APC Convention: When Lalong Failed to ‘Die’ For Buhari

1 year 3 months ago #8933 by patrickd

Time and bad conditions, they say, do not favour beauty. From a mystified and over-hyped political personage and personality, President Muhammadu Buhari is fading from political activism and aura into the recesses of terminal statesmanship. Those who used to leverage his over-bloated and misplaced moral carriage and estimation are not lost on the depleting value and shrinking standing of the President, the timeliness of setting him aside, and the imperative to throw up new friends and build new affinities with even newer alliances.

Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State was an excellent and perfect persona in this game during the preliminary intrigues of the just concluded All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primary in which Lalong’s league of governors did not only win against the President, but defeated his quest to to appoint his successor.

Because politics as a game in which there is no permanent friend or enemy, except permanent interests rolls on the continuum of time, quick sands are its turf and those standing in defence of someone today may lead the attack against the same person another day, depending on changing interests and shifting benefits.

Four years ago, at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium, Jos, at the instance of President Buhari’s campaign rally, Lalong stunned the crowd when, of all things, he declared from the podium, much to the violation of his people’s pride and self-esteem, that he could “die For Buhari.”

Whether the enraged people of Plateau have forgiven him for the “thoughtless” and “over-indulgent” comment is part of the confessions that Lalong will have to make for the atonement of his political sins as he prepares to face the National Assembly election in Plateau South Senatorial District next year. To use his position as Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum to spearhead an offensive to counter and neutralise the preferred position of the same Buhari he had revered with cultic reverence indicate that Buhari is becoming a spent force, and that reality is not lost on Lalong and his colleagues who powered the offensive to negotiate their own future and place in the new and unfolding arrangement.

Many political observers in Plateau have argued that the APC convention was not the best moment for Lalong to ‘die’ – if die he must, politically. The stakes, they say, are high and many for Lalong. In ditching Buhari, he certainly had no eye on an old kite flown to the effect that he is a choice running mate to Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is the presidential candidate of the party.

Now that Bola Ahmed Tinubu has eventually become the APC standard bearer, Lalong must be gnashing his teeth and interrogating his past actions and inactions. Once the 2019 general elections were over, Lalong and his supporters started gauging the political atmosphere, the horizon and the prospects that lay ahead in an apparent visualisation and projection of life after Government House. Arguably, without the consent of Governor Lalong, presidential campaign posters bearing Tinubu’s picture with himself as vice presidential running mate came into bountiful circulation. It quickly became the norm and way of life promoted and sustained by the governor’s courtiers and sponsored fans to chant ‘Veepee 2023’ at occasions while Lalong savoured and relished the fantasy and phantom honour.

Although Lalong and some governors of the northern states succeeded in frustrating and defeating Buhari and his proposal to anoint a successor, a Muslim of northern extraction, Tinubu’s emergence could spell doom for Governor Simon Bako Lalong whose insistence on fostering national unity and equity or to facilitate a Tinubu emergence, was a calculation to set up a Rotimi Amaechi ticket and eventual presidency.

Lalong was convinced by pre-convention permutations and the rage of anti-Tinubu propaganda and subversive commentary that his bosom friend, Amaechi, would emerge ahead of Tinubu if the APC presidential ticket is zoned to the South.

In challenging President Buhari to a halt, Lalong was aware that his political working relationship with Tinubu had since collapsed and barring a Muslim/Muslim ticket, which is inconceivable as it is, he is no longer in Tinubu’s calculations and considerations as to the Christian to pick from the North.

Lalong had ensured that Plateau delegates to the convention worked against Tinubu’s emergence. Tinubu got to know about this before the event and he did not waste his time and resources to take his campaign to Plateau delegates ahead of the convention.

However, Lalong’s political undertakers – often confused with his aides – have risen to create a new political capital from Tinubu’s victory, as the later returns to relevance and focal point by feigning that Tinubu’s victory, which he actually bought with his money, is Lalong’s gain. Slamming the move as sheer fortune speculation and gold scouting, critics have quickly pointed out that Lalong cannot gain from a cause he did not believe in, work for, or invest in emotionally or otherwise.

The same critics view the Plateau governor’s claim of gaining from Tinubu’s victory as barefaced and a shameless effort by some group to begin to steer Lalong away from a seemingly politically expiring Rotimi Amaechi, following the disaster he scooped at the APC presidential convention, irrespective of his sacrifices and faith that propelled Lalong to the Plateau State Government House in 2015.

Why Lalong cannot gain from the Tinubu’s ticket, however ingenuous the initiatives and schemes of his marketers and sales men turn out to be, is his non-committal, nonchalant, and lackadaisical attitude to the Plateau Project and the plight of the Middle Belt during his tenure as governor when he was driven by the spirit to “die for Buhari” at a time his people were being violated, plundered, and overrun and displaced.

The Middle Belt or ‘North Central’ region does not appear favourably disposed to recommend Lalong for the vice presidential position, if the opportunity should beckon. As governor of Plateau State, he did not really impress as a Christian or interested Middle Belt citizen and apostle. For most of the times the region and its people were in agony and melancholy as a result of herdsmen savagery and barbaric campaigns in their homes and farmlands, he was indecisive, sitting on the fence most of the time while the aggressor took down more victims and their gallery stayed agog.

Apart from his poor handling of recurrent killings in the state during his tenure, notably the sustained genocide crusades that have kept most residents of Bassa Local Government Area seeking refuge, engaging in mass burials or scampering for cover and peace during his tenure.

The irresolute stand of the Simon Lalong Administration was exposed when he openly declared support for the suspect policy of cattle ranching and pretended at the urgency and exigency of banning open grazing to protect and save his people and their farmlands. Moreso, he kept a distance from Plateau’s regional neighbours and sociological co-travellers, such as Benue State whose government spoke and stood decisively against the usurping and predatory policies of a Federal Government pre-occupied with ethnic bias and regional selfishness and whose federal carriage and outlook are in doubt.

Eventually, the opportunity came, but Lalong could not “die for Buhari”, after all. The offensive by the northern governors certainly defeated Buhari during his own moment of pretence and indecision and he lost the “support to affirm his successor”. Whatever pivotal role Lalong played in the governors’ resolution was not in the interest of national unity. He has not been successful in bringing about unity and peace in Plateau and his handling of the affairs of the state APC has left many questions for political party administrators.

Tinubu’s emergence as the APC presidential flag bearer was neither conceived nor imagined by Lalong because he thought it was impossible. His push against Buhari was not in the national interest or for national unity. For him, it was all about Rotimi Amaechi, whom he wants to ditch now in search of greener pastures.

SOURCE: The Will Nigeria

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