By Ishaya Markus
Governance in a socio-culturally diverse polity like Plateau State can be a herculean task, despite its seeming ease to handle, from the outside. This is because contained in this geographically-small space, is a ‘Commonwealth’ of 56 autochthonous ethnic nationalities, apart from a large concentration of ethnic groups from other states of Nigeria and some foreign nationals.
Each of the groups and individuals herein has great expectations from government. This is normal and expected. These groups and residents have lived peacefully with one another, with most having made the state their home, all courtesy of the peaceful and accommodating nature of the indigenes. The responsibility of government therefore, has been to harness the natural endowments, professional and occupational standings, abilities and skills of all residents, to build the very harmonious and progressive state, Plateau is today.
The present government has carefully and painstakingly pursued with relentless vigour and unyielding commitment, the ideals of the founding fathers of the state, perfectly reflected in its slogan of, ‘The Home of Peace and Tourism’.
Plateau state, sad to note, has been in the news for over two decades, unfortunately, for the wrong reasons. In 2001, enemies of the state inaugurated a reign of terror and bloodshed, that has dogged all administrations, to date. The Barr Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang government walked into the bloodshed. It did not create it. It took only a man of courage, vision and determination, to dare to even contest for the governorship of a state in such a precarious state.
Even before the governorship oath-taking day, the crisis merchants resumed their killings, having relaxed a little during the 2023 polls. Today, thanks to God Almighty, the residents of the state have seen raw courage, conscientious commitment and unusual determination, to confront the monster headlong. We may not yet be out of the woods, but we can confidently attest to the fact that a leader is on the throne.
It is in view of the aforementioned display of sterling qualities of leadership by Gov Caleb Mutfwang, that we are painfully taken aback by an unfortunate write-up, by one Barr Muhammad Lawal Ishaq, referenced above.
Ordinarily, we would not bother trading words with an individual, with a weird and myopic mentality and constricted perspective, whose constituency regales in conflict merchandising and shameless manipulation of facts. We are however, constrained to summarily state, in response to the issues raised by the writer in the said piece, inter alia;
The writer started by accusing Barr Caleb Mutfwang of lacking in ‘some’ important attributes of leadership. Ordinarily, we would consider this a compliment instead of the accusation it was intended to be. All over the world no one has been ascribed with all-sufficiency in knowledge, except God the creator. That Gov Mutfwang only lacks ‘some’ and not ‘all’, is indeed, a thing of great joy and gratification for us, to have such a leader at a most trying time as this. No wonder we can attest to giant strides so far attained within so short a time frame.We have witnessed in the past, reign of rulers with neither insight nor creativity, who on being sworn-into office, were completely blank and blind, to the extent that they had to be hand-led from elsewhere. Surprisingly Ishaq and his folks were at home with such elements, because of the ease of manipulation of such contraptions.
That Gov Mutfwang instigated and completed the removal of elected Local Government Council chairmen/councilors. We would have thought that being a lawyer, Ishaq should be aware of the fact that it amounts to subjudice to discuss an issue already in litigation before a court of competent jurisdiction. However, we are reluctant in escorting the barrister into committing contempt against the court. Hence we would rather refer neutral, honest and objective members of the public to the process embarked upon by the State House of Assembly, leading to the suspension, NOT removal of the Council leaderships. We want to believe that as a lawyer Ishaq should be able to differentiate between suspension and removal. Nobody has removed anybody, as falsely averred to by Barr Ishaq. After all, in government no one is above suspension,(and if need be, removal), pending the outcome of an investigation, so long as there is valid reason for so doing.
Management/mismanagement of diversity. Instead of looking inward and attaching blame to his constituency, for its inability to live harmoniously with residents of other ethno-religious background, Ishaq was on a wasteful exercise, harping on the need for government to manage diversity. No other non-indigenous ethnic group in Plateau has complained of being singled out for any bad treatment, except the Ishaqs of this world. Conversely, the same people complaining of being marginalized have never identified with the true yearnings and aspirations of the Plateau. Need we remind Barr Ishaq of the ‘great commission’ handed to the Muslim Ummah in Plateau by a renowned Muslim cleric, in Jos, on the eve of the 2023 governorship elections? It is sad that some people seem to have an over-exaggerated perception of their self-worth, to the extent that they can do whatsoever they deem fit and still have their way, irrespective of the consequences of their actions. No, it is not possible. Every action carries its appropriate consequences in life.
Appointments reflecting religious sentiments; The first step into guaranteeing fair representation in political dispensation, is by recognizing political constituencies within a given polity. The Wards, Districts and other geo-spatial classifications are the basis of representation and NOT religious alignments. This Barr Caleb Mutfwang has kept faith with. Unfortunately, some people have been misled by their religious leaders to align with elements and forces of backwardness, in the guise of religion. When the renowned Jos-based Sheikh went on air with damaging campaign of falsehood, against the person and candidature of Barr Caleb Mutfwang, where were the Ishaqs of this world? So far the Mutfwang government, as mentioned earlier, has been fair to all religious divides, based on the dictum of political representation, in spreading appointments to all the 17 LGAs of the state. That Muslims have not been appointed is, to say the very least, laughable and unfortunate. A simple look at the names of Commissioner – nominees, will easily disprove this hollow allegation as lacking in substance and logic.
That Plateau state is 60% (Christian), 40% (Muslim) is a piece of pitiable lie from the pit of hell. By the way, what is Ishaq’s source of that data? It amazes one to note that the same Hausa-Fulani who have consistently manipulated the Federal Government into disallowing questions on religion and ethnicity, from our Population and Housing Censuses, from 1991 to date, are the same to shamelessly bandy fictitious data on the same variables.
As for now there is no verifiable and reliable data on religion and ethnicity, for any of Nigeria’s political components. Ishaq is hereby advised to desist from misleading the public through the use of cooked data and false information. In any case the position presented by the writer is far in excess of the reality.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Barr Ishaq eulogized the Lalong government to the high heavens. This would have been a big surprised, if it were different. A politically conscious people read and perfectly understand the signs and the times. That era (of Lalong) is gone and forever buried in the annals of our rusty past, never to be remembered. Crying over spilled milk will get you nowhere.
In conclusion, we are constrained to advice Ishaq and his co-travelers to note that in politics, we get what we give, to an extent. When you use religion to determine your choices in the course of election, your reactions to whatever that happens will be faulty and baseless, because it will be determined by your parochial sentiments of faith.
There is no doubt that Gov Caleb Mutfwang has started well indeed. Appointment of persons into offices of government is a continuous process, and with time more individuals, with relevant and cognate experience and rich background of credibility and integrity, will be brought in to strengthen the machinery of government. This will, as usual cut across ethnic and religious divides.
Ishaya Markus, Concerned Plateau Citizen
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