Dr Chris Piwuna, a consultant Psychiatrist and lecturer at the University of Jos, has called on Governor Simon Lalong, to as a matter of urgency resign his position.
In a press statement available to ViewPointNigeria over the weekend, Dr Piwuna advised the governor to take the path of honour and vacate his office for what he termed “incompetence” and “lack capacity”
Parts of the statement read “in view of the unfolding reality, I call on the governor of Plateau, Mr. Simon Bako Lalong to resign his office for his lack of capacity and incompetence in achieving the vision/agenda he set for himself. There is no aspect of either the 5 point agenda or revised 3 point agenda that he has achieved.I call on him as a lawyer to also resign his office as governor because he swore to protect and secure the state, something he has woefully failed to do.”
Further making his point, Dr Piwuna called on citizens to organise protests against the administration –saying an administration that cannot protect the lives of its citizenry needs to be shown out.
The eight-page press release not only ex-rayed the issues on the plateau, but nationally, see the full details below:
THE DEEPENING LEADERSHIP CRISIS IN NIGERIA: THE CASE OF PLATEAU STATE. A TEXT RELEASED BY DR. CHRISTOPHER PIWUNA GOSON, DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY, COLLEGE OF HEALTH SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF JOS, NIGERIA.
Let me start this press statement by first making some clarification on my person. I am not an expert in politics or political science. Secondly, I speak for myself as a Nigerian and I do not belong to any political party, more-so, that in Nigeria, all the parties are the same as evidenced by the ease with which they decamp from one to the other. However, I am interested in leadership and those who lead me. In Nigeria, we have elected to be led through democratic processes. Our democracy is also based on a constitution. No matter how imperfect, it is still the accepted skeletal framework within which we and our leaders are expected to operate. Our constitution secures our liberties, equality and fraternity to the greatest possible stretch allowed by it. Part of the constitutional provisions of our democracy is my right to criticize leadership, speak freely, assembly freely, enjoy life, be employed and right to health care and education as guaranteed in the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State. Anything that is fundamental or foundational means it is basic or a necessity for existence. I have decided to come forward today because the material, constitutional and psychological ingredients of our constitution is recklessly been abandoned and abused by our elected leaders. And they do that for a reason, which is the benefit they gain by abusing it.
When citizens are unable to realize the material conditions of democracy, poverty becomes their neighbour, their capacity to tolerate one another fade, their willingness to compromise increases, hostility and anger takes over. It is, therefore, not surprising to me that some people are calling for a revolution, and those who abuse and desecrate the system are calling such revolutionaries “irritants”.
It is a shame that someone we have read for years, for “a pot of porridge” would make such condescending, crude and unintelligent comment about those who are expressing themselves in our democratic setting. It shows how out of touch with reality our leaders and their minders are. Why, if I may ask would the state use force, tear-gas and the police to threaten and clamp down on peaceful protesters who want better security, healthcare, education, pension, employment opportunities for themselves and the generality of Nigerians. The comment by Femi Adesina, the Senior Special Assistant to the President shows clearly, that the obstacle to our struggle is the ruling class that uses the instrument of the state against us. He and the government he represents fail to understand, that our economic and living conditions are intertwined with the interest of Nigerian ruling class and that when we reach our limits, as we have in this country, we will pull them down with us.
For the education of Femi Adesina and his ilk, the irritants in our nation and our desire to grow an egalitarian society, are the Akpabios, Joi Nunieh’s, the Andrew Yakubu’s, Maina, the Senators and former governors standing trial and the total incompetence of government to bring under control the constant security breaches across the country and threat to our lives. Do they think that Nigerians belief anything tangible will ever come out of the “public” show of the trial of Magu? Do they think we are looking at any meaningful outcome from the “investigation” of the NDDC by both the Executive branch and the National assembly? Have you heard anything from the national assembly about Akpabio and NNDC again? How about the 100 Chibok girls still unaccounted for? What about the unauthorized and undemocratic assault on the National Assembly in 2017? Are members of the national assembly even interested in getting to the bottom of some of these issues? The abductions, suicide bombings and attacks on civilians in Kaduna and Plateau States, Zamfara and Katsina States. Even pale bearers no longer consider it an honour because of the disregard we have shown for human lives.
Let me also say that if the government is only looking at the number that came out to protest in Lagos and Abuja, then they certainly do not understand the changing tide. I bet you multitude of Nigerians are tired of the entire ruling class and fully identify with the issues the protesters raised.
