SOMETIMES, even the elements foretell the fortunes of men. At exactly 2.10 pm on Sunday, March 19, 2023, it started to rain. Not in showers or drizzles. It was a downpour, also witnessed in other parts of Plateau State. Who says God has abandoned this land? That sudden rainfall brought with it wonderful tidings. At the very moment it touched this parched earth, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was already leading in the gubernatorial and house of assembly elections held the day before. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was trailing. As the rains fell, it appeared to put paid to the most incredible upsets in the House of Assembly polls. The Speaker, Yakubu Sanda, and the Majority Leader, Naanlong Gagyil, had lost to the PDP. Those resounding victories were more remarkable because these lawmakers played key roles in the removal of the immediate past Speaker, allegedly masterminded by Governor Lalong. And they continued to be unrepentant allies of Lalong.
Worthy of note is that it was Mrs. Happiness Mathew Akawu that walloped the Speaker in their Pengana State Constituency. Thus, bringing a gender boost and fresh dimension to the equation. As at the last count, the PDP had swept 16 more seats, bringing the tally for now to 18 in the 24-member legislature. Obviously, the PDP already held a comfortable majority. The rains also re-enforced the fact that God has also sent another Caleb, just as He did to the Israelites in the wilderness, to free Plateau State from the grip of the APC and restore it to its pre-destined glory. A glory that was mercilessly sacrificed for the political gains of a few. Apparently, God has not abandoned this grieving land. No, He has not. For Caleb is a Hebrew name that means ‘faithful’, ‘whole-hearted’, ‘bold’ or ‘brave’. Have no doubts. This Barrister Caleb Mutfwang, the gubernatorial candidate of the PDP, is set to be faithfully and whole-heartedly devoted to pursuing the cause of the long-suffering masses.
He will be brave and determined in confronting the state’s detractors who thrived on the people’s frustrations and had a field day. Boldness and courage shall be his catchphrase while meeting his own part of the social contract which he solemnly sealed with the people last Saturday. In the results just announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday, March 20, Barrister Mutfwang defeated his closest rival of the APC, Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda, by 525, 299 votes. Yilwatda polled 481, 370. He was humbled with a difference of 43, 929 ballots. As the final results were being announced at around 3.18 PM, the heavens were once more pregnant with clouds, just as the day before. Again, the omens are magnificent. Surely, God is still watching over Plateau State. Finally, these noble and proud citizens have snatched their state from the precipice. Not without the necessary sacrifice and pain, though. Moving forward, restoring sustainable and lasting peace in this land that has been plagued by all sorts of crises should be of paramount importance to the new administration. Today, there are thousands of traumatised and disillusioned citizens whose lives have been totally shattered by the myriads of horrific mayhem visited on them and their communities.
Many can only find refuge and a semblance of sucour in internally displaced people’s camps spread all over the state. This Caleb will boldly confront this monster that has turned the state into a weakling open to the attack and plunder of it enemies, any time. All because the powers-that-be had treacherously sold out to the extraneous forces that had sought to subjugate them for centuries but secured a foothold. The security of the lives and property of citizens is the first constitutional responsibility of government. Also, the governor-elect must work towards uniting this state – deeply divided along ethnic and religious lines. He must restore the hope of citizens in the original values that once underpinned the very being of the state which earned it the respect and accolades of other Nigerians. The Lalong administration has almost killed everything about the spirit and essence of the Middle Belt in his quest for pandering to the whims of the core North. But Barrister Mutfwang, seen as a leader who is more conscious and committed to the Middle Belt cause, will serve as the new arrowhead for its resurgence.
Under his guidance, the peoples of the Middle Belt will reclaim their place as a distinct and unique socio-political expression and entity in the larger geographical north who fiercely cherish and protect their independence. The troubling matter of the state’s unwieldy debt stock should give any leader nightmares. With a debt of over N250 billion, one of the highest in the country, it is a huge irony that Plateau is among the four poorest states in Nigeria. But Mr. Mutfwang has, in course of his campaign tour of the state, outlined very practical and robust means of cracking this naughty nut. He has already drawn up a strategic plan on how to take the state from complete reliance on the monthly Federation Account allocations by tapping into other revenue sources in which the state has comparative advantage. Tourism and mechanised agricultural cultivation of rare and exotic crops such as Irish potatoes, strawberries, cabbage, carrots, etc, would be given a pride of place. He has also maintained that the state must cut its coat according to the size of its cloth. This means that all manner of extravagant, wasteful and unnecessary expenditure would stop.
Although this will inflict some pains on citizens, it is a necessary distress that must be endured if the state must survive economically, socially and politically. The long-term gains would certainly outweigh the short-term discomforts. An uncomfortably large number of uncompleted so-called Legacy Projects litter the state’s landscape. The costs remain an issue of litigation while the level of work done is mired in controversy. The necessity and usefulness of most of the projects to the host communities are questionable. This is a stark testament to the lack of transparency and accountability in administration. It says a lot about and the total lack of strategic planning and discipline in the use of scarce resources. A review of the projects should be carried and those deemed to be very essential to communities completed. Healing the land should is uppermost on the Mutfwang agenda. Too much blood has been shed in this land. Too many people are wounded and deeply scarred physically, emotionally and psychologically. But at the bottom of this healing should be justice. For there cannot be real peace, forgiveness and reconciliation without justice.
Peace is not the mere the absence of war and conflict. Peace goes much deeper, is more profound and fundamental. Fortunately, Barrister Mutfwang has exhibited a great capacity for boldly initiating this healing process and ensuring that justice is given to the oppressed and victims of violence and land-grabbing. Many citizens who have encountered him both in-person and in the media say that he does not come across as a lawyer-governor that will subvert the cause of justice. Rather, he will protect the poor and uphold the rule of law and the democratic process. As Barrister Caleb Mutfwang gets ready to take over the reins of power, citizens are sure that a new dawn is on the horizon. They see in the governor-elect another Caleb that has come to wipe their tears and restore hope, good governance, peace and development to this ravished state.
•Gyang can be reached at [email protected]