In politics, nothing is shocking and impossible particularly when people are contesting for a position, working to achieve a set target or assiduously fighting over an interest. However, sometimes shocking things surface in politics when people vomit hatred for people they perceive as political enemies or are deceived to think they have come of age and can malign and pull down people they have no comparism with in terms of political accomplishments. That is the story of Dasuki Nakande, a former Minister of State who came up with a toxic concoction against Plateau State Governor Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong with a view to damaging him politically. His problem is that Lalong, whose name has been all over the country as likely choice for Vice President, should not be picked by Tinubu as running mate.
In the write up, Nakande completely lost his sense of reasoning to the point that he arrogated himself powers he does not possess of speaking for the Muslim Community in Jos as well as allocating himself fictitious votes that he gave APC standard bearer Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu during the just concluded Presidential primaries. In all his castigation of Governor Lalong, Dasuki who is obviously sponsored ended up shooting himself on the foot and rubbishing his claim of being from Plateau State and a member of the APC or its Elders Forum.
Dasuki’s first faulty claim was that Asiwaju Tinubu was not the choice of Governor Lalong, but rather of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi which made Governor Lalong to stop Tinubu from coming to Plateau to meet delegates. This is a blatant lie that he wants to feed the gullible with at all costs. Unknown to Dasuki, Governor Lalong has been in touch with Asiwaju throughout the period of consultations and indeed had face to face interactions with him on several occasions. Arrangements for the visit of Asiwaju to Plateau were made and finalized but due to tight schedule of the Jagaban, they kept changing and shifting until it was not feasible again. In all this, Asiwaju never told anyone (not even the weeping Dasuki) that Lalong stopped him from coming to meet Plateau delegates. One then wonders why he is crying more than the bereaved.
On the relationship between Rotimi Amaechi and Governor Lalong, the writer wasted precious time trying to establish their long standing relationship and fraternity which started many years ago when they were Speakers. Has Asiwaju told Nakande that he does not know their friendship or does not appreciate their loyalty to one another? Does he think Jagaban takes friendship and loyalty lightly or suffers traitors like him who will spew out venom against his Governor simply because of hatred or being sponsored by enemies of Plateau? On the contrary, Tinubu knows more about Lalong and Amaechi than Nakande and respects that relationship just as he would expect others to do to him. He has no grudges against Lalong or any other person including those who contested against him in the APC primaries. He has said this severally right from his victory speech at Eagle Square and has proven it by visiting most of those that contested against him. Dasuki will not hear about this and in his hatred, forgot that Lalong was neither an Aspirant nor a Delegate.
One also wonders where he came up with the falsehood that Lalong is claiming he worked for Tinubu. Where is the evidence of that claim? Rather, it is Nakande that should tell the world when, how and where he and others (Amos Gizo, Paullen Tallen, Alphonsus Komsol) gave votes to Tinubu in a Convention they were neither delegates nor part of stakeholders that prepared for the event. It is a miracle to hear that people who lost elections in the past and recently are claiming to be the ones dashing votes to Asiwaju at a national convention. Besides, aside from Hon. Komsol, these are people that have never won an election into any office. They have rather been fortunate to lobby and get appointments. Perhaps this is what they are cleverly positioning themselves for future appointments by deriding and castigating their Governor with the hope that Tinubu will appoint them when he wins. Must you pull down someone to grow? Who tells him that Lalong will not work for the victory of Tinubu and the APC in the general elections? Even those who contested and lost have pledged to work for the party, what more of Lalong who did not vie for the ticket?
Any right-thinking person will shade tears in disgust by the effrontery of Nakande to assert that Lalong should not be picked as Vice President running mate because he is not a leader who believes in justice and fairness and that he has not restored peace to Plateau State. He also claims that Lalong has not appointed many Muslims into his cabinet nor done projects in Hausa-Muslim Community. In short he accused Lalong of marginalizing and oppressing the Muslim Community in Jos. Haba Dasuki! Are you alright? Is it the same Lalong that is being vilified for allegedly “mortgaging Plateau to the Caliphate” or is it another Lalong we don’t know about?