Plateau State: Silent No More
As our Nation is drifting, I will like to focus on Plateau state, hoping that others like me across the nation will follow suit and call out their state governments. In the last 20 years of civilian rule, Plateau State has been the most unfortunate. even with what some see as their limited achievements, the era of Pol. Comm. J.D. Gomwalk and S.D. Lar is considered as “Golden Era, these achievements are over the years, constantly been eroded through bad leadership. There was a spark of return to economic growth through agricultural development by the J.D. Jang era, but that too was to be eclipsed by ethnic jingoism which paved the way for the current leadership in the State. Let me state here, that in my own simple efforts along with many others, we contributed and raised funds from our friends and family members to support the election of Barr. SB Lalong. The reasons, which are known to many people in Plateau, I do not need to state here. It was our hope that the current leadership will fully utilize the currency gained in the process that brought him to office. Alas, this government turned out to be like others before him – colossal failure. In all my life living in Jos, the State capital, I had never felt as insecure as I do now in all my years in this state, I have not seen this level of unemployment and the total lack of insight or lack of will to address the challenges the citizens face. The level of socio-economic development has been at a stand-still. Show me one success story in this state in the last 6 years!!! When they came to power, they promised us peace, security, good governance, Human capital development and Social welfare, Agriculture and rural development, Entrepreneurship and Industrialization, Physical infrastructure and environmental development and for (4) four years, I am not sure any of these key promises was kept.
In 2019, the vision was scaled down to (3) three-point policy thrust. Peace, Security and good governance was still part of it, along with physical infrastructural development and sustainable economic growth. We are still waiting. Even though I am focusing on Plateau, this lacklustre leadership can be seen all across our nation. What a pity!!!
Everyone who is on the Plateau knows our security challenges are still far from over. People especially children are routinely kidnapped, people still feel insecure in their homes, communities in Mangu, Bokkos, Barkin Ladi and Bassa are regularly assailed by bandits (the ones on the mountains). By the way, we have two groups of bandits in Nigeria, the ones that operate on the highway and bushes and the ones in government houses. When a government fail to protect the life and properties of its citizens, it losses legitimacy to govern. Experts say security is generally wider than personal and private safety. But our leaders have forced us to narrow it down to purely criminal activities. It is no longer about livelihood but life. Jobs, housing, healthcare and clean environment mean nothing to our government. Someone needs to tutor me on what infrastructural development has taken place under this government. Township roads still remain in a deplorable state, the Abattoir railway crossing, right in the centre of Jos will require not just contribution from residents of Jos and all motorist but prayer and fasting to be completed. The government “GREENHOUSE” guest house along British America is a ghost of itself; it probably will need to fall on the current occupant before the state will realize it. Recently, I heard a prominent lawyer and politician praising the government for its socio-economic development. That is the shame of Plateau, because virtually all the notable indigenes, especially those angling to take over from him cannot see anything wrong in the state and how it is governed. Every citizen must be ready to speak out against maladministration and failure to keep promises. For the ruling class, their one and only agenda is to praise the government or criticize for their selfish aim. The truth can no longer be spoken in Plateau, even our Deputy Governor; a Professor of politics is unable to profess anything. He has probably survived this long because he is “deaf”. He never says anything, never see anything and never hear anything. My God!!! Where are men and women of honour, who can tell this government that all of us who rose in one accord to deconstruct ethnicity and ensure Plateau was not made a property of one man or one ethnic group are tired of the Political Chicanery of this government. Unemployment in the state is on the rise with no visible effort by the government to bring it down. Every home has at-least 3 qualified, unemployed, able-bodied children, not to talk of relatives in the village. The economy of the state is not growing and we know that unemployment is a function of the economy, leaving citizens pulverized by poverty. Every structure of government is a ghost of itself, except the government houses. I was in the office of a commissioner at the JD Gomwalk state secretariat recently and old newspapers were used to block crevices in the office. Our stadium with all the possibilities of revenue generation remains uncompleted. The main market had to be demolished to enable the government to mobilize funds for re-election. You ask: How many times are we going to demolish this market? Botmang did it and maybe it will be re-demolished before another election. The ASTC farms started by the previous government are going the way of the Panyam Fish farms and other assets of government. Let me acknowledge the efforts of the government to buy back the BARC farms but what are we doing with it now? With the new faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary medicine, we can turn the BARC farm to a gold mine with increased revenue for the State and employment for teeming young people. But hold on, that is not the agenda of this government as more time, energy and resources are better directed at how Senate seats can be won and serving as chairman of Northern governors. Those at the fringes are describing themselves as Dariye boys, Lalong boys or counting on Jonah Jang to return to govern us. While previous and present leaders kept telling us that our state is very poor, these individuals remain super-rich with their families. They block every door for the poor and less privileged to contribute or lead, the “bandits” and their cahoots are the “owners” of the land and determine our future in this state and country. This is clearly been replicated across the country. You are either with Tinubu, Atiku, El rufai, Amaechi or another “godfather” to be counted.
