Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State has done it again.
After pivoting the affairs of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as Chairman of the Ondo State Governorship Campaign and delivered the party in the South West state in 2016, Lalong’s ideas have again ruled at the just concluded APC presidential primary.
With the successful conclusion of the APC primary, Governor Lalong’s fight for justice and equity which has ensured peace in Plateau State for the over seven years he has presided over affairs in his state, has been transcended to the national level
This is the big takeaway from the just concluded presidential primary which held at the Eagle Square in Abuja and which many have applauded for its sensitivity to Nigeria’s multiculturalism as well as equity and fairness for the nation’s unity.
While the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) went ahead to choose their candidate based mainly on linear and partisan consideration, the APC was more considerate as it took into cognisance the feeling of a large section of the country and decided that in the overall interest of Nigeria give all sides a sense of belonging.
This is based on the understanding that since the North, with President Muhammadu Buhari, would be completing eight straight years by 2023, that it is only fair that the South should take the next shot at the presidency.
But this did not happen by chance as some of the leaders of the APC, mainly the APC Northern Governors had to stick their necks out to ensure that the right thing is done.
Governor Lalong of Plateau State who chairs the Northern State Governor Forum (NSGF) was at the forefront of this campaign for equity and justice which eventually paved the way for Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to emerge as the presidential flag-bearer of the APC.
The 14 governors took a position that the presidential ticket of the APC should go to the southern part of Nigeria for fairness.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues at the conclusion of the meeting, Lalong also asked aspirants from the northern region to withdraw from the race to clear the path for the aspirants from the South.
He said, “It is a question of honour for the APC, an obligation that is not in any way affected by the decisions taken by another political party” and to a large extent, it was this position that provided the paradigm shift for the party to go for elections rather than consensus and paved the way for Tinubu to clinch the party’s ticket.
As many have rightly said, if there’s any group of persons that deserves praise for seeing that the APC respected the principle of zoning and takes into cognisance the sensitivity of the populace, it is the APC Northern governors.
Now that the APC presidential primary is over and Tinubu has been announced as the candidate of the ruling party and given the flag, there is the need to focus on what will improve his chances at the general elections.
Whatever choice the presidential candidate makes at this stage, will give an indication of his understanding of the nation’s political dynamics and give a glimpse of his vision for the country.
The time for the submission of candidates to INEC is nigh and there is no time to waste in seeking what would give an advantage to the APC ticket.
Luckily, Governor Lalong is no stranger to Tinubu as the two have worked together for years.
When Lalong was chairman of the Conference of Speakers, he coordinated leaders of the state legislature across the country to cooperate and give in their best for governors to run their states smoothly at the time Tinubu was governor of Lagos State.
The Plateau Governor is also well known for charting the course for justice and equity to reign and that is why he has been able to restore peace to a state which before his administration, had been torn by crises and insecurity.
On assuming office in 2015, Lalong made sure his cabinet reflected all the ethnic groups in the state and this doused the tension over appointments in the state.
The Governor was to go ahead to administer the state with equity and fairness and by being fair to all.
This had sent a strong message across that the Governor is fair-minded and not biased against any group and that has helped him to rule the state in peace.
He has been well commended for not showing discrimination in the siting of projects in his state as his structural intervention are evenly spread across the length and breadth of the state.
The Governor had also created chiefdoms for perceived marginalized groups and gave all in the state a sense of belonging and allowed democracy, rather than imposition to thrive when electing local government chairmen.
This was why In 2019, his colleagues governor found him worthy to be elected as the chairman of the northern governors’ forum which comprises 19 members.
On assuming the Chairmanship, Lalong had promised not to betray the people of the region and his colleagues by championing issues that are of best interest to the country.
This is exactly what he has done to the APC by being a catalyst to the election of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the presidential flag bearer of the APC.
The APC which will now be focused on how to win the 2023 elections must not lose sight of the fact that it needs someone whom the whole country can relate with and not one whose identity only amplifies our natal divisions.
Even as the APC presidential primary was going on at the Eagle Square in Abuja, some fifth columnists went to work trying to discredit the envisaged victory of Bola Ahmed Tinubu by circulating fake text messages that the Jagaban Borgu is set to pair up with an adherent of his faith to wins at the general elections next year.
The move which was cut short by the media Team of Bola Ahmed Tinubu was aimed at poisoning the minds of delegates and the electorate towards the APC when it became apparent that Tinubu was set to clinch the ticket.
In response, the BAT media Team said Tinubu is not known for jumping the gun and will address issues concerning his ambition when it is official that he has clinched the ticket.
With Lalong, the far North, the North Central and the entire country would have a stake in the Tinubu presidency.