 is gathering momentum and zest. Publicity stunts are serenading the airs, rocks, hills, trees and buildings in Plateau State. To the supporters of the aspirants, each hears the breeze whistling and whispering the names of their candidates as “Your Excellency”. Thus, as of now we have many “ Your Excellencies” in Plateau State, our only task now is to determine whom the cap truly fits, so that we can let him wear it.
Prophecies and counter-prophecies are now echoing the airs, with ‘prophecy merchants’ (sometimes becoming students of current affairs), studying political events so as to sharpen their arrows of prophecies in order to hit their target with precision and accuracy. We wish them the best this time around as most of the prophetic arrows have been ‘missing the mark’ on who will become the next governor of Plateau State or President of Nigeria. Oral and documentary accounts are testimonies to this adventure.
Again, we also pray that among the sons of the prophets in Plateau and Nigeria, there will be one Micaiah who will have a dissenting voice among the multitude of babblers that are invading the ‘Courts of Ahab and Jehoshaphat’, telling them to ‘go for the Lord is with you’. How I wish the Plateau Governorship aspirants should be discreet to ask for the counsel of Micaiah in time like this. For it was the same Prophet Gad that told David ‘go and conduct the census for the Lord is with you’ was not there or even mentioned when God was given King David the options of 3 sentences.
Unfortunately, some aspirant may still not heed to the voice of Micaiah in this age. They will prefer to heed to the counselors whose voice satisfies their itchy ears. In time like this motivational speeches that promotes positive thinking appears more appeasing, to someone looking for political power than the purported ‘pessimism’ of Micaiah. Only the few wise can turn down the seductive adulation of ‘Prophecy Merchants’ in times like this.
Plateau Central Zone at the Center Stage
2023 is the turn of the central region of Plateau State. Thus, the region is scheduled and assigned to bring its capable men to govern the state. The central zone is presently expected to provide Plateau people with a Deus ex machina– to salvage the current horrid situation of the state. However, it is unfortunate that each of the aspirants from this zone are not assessed based on their antecedents, competence and proficiency. Rather preferences is given to tribal sentiments rationalized with subjective statements such as ‘now is the turn of our tribe’, ‘we have never ruled, despite our contributions to Plateau State’, ‘we have been marginalized since the creation of Plateau State’, and ‘Our people have the best antecedents of leadership track record on the Plateau and beyond.” It is unfortunate that when it comes to politics in Nigeria, competence became a relative and subjective term. But the same politicians who mystify competence don’t apply the same Yardstick in the Choice of doctors or hospital for treatment. They want the best doctors and hospitals to treat them. They want the competent lawyers to handle their election petition cases. The question is that why is competence a threat in Politics, but it is a virtue in sustaining the legitimacy of the office and personality of elected officials. The question is who is afraid of Competence? It is sad that in Nigerian Politics virtue is a threat, while vice is a friendly guest.
Coincidentally, virtually all the aspirants from Plateau Central have the common anthropological and linguistic origin. The linguistic affinity of these aspirants is so obvious that it is very difficult for any of the aspirants to make a sentence without the other detecting a known word. It is simply difficult for any of these aspirants or their kinsmen to gossip one another using their native languages. The question to ask is that, if that nexus is so strong why not settled for the best and the most competent amidst the aspirants? The answer is simple; sometimes Nigerians are not ashamed to send a thief as a delegate in meeting of Saints, once he satisfied the ‘ethnic criteria.’
The further question is why not relied on common geography as basis of unity and consensus, than tribe? I believe geography offers humanity better things than mother tongues. From human geography we have land, water; air, shelter and other necessities of man, but in mother tongues humanity become more divided. Is there any way we can attest that our tribes are in anyway, among the indices of factors of production?