What about the fight against COVID-19
For the past 8 months, the world has been abuzz with reports of an increasing rate of infection and deaths. From an infection rate of 1-2 in a week, Plateau has reported 150 in a day and instead of our leaders to brace up to reality, they shamelessly explain it away, that it is due to backlog of results, as if that makes it better and should not alarm us. Besides the structural hindrances created by long years of criminal neglect of the sector, there is also the very weak and uncoordinated, even confused manner in which the fight against the virus is been waged in Plateau. People should not be deceived, the figures they are giving the public cannot be relied upon, it is not reflective of the daily trend of the outbreak, and it could be much higher. Unfortunately, the fight is been led by HE, the governor himself. COVID-19 has revealed the long crimes of chronic neglect in the areas of health and education, leading to glaring inequalities in wages, housing and hunger. In societies where lives matter, more efforts are being made to mitigate the effects of this pandemic. We are witnesses to people who wait for days up to a week to receive a positive result. What happens in between the days of waiting is obvious – spread. Everyone who lives in this state will agree with me that, the efforts of the state government to contain this virus have declined; it is shambolic and we are all left to our fate. While the public has a role to play and they are not playing it well in order to arrest the spread, the government has the ultimate responsibility for our health. Individuals cannot control the opening and closing of markets, governments do. Individuals cannot ramp up testing and tracing, governments do. Individuals due to poor leadership at all levels of government cannot address the economic hardship occasioned by the pandemic but governments can help. But what we have is the semblance of a government, a façade who often operate as if they are reading from a script with no clarity on what they need to do or total absence of mind to attend to issues affecting everyday Nigerian.
With the response by our government to this pandemic, we are heading for a black hole. To change course, the government must do the following:
Give civil servants tax relief
Politicians who are saving their “stolen money” for elections should open food banks for the needy.
The elderly and the sick that do not have health insurance should be given their medication for free.
This is the time for members of the legislature who regularly collect constituency allowances to use it pay school fees for their constituents and examination fee for school children.
The government must revisit the opening of markets and public spaces, not with a view to shutting them down totally but ensure measures are in place to control the spread of the virus. Perhaps, why they have not done that already is because they don’t go to terminus market or Farin Gada market or even Kabong markets. They shop in controlled environments.
The Cycle of Violence
Most of the places all around the world that have peace probably had the war in the past. So, what stops us from having peace in our state and our nation? The reason is simple, that despite the several commissions of inquiry and peace initiatives, the so-called root causes of insecurity still persist because our leaders profit from these conflicts, otherwise, why are they not doing enough to fight poverty, low-income earnings and the pervasive state of despair by fellow countrymen? Young people are drawn to violence and crime in an atmosphere of hopeless poverty. Life becomes cheap and violence and insurgency become the order of the day, with a weak state that primarily depends on quarterly subventions substantially increases the chances of unrest. That is why I find the comments by government officials at the federal level on the recent #RevolutionNow baffling, to say the least. To be clear, I fully support a revolution but I differ with Omoyele Sowore in the means to revolutionize our country. I believe our country is too diverse and polarized- thanks to our leaders, to achieve a revolution as they want it. We have also suffered too much violence and bloodshed in this country, which disproportionately affects ordinary Nigerians, so, we must avoid any move that could lead to violence. We must find a class response of our own to what the ruling class is doing to us. What breeds violence in these protests is that those who are sitting on our resources are using violence against us by sending police with tear gas to arrest us. In light of the above, I make the following recommendation.All those who believe that our country has been ruined by the current rulers and the system should organize themselves, wherever they are, to throw out the “bandits” that occupy the 36 government houses in the country. Going to Abuja and Lagos alone, will not bring about the needed change. STAY WHERE YOU ARE AND ORGANIZE
Young people and all Nigerians should be encouraged to participate in democratic processes that will lead to change.
In Plateau State, in view of the unfolding reality, I call on the governor of Plateau, Mr. Simon Bako Lalong to resign his office for his lack of capacity and incompetence in achieving the vision/agenda he set for himself. There is no aspect of either the 5 point agenda or revised 3 point agenda that he has achieved.
I call on him as a lawyer to also resign his office as governor because he swore to protect and secure the state, something he has woefully failed to do. He and his government are always behind; paying condolences after violence have been visited on helpless citizens.
Failure to resign his office, the legislative arm of government should commence processes that will ease him out of office. Simple.
In conclusion, I urge all young people in this state to keep hope alive and use not only the social media to ‘drive the bandits’ out of our states, but organize themselves from bottom up. It is only when we develop the critical mass at the state level that we can effectively drive the government at the federal level and all their elitist collaborators out of government.
In Plateau, we like to say Plateau is a Christian State, therefore, as we come out of our Churches, we must determine in our hearts to speak the truth always. Plateau leaders and all those in government should tell the governor, enough is enough, resign and go, you have failed.
Lastly, I urge you to reflect on a stanza from the hymn ‘fading away like the star’ SS&S 798:
… “Only the truth that in life we have spoken,
Only the seed that on earth we have sown.
These shall pass onward when we are forgotten,
Fruits of the harvest and what we have done.
I am aware that some people will come after me for the position I have taken. It is ok. Some may argue that the problems did not start with his administration and so, why make the call now? My answer is that we must begin somewhere. Leaders must be called to account for their time in office and justify the mandate given to them. If not now, then when? But please let us keep it civil, let us agree to disagree, but ultimately, let us generate discourse that will save our state, our nation and our families.
Be remembered for something, be remembered for Nigeria, and be remembered for Plateau.
Solidarity forever, aluta continua, Victoria acerta
Dr. Piwuna Christopher Goson
University of Jos, Nigeria
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