By Gabriel Ikese
Nigerians are one of the simplest people to please in governance than anywhere in the world. Majority of us do not angle to be listed on the exclusive club of millionaires and billionaires in the country.
What we demand at all times from those who are entrusted with the mandate of leadership is just creating the enabling environment for us to survive, thrive in business or the work place and empowered enough to pick up basic family bills.
Any executive office occupier who fixes his eyes on these simplicities is infinitely appreciated by the people. Without sycophantic flavor, he is celebrated as a hero by his people. He does not require intensive campaigns while seeking re-election because his good works speak for him. He does not need to hire thugs to rig elections or bribe anybody to acquire votes; hence his popularity soars on account of his performance.
In Plateau state, we are happy with the wind of change which blew across Nigeria in 2015, affected us positively, with the election of a seasoned politician and doyen of transparency, accountability and epitome of performance, Rt.Hon. Simon Lalong as governor of the state. In the last two years, we have observed that Lalong has bestrode on the Plateau like a colossus, depositing unsurpassable development signposts in various sectors.
Governor Lalong has reinvented governance in the state in a manner that has astounded even his arch opponents who have buried their pride and idiosyncrasies’ to applaud him. Having witnessed the bad and the ugly in Plateau, I noticed the sharp and unforgettable difference Governor Lalong has impinged on governance of the state, which is remarkably different from his predecessors.
I was therefore not surprised when I read in the pleasant advertorial news in The Nation newspaper that Nigerians voted Governor Simon Lalong as the The Nigerian news portal, a flourishing London-based news site, as the best Governor in Nigeria, and qualifies for its 2017 Governor of the Year award. The ceremony is slated to hold next month, (August 2017) in London.
To say, Governor Lalong deserves this prestigious award and much more would be tantamount to stating the obvious. Those of us on the Plateau who feel and touch the impact of his administration, know in very certain terms that Nigerians, including Plateau people who voted him first among equals, only confirmed what we have already known and documented.
It confirms to me the notion that a good leader is noticed anywhere, even if he shields himself in the darkest of labyrinths. Voices would echo his name and feet would grope to locate his shadows.
On the Plateau, it is a unanimous consensus among the people, having benefitted immensely from his two years in office so far and still counting. Before this positively eloquent testimony by Nigerians on our Governor, we had already resolved that the only way we can appreciate Governor Lalong is to reward his exemplary leadership qualities with tenure in 2019. We owe a debt of gratitude to The Nigerian, a credible news platform for its research methodology, which exposed our dear leader to stardom, with the irrefutable decision on Governor Lalong.
A perusal into Governor Lalong’s compendium of achievements, displays a fascinating level of commitment to development and unbeatable concern for the welfare of the masses. It becomes more exciting, the realization that the focus of his administration is hinged on populist projects, mainly targeting the mass of the people of Plateau.
In Plateau state, much like in many other states in the country, the propensity of Governors to abandon uncompleted projects of predecessors is very high. Every governor does not see wisdom in completing the projects he inherited. And through this unhealthy practice, scarce public funds are wasted, with no results beneficial to the people to justify the funds such projects have gulped.
To our greatest relive, Governor Lalong has demonstrated a departure from this regressive tradition. He placed premium on the completion of all projects and contractual obligations inherited from the last administration. This is a sharp deviation from other leaders in the country who ignore the benefits of such projects to the masses by the erroneous feeling that continuing with such projects would only glorify their predecessor.
These inherited projects are spread across various sectors-from rural roads to water or electricity projects. And the nice thing is that while Governor Lalong has continued with these projects, he has also initiated fresh projects, despite the debilitating economic crunch in Nigeria.
We were troubled by crises of all dimensions on the Plateau, which raged for upward of a decade. We lamented and wailed at the devastation and social dislocation it caused us. We knew no peace, as violence and killings irreverently replaced the sacredness of peace and prosperity. Our leaders knew the path to peace, but ignored its enforcement because of inordinate influences and the non-challant attitude to the protection of lives and property.
But Governor Lalong who is also a victim of the conflagrations on the Plateau in countless ways elected upon himself to end the menace of violence. He wholeheartedly attuned his administration to fully support the sustenance of the peace efforts upon assumption of office. His no nonsense and uncompromising posture on security of lives and property has changed the horrible narrative on insecurity in the state.
He has re-engineered a relieving pace of peace and tranquility on the Plateau not known to the people for more than 10 years. We are not just a happy people now, but proud that the famed and accustomed peace on the Plateau has regained its soul. Governor Lalong’s peace initiatives and collaboration with the security agencies have enabled this hitherto impossible reality.
And the ethnic agitations which appeared insurmountable in Plateau state as a result of discriminations foisted on the people by the past administrations have vanished. The Governor deployed a simple strategy of according every ethnic nationality in the state a sense of belonging. He halted discriminations and extended equal and fair treatment to all and sundry. To him, ethnicity is an ass and political affiliation, a chain of servitude. What has mattered must to him is the collective interest of people and how the state can attain unbridled and unequalled development on all fronts.
The Governor considerably doused the tension in the land, mostly manifest in youth restlessness. Aside erasing all forms of injustices, which tethered or people to bondage and provoked constant anger, his policies on youth empowerment and poverty alleviation are devoid of sectionalism or godfatherism. His ultimate conviction is that every Plateau deserves a good life and to live in peace. And these are no rhetoric as the people bear loud testimonies of his vision and actions on streets, offices and other public places. I believe this is an enviable mark of good leadership anywhere in the world, worthy of emulation.
In Nigeria this day, the plague of workers salary debt has hit a lot of states in the federation. But on the Plateau, we are lucky, as payment of workers’ salaries is Governor Lalong’s topmost priority. He is not owing salaries of public servants and through prudent management of resources the state also meets its monetary contractual obligations to contractors handling various developmental projects, some of which have been commissioned.
It explains why Governor Lalong’s style of leadership spots him tall among his colleagues at the national level. It is why we are massively backing and supporting his administration to continue with the onerous task of liberating and developing the state.
The Nigerian’s 2017 Best Governor Award to Governor Lalong is what has gladdened the heart of every Plateau indigene. It is in African culture to fete our people who excel. And we owe Governor Lalong this token of appreciation.
Ikese wrote from Jos, Plateau State.