A very noticeable feature of the Plateau Gubernatorial tussle of 2023 among the aspirants from Plateau Central is that, the contest is so masculine and patriarchal that no Amazon from that region has shown any interest in contesting.; an incidence akin to the African folklore that when masquerade are outside, only men are allow to see it. Any woman who is found outside will be sanctioned. May be we can say in his context that in 2023 Gubernatorial tussles, the Masquerades are out dancing, as such women should be restraint from coming out.
Perhaps, apart from financial challenges, the other reasons why women from Plateau Central might not have shown interest in contesting for the gubernatorial election in 2023 could be due to the patriarchal clime they found themselves in. The absence of a female aspirant in 2023 governorship election is a sign language reminding them of their cultural place among the contesting tribes of that region. I wish an Amazon from Plateau Central shall come out to contest for governorship seat comes, 2023.
On the non-involvement of any Amazon from Plateau Central in the contest for Gubernatorial Seat in 2023, I want to let the contemporary Plateau Amazons in the likes of Late Ngo Hannatu Chollom, Hon.Beni Lar, Hon. Olivia Dazyam and others, that their mentorship impact is yet to be felt across all the regions of Plateau State; as long as no woman from Plateau Central can come out from any political party to contest the Gubernatorial Seat in Plateau State, in 2023.
The Metaphor of a Political Governor within the Plateau Paradigm
The imperative of the choice between a political governor and an economic Governor is a decision that plateau people must not compromised. It is an irreversible opportunity that comes once. Presently, the decision we are about to take is like a marriage oath that is about to be taken on the altar. It is like the final decision before pulling a trigger. It is like a final decision that one can take before dying a white cloth with a black dye. This decision is like a rolling dice whose thrower is anxiously hoping that it will settle with a rich figure. Will the choice for a Political Governor be richer for Plateau People than ‘an Economic Governor’ as the die is cast comes 2023?
A political Governor is not necessarily needed in time like this (2023). For the practice in Nigerian politics reveals that a political governor is mostly interested in sustaining political power, than using the said power to affect the other sectors of the society such as security, health, agriculture, transparency, accountability and other gamut’s of human endeavours. To a political governor, loyalty to his party structure surpassed state’s interest, celebrating the founding fathers of political parties is more honourable than honouring the Sons and Daughters of Plateau in Nigeria and in Diaspora who have distinguished themselves through hard work and candour. Honouring political loyalists is more important than honouring a First Class student, a Young scientific inventor or a thriving business ventures in the state. An economic governor will reward the Labour of private businesses that thrived over the decades to include private’s schools such as Mafeng Private Schools, St Louis, St John’s College, Ejideke Bread and other allied private businesses. This is how to prod the ‘spirit of capitalism’.
To a political Governor, the cult of godfatherism and political prebendalism are more essential than the Spirit and heritage of the people that elected him, including his tribal apologist. A political governor can compromised and sacrificed the destiny of his people for a bowl of porridge. Because of irrational loyalty to his political party, a political governor, when intoxicated with power will prefer to be a Chief Mourner in the funeral of the grandfather of his party Chairman, but when there is carnage in his own state, his tears of empathy and sympathy are on strike.
Political Governor is sometimes averse to constructive criticism. He abhors objective corrections from the opposition and sometimes refers to them as enemies of the state. And will not hesitate to use the apparatus of state to harass and intimidate the opposition. Even when the family members of his political party tend to correct him, they became ‘the enemies within’. To a political Governor only praise singers and charlatans last longer in the capacities of Commissioners, Special Advisers, Personal Advisers and other administrative staff; only in few instances that the competent ones have enduring tenure.
A political governor is a liability to the commonwealth of the state. His office is an expensive venture to maintain. It is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the recurrent capital of the state budget accrued to the civil service of a state. His loyalty to political allies in form of medical tourism for tooth decay, birthday celebrations abroad, wedding anniversaries abroad, etc., is an abuse of state treasury. In office, a political governor become Mother Theresa, albeit not to the poor, but to the rich-a feat that a political governor as ordinary citizens they cannot afford. Since he now has access to the commonwealth, he suddenly becomes a Father Christmas on any other day, and acts with the extravagant exorbitance as if he becomes Mansa Kankan Musa returning from pilgrimage.
