By Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande
As a major stakeholder in the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Plateau State, let me without mincing words, first of all make it clear that, Bola Ahmed Tinubu was not the choice of Governor Simon Lalong at the just concluded presidential primary of the APC that held at the Eagle Square in Abuja.
It is clear to most people in Plateau State and beyond, that Governor Lalong had an aspirant he was supporting for the presidential ticket of the APC but it was definitely not Tinubu who later won the ticket.
Governor Lalong threw his weight fully behind former governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi who has been his political ally for long and every sincere observer of political events can attest to this.
The Amaechi/Lalong alliance had been established since the former handed over to him as Chairman of the Conference of Speakers and has since then made him his point man in the North Central Zone and was even a major financier of his governorship election in 2015.
As evidence that Lalong was not keen on supporting Tinubu, the latter had during the campaign for the APC presidential ticket sought at different times to come to Plateau to speak with the delegates, but because Governor Lalong’s allegiance was elsewhere, he made it difficult for Tinubu to do so through various acts of subterfuge that postponed the visit indefinitely till the campaigns were over.But because the people that worked for Tinubu in Plateau decided to celebrate their victory with humility and measured dignity, the Lalong camp assumed it can capitalise on the silence to play a fast one on the party to claim working for the APC candidate.
But let me state without fear of contradiction, that those that worked for Tinubu to get the number of votes he did from Plateau delegates at the primary, were no other than APC governorship aspirant, Chief Amos Gizo; Minister for Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen; Member representing Mikang/ Shendam/ Quanpaan Federal Constituency, Hon. Alphonsus Komsol; my humble self and a few others.Though our position pitted us against the Governor and his men, we were not deterred and it this collective effort that saved Plateau from entirely backing the wrong horse.
And while we did that for the interest of our country Nigeria, we find it insulting that some people would try to reinvent the wheel by claiming what did not belong to them all in the bid to cash in on the situation for selfish gains.
This is a typical case of hunting with the hound and running with the hare but I believe that those in positions of leadership should be honest and sincere enough to stand by their convictions no matter the outcome and stop behaving like street urchins who would lie to change positions when it does not suit them.
But beyond the issue of who Governor Lalong supported, I make bold to say that he does not deserve the vice presidential ticket because he is not leader who believes in justice and fairness.Though there are claims that he has restored peace on the Plateau through the appointment of few Muslims in his cabinet, in the long run, such acts of tokenism have been exposed to have been volunteered only to serve his parochial interest.
Even other ethnic groups in the state have been complaining about how the Governor has favoured mainly his ethnic group to top positions in the state like Chief of Staff to the Governor, Senator from his zone, DG of ITF, the only member in the APC NWC, the Accountant General, the head of the state electoral commission and others.As the saying goes, if the crocodile can crush its own eggs, what can’t it do to eggs of others?
The Hausa-Muslim community in the state which gave him the winning votes in all his elections have suffered serious marginalisation in the Lalong administration.
For instance, despite the infinitesimal number appointed, they’ve have not been given any serious portfolio in Lalong’s government despite their contributions. What’s more, none of them has been found worthy to serve currently in the party’s exco in the state.
Worse still, even when positions they’re occupying become vacant, they are quickly replaced with others as it happened to the Bassa/Jos North seat.The Governor’s meddling into the primary election to select a candidate for the Bassa/Jos North House of Representatives seat just to deny the Hausa-Muslims the chance to occupy the position boomeranged with the loss of the seat to the PDP, a development which has brought the once dead party back to life in Plateau State.It is even worse with the siting of projects in the Hausa-MuslimMuslim dominated areas where no supervision is made over the few given and contractors are left on their own to drag the work endlessly as they wish unlike in the other places.
Besides, it is unpatriotic to begin to talk about religion or region as selling points for leadership when it should be merit and the ability to win the hearts of the people for the party that should count.
Lalong is not that popular and cannot attract the much needed number to add to what Tinubu will bring to the table as the vote margin in the two times he was won elections as governor showed he only managed to pull through with a slight margin.
The most dishonourable thing for Lalong to do now is to try to claim he supported Tinubu when he did not and it is this level of insincerity we have been experiencing on the Plateau where he will do one thing and claim the other since he assumed position as governor of Plateau State.
Such a person does not deserve to be the running mate of a pragmatic and detribalized leader like Tinubu who extends his hands of fellowship to all regardless of ethnicity or religion.
Tinubu should look beyond the deception if he wants to win in the general elections.
Nakande, former Minister of State for Information and Communication wrote from Jos.