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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Plateau State beyond Farce and Fury – By Sanusi Muhammad



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It is impossible to put to question the identity of Governor Caleb Mutfwang as an indigene of Plateau State. That he wasn’t qualified to have contested the 2023 gubernatorial election. The party, PDP that provided him its platform to contest the election, is claimed not to have a valid structure for participation in the elections but yet constitutionally allowed to contest. This is a typical case of the abracadabra rubbishing the integrity of our country’s judiciary and putting it to ridicule.

The electoral umpire INEC did not raise objection to the PDP primary elections conducted by party goons, nomination and contest of any PDP endorsed candidate in the elections as the supervising agency on party structure.

INEC as the constitutionally recognized federal supervising agency of activities of political parties is in the best position to declare a party without valid structure not a haphazardly appointed tribunal whose primary assignment hinges on election matters not party structure or internal affairs. The tribunal that meddled into the internal affairs of PDP had murdered truth in Plateau State and brought the credibility of the judiciary into question and suspicion. It was an inflicted injury on the democracy!

So when the Plateau State Elections Petition Tribunal started delivering its judgments, honestly it created a space for doubts and became ideal for dubious clerisy to making the tragic sense of things the touchstone of Nigerian politics because of the deliverance of miscarriages of justice.

The desire to daub life dire has for a long while, defined the tide of political partisanship and the transience of hope as a national ideal.

In the fracas of faith and fury, the negligible attains significance while the essential gets consigned to the fringes of awareness. Thus the primordial fascination of presumed intelligentsia and thought leaders with trifles at the expense of issues pivotal to national progress.

The moral and ethical issues of past maladministration and misgovernance by Simon Lalong, predatory corporatism, treasury looting, interference in legislative functions, anti-growth economic policies, insecurity in several parts of the state; rising rate of unemployment and the present sky-rocketing inflation of locally produced farm produce appear irrelevant in the arena of public discourse post 2023 elections.

Every critic from the opposition divide is obsessed with PDP gubernatorial victory and the party’s no structure folktale. Demagogues have, once again, set the agenda for media coverage and public discourse.

And the media characteristically fulfill its role as a junkyard dog, drooling all over the bone of contention albeit compromised judgments.

Since then, some media platforms have transformed to a sounding board for all shades of bigotry and suspicious clerisy. The latter, by their antics, loom as marketers of illusion, skittish shamans channeling deceit to profit from confusion created by compromised judgments. Even while faced with incontrovertible truth, they see what they have been paid to see and say or what they have trained their feeble minds to believe.

All is fair in the pursuit of power thus at their victory or defeat, politicians recruit all shades of characters to condemn their defeat or celebrate their victories.

To such and, a few privileged idealists assume the role of courtiers; to validate power in unworthy hands, they create a pseudo-reality plausible enough to redefine truth and distort facts. it is instructive, for instance, that a good many of them are still egging on All Progressives Congress (APC)’s Nentawe that is set to grab power through the trapdoor of the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court as the case may be after failing to achieve that feat at the polling units and the elections tribunal, even though he came a distance second in votes.

Outside the corridor of power, they plot pseudo-events and pretend to speak for the people. But when their voices were most needed at the contest of the 10th national assembly speakership position, they maintained a grave silence as two of their own were deserted by their members for reasons not clear. Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase and Hon. Yusuf Adamu Gagdi were left in the cold by Plateau State APC apparatchik including the then governor, Simon Bako Lalong.

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APC in Plateau State vehemently absented itself from the struggles of those two illustrious politicians that struggled to bailout the state from non-federal presence and to protect the interest of the entire state, at the national scene. That sincere hope was dashed on the altar of sentiments!

Those shouting to high heavens against the victory of the PDP in Plateau State always claim to be shouting for the entire Plateau State which is at variance with commonsense. Conflict and ethno-religious sentiments are their treasure trove. Call them political profiteers or merchants of misery and bigotry.

When on the corridor of power, they shamelessly parroted official propaganda, polluting public discourse with sycophancy, and doublespeak, among other behavioral toxins.

Government and corporations allow courtiers into their inner circles imbuing them with instant celebrity but as Saul points out, no class of courtiers, from the eunuchs behind Manchus in the 19th century to the Baghdad caliphs of the Abbasid caliphate has ever transformed into a responsible and socially productive class.

Courtiers are, ultimately, political degenerates. They are intellectual hooligans committing the violence of pretence against the interest of Plateau State and her patriotic people. When they claim to be pro-people, they carry on like “political hobbyists,” often lending their ‘voices’ to front burner issues, and sponsoring hashtags to attain clout and recognition for pecuniary gains.