To say that Lalong has marginalised any part of Plateau based on ethnicity or religion is the height of insensitivity and bigotry oozing from someone who has served at the Federal Executive Council. Contrary to these false assertions, the Hausa-Muslim community in Jos has never had it so good like under the Lalong Government where they are carried along in appointments, projects distribution and day to day running of Government. For the records, there are Muslim Commissioners in the State Cabinet; 2 Deputy Chiefs of Staff Government House (both Muslims); several heads of MDAs and Permanent Secretaries, Advisers and Special Assistants. If not for mischief, why has Dasuki never complained about this so-called marginalization until now that he senses that Governor Lalong is likely to be made the Running mate for Tinubu?
One is not surprised because Dasuki is an Abuja-based politician who has lost touch with home and does not know what is happening. He has mixed his hatred for Lalong with bitterness over his inability to win the APC ticket into the House of Representatives after several attempts or even secure Councillorship seat for his son. He also contested for the post of APC Party Secretary and lost woefully. Bringing Lalong into the recent bye election for Bassa/Jos North House of Representatives Constituency which some members of the APC worked against the party and gave victory to the PDP is very disheartening. Dasuki who participated in the anti-party activity is now the self-acclaimed “arrowhead” of protecting the APC at the Eagle Square during the Presidential Primaries where he was not close to the venue.
Again, Dasuki makes a caricature of himself when he claims that it is unpatriotic to begin to talk of religion or region as a selling point for leadership rather than merit. Ha! Is this not the same person using religion to claim Governor Lalong is marginalizing the “Hausa-Muslim Community”? Did he not allege that Lalong meddled in the Bassa/Jos North Reps elections to deny the “Hausa-Muslims” the chance to occupy the position? Why is he speaking from both sides of the mouth about merit and equity/justice? When it is convenient for him, he is and advocate for equity, fairness and justice. When he hears the news that same considerations could make Lalong the running mate for Asiwaju bola Tinubu, he recoils and embraces merit. But the good news is that Governor Lalong qualifies for not only the post of the VP, but even the President of Nigeria based on merit and equity, justice and fairness.
Lest Dasuki deceives the gullible and poisons the minds of right thinking Nigerians against Governor Simon Bako Lalong, let us educate him and his sponsors on why the APC Candidate Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will be coasting home to victory with Lalong as his running mate.
1. Lalong has never lost an election since 1999. He contested for House of Assembly and won. He was re-elected and served as Speaker for 7 years (the longest in the history of Plateau State).
2. He survived a complete Recall process defeating the Federal Might of Chief Obasanjo regime.
3. He is loyal to the core and does not betray people. He endured pressure, money and even went to jail for refusing to carry out sham impeachment of former Governor Dariye. Tinubu will need a loyal VP!
4. He is the Chairman of the 19 Northern Governors and the first Christian to hold that position (he did not campaign for it but was unanimously chosen by his colleagues).
5. He was the Chairman, Conference of Speakers of Houses of Assembly.
6. He is the current Chairman, Conference of Former Speakers of State Houses of Assembly of Nigeria (COFFSHA).
7. He is a humble, tolerant and God fearing leader who does not discriminate against anybody or group based on religion, ethnicity or other parochial sentiments.
8. He has served as Governor of Plateau State for 7 years.
9. He restored peace to Plateau State and brought back businesses and investments to the State.
10. He is the one who led the 13 APC Northern Governors to the President and APC Chairman to insist on power shift to the South despite the attempts by some interests to retain power in the North.
11. He has never campaigned to be Vice President and is not desperate.
12. He has worked hard for the APC and successfully led Campaigns that delivered victory for the party in Governorship elections such as Ondo State.
13. Of all the names being touted among Northern Christians, no one has his rich experience.
14. The North Central Region deserves such position in the interest of equity, justice and fairness as it has never held that office.
15. He has wide acceptability and respect in the whole Northern Region and other parts of the country.
16. He has won the APC ticket to contest for the Plateau South Senatorial Seat.
With these few points, I advise our Party’s flag bearer Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to disregard the ranting of inconsequential people like Dasuki who cannot win a Councilor seat or deliver their polling unit, but trying to desperately look for cheap popularity and access to power by running down highly accomplished personalities like Governor Simon Bako Lalong whose popularity continues to soar. If the Dasuki and his cohorts are interested in becoming running mates to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, they should concentrate on pursuing that ambition and not make a mockery of themselves through frivolity. Leave Governor Simon Lalong alone please!
Rt. Hon. Baba Akawu former Deputy Majority Leader, Federal House of Representatives (1983) writes from Jos.