Again, a political governor is a chief strategist in manipulating government institutions to pay off his loyalist for their support. One of these strategies is by setting up of committees, organizing and sponsoring less impactful functions. A story was told of ‘a political governor’ whose Special Adviser observed to him that:
“Your Excellency, the public has observed that there a too many committees under your regime, No government has ever had such number of Committees. It is costing the state so much. Let’s do something to reduce this”.
After some moments of silence and deep thinking, His Excellency responded to his Special Adviser thus,
“Mr SA (an acronym for Special Adviser), the best way to address this problem is to set up another Committee that will look into the proliferation of Committees under my tenure. After that, another Committee will be set up to dissolve those Committees that are not necessary.”
A political Governor is an adventurer in bequeathing and heaping debt to his successor. Currently, the debt profile of Plateau State as of June 2021 is about N32.7M. One should clap for Plateau State Government, because we are at NO. 30 out of 37 States with Lagos coming First, Kaduna Second and Edo 3rd with the highest debt profile. Sometimes the adventure in obtaining loans could be genuinely justified or rationalized in financing another second term. The irony of a political governor is that once his tenure elapsed, he will be accountable to anti-grafts agencies on how he squandered public funds. Most worrisome is that a new political governor may sue his predecessor for corruption with a cost that outweighs the amount of money sought to be recovered. And surprisingly, he could even borrow to do that, especially if he is bent on settling scores with his predecessors.
A political Governor is a one inspired by his riches and an economic progress to become a political leader. His psychological impetus towards leadership is that “ I was once poor now I made it “ hence let me contest. Such motivations are usually prod by the ego of revenge against the society that once mocked such individuals. Let me cap this segment with a very interesting discussion that ensued between two Plateau indigenes. The discussion is worth reproducing here because of its didactic impacts:
The Young Man: Mummy how is the preparation for the Governorship Election of 2023?
The Old Lady: I don’t know who will even be selected as everybody that gets N50, 000, 00 Million Naira, want to become a governor so that they will know that he matters
The Young Man: Must every rich man be in politics in Plateau State? Why can’t they invest such monies in economic ventures that will bolster the economy of the state?
The Old Lady: Hmm! I don’t know for them, my son
Young Man: Why can’t they be captains of Industries and Business Moguls so as to solve the unemployment problems that they are claiming to go and address when they became governor?
The Metaphor of ‘an Economic Governor’ Within the Plateau Paradigm
But who is an Economic Governor? He is a governor who understands the political economy of his state. He understands the Marxist notion that economy is the substratum of the society upon which other superstructures such as the polity, security, religion, education, commerce, health and other institutions hinges. Thus, the preoccupation of an economic governor is wealth creation in order to stimulate the health, polity, education, commerce, security, agriculture, job creations and other positive dividends of democracy expected of a governor. An economic Governor is a sine qua non for the Plateau state comes 2023. He is expected to transform the security challenges of Plateau State into an economic opportunity. He is expected to turn the bloody security challenges of Plateau State into economic enterprise by employing and encouraging the restive youths to serve as vanguard against the insecurity in the state. By doing so he is reducing unemployment. Also, he is expected to incentivize agriculture by ensuring that farmer’s lives are protected and secure via the conventional security and the local community policing structures.
An economic Governor of Plateau State shall be able to address the challenges affecting the health care industry in the state. Once he sees health as an industry capable of generating IGR, it shall be well with him. By equipping the health care industry and constant payment of salaries and other entitlements, the system will be stabilized and may serve as another source of cash flow for the state. The economic governor should take exemplary steps to have his file opened in the state health institutions. Government House Hospital should be for emergency purposes. This will serve as body language and direction for his cabinet to follow suit.