There is little difference between them and the proverbial fawning page playing smooth flatterer and thug to both the government and the people-herd, twisting and turning with changing circumstances.

They are deucedly reactive, a spectacle of submission and ideological sodomy, their words and deeds boom as a cloying mime of irate mobs, corrupt politicians, and corporations’ reprobate wiles.

Eitan Hersh, Associate Professor of political science at Tufts University identifies courtiers as “political hobbyists,” and highlights their perfect contrast to the person and politics of Querys Martias. The Dominican immigrant in Haverhill, mind you, not Chicago State University, United States, presents a rare exemplar of supposedly educated eggheads.

For Matias, politics isn’t just a hobby. In her day job, she was a bus monitor for a special needs school. In her evenings, she amassed power. By leading a group called the Latino Coalition (LC) in Haverhill, she united the Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Central Americans who together made up about 20 percent of the Haverhill. The Coalition got out the vote during elections, but it did much more than that, notes Hersh.

The coalition once met with the Haverhill representative in Congress and asked for regular, Spanish speaking office hours for its community. It advocated for immigration reform and federal assistance in affordable housing. The coalition had also met with the Mayor, the school superintendant, and the police department requesting more Latinos in city jobs and on city boards.

Matias political participation was strategic: the 65-year old influenced governance to the benefit of her community just as Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase is steadily achieving silently in his federal constituency in Plateau State that has catapulted him to the position of the best federal legislator in the state with a ray of physical accomplishments.

Under Wase’s representation, his constituents operate with discipline, combining electoral strategies with policy advocacy for the good of the entire federal constituency piloted by a young, Turk, Barr Musa Adamu Idris.

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Unlike Matias, Plateau State’s educated intellectuals personify Hersh’s political hobbyist—stereotype. They are disproportionately educated, flaunting several negotiated or willfully given awards, titles, and postgraduate degrees that add no value to the infrastructural decay littering everywhere but for a selfish intention against the interest of the majority.

They espouse politics of the soapbox; a wanton game to which they debate the state’s lingering issues on abstract merits—often mouthing off their “superior” logic or sounding off for clout in social space, at events sponsored by meddlesome —–political merchants or on other sponsored so called think tanks.

Their assemblage thrives on pseudo-realism, their ability to propound and market spurious experiences. In reality, they are toxic to politics and harmful to Plateau State deserving total rejection and condemnation for development to take its rightful place

Plateau State would be better if its’ other eggheads irrespective of party affiliation redirect their political energy to serving Plateau as Barr Caleb Mutfwang is struggling to achieve. For instance, they can start at the grassroots, where government presence is non-existence.

To re-establish relevance and repair integrity, Plateau’s idealists, revolutionary heroes, youth leaders, or whatever other labels they answer to, must detach from ideological voyeurism and fault finding—a tactic of assault and defence that eventually becomes their nemesis and tomb.

They must seek to empower people without a request. For so long, they have united to market cunning and rhetoric, for and against selfish segments of the political class; it’s about time they unite with the PDP government in power for their own interest and those of the people they claim to represent.

Grassroots politics thrives on empowerment; helping imperiled peasant farming communities, defeat desert encroachment, insecurity, flooding; improving fringe communities’ access to healthcare, electricity and good roads and provision of soft loans to unemployed youths, SMEs, and agricultural start-ups.

Those can be achieved by influencing real political power. The political intelligentsia seeks collaboration in modest and large organizations to meet the immediate and long term needs of the people. Then, when an election dawns, the community would show up enthusiastically. Call it dividends of their investment in the people’s emotional bank account.

Some may call it strategic citizenship. It’s pragmatic, humane, and real politics. It’s the kind of engagement that public intellectuals must perform to give substance to their professed clout.

And it’s precisely the kind of politicking that helps the electorate shun the tokens and humiliating food packs often handed out by the political class in exchange for precious votes, at election time.

If we humanely engage with the people, we may attain noble repute with the grassroots and the grudging respect of the political class. We may assume a prideful place in the pantheon of Plateau’s finest patriots and statesmen.

True, fancy repute and ghostly online clout may earn us flimsy money in the short run but we shall lose it all in the long run to the same system that taught us to be soulless hobbyists.

We have used fiery intellect and the soapbox as mirrors to reflect society’s hypocrisy, moral corruption, hate and injustice.

It is about time we walk the talk in the interest of Plateau State and Nigerians in general. Ethno-religious conflicts and other modes of sentiments, takes the state and its people nowhere near development or progress. The state has suffered enough of destruction and desertion by prospective investors that has created more hardship than ever expected with majority of the youths idling away as ready-made fighting dogs and agents of violence. I stitch in time saves nine!

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues

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