By Victor Pam
As the campaigns continue to heat the polity, we must be careful about the choices we make because our options can be our albatross, as well as our Messiah. I say this for two reasons, one is because of the empty promises flying around like promissory notes and the other is the attempt to put a veil on the eyes of the electorates by politicians who are advancing causes they know too well they cannot deliver on. I am from Plateau State, and as they say, charity must begin from home.
I recall I asked myself a couple of questions when Simon Lalong came on-board as governor of the state, questions like, is this going to be different from others? Would Plateau experience peace and tranquillity, would workers have a reason to smile? Would Plateau experience any form of infrastructural upliftment? Would pensioners have a reason to smile? And many more that I can’t recollect.
I also promised to keep a tab on the workings of government regarding the delivery of the dividends of democracy to the people of Plateau State that have seen and experienced the worst of governments since 1999. Indeed, Plateau had been unfortunate; my friends used to taunt me. But today, I am not sure anyone of them can tease me as regards governance in Plateau. And I say this with all sense of humility and sincerity of heart.
To say Plateau has experienced a change would be an understatement. And to also say Governor Simon Lalong remains one of the best things that happened to Plateau would also be uncharitable. What would be charitable and most appropriate is to say Simon Lalong was God’s plan for Plateau state because of the remarkable improvements experienced in all aspects of life on the Plateau. From the prompt payment of salaries to clearing the backlog of pensions. Generally, governance was delivered at the doorsteps of the people.
Anyone conversant with the happenings in Plateau under governor Simon Lalong would agree with me that God indeed heard the cries of the people when he delivered Simon Lalong to us as governor. It is incredible to state that despite the cash crunch that hit the country and the inability of most states to pay salaries, it was only Plateau state that was paying wages even before the end of the month. It felt like magic to many other governors on how Governor Simon Lalong was able to achieve such feat.
If one takes an opinion survey of civil servants in the state to ascertain whether there has ever been a time salaries were delayed under Simon Lalong, the response would be an overwhelming no. That has never happened since Simon Lalong assumed leadership of the state. From what I gathered, the governor vowed that never again in the history of Plateau state, would workers be denied their wages given the fact that the state is mostly a civil servant state. And when you have the bulk of the people in the public service what is the rational thing to do? To ensure that salaries are paid as at when due.
In my opinion, doing such would also have a multiplier effect on the economy of the state in the sense that there would be a movement within the ecosystem that would, in turn, generate activities that oil the wheels of progress, which is the case in Plateau state in the past three years of Simon Lalong.
It would be tantamount to questioning God should the people of Plateau make the mistake of casting their votes for those that have been making empty promises. And the curious part is that these people that are making those empty promises were part of the rot experienced in Plateau state. The difference is that they only changed their clothing’s. Would the people of Plateau allow themselves to be so deceived?
I am not sure the people of Plateau would want to trade Simon Lalong for anyone else. I am not sure the workers and pensioners have forgotten how God has used and still using Simon Lalong to better their lives through the numerous interventions in the state. Let me add this for free. It only takes a man that is upright and with the fear of God to do what Governor Simon Lalong is doing in Plateau state. He came on-board at a time that depression had enveloped the cloud and hopelessness was the order of the day. But undeterred he set out for impactful governance that has put the state on the path of glory once again.
Governor Simon Lalong is an upright man with the fear of God, unlike past governors that ruled like they were gods themselves because how could one explain a situation where a governor can go to bed and sleep when the people that elected him are hungry and dying of starvation. These same people also divided the state along ethnic and religious lines. It was so bad in the Plateau that at some point some ethnic groups see themselves as superior to all other ethnic groups in the state. This was how unhealthy the atmosphere was in the Plateau before the coming of Simon Lalong. But all of these have indeed changed for better.
There is now mutual respect amongst the various ethnicity in the state. There are no superior or inferior groups, so much so that it has translated to an improved relationship that has brought about lasting peace in the state. I will say this without fear, if not for the coming of Simon Lalong, I am not sure there would have still been a Plateau state because all the indices for disintegration were in place and it was just only a matter of time before its manifestation. Most of us residing in Plateau had perfected plans to move elsewhere with our families.
Indeed, Plateau state has never had it this good before, there has been lots of infrastructural development across the state, despite the lean resources coming to the state. In my opinion, what people do not understand is that Governor Simon Lalong has been able to do all of these because he placed the interest of the people above his interest. And I am not sure people, including him, could dip their hands in government coffers to embezzle funds meant for the people. I make bold to say that embezzlement of government cannot be associated with the present administration of Simon Lalong, if that was the case, I doubt if he would have been able to pay salaries promptly, settle the backlog of pensions and pensions payment up to date in the state and many more.
Like a messiah, he came to set the captives free. Today, Plateau state under Simon Lalong is an example of how to work for the people. I have assessed his administrative style using different parameters as a development expert, and the result of my assessment is the reason for this piece. Some could say that I am excited, some could also say I am elated. But I would say and I ecstatic with what is happening Plateau state. And I am not sure the good people of Plateau would want to leave the known for the unknown. That would be the height of ingratitude to God. Governor Simon Lalong is indeed Gods plan for Plateau state. This much the people know, and this much they are willing to go with as the elections approach.
Pam is an advocate of the masses writing from Jos.