Education is an industry that an economic governor should harness. There are a lot of foreigners studying in Nigeria, but can the Plateau State University Bokkos, College of Education Gindiri, etc boast of many? Are the specialized institutions such as College of Health Technologies in Pankshin and Zawan still functioning and impacting to the state? What about College of Agriculture Garkawa? Do these institutions still exist as functional entities or they are just relics of past glories of Plateau State?
Commerce is another project that a prospective Economic Governor of Plateau State shall put into consideration. Three viable institutions in Plateau State are now relics. This facts made one to sometimes wonder whether military is truly better than civilian regimes in terms of infrastructural developments. The three major state assets of Plateau Heritage that are now objects of nostalgia are (a) the Jos International Breweries (b) The BARC Farm and (c) The Jos Main Market.. While previous political governors made little or no attempts towards the resuscitation of these commercial triumvirates of Plateau State, we urged the prospective ‘Economic Governor’ of Plateau State to factor in these issues as he assumes the seat of governorship comes 2023. The latest deliberate attempt made by this administration is the blasting of the Main Market Jos, which according to the Governor of Plateau State is the most difficult stage. Since the most difficult stage is done with, the upcoming Economic governor is given the baton to finish the race of reconstructing the Main Market, Jos. .
An Economic Governor should be preoccupied by what types of manufacturing industries will be located in the different regions of the state according to agricultural potentials of each region. The Plateau North, South and Central are in dire need of industries for the preservation and manufacturing of heir farm produce. An economic governor should be able to create commercial opportunities by liaising with the farmers for profitable marketing outputs of their produce.
The geography of Plateau is another opportunity for economic governor to harness. The rocks, mountains, valleys, flatlands and waters are good sceneries for entertainment industries. They can be converted into tourist attractions and sites. The beautiful rocks and hills of Dilla, Jiblik and Shere Hills in Pankshin and Jos East Local Government Area are potential tourist ventures that when utilized will rival other global tourist attractions. The task of an Economic Governor is to delegate the prospective commissioner of tourism and few experts to go and woo the foreign investors to invest in the tourism as industry in Plateau State. We don’t want to send His Excellency and his whole entourage because we don’t have enough ‘waters to give them to wash their hands.’
One of the greatest assets of Plateau State is human capital. Plateau state has developed galaxies of stars at international, continental, municipal and provincial levels. When this venture is explored, it will yield fruitful dividends. Institutions like Plateau State Sport Council should be resuscitated. It is been long time Plateau state has organized Governors’ football Cup, Chairman’s Cup as in the days of old where talents were discovered. Recently, it appears Senators have taken over such feats without further pursuing the prospects of the best players, highest goal scorers and best keepers and defenders. It was the neglect of such human capital development Plateau has now become sophisticated homes of abductions, banditry, and kidnappings. For if the dog will not be allow to bark, it will certainly bite.
An Economic Governor is a galvanizer and unifier of people irrespective of their tribes or ethnicity, that’s what distinguished him from a political Governor. A political Governor believes in divide and rule stratagem based on ethnic or tribal sentiments because he is afraid in the united reasoning capacity of people inspired collective interest. However, an economic governor is a team leader and human resource manager. He is interested in getting the job done by prioritizing merits over mediocrity. Thus, while ‘a political governor’ could be an ethnic ‘nationalist’ and a Mafioso of personality cult; an economic governor is a governor for all and sundry.
In conclusion, my homily to Plateau People is that history has blessed us with a lot of ‘political leaders’ who have not impacted the state satisfactorily to our collective expectation, rather they succeeded in dividing us. Therefore, 2023 should be a year to truly ‘ask, seek and knock’ for an economic governor. The year 2023 is no doubt an opportunity for another ultimate search for good leader to salvage the state. Therefore, where ‘an economic governor’ with sound prototype of a good leader avails himself, Plateau people should not compromise on any parochial interest. A serious search for such governor should be the priority of Plateau State come, 2023.
God Bless Nigeria! God Bless Plateau State!!
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