WHEN Mr. Simon Lalong sought to become the Governor of Plateau State in 2015, he said one of his agenda would be to “provide good governance” and “operate on the basis of respect for the rule of law and clear separation of power among the three arms of government.”
These, ordinarily, are ingredients that promote democracy.
While seeking reelection in 2019, the governor reiterated his commitment to uphold the rule of law. This to the citizens would mean their rights being guaranteed and protected.
However, 12 months after Lalong assumed office for his second term, citizens have mixed feelings about the state of democracy in Plateau. Reason: despite some efforts there are still cases of rights violations and harassments.
Although there has been no major altercation among the executive, legislature and judiciary, the status quo has remained as the two other arms of government are still subservient to the executive. There are subtle murmurs in the State Assembly due to the issue of funding, a situation that undermines democracy.
Again, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease, some journalists on duty were harassed by security agents even to the point of being arraigned at the mobile court set by the state government. The intervention of the State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, saw to the mobile court discharging and acquitting the affected members.
Apart from that, the continued killings of native farmers in some local government areas like Bassa, Riyom, Barkin Ladi, Mangu and Bokkos without much efforts being deployed to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators have made the victims feel their rights to life and owning of property are not guaranteed and protected by the Government.
Armed bandits don’t only terrorize inhabitants of the rural communities, armed gangs and cultists are also harassing urban dwellers with impunity sometime in broad daylight. Kidnapping and ransom payments are lucrative businesses too and concerted efforts by government agencies to stem the tide have yielded little or no results.
The case of the internally displaced persons who have been abandoned to their fate is another lamentation of the violation of right to decent living. The IDPs some of whom were returned by government to their ancestral homes and others who found their ways of survival are complaining of neglect by government as they are still struggling to eke a living without tangible support from the authorities.
However, civil servants who could be said to be the immediate beneficiaries of governance have no reason to complain as their salaries are not being owed hence since the coming on board of the Governor, there has been no strike by the state workforce.
For ordinary citizens, who could benefit from infrastructural development, the COVID-19 disease and its attendant dwindling resources have halted many projects including the “Lalong Legacy Projects” which would have had direct impact on the citizenry.
In all, citizens of Plateau State can only be said to be enjoying democracy depending on which side they belong but those who are not happy with the state of affairs are optimistic that things could be better in the coming years.
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