By Mark Longyen
For the umpteenth time, the protagonists of political mischief in Plateau State, have once again tried, albeit in vain as always, to viciously blackmail the Governor Simon Lalong administration by circulating a false post in the social media that the Governor had ceded lands in the three LGs named above for the creation of Cattle Colonies.
The aim of such anarchist, malicious, mischievous and wicked rumor by the faceless crisis merchant is to rubbish the Governor and his administration by precipitating crisis and bloodshed in the state with a view to reaping political capital from it.
The truth is that the post in circulation is a politically-orchestrated smear campaign of calumny against the government ahead the 2019 gubernatorial elections whose stakes are very high now that the elections draw nearer. There is absolutely no iota of truth in the alleged carving of cattle colonies anywhere in the said LGs.
Any curious observer of the said post would have easily pooh-poohed it away with a wave of the left hand and consigned it to the rubbish dump as a false alarm, because it emanated from no known media, it had no source, it was posted by a “faceless ghost.” The anonymous author of the post is apparently a school dropout who wrote it perhaps after a heavy round of Goskolo drink, judging by its imaginary weird content and grammatical blunders.
Yet, this lie from the pit of hell, which is clearly a figment of the imagination of a questionable character, informed by sheer political chicanery, gained so much traction and went viral like harmattan bush fire and almost set the entire state on fire within 24 hours.
The advent of the social media has brought with it the disadvantage of giving every element in the society who can barely read and write the freedom and space to post every balderdash but, as a safeguard, it behoves on every responsible citizen to take every post with a pinch of salt, as opposed to swallowing everything hook, line and sinker as in the instant case.
It must be reiterated that there is no denying the fact that such vicious attacks against the Lalong administration are on the increase and are legion. Obviously, as this is an election year, this is the handiwork of opposition political elements whose ultimate aim is to undermine the genuine efforts of the Governor, which have culminated in the relative peace in the state that is now a model that is being emulated by some neighboring states.
Unfortunately, gullibility is the stock-in-trade of our people who believe just anything that is posted, shared and read in the social media, without carrying out the most rudimentary enquiry from relevant government officials or doing some due diligence to establish its veracity or otherwise.
The danger in politicizing security issues through such hate speech and brazen falsehood is that when the chips are down and crisis erupts, everybody, including the author of the post and his sponsors, will become victims of their evil machinations and their unpleasant consequences.
As a matter of fact, the Plateau State Government is currently putting all necessary measures in place towards developing a policy and legal framework that will culminate in piloting an all-inclusive livestock ranching scheme with all its attendant socio-economic benefits, prior to considering enacting a Law to ban open grazing, instead of putting the cart before the horse.
It is natural for opposition elements to develop goose pimples at this material time and try all sorts of “pull him down” dirty political tricks against the Lalong administration due to the Governor’s record time achievements in the midst of limited financial wherewithal.
The Governor has within less than three years in office completed so many multibillion naira projects which he inherited from the immediate past administration. He has also embarked on a deluge of new multibillion naira projects, many of which are ongoing, while some have been completed.
The Governor’s inclusive governance style has united Plateau State’s disparate ethnic groups which had hitherto been on each other’s jugular, thus engendering the relative peace that currently pervades most parts of the Plateau landscape today.
Governor Lalong has also embarked on the massive rehabilitation of the hitherto moribund state-owned industries, many of which have bounced back to life, while efforts to revive others are in top gear.
Civil Service reforms have been carried out with the lost morale workers restored, no thanks to the stoppage of nepotism and impunity that were entrenched as state policy by the immediate past administration. The prompt payment of workers’ salaries, and the clearing of all inherited arrears of all promotions, salaries and pensions to date are also morale boosters.
The administration’s other numerous achievements straddle all key sectors. In Education, for instance, the hitherto abandoned Plateau University has been brought back to life with its first convocation which took place in early 2017 and requisite campus infrastructure now adorning the entire campus landscape like never before.
Healthcare has received a boost. The Plateau State Specialist Hospital, for instance, is undergoing a complete turnaround and possible upgrade, while some General Hospital projects in Kwall, Mabudi, Riyom, among others, have either been completed or are about being completed.
In Agriculture and Rural Development, for instance, rural road projects cutting across all the 17 local governments of the state worth over N50 billion naira are either ongoing or have been completed.
The state-owned Plateau United Football Club, for instance, are current Champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League and Nigeria’s representatives in this season’s African Champions League owing to the unrelenting efforts of the Governor in the area of Youth and Women Empowerment.
With this litany of unprecedented achievements of Governor Lalong, among numerous others too numerous to mention, it is understandable why the opposition are livid as 2019 draws near. The resort to ridiculous, fictitious and imaginary lunatic tales using the social media, as in the instant case, constitute part of the desperate agenda to rubbish the Governor’s tremendous scorecard with a view to scoring cheap political points as the stakes become increasingly higher.
Be that as it may, if the Plateau opposition think that the electorate will be swayed by their campaign of calumny and political shenanigans against the Lalong Administration, then they need to rethink their strategy because the electorate are much wiser than before and can never be fooled.
If they cannot come up with something different in their manifestos that in the eyes of the electorate can rubbish the manifestly successful 5-Point Agenda of Governor Lalong, then their dream of supplanting the Governor at Little Rayfield come 2019 is already akin to an inadvertent abortion.
It is trite that the opposition, as the name implies, are there to oppose the incumbent government because that is their raison d’être. You don’t expect the opposition to clap for you.
However, opposition politics is not synonymous with madness. We must draw the line. Constructive criticism of the government in power to make it live up to the people’s expectations is it. For sure, Plateau people are not daft to want to return to Egypt, which the opposition represents, after crossing the Red Sea on their way to Canaan, represented by the APC, notwithstanding the thorns on the way.
But riding on the back of a surreptitiously dangerous social media blackmail to perpetrate and perpetuate vicious political shenanigans is like riding the back of a wild tiger because it can boomerang and consume the perpetrator, while the target victim is vindicated in the court of electorate opinion.
Longyen is the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Lalong on Media and Publicity.